I spent the summer of 2003 in Colorado, teaching test prep classes, hiking, and camping. One night I had decided to go camping on some BLM forest lands, I guess near Nederland, CO, and I took my pack and wandered into a campsite about two miles or so off of a fire road. It was surprisingly busy for a non-weekend, and I recall finally settling on a site that appeared to be less inhabited. However, a few sites over from me was a truck parked and a large tent that had the appearance of being more of a home than a sporting tent. It was huge and probably could have housed four people comfortably, with head room. This tent probably had a foyer and a guest bedroom.
I can’t now recall how we came to talking, but there was a shorter Hispanic guy, dark skinned and stout, and a quiet, tall and skinny White guy, who was older. The Hispanic guy introduced himself as Atreyu but told me he also goes by The White Raven. He and his friend had caught some fish earlier in the river, and they invited me to grill the fish and eat with them. I have a psychological condition called FFAA (Free Food Automatic Acceptance) that has stayed with me since high school and has persisted throughout graduate school, and so I stayed with them for the fish and grilled corn on the cob. (It was all delicious.) We all traded stories, and Atreyu liked to talk, and somehow we got into a discussion about politics. He thought I was a “level headed young man” and was proud to share his government conspiracy theories with me. I politely listened, since dinner was so good, and it’s probably not a good idea to call someone “nuts” the first time you meet them — I usually save that for the second encounter, right?
Anyway, I thought about Atreyu during the 2004 Presidential Election, because he had wanted me to write in The White Raven for president. No comment on whether or not he would have been a better choice. Ahem. Atreyu gave me a straw hat that night, a token that I still have of our chance encounter.