Summer tales: tents and wasps and rattlesnakes

The slanted light and the harvest moon reminded me over the last couple of days that summer really is over.  I tried to feel sad, but I just couldn’t muster up any tears.  Not because it hasn’t been wonderful.  In fact, this summer has been one of the loveliest I’ve had in a very long time.  But I love the change of seasons, especially now – when the last of the tomatoes are in the market and the air starts to chill even though the days are sunny.  I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting on the steps of the deck gazing at the chicks, smelling the honeysuckle, dreaming about butternut squash soup and reliving the memories of the last couple of months.

Most of these memories involve a tent and some bug spray.  This summer was filled with camping trips.  Our favorite spot, a little forest service campground near Willa Crick, is lush and shady, and even when the Crick proper is 95 degrees, this place is not.  At night it can be downright chilly.

Have you ever noticed that when you sleep on an air mattress, it sucks all of the coldness out of the ground and transfers it to your body?  It only took one sleepless teeth-chattering night where I stole Mark’s socks, sweatshirt and blanket for me to change my packing strategy for the next trip.

How I love you, beautiful Willa Crick.

One weekend we headed out late on Friday hoping there would still be a campsite left.  There wasn’t, but that’s what happens when you tell all of your friends about your perfect spot.  Damn.  So we decided to give ourselves the campground tour of Highway 299.  We stopped at every sign we saw, and let me tell you, there are some awful campgrounds out there.  Some were right on the road.  Others were filled with concrete and trash.  We finally found a sweet place next to the Trinity around Douglas City and got the tent put up just as it started to get dark.

Mark makes the best campfire food.

The next day we spotted a rattlesnake taking a little nap near a rock about 20 feet away from the tent.  Mark told me tales of the poor misunderstood rattler and talked me out of whacking off his head with a machete.  We went swimming at Trinity Lake instead.

After a fun Saturday night in the Love Tent,  we woke up the next morning, made coffee and sat at the picnic table talking about whether we wanted to take another dip in the lake before heading home.  I noticed a wasp buzzing around my coffee cup, and since mine was a foofy vanilla nut sugar-filled drink, I thought it might go away if I walked back into the woods where it couldn’t smell it anymore.  I walked several yards until I was out of the area of the table.  Then I noticed a few wasps on the ground near my feet.  Mark walked over to where I was, and as we turned to look back at our campsite, Mark let out a gasp while I whispered Holy Shit.  It was surrounded by three large swarms of gigantic wasps.  Most were buzzing around in circles – they looked like mini grey tornadoes – while some hovered completely still in mid-air.  Most of these were directly above our food locker.

We didn’t need to say a word to each other.  In a situation like that, there’s only one thing to do:  Get the hell out.

We spent the next half-hour moving in slow motion.  Mark took down the tent while I packed the rest of our things, both of us being careful to not make any sudden movements or loud noises.  We didn’t even try to put things away neatly – just grabbed as much as we could, walked slowly to the car, carefully opened the door and shoved it in.  We literally had to walk within inches of one of the swarms to get to the car.  Finally, the entire site was cleared except what was in the locker.  Just leave it, I hissed at Mark.  He had a horrified expression.  There was good salami in there.  But he started to regretfully make his way to the car.  I got in the driver’s seat and shut the door behind me.  Phew.

Then suddenly Mark had a change of heart.  He would not leave the salami.  He spun on his heel, flung open the locker, grabbed the bag inside and sprinted toward the car.  I slapped my hands against the side of my face screaming NO as he jumped in the car and slammed the door shut.  We sat there in silence for a minute.  No buzzing.  I threw the car into reverse and we practically peeled out as I drove through the mob of angry little bastards dive-bombing the windows.

We laughed all the way home.

Camping with the girls should always include matching accoutrements.

My last camping trip of the summer was last weekend.  It was girls only – just me, Bee and Trixie.  We laid in the sun, swam in the river, ate those hot dogs filled with cheese that Mark thinks are disgusting and talked about hopes, dreams and orgasms for three glorious days.  I hope your summer was filled with all three.

