Camping was fantabulous, of course, though it was even more fun than last year. Well, it did pour buckets of rain every day, but these things are to be expected. My sleeping bag stayed quite dry, in spite of the deluge.

We left Thursday for Wingate U to pick up Ed, after which we drove a couple hours west to Hendersonville. We stayed the night there, then continued on to Deep Creek Friday morning early enough to get there in time for a full day of river tubing. It rained, of course, but it was still lots of fun. That evening we all huddled under the tarps munching snacks and playing cards and chatting and watching a giant moth flutter around.
Saturday we hiked to a couple waterfalls and relaxed and played with the aforementioned giant moth, which Joey christened Esmerelda. A bunch of us decided to go on an extended hike, because Joseph assured us it was only 1.7 miles further. Joseph is fired from map-reading (kidding, Joseph) because we ended up walking for at least a mile up a very steep, very large hill in increasingly hot and humid temperatures. We tuckered ourselves out, but had a blast. We also held to our annual tradition of sitting in the road talking and telling stories late at night. I will never look at camping ground bathrooms quite the same after the bloody Damascus story. It poured rain some more and we stayed up far too late talking about cabbage patch dolls.
Sunday we packed everything up (again, in the rain) and drove to the Nantahala for rafting. Ed and I were in a raft with Courtney, Chris, Angie, and Alyssa. ‘Twas not quite as frigid as last year, but it was pretty darn close. And still pouring rain. Nobody fell out this year, thankfully, although we did get stuck on 5 different rocks and temporarily lost one paddle. I had one intense “Stephanie, you’re an idiot” moment when I got out of the raft to push us off a rock. The water moves FAST. But all was well, and there’s nothing like a little bit of peril to spice up any trip.
After we changed into mostly-dry clothes, we all piled back into the cars and headed to Pizza Hut for a scrumptious lunch before caravaning back to the Charlotte area. I rode in Joey’s car on the way back and had a blast chatting about books and music and stuff. Josh, Johnny, and Taylor were blasted out of the back seat by indie rock but appear not to hold it against us. After some car-switching near Fort Mill, Mom and Dad picked us up from the Wulfs’ house and we finally dragged our weary, wet, rock-battered carcasses into the house around 10 that night! People are posting their pictures here, for those who are interested.

I had thought of some things I wanted to write about really late at night, so I got out of bed and scribbled it down on a piece of paper. Only now I have no idea what I wrote. There’s something that looks like “car trouble”, and I have absolutely no idea what I meant by that. I write one or two words to remind me of things, only I put far too much stock in my own ability to remember my own ideas, because half the time I have no clue what I was talking about.

Bookwise, I haven’t really had a whole lot of time to read, although so far I’m enjoying the Eddic Norse poetry book. I would like to talk about Dune some more because after rereading it I am bursting with Duney thoughts.
Dune, Dune, Dune. Where do I begin? I can only imagine the creative genius behind these books. Every line of dialogue has at least two meanings, every time I read parts I get more out of it. Not only is the story itself complex, but the characters are unbelievably so. Dune possesses some of the best-drawn, most wonderful characters I have ever read.

It’s funny about Dune, I remembered it as being a short book, even though it’s 500 pages, probably because you get so wrapped up in the story that it feels as if no time is passing. I remember being so shocked and sad that so many characters died so “soon” because I wanted to get to know them better, even though it was actually about 200 pages into the book. I particularly remembered Duncan Idaho’s death in defense of Paul and Jessica very vividly. It’s told in a couple short paragraphs that are only alluded to briefly a few times afterwards in the first book, but those few paragraphs are so powerful you don’t need any more.

“The door behind Paul slammed open. He whirled to see reeling violence – shouting, the clash of steel, wax-image faces grimacing in the passage.

With his mother beside him, Paul leaped for the door, seeing Idaho blocking the passage, his blood-pitted eyes there visible through a shield blur, claw hands beyond him, arcs of steel chopping futilely at the shield. There was the orange fire-mouth of a stunner repelled by the shield. Idaho’s blades were through it all, flick-flicking, red dripping from them.

Then Kynes was beside Paul and they threw their weight against the door.

Paul had one last glimpse of Idaho standing against a swarm of Harkonnen uniforms – his jerking, controlled staggers, the black goat hair with a red blossom of death in it. Then the door was closed and there came a snick as Kynes threw the bolts.”

In the early chapters, you get this incredible sense of camaraderie, of past history, and of loyalty (even with the traitor Yueh) amongst the Duke, Hawat, Idaho, and Gurney. Herbert, like Tolkien, has perfected the art of the untold story. Sometimes you can say so much more by leaving parts of the story untold than you can by telling everything. Unfortunately, Brian Herbert hasn’t gotten that concept; in my opinion, his Dune prequels detract rather than add to the original books by his father. Brian Herbert is a decent writer, but “decent” looks pathetic in comparison to the sheer writing brilliance of his father. Frank Herbert was a master story-teller in every sense of the expression. The way he has written the Dune saga in the framework of a much larger literary work is extremely well-done, in contrast to the other writers who have attempted a similar device and failed. Irulan’s book quotations at the beginning of each chapter lend foreshadowing and insight into the story and the universe in which it is set, and give the reader a look into Irulan’s character as well, even though we don’t even meet her until the very end of the book.

I don’t quite understand what they’ve done with the Dune movies sometimes. The 1980s movie was more loved by fans of the book, even though it deviated quite a bit. That rainstorm? Craziness. In the first Dune book, there is no rain, and it’s projected that it wouldn’t happen for at least 300 years. Yes, it was dramatic, but it was unneeded. In addition, they never even mentioned the first Leto II. Granted, he died so fast that I tend to forget about him too, but still. And I have no idea what was going on with the weirding modules. The 2000 miniseries was visually better and easier understood for those who hadn’t read the book, but again didn’t always follow the book. Paul uses the Voice long before he should, they expanded Irulan’s role tremendously, and they left out a lot. That being said, all of the movies are quite beautiful in their own way, especially the newer miniseries.

I really freaked myself out in one respect while rereading the book. I could have sworn that Jessica married Stilgar in an effort to unify the Fremen sietch and Paul’s new cause politically, but it seems that I imagined practically all of their interactions. Stilgar is a much simpler character in the book than the Stilgar-in-my-head, and I don’t know how the one in my head came to be.

Anyway, I’m sure there was more I was going to gush about, but that’s probably more than enough. I salute anyone who is still reading this!

Speaking of skewed reality, that happens inordinately often to me. I dream something and later can’t remember if it’s a very old memory of reality or just a dream. Or I imagine something and can’t remember if I read it in a book or if I made it up. It’s a little disconcerting, I can’t remember sometimes what ideas are mine and what I’ve merely stumbled across. And then sometimes my memories of books are so vivid, they almost seem like memories as well. I would make some horrendously deep and complicated philosophical discussion about the nature of reality and if the things we imagine are just as real as regular reality if I weren’t so sleepy…next time.

You know how you’re half asleep and it’s really late and all of a sudden, out of the blue (or rather black), you hear a bird singing for just a minute? I can just imagine the other birds waking up and groggily trying to figure out what’s going on and why Stanley over in the elm started making noise. “Dude, what is wrong with you, it’s like 1 AM. Shut up, for crying out loud.” And Stanley is all “Huh?” because he woke up from a dream and didn’t even realize he was singing and why this snooty chickadee is yelling at him. And the birds across the yard get all ruffled because they all thought it was morning and start ragging on poor Stanley too, until he gets fed up and screams at them and flies off to the pines in a feathery huff.

I dunno, it made sense last night.