I had high hopes when I went to vote 50 years ago in a beautiful place at the foot of the Sierra Nevada.

I was 23 but Nov. 7, 1972, was my first time to cast a ballot because the 26th amendment and 18-year-old-vote didn’t get ratified until 1971.

I went with a couple of buddies — Craig and WJK — from the Inyo conservation camp 10 miles north of Bishop, California. Politically, the country was pretty torn up. We voted in a lonely hall in Round Valley. I sat up that night watching election results on on the lone camp TV, sitting on a plastic couch in the rec room with the camp dog, an ancient black mutt called Bummer.

Round Valley and Mt. Tom

Voting for the first time felt good but I got thumped. I had voted for George McGovern.

Bummer was just there that night, not an omen. After leaving my California Division of Forestry assignment, I spent the next 40 years covering government and politics as a newspaper reporter and editor in New Mexico, voting in every election open to independents.

I voted early this election at the library in Placitas. I will be watching election-night results with a fun-loving blue heeler named Cowboy. I am glad to vote and I am as hopeful as ever.