All y’all know I live off the grid, right? “Off the grid” only means that we live off of the power grid. Someone could ostensibly be living “off the grid” in New York City if they were living off of the main power grid there. What I REALLY mean to say when I say that we live “off the grid” is that besides providing for all of our own power needs, besides getting our internet via a satellite dish and besides having no telephone reception whatsoever, we live WAAAAAAAAAAY the hell out there! I mean, UPS and FedEx won’t deliver to us, and neither will USPS. Our closest neighbors are two miles away. We live waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay the hell out there by LOST COAST standards, and the Lost Coast is in itself waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay the hell out there.
We live in a yurt that is like slightly glorified camping. Our sink is balanced on some plywood supports, every item we use in the “house” is on it’s last legs (- we don’t want to really invest in anything until the inside drywall and flooring is done, but that’s another post). Cutlery? What my mom gave us! Dishes? Whatever’s unbreakable from Costco! Sofa? Um… carpet! Toilet? Outhouse! We *do* have running water (and it’s amazing water, coming straight from our own water springs). And we’ve got hot water too!
But it’s pretty basic up here in a lot of ways. It’s life off the grid.
So, yeah… CAMPING!
The whole concept is sort of hilarious, really, when you think about it, right?!
I mean, you drive for hours and hours.
And you get to use porta-potties! Sometimes pay showers! Little grill things to make a fire in – and lets not forget the asphalt spaces for car parking!
We were going to hang out with one of my besties, Katie, and meet her friend, Corinne.
We were all bringing a kid or three, coming from various parts of California, and hadn’t seen each other for a long time.
Good thing for Katie.
I met Katie in my late 20’s. I was in Taiwan to see my brother Dana, and I had stopped over in Taipei to visit my friend Liz. Who was friends with Katie. It turned out that both Katie and I were getting ready to move to the San Francisco Bay Area (she from Taipei, and me, from Tokyo).
She and I connected when we both actually moved, and then became good friends. Which was what, a whole life time ago. Back when her job singing and waitressing at Max’s in SF was super sweet, I was an elder caregiver and we both loved partying wherever, whenever we could.
Pre-husbands. Pre-kids. Pre-adulting.
It’s amazing how much can change in 1o years, isn’t it? I mean, think of it. 1o years ago, Obama wasn’t even known, Donna Summer was still alive and iPhones didn’t exist. But some things never change and one thing that hasn’t changed about Katie is her adorable Midwestern sensibility and charming customs. Like this:
Take a fresh banana. Slice it open, and gently place a smattering of chocolate chips inside.
Wrap tight in tin foil and roast it over the fire.
Right when the kids were in the tent quietly watching the show, a guy from the camp next door came over and apologized for being loud, told Katie and Corinne to holla if it got to be too much, and Katie said something like, “see all those little shoes outside that tent?!!”
The Junior Ranger program is one of the best things about camping with kids. Or just going to a campground in general. It’s really pretty awesome. My two little ones weren’t all that into it after half an hour – they are still just too young – but Micah was, and so were Katie and Corinne’s boys.
S’mores. Because Katie Makes Things Happen. After a lifetime of, “sure! we can make s’mores!” then “oh no, it’s too late, I don’t want you going to bed with all that sugar in you…maybe tomorrow…“coming from me, my kids were THRILLED. Like, thrilled in the incredulous way – “is this really happening? Are we REALLY going to get ’em?”
Micah set up the camp stove for me, and then urged me to make coffee for myself, “I think you need your coffee more than I need my hot chocolate, mommy.” I’m sure it was true, but what made him say that??? Was I shaking?? Frothing at the mouth? Snappy and wild-eyed?!
Hopefully next year Katie and Corinne will come camping in my back yard – where I am, there isn’t a line to get in (because most people don’t even know where the entrance is!). Where I am, people tell me that it’s completely quiet at night (once the kids are asleep). Where I am, the star-filled night sky begins at your feet when you are in an open space, and people lift their hands off of their steering wheel in greeting as they drive past you.