About a half mile away, we crossed small wooden bridge over a roaring clear creek and found our campsite. There was not another soul around. The camp was in a shady area surrounded by trees with no other sounds but the rushing water beside us. Our first mission was to figure out how to get water from the creek. Kc and I figured out a way to climb down onto rocks and and reach the water. I was new at this whole procedure and Monica showed me how to use the filter. I dropped the intake end into the stream, but had a hard time getting the thing to sink under water. Kc held the output end into our Nalgene bottles.
We got our tents put up. Kc put her tent up the hill from ours in the "penthouse." Kc became our official firebuilder. Good thing. I enjoyed my first backpack dinner: dehydrated Pad Thai from a bag, cooked on our handy dandy new stove:
Monica added a touch too much water to it, so we had Pad Thai soup. Super yummy. Hmm. Well, I have to admit, backpack food isn't THAT bad. Hospital food is much worse. We were thrilled with our stove. Kc had a different stove, called a Jet Boil. We lit the stoves simultaneously and the both blasted like two rockets. We sat by the campfire, ate our grub and kept warm. We were all pretty sleepy and ready for a good night's sleep. Yes, that is a flask in my hand, filled with quality Kentucky bourbon.
I crawled into the tent to go to bed while Monica squelched the fire. As I said, she gave me the good Thermarest. "Lay it out in the tent and it will inflate a little, then just give it a couple of puffs," she instructed. Being the literal-minded dope that I am, I gave it a couple of puffs. Well, I guess it's not supposed to be luxurious. I brought Samson in the tent and he immediately made himself at home in Monica's sleeping bag. When Monica climbed in she discovered a dog in her bed and her moronic partner sleeping on an un-inflated mattress.
"I gave it a couple of puffs, like you told me, " I protested. So by a "couple of puffs" she really meant 30 or 40 puffs. She demonstrated. Ah, yes, that IS much better.
Samson collapsed between us for a while, his head resting on my arm. I lay there, hoping he'd move because I was getting stiff. At some point during the night, he retreated to our feet, probably because he got hot. I slept fairly well, except that I have not mastered the art of turning in my sleep so I woke up completely wrapped in my bag, the zipper lodged in my butt, and the mummy hood covering my face. I extricated myself, turned the bag every which way before, grappling blindly in the dark to make myself comfortable. "No one likes sleeping on the ground," Monica constantly reminds me. Oh sure.
I don't sleep late when I camp because I can't lie there that long. I have to move around or I become rigor mortis. Samson was nudging his nose under my sleeping bag because he wanted to go out and pee and eat. Not necessarily in that order. Monica is cognizant of my severe coffee addiction. If I don't get coffee in the morning, I'm basically a hateful horrible troll. She found very small, portable coffee single packets from Starbucks. I have to say, they beat Nescafe instant coffee. It was like having a real cup of coffee. I highly recommend them. Monica stayed in the tent until she was sure it was safe to come out. I gathered some wood and then traipsed off to go and find a secluded place to answer the call of nature. It is imperative to know that I am a one-toilet, at home, doors bolted, kinda potty girl. I hate public toilets. If there is even a hint of another human in the vicinity, my colon recoils and shuts down. There, I said it. It's true. It's a fact of my life. But, here in the wild, with no other soul around, I felt as if I could conquer this phobia. I had perused a book entitled How to Shit in the Woods. Seriously, it's a real book. Here is the table of contents:
Because I had seen this book, I learned various comfortable positions, mostly utilizing a lone, downed log. (no pun intended). The biggest challenge was digging a hole in the rocky soil. Samson felt a need to follow me wherever I went and into my personal wilderness WC was no exception. I tried to ignore him and he didn't really seem to be bothered by the whole matter. Mission accomplished, I returned to camp and announced to Monica that I had achieved what I set out to do. She was thrilled, bless her little heart. Yes, I had to share this information with you because it will be important later. Trust me.
Monica and I milled around camp, trying like two complete dweebs to start a fire while Kc slept in her penthouse with her big fat air mattress. Finally, Kc emerged from her tent and we tried to act nonchalant. "Oh, you're up!" we said sweetly. "Now build us a damn fire!"
I owe my colonic health to Monica because she prepares such hearty, fiber filled breakfasts:
Stay tuned for the next installment.
Monica is always preaching to me the importance of eating "organic." Oregon is chock full of "organic" stuff. I tell her that everything that is alive is "organic." Dog pooh is "organic" but I'm not about to spread it on toast. She gets a little peeved at me when I bring this up. Yesterday she went to work and packed a nice little turkey pastrami/cheese sandwich with some wonderful organically shade-grown baby lettuce that she got at the farmer's market. During her lunch break at work, she had just finished one half of the sandwich and was about to pick up the other half to eat it when she spotted a big, fat, healthy, fluorescent green caterpillar sitting on top of her sandwich. Yes, the little guy was thriving very nicely on the baby organic lettuce and decided to make an appearance by climbing out from between the slices of rye bread, make his way to the top and proudly beat his chest with 20 of his 40 legs as if to say,
"I am caterpillar; hear me roar!" I told her later he was actually saying, "You monster! You ate my children!" whilst shaking his 20 tiny fists at her.
