After packing and a few pre-funk drinks, Brugos and I met Alex at the Capital Hill Block Party to see some bands I’d never heard of. Even though most of the bands that WERE playing were kind of crappy, I’m glad we stuck around for a band that Alex came to see called The Cops. They played last and they were REALLY good. Alex compared them to The Clash, which I didn’t quite see, but they definitely had that classic punk vibe to them and a young John Fogarty on guitar.
Brugos and I had to get up fairly early to hit the road. We were on our way to Larrabee State Park (just south of Bellingham) for Roxy’s birthday camping. We got a slightly later start than we’d intended on account of me forgetting things, but we still got to the campsite in time for lunch. I’ve never been camping in designated campsite area before. It felt kind of weird driving in, like we were entering a commune or something. We found the Brunswick’s lot and unloaded our gear, and then drove off to find a parking spot. As we drove through what appeared to be a family reunion, a small, dead-eyed blonde child stepped in front of B.’s car. B., naturally, stopped the car and waited for the child to move. The child did not move. He stared at us with an empty face. What was this child’s deal? Was he retarded? Extremely inbred? World-weary? Who knows. B. didn’t honk because he thought that would be rude, but he gestured for the child to get out of the way. The child did not budge. Finally, his older brother ran into the road and carried the child out of the way, and we were able to drive forward. But…if these are our neighbors, I thought, it’s going to be a weird day.
We drove to what we thought was the parking lot, but a sign clearly warned us that all cars parked there after dark would be impounded. We drove back to our lot to ask the Brunswicks where they thought we should park. There were only two parking spaces per lot and they were already occupied. Luckily, the cars were small, and someone was kind enough to move their car over and let us squeeze in.
Our lot was conveniently situated spitting distance from an active train track, and the trains were on a regular schedule. Sleeping would be fun. Our neighbors, apparently, had a predilection for dance music.
We set up the tent and then it was clearly hot dog and Franzia time. After lunch, I finally caught up with the rest of America and learned how to play Texas Hold ‘Em. It was fun and I didn’t entirely suck, but I still have no interest in playing for money.
The sun came out and it seemed like the perfect time for a hike. The hike that Larrabee boasted was a two mile hike to Fragrance Lake. Provided this wasn’t an ironic name, this sounded like an extremely pleasant hike. What the signs neglected to tell us was that this was some miracle lake that resided on the TOP of a MOUNTAIN, after hiking straight up. And sure, perhaps the distance from ground to lake is two miles, but from all the meandering we were doing, we surely went farther than two miles. I’m guessing 4, actually. Now, no one present was particularly sporty and we had all been drinking, so the complaining began early on. For whatever reason, however, we carried on. It became evident to me that the hills were going to be murder on my knees coming back down, but something kept me going as well. Perhaps it was my frustration over being so out of shape (the knees weren’t a problem going up…the lungs were). Perhaps it was that no one else, despite complaints, seemed to want to give up. Perhaps none of us gave up because we kept coming across OLD PEOPLE AND CHILDREN happily passing us on their way down the mountain. Did these people actually complete the hike?
Seemingly an eternity later, we came across a sign that said “Fragrance Lake 1.1 miles”. It was then that we determined we were actually in some kind of REI Hell dimension and we had no choice but to see what this “Fragrance Lake” looked like.
We finally made it to the lake, and it was indeed pretty. We sat down for a bit and watched dogs come and go. Rocko skipped some rocks and eventually went in for a dip. After a rest, we turned back.
The way down was indeed painful for me, but B. was kind enough to escort grandma down the mountain at her own pace. I wonder if doing this kind of thing more often would be better or worse for my knees. All I know is that there were a LOT of old people hiking that thing.
When we returned to camp, we broke out the Apples to Apples and were serenaded by some wood nymphs playing what I swear was “Age of Aquarius” on the pan flute. This was indeed a strange camp site. The others had arrived on Friday and told us that they’d taken an evening stroll to the beach and happened upon a Western Washington University performance of Godspell, which they hilariously crashed during the crucifixion scene. We were hoping that they did a different musical every night.
As we played, a small child lapped the roundabout on his scooter. He did this for an impressive amount of time without getting bored. It became rather maddening for some of us.
Dinner time came and, sadly, two of the party had to return to Seattle. After dinner, we broke out the Totally 80’s Trivial Pursuit and asked each other questions. They questions were disappointingly lacking in kitsch value. This was mostly disappointing, I imagine, because most of us didn’t know the answers.
While we stared at the fire, we were approached by a couple in matching beige outfits. “We noticed that you have an extra car. We are going to need to charge you for that,” they said. B. forked over the $10. “Also, we wanted to point out that it’s quiet hours now. Your neighbors are trying to sleep. We had some reports that you were noisy last night. We don’t know if it was you or that other group, but we would appreciate it if you would watch your noise level tonight.” We, of course, agreed and our camp R.A.s left.
The Brunswicks decided to walk down to the beach again and, perhaps, enjoy some more musical theatre. The rest of us stayed behind and stared at the fire. The Brunswicks returned with no tales to tell, and we all turned in.
Almost immediately after having settled into our tent, it began to rain. The rain didn’t let up the entire night. The trains, thankfully, stopped running after 3am.
When we woke in the morning, it was still raining. It sounded like it was coming down pretty hard. This is why I put off going to pee. Of course, the rain only made it more difficult to put this off, so eventually B. and I conceded. When we got outside, we found that the tent made it sound worse than it was. Still, it seemed prudent to pack up everything and go into town for breakfast, rather than try and wait out the rain.
B. managed to get a fire going to make some tea, so that we could have the extra energy needed to pack up. Before long, we were on the road to Bellingham for some delicious, dry breakfast.
We went to the Ranch Room in downtown B-Ham. I’d been to this place with the GadZookies during the Projections Film Festival and really enjoyed it. This morning, the service was rather neglectful, and the B-Ham townies were certainly eccentric, but the food was delicious.
Our bellies full, we hit the road back home.
I think this is the last time I want to camp in a heavily populated and designated camping area. Sure, it’s nice to have a toilet and running water nearby, (thought that becomes less convenient after dark, because I would really rather just pee in the woods next to my tent than find my way to the bathroom) but having to deal with weird children, loud trains, dance music, squares and watching your noise level seems counter to the whole spirit of camping to me. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time. But there’s something very freeing about being the only people in at least a mile radius.
After unpacking and getting cleaned up, B. and I finished off Deadwood Season 1 with the Boobergs, followed by 2 games of Settlers of Catan at Brugos’. I played poorly. I’m still getting my bearings in this game and while I certainly find it fun, I haven’t yet mastered all of the rules, making strategy impossible. My theory is that one day it will hit me all at once, and I will henceforth become an unstoppable force.
Here are some pictures from camping!