Is that weird, taking my Louis Vuitton bag camping? – Jessica Simpson
The Fern Hill Memorial Weekend trip arrives.
When I first call to tell the rangers about us, they don’t believe a group so large is coming. The real difficulty, I assure them, isn’t getting sites enough for 150, but getting those sites in proximity.
During my spare time the week before the trip, I’ve been assigning families to campsites on the cliffs above the shore. Silly, I’d intended to use the time to assemble provisions.
This family wants to be near that one, that one wants shade, this other one will be arriving Saturday, is it too late to change our mind? etc. It’s normally the rangers’ job, this year delegated to me. The rangers are not used to groups of 150.
Early on Friday of Memorial Weekend, still short of breath from the virus laying siege to me, I overload two vehicles with food, drink, coolers, dry ice, sleeping bags, mattresses, duffle bags, stove, supplies, wife and son.
Did I say tent? I’m so glad I didn’t forget the tent.
We arrive with 150 other souls at El Capitan State Beach.
I AM NOT THE HOST
The week before the trip, I send out a constant stream of emails in an attempt to make everyone happy. I learn it will be impossible to make everyone happy. In my final email, I give up and conclude with words that I will come to regret ever having penned:
Fern Hill Campers: I’ve done the best I can to make everyone happy. Undoubtedly some will not be…. I’ll be around camp, but please remember that this is an individual family event. I am not your host. You are your host. Have a good time.
I think it strikes the right note between confidence and despair.
EL CAPITAN STATE PARK, THE GOOD AND THE BAD
GOOD — has beach. BAD — ocean rough and cold.
GOOD — very pretty. BAD — too close to highway.
GOOD — the great outdoors. BAD — noise from cars on highway.
GOOD — trains go by and whistle. BAD — trains go by and whistle.
GOOD — among friends. BAD — can’t hear friends on account of cars.
GOOD — new mattress works great. BAD — can’t sleep on account of car noise.
Decide Fern Hill may not be going back to El Capitan next year.
Question: How is it possible, when I visited here last fall with Nick, I did not hear the cars?
SATURDAY, 6:00 AM
Wake up in tent cold. Put on parka. Parka too hot. Take off parka. Wish I had fleece jacket, which would be just right. Try to recall what I’ve done with fleece jacket. Decide it must be in Eduardo’s tent.
Why is jacket in Eduardo’s tent? Recall I gave it to him last night to wear. Recall him shivering because he’d left his jacket at home and I was wearing my parka anyway.
Question: Wake Eduardo’s family and ask for fleece jacket back?
Not that Eduardo would think me ungenerous. He’d think me unable to adapt.
Put parka back on and adapt.
CONVERATION AT 6:15
Nick: Dada, what time is it?
Me: 6:15. Go back to sleep.
Nick (puts pants on): I’m bored.
Me: You just woke up.
Nick: Can you read to me?
Me: Yes. Let me get the rest of my clothes on.
Nick: Oh, Dada. Can we take a walk all over camp?
Me (almost dressed): Yes.
Nick: I can’t find my sock.
Nora (eyes closed, appears to be asleep): You’re wearing it.
Nick: (pokes head outside tent): Dada, Joshua’s up. I’ll be going now.
On Sunday, the car noise dies down. Whole minutes pass without a car driving by on the highway. One can relax. One can think.
I walk through the camp serene, stopping to chat with with Hallie and LuAnn, two of my favorite moms.
“How come you never put me in a blog post,” says Hallie.
“I said you were my rock star on the reservation team.”
“That was LuAnn,” Hallie says.
Quick feint. “So, how’s everything working for you? Apart from the cars, I mean.”
“It’s quiet today,” says Hallie.
“What I can’t figure out is why I didn’t hear the cars when I came up with Nick last fall.”
“What day did you come up?” says LuAnn.
“A Sunday, right?” says Hallie.
I am not the host.
The sudden community continues next time with Mr. Happy Kills.
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