Thursday, October 11, 2007

escape from Child Island, part I

So yes, last Friday the Drunken Housewife shrugged aside her responsibilities and left town. I had initially planned to leave around 7:00, after the husband got home from work, but then I realized, "Why am I being so thoughtful and considerate?" I decided instead to leave right after dropping Lola at pre-k, forcing the husband to leave his beloved job early to pick up the children at their various schools, take Iris to her piano lesson, etc.. I picked up an old acquaintance I hadn't seen in years, and we were off, after cramming my aged Oldsmobile to capacity with our tents, coolers, provisions, etc..

Friday seemed to be a Law Enforcement Extravaganza in Northern California. First, we saw police handcuffing someone in the city for obscure reasons. Later we stopped along the way for a bathroom break and snack, and as we were wolfing down our salads in the car, an officer arrested a man in the parking lot. Then we had to stop again in Cloverdale when my car's coolant light went on. Cloverdale was swarming with police everywhere. The barista at the Starbucks explained that there was a drive to bust people for "making California stops" (my passenger could not understand this, and I explained it meant a rolling stop, rather than a true, respectable stop). My passenger grew nervous at all these police and kept repeating, "I've seen two people put in handcuffs!" I wondered to myself whether it would be safe to try to make up lost time by speeding and decided not to; I was happy with this decision after we passed a speed trap.

The transition between mommy and party-goer was made easier for me because my passenger was a preschool teacher, who enjoyed discussing the developmental appropriateness of various educational approaches. All through Marin, we were mired in stop-and-go traffic, and around Santa Rosa, we were again reduced to a hideous crawl. Santa Rosa is always a bottleneck of all roadtrips, and I've noticed a miasma of depression emanates from 101 there. We were just cheering up from the depression of Santa Rosa and its traffic when we were caught in a torrential rainstorm around Boonville. Of course, we had neither of us packed raingear, relying upon weather reports indicating clear skies, highs in the seventies and lows in the forties. However, we saw the most psychedelic double rainbow I've ever seen outside of Maui. "You could really believe there's gold at the foot of that one," I said.

We got to our destination nearly five hours after setting out, after a final 45 minutes drive on small, mostly unpaved, winding roads off the highway. (The official directions cheerily state that this destination is "2 1/2 hours from the Golden Gate Bridge", but I say, "Ha!"). My passenger and I braced ourselves for our "greeting" as we arrived. (Over the last decade, the phenomenon of "greeters" has arisen at Burning Man and various other camping events. The concept is that a seasoned attendee will answer your questions and direct you to where there is still room for you to set up your camp. The reality is that 99% of the people arriving know what to do and where to go already and just want to get down to it. The further reality is that greeters have developed their own version of the "Security Guard syndrome" and have taken to demanding presents, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, love, and admiration). We had both had a bad experience being greeted on a prior occasion at this same camping party. "Just roll the windows down part-way and don't get out," hissed my normally laid-back passenger. Perhaps because it was getting dark and spitting a few drops of rain, our greeter let us through without argument.

I had a lot of trouble turning my car around on a steep, unpaved, narrow path near my passenger's chosen campsite, but soon I was settled in "Codgerville." (I had asked some old friends to save me a spot in this quiet zone). Later I renamed this spot "Daly City", as people were thinking of Bay Area equivalents for their campsites. ("You're in Fruitvale", one person taunted another. "Try to think of it as Emeryville", I advised the alleged Fruitvale resident).

As it got dark quickly, I threw up my tent in a rather haphazard manner. Another Codgerville resident opined, "That doesn't look right." "I'll fix it in the morning," I said as I flung my Thermarest mattresses and sleeping bag in. I was fretting at being late for my volunteer shift in the communal kitchen and eager to start the party. "As long as I have a little plastic hole to crawl into, I'll be fine."

to be continued (honestly, "to be milked" would be more accurate. I don't get out of the city limits much so must make the most of it when I do)


Anonymous said...

But you can't leave us hanging like this!!! We need to know if your tent collapsed in the middle of the night, or what other exciting calamities befell you!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely! I'm on tenterhooks!

hughman said...

yeah, did you get drunken?