After 30 years, I finally got it right. It's all in the pillows. Five of them. Lined up long-edge to long-edge and positioned right underneath my mattress pad. On top of the hide-a-bed mattress. Which is on top of the expando bed platform. All covered up with my flannel sheets and down blanket. That's how I sleep in my tent.
And if there's even a single pea that slips in under the mattress, I'll know it. And complain.
My daughter's have labeled the blue bucket that houses my camp pillows with swirly flowers and "The Princesses Bedding". I scoff at them. "How many 58 year olds do you know that will still sleep in a tent and don't bitch?" Much. It's all in the pillows.
For 3 decades the entire Dunbar clan has taken our dune buggys to Oregon, just south of Florence, to the same campground. First week of August. For 20 of those years, we've even been in the same site. Our favorite sandy site, surrounded by huckleberries and salal bushes. Just room for our 5 or 6 tents, a few dozen camp chairs, 2 honkin wood camp tables, and the 6 that we bring. Those make up our kitchen... the one that rivals that in the Waldorf Astoria. We share our site with Sister Dunbar and hubby, and feed the whole tribe most nights. So we NEED all that. Really.
And the menu? MMMmmmm. That rivals the Astoria, as well. We've taken camp cooking to a new level. Bacon wrapped pork loin with a maple glaze, beer batter halibut, fresh-caught salmon with Thai chili sauce, bar-b-qued oysters, Chicken Adobo, chile-lime corn, basil-pine nut green beans, asparagus with oyster sauce and garlic.... We eat like kings. Then comes dessert. Pineapple upside down cake, carrot cake, berry pie, apple pie.... all from scratch. You name it and my oldest daughter, Roxy, bakes it in our dutch oven with hot coals.
And the bar.... don't ask about the bar. It's embarrassing. Suffice to say we had to change the shopping list to 5 handles of Curevo Gold this year. Four didn't cut it.
Every year my hubby says..."Let's pack light this year". And I look at him like he just asked me to leave one kid behind.... "which one should we leave?" He never has a good answer. "Just make it light." HA..... I have the same list every year. It's evolved over 30 years of perfecting. Right down to the lemon zester we can't live without. And oyster shuckers. And the 5 handles. It's perfect. And it takes me 3 hours from start to finish to get ready. I got it down to a science.
We go with my hubby's entire family... 3 brothers and a sister plus the accompanying spouses, kids, dogs, friends, once a parrot, and one time a cyber buddy. That was weird. There's usually 35 to 55, plus a gaggle of buggies and quads. OK so the 5 handles has to stretch a long way.
And games? Yeah, one bucket is composed entirely of games. And we're relentless. Sun-up to sun-down, there's someone gaming. Rummikub, Hearts, Spoons, 6-way Solitaire, Poker, Texas Hold-em, Trouble, Rummy, Spite and Malice, Jokers and Pegs... even slack-lining.
But our favorite is Washers. Kind of the trailer trash version of horseshoes. Two plywood boards with a hole exactly the size of a metal washer. From 8 feet apart you toss the washer into the hole. Or not. We have tournaments. I usually suck... I'm about two thirds up the talent pack. But this year..... I perfected the thumb twist to sail that little hunk of metal perfectly flat, so it hits the board just right. I'm dead on. I make it to the semi-finals. I cream my nephew. Ryan's in shock. "YOU... Aunt Sally?... But you SUCK...." He's incredulous, but gracious. I get a high five.
I take on Frank in the finals. "Piece a cake" he thinks. "It's in the can." He knows he'll get the leaf crown to add to his collection. It's only Aunt Sally after all. Frank was the Alaskan State Bowling Champion in 1993, or something. He's got the arm-swing down pat. He's dead on. He creams everyone. He does beat me.... 18 - 21.
But the shock has set in. "Aunt Sally got good!!! How'ld she get those 18 points?" I know he'll be practicing - he'll set up washers in his living room. Tossing that hunk of metal throughout the winter. Just to keep that leaf crown. Me, too.
So why do we do this, you might ask? I ask my self that frequently, right around February when the hot sun of a Hawaiian beach calls my name. OK, screams it. But each August 1st I remember, when my foot hits that throttle for the first time. The engine screams, the seats vibrate as the little rocket approaches a steep sand mountain. "Crap, I'm gonna fall off..." I think. "I'll roll for sure." The first wheel starts up. I gun the accelerator. Shoot up at an angle, sand flying in a rooster tail behind. Traversing the slope as the deafening roar drowns out the screams of my passenger... or is that me? A little tug of the left steering brake and the front end lifts towards the top of the dune. Near the crest, I veer right to deftly roll over the top and fly down the other side, in pursuit of my next conquest. Thrilling. Exhilarating. Indescribable. Nothing like it. Not even a Hawaiian beach. And to say that after 30 years is something!
Some might snicker at the idea of tent camping for 30 years in the same place as the definition of a perfect vacation. A little monotonous. Kinda repetitive. Same ol, same ol. But I beg to differ. Look how different this year was...." Thumb cocked 20% further to the right... full extension.... toss." I'll get him next year.
Don't miss Part 2 of my Favorite Vacations Series... On Patagonia and my Capture Moment Experience.
(Over on the right, sitting on the quad is Christy-on-a-stick. She came in place of my youngest daughter.... and had more fun than anyone)
(This was Pat's last year in Oregon, after coming most summers since the mid 80's. 85 and deep into Alzheimers, she remembered to bring her goggles, and insisted on a good ride... "No old lady ride for me..." she said.)
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