Wednesday, August 15 , 2018, 4:25 pm | Fair 78º


Captain’s Log: Spending Thanksgiving Weekend in the Great Outdoors

Cherish the time with family and friends by telling stories around a campfire

Wherever it happens, Thanksgiving is a time for pondering our blessings. It is a great American tradition. Many of us like to continue the American tradition of hunting up our own Thanksgiving dinner meat, whether it be poultry, game or fish.

I’m blessed to have spent a great many Thanksgiving weekends with family and friends while gathered around campfires or camp stoves. This scenario is particularly perfect for talking and sharing stories about what we have to be thankful for. Yes, too many folks are without good jobs (or any jobs at all), but a roaring campfire serves to help us remember things (some big and some small) through the year that we truly are thankful for.

Some holiday weekends were spent on the mountain, some in the desert and some at sea. For nearly a decade running I spent Thanksgivings with my son out on the Cuyama Badlands. We had quail for T-day dinner when we were lucky, cottontail rabbit many of those years, strong-flavored jack rabbit when we were less lucky, and yes, I can recall one year having canned beef stew when hunting was poor. But with sufficient spices and flavoring, I could make most things taste great. Of course, being ravenously hungry from a day of hunting sure helped dinner taste better than it otherwise might have.

Many a year, it was myself, my son Dave, our friend Mike and his dog Ten. The dog was in charge of licking the plates clean after dinner (a task Ten eagerly anticipated), which made cleanup easier. Then it was time to stoke up the fire (especially when there was snow on the ground), sip hot drinks and tell tall tales.

As I recall, some of those tales were as great as the outdoors. It didn’t matter one bit because telling the tale in an entertaining fashion was the real goal. I’m absolutely certain that Mark Twain would have been right at home there with us around those fires, telling our own stories and guffawing at one another’s stories. After all, one of his sayings is on my short list of all-time favorites, “Never tell a fish story where they know you. And never, ever tell a fish story where they know the fish!”

There is much to be said in favor of and in honor of a home meal with the extended family messing in the kitchen, seated around a table and relaxing together after the dishes are done and the leftovers stowed. I love those times. But looking back over my own life, those Thanksgiving weekends spent out in the wilds provide very fulfilling memories that make me smile.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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