“Is that rain?”
“Yea. But it’s pretty light..”
I learned many things going camping yesterday with my son.
1. If you are doing “hike-in” camping, be sure you are ready for anything. Your car is very far away now.
2. Rain can come through the tarp under your sleeping bag if you have no air matress.
3. Your lovely lady was right, last summer, to make a stink about air matresses and blower-upper gizmos. I hrumphed and grimmaced, as usual. If we’d had an air matress, we might not have hiked 2 miles, in the rain down the muddy trail to get back to the truck and get the hell back to Berkeley. With a dying flashlight under a sky with no stars, only water. My nightmare: The light will die, we lose way, son dies of Hypothermia. Become alcoholic. Die at bar.
We awoke to the light rain, which became heavier. Should we put the rain cover on? Yes. We do. Now we have rain cover and soaking socks. Neither of us brought extra. Wait, are those our boots outside of dry tent? Yes. Now soaked. Mazeltov!
Well, we think, it’s probably a few hours from dawn, after all, we went to sleep hours ago right? Look at watch- fricking MIDNIGHT? Yes, we went to bed at 7:30 because there was nothing to do. We’d finished the supper of the greatest tasting beans and franks ever, and the warmest fire ever (the Dame would also never have let us come without marshmallows and chocoloate. We lament. )
We decide to pack up just the basics and risk it- go back to the truck and drive home- return tomorrow for the extra weight we don’t want to deal with now.
It’s strange when you are actually living through one of those experiences that you know will be a story told a million times, maybe over a few generations- to kids not yet born. It doesn’t make you any less terrified of death by mountain lion or Hypothermia. I sang every song I knew and tried to be casual. All we could see was two feet in front of us. Slipping and sliding. Finally the truck comes into view- never were we so happy or dehydrated.
30 minutes later like an Oasis- a 7-11 in Fairfax- the door open, lights glowing. We pull up. An Indian man whose nametag reads Deep, is guarding the door- with a mop handle across the entryway. Are you open?
Yes, we are 24 hrs.
Can we come in?
No, we are closed.
Uh, can we come in, we are really thirsty?
No alcohol! Deep is Emphatic. Like St peter at the gates and we are DENIED.
Look man, we just hiked for an hour in the rain, we’re dying here- we just want a damn gatorade.
I just mop, third time, he says.
A woman coming from the bars that just closed comes also to the door, can I get some cigarettes. Deep insists he is open but closed. We beg- we clarify we do not want alcohol and finally get in. Stepping over his mop handle. Whatever those 6 tiny donuts were encrusted with (coconut? cookie crumbs and msg?) the boy hits it on the head as we pull into the warm warm night bodies cooled down with Orange flavor Gatorade, “these are the best donuts in the world.”
Everything is the best-in-the-world when you are camping. Even terrifying darkness and cold. But family most of all. -jw
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Sons and Fathers
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