One in Which I Go All Clan of the Cave Bear on Your Asses, but without Daryl Hannah, Her Bad Acting, Her Great Gams, and That Blonde Stud-- ick!

Aw shucks, that picture of them stairs is so cute; I shoulda took a picture of 'em, too..., but I didn't, so I've stolen this and the other pics in this post, though they are, indeed, exact replicas of the pictures I coulda/shoulda/woulda taken of my recent visit to Guadalupe River State Park. Since I was accompanied by four 14 year-old young women, one would think that this here post would wreak of family values and, no doubt, it shall, but we all know that eventually I will end up complaining about my marriage and my sex life. Let's not lie. After two nights of hearing the call of chuck will's widows (listen) (a near relative of the whip poor will (listen)), seeing possums and feeding raccoons deadly mac-n-cheese, I'd have to say I got myself a little of that there cerebral adjustment to which campers aspire. Sure, it might be a by product of camping in 103 degree heat (wtf was I thinking?), but I suspect it is more likely that I was merely transformed onomatopoeically (had to use that word after I saw it on the whip poor will wikipedia page- it's my new favorite word) by the sheer beauty of my surroundings. Seriously. Seriously.

Because they charged an arm and a leg, $7/ night/ person, in addition to my $32 camping fee that I naively thought was going to be the entire cost for our two-night, three-day stay, I purchased my first-ever State Park Pass. OMG. Why haven't I done this sooner? I'm pretty sure I will end up living in a State Park in the near future, my final transition into becoming a coon den mother, as the math keeps calculating itself in my mind over and over and over and over again. Some parks have weekly and or monthly rates and I can tell you they are far cheaper than rent. One cannot say the same thing for skiing, and still, both always have me vowing to live "that way" every time. "What way?" you might ask, as you read this at your air conditioned computer desk, in your bathrobe, eating those yummy Pringles™ after a good ol' romp with the bad boys of porn. Well, I might tell ya.

I love cooking on a campfire. Even though part of the reason this particular state park was selected by my daughter and me was that it was in a county that was not under a burn ban and I even called the State Parks info line the day we were leaving to double check before I bothered to load up the back of our van with firewood from the house. With cast irons and french press in tow, we were good to go. Turkey burgers with home fries, pancakes with bacon, eggs, and cantaloupe all on the menu. We were set. And then, when we arrived, we were informed that there was, indeed, a ban on wood-based fires citing no rain forecast in the next ten days. Charcoal fires and contained-fuel stoves (ours left out in the yard a couple hours back) were allowed. Fortunately, there was a grocery store not too terribly far away, but our. camping. budget. was. gone. and I was scraping pennies to buy hard wood charcoal and lighter fluid then. Lighter fluid, propane tanks and hard wood coals were ok, but logs were not. Suct. I then learned that I sucked at charcoal fires. Seriously. Seriously. Our first night's kid's choice mac-n-cheese and beans-n-weenies turned into sandwiches-n-salads after I put the pasta in water that never ever ever boiled, making the nastiest noodles you ever did see, touch, taste or feel. (They smelled ok, though.) Then, when the little blade fell off our old cheap can opener (I'd chivalrously left the good one back at the house for Mr. Bee), I vowed to make successful fires, and great meals on day two.

Since coffee was not optional the next morning, I began my little cheat that became a new mastery, slipping wood into my charcoal fires unnoticed by the park police. I hope all the park police who read my blog don't come after me, but I discovered that a log, hidden by the instructed "pyramid" of coals, helped keep the coals lit, and prevented any theoretical harm posed by the danger logs of yore, which I could only figure involves the layerous quality of wood and a greater likelihood that, in places with wind, burning embers might blow away causing a forest fire. Suffice it to say, Mamma fed those skinny girls amply the rest of the time. Unfortunately, when it rained our second night before we made s'mores, we did stoop to using a Virgen de Guadalupe candle to roast marshmallows. Hail Mary! Please, just don't tell Martha Stewart!

Of course, every one of the above events would have been completely intolerable were it not for the cool beauty of the cypress-strewn river we were intending to "tube." Almost fortunately, given the unexpected camping expenses, the river was not flowing enough for us to go tubing, but the river itself was a gorgeous place to swim. When I was a young lass, growing up in the wilds of Arkansas, my parents used to send me down to camp in the woods of East Texas for five weeks at a time. That is where I learned to light my little tee pee fires with one match, where I learned to unswamp a swamped canoe, and from where I took a week-long camping trip in the Ouachita Mountains of central Arkansas-- one of the most beautiful weeks of my life. Even though we froze our butts off and got no sleep after we'd hiked an entire day to get to our campsite that we shared with at least one coral snake, my memory of drinking straight from the mountain steam could not be undermined by the risks. Showering under a freezing waterfall has never been as good as it was then, either. So now, though Austin houses a rare amount of natural beauty for a city its size, any place that offers natural swimming unpolluted enough to not send me into one of my poison-phobic anxiety attacks, is a source of great pleasure for me. The Guadalupe River offered just that.

