Things That Go, *BANG! BOOGA BLAM! WHAMMO* in the Night
For Labor Day, Trav took us camping at Mt. Ranier.
It’s a big ass volcano. We decided to go camping there because:
a) it’s Washington. It’s what you do.
b) We haven’t gone camping for…I don’t know, two years? Something like that.
c) Travis LIVES for camping. Seriously. The boy has mad campfire-cooking-tent-popping skillz. I think that if I die first, not only will he pack up and go Grizzly Adams within 3 months, he’d happily backpack the length and width of the United States to the ripe old age of 114.
(Maybe I’ll add it to my will that he has to carry my ashes around with him wherever he goes, in a five pound shiny, awkward urn that doubles as a place to keep his wallet but drops out of his pack every five minutes. Just so it feels like I’m still there. Then he can dump me in Lake Whatsahooee – that awesome campground in the Grand Canyon he always talks about and I’ve never been.)
(Which…maybe I should just shut up about before I give him ideas of Things To Do Next Time.)
The last trip I remember involved boxed wine and brie cheese at the top of of a mesa called, “Dead Horse Point” (named for a herd of horses that were fenced in and forgotten by theives a hundred years ago, during which time the horses developed a crazy-mad thirst while standing around watching the Colorado River rushing a thousand feet below, and thought to themselves, fuck it, I’m jumping) in Moab, Utah, where the temperature was about a thousand degrees at 3pm, and negative 14 at 1am.
Don’t get me wrong – I had a blast. We were with family, took a couple of good hikes and did a little drinking. Oh, and the boxed wine? Brilliant! Go ahead and laugh, but on a picnic table in the middle of nowhere? That shit’s the best camping equipment you can come up with next to a plug-in refrigerator and a super-size can of Bug-b-gone.
My point is – the last time we camped, we were in a huge-ass desert. We slept on dirt and rocks. It was hot and dry and flat. While we have camped in the forested areas of Utah and New Mexico, it has for me, taken place a handful of times. In every case, we were by ourselves (meaning, ‘a party of our own friends/family with no other yayhoos around to invade OUR space for miles’) in a landscape filled with peace and quiet. (Aside from the stero. And the card games. And the drinking.)
So when we arrived at Ranier after waiting in line for an hour, I was a little surprised to find that the reservations required for a freakin’ campsite gets you exactly twenty feet of space between you and the next tent.
But I got over that as soon as I found out they were going to overlook that whole “fire ban” thing and let us have a campfire – for $6.50 per cord of wood.
We took an awesome hike that kicked. my. butt. Swear to god – it was a 90 degree angle path for at LEAST a mile, and I had to stop, or tripped every five minutes. Oh, and I learned about ‘rock flour’.
See the rocks? That’s a riverbed. One that in Spring, is completely filled by raging waves of glacier melt. Should Ranier ever explode, that’s also where you’ll see grainy black and white footage of fifty-foot volcanic mudflows plowing all the way down into Tacoma, WA, and wiping it clean off the face of North America.
We were also stalked by this bluejay for about a quarter mile:
I think he figured we were easy targets for snacks or something, because he sent five of his homies to case our campsite. We had a couple of flybys during dinner that night, and even now, I can’t go out to our grill without scanning the treeline of our ‘hood for the black/blue colors of the Jbird gang.
All that was nothing, however, compared to the bliss that surrounded me as we slept in the softest comfort I’ve ever experienced on a camping trip. I could not believe how warm I was, how fluffy my sleeping bag, and how absent the rocks were from under the small of my back.
As I lay in contented silence, I compared all the things we’d seen and done that day to my list of requirements for a Great Camping Trip:
- Went on a hike.
- Saw wildlife and/or pretty birds.
- Took tons of pictures.
- Had a campfire.
- Drank. (Note to self: one bottle of wine is NOT ENOUGH for two people in the woods to get drunk on. It just isn’t. Bring boxed wine next time.)
- Trav cooked.
This? Was the best camping trip EVER. I would TOTALLY be willing to come back here, year after year, to camp as often as Travis wanted, for the rest of my life.
I was in heaven.
Until 2 am, when I was awakened from a dead sleep by a deep, loud, rumbling noise that I can only describe as the end of the world.
Jules: “What was that?”
Travis: “Thunder. Go back to sleep.”
Jules: “It doesn’t sound like thunder. It sounds really, really weir…”
Unidentifiable Noise: “BLAM! RUUUUMMMBLE!”
Unidentifiable Noise: “WHAM! RUMMMMBLE! BLAMMO!”
Unidentifiable Noise: “BANG!”
Forest: “Are you DONE?!”
Unidentifiable Noise: “BRAMMM!”
Jules: “OH MY GOD, THE MOUNTAIN IS EXPLODING.”
Travis: “It is NOT exploding. It’s just thunder.”
Jules: “On what planet?! We gotta get out of here. RIGHT. NOW.”
Travis: “Ok. Chill. Even if it WAS exploding (which it’s not) do you really think we’d be able to outrun it?”
Jules: “…I would want to try.”
People, I was convinced we were going to die. Our tent would be squashed under a ton of ash, and our cat would die a slow, sad death, starving alone in our house for weeks, wondering where the hell we were and what he’d done to make us abandon him.
This is what I was imagining in vivid detail for at least twenty minutes. As I lay in the dark. In the forest. On a volcano. The ‘thunder’ continued to rumble, and grow ever louder.
Jules: “Are you SURE that’s thunder?!”
Jules: “But what’s that OTHER sound?”
Travis: “Julie, it’s wind.”
Jules: “But it sounds like rushing. Like the river. Only a thousand times bigger.”
Travis: “Do you not remember the RIVER four hundred feet away? YEAH. It’s that, too.”
Jules: “What if it’s NOT?”
Travis: “Then the ground would be shaking and we’d be dead in four seconds anyway. Go. To. Sleep.”
He had a point. The ground wasn’t shaking. Still, the ‘wind’ sounded suspiciously strong.
Finally, I thought: If I was going to die, I might as well do it in the peace of my dreams.
So I fell back to sleep. And promptly entered a dreamscape wherein Sting’s wife, Trudy, tragically died and I became a contestant in a reality show entitled “Who Wants to be Sting’s Nanny?” I came in second. With which I was pleased. Especially since, instead of getting all pissy (as I do when I lose) about missing the opportunity to nag his gaggle of children on a daily basis, I invited them all swimming and jumped into the English Channel.
Travis, however, was up the rest of the night.