I always thought I was a pretty decent camper. I can not-brush my teeth for days on end and eat trail mix with the best of them. Then I met Regina and Bear Grylls. These two know their stuff. Regina is the queen of preparedness and Bear, well, that guy isn't afraid to gnaw on a reindeer carcass and wring out his sweaty socks to rehydrate. So when the Eastside Gang went camping on the coast last week, I realized I had to step up my game to impress the kids.
We made the best of our soggy situation by hiking around with the kids. Our first jaunt was to a replica Native village. When we got there it was full of tents and cars and someone was blasting Journey while he BBQed. I told the kids that a long time ago Yurok Indians used to live in this area where they hunted for hot dogs and drove to the beach in their Ford Fiestas. Man, those were the days.
We left the village and spotted our first banana slug. I couldn't get Grady or Dylan to touch it, but I noted where it lived, just in case we ran out of food and needed a quick and easy food source. As we hiked, Regina asked Dylan if she thought Patrick's Point was beautiful. "No," Dylan replied. "What about these huge trees, aren't they pretty?" "No." "Well," Regina said, "find something pretty." Dylan looked around. "That truck over there is pretty. It's shiny." That's my girl.
By Sunday, the rain stopped and Dylan warmed up to nature. The kids ran the trails around camp, found more slugs, and played on the beach. We took part of the day to cruise Arcata or, as a friend calls it, the set of Zombieland, because of all the extremely high or drunk locals staggering around like the undead. At one point, a large crowd gathered in the town square to sample some home grown. As the smoke wafted our way, Dylan told us that something smelled poopy. It might have been the weed, it might have been the body odor, either way, I was glad the scent repelled her.
We woke up Monday morning to more rain. Regina, of course, was prepared for it with tarps and plastic bags. Bear Grylls would have probably stockpiled slugs and slid down a cliff. The survivalist in me was too full of Bulleit, S'mores, and sushi from the night before and didn't have the heart to do much more than throw the damp gear in the back of the truck and go to town for breakfast. As we drove home, I thought that Bear would be a little proud of the Eastside Gang. They're learning, he'd say, as he raised his urine-filled Nalgene bottle in a toast.