Of course, I enjoyed learning how to play spoons with cards (?) and teaching the girls how to play spades and hearts. Certainly, I appreciated learning about the death of Michael Jackson-- even adequately removed from civilizations via a text message The Future President received on her cell phone (long after the rest of our batteries had died), that prompted her to shout it from her tent and us to doubt its veracity (given the fact that it was followed by a "pass it on"). But, looking at the beautiful rocks on the river bottom with my daughter's best friend for an hour or two was a very serene experience. "This one fits my finger perfectly." "This one looks like a buffalo." Her finger, we discovered, was a dragon fly magnet, and my Tevas made floating even easier than my ample bootie and boobies already did. The river is where my penchant for wearing a bandanna as an inverse sweatband (getting it wet on purpose to cool me off) took hold, and my "camping look" was established. Unfortunately, I overlooked sunscreen that day and my forehead is back to the wrinkled mess it was before I'd moisturized these last 10,001 times, and before I had glasses and used to squint all day, but such is the price of inner beauty. It was when I discovered the park had hotel-quality warm showers that would make my university's billion-dollar swimming facility blush, I began to calculate the obvious.... How much would it cost to live here? It's a reasonable question, and I assure you it is far less than the rent in the Austin area. Not to mention the down-to-earth quality life takes on without all the clutter, in particular the relationships that make you feel like a hypocrite supreme. Living in a tent is something I could manage financially, and no one would be worse for the wear to let Mamma let her hair go wild out in the woods with the never before seen (by me) lizards, would they?

Sure, I might not blog as much, but a job in San Marcos and one at the State Parks office in Austin call my name and sending a thousand dollars a month child support back to Mr. Bee to have me out of his hair is not something I think he would mind so much. Seriously. Seriously. Our van is now paid for, and he's got his little black hot rod and we have both given up on each other; it is apparent. I wonder if I would get lonely. I wonder if a simple air mattress would make me feel like a sell-out. I wonder if living more simply for a time might not help me to gain some clarity. Some stamina? A return to myself that is long overdue? For that matter, should I just set up a little compound on the back forty of our own property, one that would allow the kids to come stay with me whenever they liked? That somehow seems more traumatic. Maybe my impending madness should not be witnessed. Maybe my handwritten book that will be revered by future generations of raccoons for decades to come, may lead my own children astray. Maybe I will just begin to blend in with my surroundings, and that Zenful space of simply being, rather than consuming, will help me to forget all the unimportant things I focus on all the time, for a time. This is why I fell in love with The Genius's birth father. I saw a possibility for us to live like that. I think heroin and a gun in LA sidetracked him on his independent quest for oneness, but perhaps this is my very own personal ad to myself to go fuck myself-- at least until I fall in love with some unidentified, androgynous, strap-on bearing Yeti. I am rather fond of Chickweed.


Joc said...

I like camp cooking on an open fire but it does use a lot of wood. I now use a Fire-Spout-Maxi http://www.occuk.co.uk/outdoor/fire-spout-maxi.htm
this to keep the woods used
and gives good fire control

Lass said...

I'm glad you survived the hot, hot camping trip. I don't, however, recommend living in state parks. Not that I've done it, but it sounds like a good way to meet serial killers or other on-the-lam types.

Randal Graves said...

There's a lot of grist in this mill. Think of all the merit badges you can earn. That's it, hell with Girlie Scouts, you should start your own FB Troop.

Comrade Kevin said...

You could be one of those communal families like The Rainbow People who live in nature and do tremendous amounts of LSD.

Sandy Underpants said...

you flow like a river beautiful, write like an avalanche

Freida Bee, MD said...

joc- I'm. not. clicking. BTW- if you learnt a 'lil html nonsense, you could actually create a link. go figure.

Lass- As misfortune would have it, I've been on a Dexter kick, and your warning are mere temptations. ;)

Randal- There's a lot of grist in this mill. -you've an axe to grind it, I s'pose. ;)
Ironically, my mother, the least outdoorsy person I know, was one of my elementary girl scout leaders. My girls never wanted to partake of the nonsense, but I was quite the girl scout for a time. I think the FB™ name is strictly prohibited in the gs creed though, but that's good, 'cause I was privy to all the 14 year-old dish in an unofficial capacity.

C.K.- That's a broad generalization you've made, one I disagree with in theory, but not in practice.

Sandy U. (where I want to go for my next education)- Incidentally, that is my Native American name. And, I swooned from your comment when I pretended the comma was a period.

Dr. Zaius said...

The worst part of living in the wild is there is nowhere to plug in the toaster. "Play spoons with cards"? Is there ice cream involved?

Blueberry said...

I loved Tarzan as a kid, and wanted to live in a tree, but I think I got all that camping fever out of my system nearly 20 years ago. I think the last straw was getting stranded in a pitch-black cave with my feet in water (and an occasional snake) while my knight in shining armor was helping some other damsels in distress find their way in using our only flashlight.

Nice reading though... esp. from this nice cool spot in the house while it's 102 outside.