Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Car" Camping

So there's this thing they do out here called "car camping." Back home, we just call it "camping." It's where you camp close enough to walk to your car. Apparently "real" camping involves a lot of walking and dried food.

Anyway, last weekend, I got to go car camping with my good friend and some of his friends. I was a little nervous at first, because I recall often saying in Zambia, "I don't like camping." My reason was that I hated how nothing had a place and you sort of just lived out of a pile thrown in a bag for a few days. Luckily, the guy organizing the camping knew what he was doing, and the campsite had a little non-animal-proof cabinet. Things had a place! Yay!

I had no idea how badly I needed that little excursion, how much I would like it, or how sad I would be to leave. I haven't been out in the dark, far from electricity since I left Zambia. It was wonderful. I knew when I left Cheelo, I would miss the peaceful nights and the evenings around the campfire. In two years, I had already forgotten how wonderful those times were. The first night at the campsite, I sat outside alone under the stars, soft tears rolling down my cheeks. In my mind Mazoka and Chipo chased each other laughing. Ba Feya's voice seemed to float in on the wind. As the flames of the fire crackled, I could almost see Ba Lenix's tired, red eyes peering from the darkness. Almost, almost there, yet still thousands of miles away....

We all went to the boardwalk and beach at Santa Cruz on Saturday. That was a lot of fun, especially the rides, and the guy on the corner playing polka on an accordion! Unfortunately, we didn't really get the best part of camping, the sitting around the fire cooking, eating, telling stories, enjoying the night sky. For some reason, the rest of the people kept eating at restaurants. What the vampire?

Saturday night, when everyone else went to get Thai or something, my friend and I made a fire. Neither of us had actually ever built a wood fire from scratch before, but we did it! We had a beautiful blazing hot fire. He knew how to stack the wood and stuff, and I just kept trying things I had seen my family do to start our fires in Zambia. It worked really well, especially the blowing on a hot branch to make flames. I roasted a cob of corn in the fire, just like in Zambia. Then we had to dump water on it and put it out, because my friend wanted to leave. People running off to restaurants + camping do not equal fun.

Even with leaving early, and no big campfire night, it was still a lot of fun. Now I'm really itching to go again. I'm leaving for Africa in a few weeks, but I doubt there'll be any fires or electricity-free nights this time. Capital city, no village. :( Oh well, at least I found a little bit of that peace again.


Mommy said...

Don't they know the best part of camping is sitting around the campfire, laughing and telling stories?!? I'm sure your aunts and uncles would be glad to have you go along with them sometime. Sounds to me like their version of 'camping' is more like backpacking. Glad you had some fun!

jess said...

you're going back to Africa?? for how long? and where are you going to be this time?

MaryRuth said...

GR--Mommy is right, the best part is sitting by the campfire! I think the best part of my childhood was spent camping. My family was big time tent campers--Kettle Moraine, "Up Norf' ", Yellowstone, etc. I haven't been in the last 10 years or so (I don't think rave parties count), but the BF has his heart set on a little vintage camper, so maybe soon.
California camping is way different than WI camping, as you have just experienced.
The Zambia trip sounds awesome! How the heck did you happen to go there??

goldenrail said...

MR: It's funny that you mention Kettle Moraine. When we were driving through the hills to get to Big Basin, I turned to my friend and said, "I need to take you to Kettle Moraine."
Zambia wasn't really so much of a 'trip'. I was there for over two years - Peace Corps.

Jess: Nigeria, a semester

Daddy Bunny said...

I had fun, too. Even if I just sat in the tent the whole time. Thank you for taking me.