Moral of the story: Wash your produce.
Monica and I took off on Tuesday and headed north to spend a week on Vancouver Island. We drove to Port Angeles, WA and stayed at a hostel. We are the quintessential budget travelers. I've decided that hostels are created from the lowest possible real estate in the area and converted to a rooming house for weary travelers. It must be easy to run a hostel because it requires no effort to upkeep. If the handle falls off your guest's door, no problem! Just jiggle a pencil or your finger through the hole in order to exit your room. The best part is you get to share bathrooms with people from all over the world and get a new appreciation for the vast array of worldwide bathroom habits. Do you know that French men don't lower the lid OR flush the toilet? They also manage to shed a few choice pubes on the rim of the toilet for good measure. If that doesn't wake you up in the middle of the night...
We took a 90 minute trip on the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria. It sounded like a great idea until about 20 minutes into the trip when we both remembered we get horribly motion sick. We spent the rest of the trip trying to focus on the front of the boat. Someone told us to "look at the pole" on the bow of the ship, which is what we did while we plowed through the ever increasing fog.
We spent the day in Victoria, walking around and looking at the distinctly British influence.
We enjoyed seeing the totem poles outside the Royal Museum. In the afternoon, we headed north to Nanaimo and stopped at a couple of quaint towns along the way, most notably, Cowichan Bay where we discovered a fantastic bakery and picked up the best baguette we've ever had along with some Dubliner cheese, which I think is my favorite cheese now. We had a little picnic as we walked around and looked at the sailboats, fishing boats and seaplanes. We then stopped at another little town called Chemainus and found their farmer's market going on. Monica bought me two hats from a hippy seamstress who'd hitchhiked to the island in the 70's. We made it to Nanaimo by 6pm and checked into the hostel. (The one with the French people...) It seemed a bit better than the one at Port Angeles. We did have a difficult time finding a place to have dinner. Everywhere we went was either closed or closing as we walked into the door. One place told us it would take an hour to get food. We wandered around the town until we found a place called "White Spot." Not a place that sounds very appetizing. Nanaimo was hosting the Senior Games, so the whole town was inundated with "seniors" and not the high school kind. We have no idea what the senior games entail, but one of them must include eating because the restaurant was packed with white and blue hair. It was also about 30 degrees in there so we ate our food huddled next to some big old beer-drinking Canadian man at the bar.
The next day, after we spent the traditional 30 minute ritual of "Finding Coffee for the Psycho" we headed west to explore the ocean side. Along the way, I remembered reading about the World Parrot Refuge Monica thought I was nuts when I blurted out that I wanted to stop there because I hadn't told her about it ahead of time. I had, in fact, forgotten about it until I saw the place. We walked in to the sound of squacking screeching parrots of all shapes, sizes and colors and met Wendy who told us the facts about parrots as pets and how much care they require and how they really aren't meant to be pets. People are unaware of how much work they are and how much attention they need and grow tired of them or are unable to care for them so they end up at this refuge. At this point, she has 700 birds that she and a staff of 9 care for. It was really pretty amazing.
Monica made a new friend named Nike who apparently adopted her as his chick. She thought he was giving her kisses, when, in reality, he was feeding her down feathers from his back. She ate enough feathers to stuff a pillow. "I thought he was giving me kisses!" she exclaimed when I told her the bird was force feeding her ass feathers. I thought for sure she felt the down stuck to her mouth. It was the funniest thing I'd seen in a while. I had to pluck her before we left. Oh, yes, another funny at the expense of Monica. After we left we had a really good lunch at a seafood place called the Clam Bucket in Port Alberni even though Monica said she was just "stuffed" after all those feathers. She did manage to help me eat a pretty darn tasty "candied halibut." She had already done the gastronomic tour, having eaten a handful of smoked salmon and a famous "Nanaimo bar."
We spent the night in our tent. We didn't come too prepared to "camp." I am, by nature, a terrible planner and we somehow miscommunicated about what we needed to "camp." For instance we have no matches, light, flashlights, stove, food, or beverages. So, when it gets dark, we have to go to bed. I told her it's more like being homeless than it is like camping. She has been less than amused with me and my crappy attitude. I believe she may be trying to lure the cougar or a bear into our tent at night and claim my untimely death was an "accident."
We did have a very nice day hiking through the rainforest and along the Pacific Coast Trails. As I was walking along I found what I thought was a dropping of some animal until it started to move across the path. It turned out to be a banana slug, which I quickly rescued from the path because I knew he'd be squashated if I left him there. I then made it a kind of game to find them. I was going to take a picture of the first one I discovered, but he was black, like a very over-ripened banana slug. Monica said, "You know that picture will look like you took a picture of dog poop."
I peered through the camera lens and composed a picture. "Yep, you're right. Looks just like a turd."
When I force fed one to Monica she said they did not really taste like bananas at all.
Enjoying a relaxing moment on the beach.
We are here in Tofino where we found a little coffeeshop that had wireless. It's hard to find here on the island. We're fine, really. Monica is happy to report she had a wonderful salmon burger for dinner. We'll be heading back to our shelter soon for the night. Tomorrow, we're heading out to who knows where.