Nope, this little baby tent is not glamping. This is hard core, crawl in, crawl out, miserable camping, for which I am decidedly too old. Nonetheless, this is what I’d inadvertently signed up for when I agreed to go camping so that I wouldn’t be home alone for Shel’s and my 19th wedding anniversary.
Before I left home to head out to Cape Disappointment, I walked around the house, saying goodbye to Shel for the umpteenth time. This felt different. For two months I’d stuck close to our life here, keeping the home fires burning. Now I was venturing out to a place he’d never been. And camping: no way he’d ever have done that. It felt like a big milestone, and I was determined to be brave.
So when I found myself on my hands and knees on an air mattress, trying to crawl out of my tent in the middle of the night to pee, I admonished myself: bravery at all cost. When I woke up several hours before Eric and Jessica and Jessica’s family, and had to sit in the drizzle reading and shivering, because we hadn’t discussed how to make coffee in the morning, and because I couldn’t sit upright in the tent anyway, I swore that I’d be a good sport about it all. But within hours, I’d abandoned the idea of tenting for ever more, and persuaded them to move campsites so that I could ensconce myself happily
in a park yurt. Oh so civilized, with actual beds! A table, a heater, and even an electric light!
Now that’s my definition of glamping, and I’m totally hooked. A good night’s sleep, a lesson in using the propane stove early in the morning, and damn the raccoons, full speed ahead. From then on out I had a glorious time.
Being right on the coast, we had to grill oysters two nights in a row, the essence of succulent freshness.
We also grilled salmon (just layer butter, sweet onion, sprigs of fresh rosemary and sage, slices of lemon, salmon, and repeat),
and asparagus, just about the last of the season and oh so delicious cooked over a wood fire. There was also Crack Pie (which you should definitely make, from this recipe), and Hummingbird Cake, and chili, and fajitas, and then, the infamous Cooler Cleaning dinners. I absolutely 100% love cooking outdoors, there’s nothing better, no matter how humble the dish.
When we weren’t cooking, eating, and drinking far too much, we were down on the beach, which had an amazing heap of driftwood,
affording Eric the opportunity to square off with his future father-in-law Don
and Jessica to demonstrate her independence.
The sand showed me how easy it is to be entirely swallowed up, and I thought about Shel a lot, so gone now, not yet returning to the earth, his ashes in the closet with Toby curled up sleeping right beside them.
We spent a gorgeous afternoon at Hug Point, where despite the warnings about sneaker waves and rip currents
and Japanese tsunami debris
we were able to enjoy a fabulously beautiful beach,
that boasts a road blasted out of the rock in the 1930s for wagon traffic to round the point and travel up and down the coast, albeit only at low tide.
We saw all the usual, magical, beachy stuff like anemones,
mysterious patterns drawn on the sand by the ebbing tide,
a gull eating a starfish bigger than its own head,
a handful of some kind of peculiar eggs that Jessica collected,
and the crazy artwork made by scurrying sand fleas.
We also admired beautiful rock formations,
including a jetty that took 30 years to build, and that narrowed the mouth of the Columbia River by several miles, in an attempt to reduce the number of shipwrecks that occurred there regularly.
The mouth of the river is four miles wide now, and is crossed via the prodigious bridge that joins Washington to Oregon. We spent our anniversary doing things that Shel would have enjoyed, going to the Maritime Museum in Astoria and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment, and I think that we all felt that he was with us.
But I have to confess that the feeling isn’t enough. I want to be able to get in my time travel machine and journey back to the days when Shel was healthy and happy, and bring him back home with me into these times, where we grope for his memory. Sometimes it’s just unthinkable that he’s not here.
But I know that if he were here I wouldn’t have gone camping, not even glamping, and that really was fun, sadness and all. And so I perceive that slowly I’m starting a new life, all the while wanting my old life back again. I might have to kick Jessica off that see-saw.