14 responses to “Summer tales: tents and wasps and rattlesnakes

    • Hi Fred! Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re just joking around with me, but this sounds like a serious question, so I’m going to answer it that way as I think it’s an interesting one.

      Yes, we both have jobs and would definitely be considered low income. We’re fortunate to have health insurance (for now.) We also live very, very simply. We share a 400 square foot house with a loft for a bedroom. We don’t have television. We don’t go out very much, we cook most of our meals, and we carpool to and from work. We don’t have children.

      If we had a bigger house, kids and spent more money on other things, then yes, our lives would be different. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things, it’s just different than the way we do it. We would rather live this way, even though some of our friends/family think we’re a little nuts (they’d be right), and be able to enjoy the outdoors and travel once in awhile.

      Even though gas is expensive, Willow Creek is only about 50 miles away, we bring our own food, and camping is $8 a night.

      I spend every day feeling fortunate for the life and the things I do have and most of the time don’t think I’d want it any other way.

        • But I’m sure you spend money on other things….cable, perhaps, or Old Milwaukee. I don’t know, and I’m not picking at you. Just saying that it’s all a matter of priorities. I can do without a lot of things….cable and Old Milwaukee for instance. Inability to travel is not one of them, so I budget and do without in other areas. Just because gas is expensive is not a reason for me not to go places – it’s a reason to not eat out as much or shop at thrift stores or work a second job. I just feel lucky to be able to make these choices – many people don’t have any.

    • I must chime in on this one. K-Bel and I are in the same boat as far as our employment goes. So I say this:

      By the time the end of this year will come to an end I will have traveled to the Bay Area to watch four Major League Baseball Games, and three NFL Football games. Four separate trips by car. None of my tickets were comped, or won in a contest. We had premiere seats at the baseball games, and the seats for the football games will all be decent. These trips take anywhere from four to six days. We eat at some very good places that we balance between expensive, and more bang for the buck.

      I owe it all to creative financing. K-Bel and Mark find great campgrounds that do not burst the budget, and I am so fortunate to have my friend Paul because he is like a father to me. Plus his sister owns a warehouse in Oakland with a magnificent apartment they let us use whenever we are in town.

      See, it is not that we live the “High Life”. We just pretend we do. Boy, do we do it well!

  1. I take it you were at Boise Creek campground, just west of the town of Willow Creek. Or, was it the East Fork of Willow Creek campground, even farther up the road. Just so you know, both of those campgrounds are famous for rattlesnakes. At least, down by the creek. The locals raise them and plant them there to keep the “mossbacks” from the coast moving along.

    Great story.

  2. Hey Ross,

    Yep, East Fork is our favorite. At Boise Creek the sites are so close together. I’m just not that much of an exhibitionist. ;)

    The rattler was at Steel Bridge campground, but thanks for the tip.

    It’ll always be Willa Crick to me.

  3. I loved your explanation to Fred. Isn’t there a quote somewhere (I’m too lazy to google “live simply quotes” and READ….) about living simply so that we may simply live? I was just talking with someone about priorities and how living a live less grand allows us the time to do what you’re doing. Relaxing like that is so worth it. Even wasps bring memories.

  4. I waited so long to plan my camping trip for this weekend. I am so bummed I will only be hiking 15 miles from the trailhead into the lake. I am glad you had fun. Next summer I might trade a couple baseball games in the Bay Area for more camping and hiking.

  5. One thing I can’t agree with more is no television! I live quite simply myself and without TV and ya know what? I love it! It’s expensive and there is so much more out there to enjoy, like life.
    Unfortunately, I was only able to go camping once this summer and it was last weekend. We were finally able to get out to our cabin at the lake. We had so much fun, but man don’t the weekends just fly by? And don’t the weekdays just drag on??

    I really want to see you Kristabel! One of these days soon I will make it to one of the events you invite me to. Let me know when the next is!! C ya! Jen

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