This is a photo of the dirt road we travelled to get to the prized campsite:
As you can see it is reminiscent of some kind of third-world road in the Andes or something. We crept and cringed in my van, up and down this horrifyingly rutty road with sheer cliff drop-offs sometimes on both sides. When we arrived safely at our destination, Beth confessed that she had plead silently to The Virgin Mary for our lives. Later, sitting around the campfire drinking gin, she preached paganism as her religion of choice and I wanted to call her out and say, "You weren't praying to any of those pagan gods when you feared for your life, now were you?" But, I let it slide...
The two campsites that exist at the end of this road were empty and we had a gushing river gorge and hundreds of acres of pine and oak trees, rocks, lizards and earth to ourselves, exactly as I hoped we would.
C.C. is such a DIY rockstar. She erected the tent virtually by herself and cooked us some great meals. One morning she insisted on making grits. When I moaned she begged me to "Open my heart to grits" and pressured me into eating a sizable bowl of this tasteless mush. I only did it because I love her. The fried potatoes she whipped up kicked much ass, however, as did the vegan tacos.
I had an orange "Survival" whistle that I wore on a string like a necklace. The idea was to blow the whistle to frighten away any bears in the area. I ended up using it like a referee, blowing it every time anyone started having too much fun or violated one of my many rules of camping etiquette. For example, any mention of "alcohol-fueled experiments with lesbianism" or "sex with monks" resulted in a jarring blow of the whistle and a time-out for the offender. Often, I was laughing too hard to give the whistle a good blow and the resulting wimpy whistle would bring about more hysterics. When I would finally catch my breath, I'd give the whistle a hearty blow and order a time-out for everyone.
The highlight of the trip was this: After a day of steady drinking, the sun went down on us fast and Beth wandered off in the darkness to find a place to relieve herself. Wearing those damn sports flip-flops and having no flashlight, she quickly tumbled down a rocky incline. Panic seized my heart as C.C. and I ran over to the edge of the hill and shined the flashlight on Beth, who was on her ass, rubbing her knee and insisting she was okay.
As she was attempting to climb back up the hill (on her hands and knees), she reached for what she thought was a rock stuck in the earth to pull herself up with. As soon as she grabbed it, it came loose into her hand and started moving. She calmly said "Ew, living," and tossed it about five feet down the hill. C.C. screamed, "Oh my God! What was that?" And we shined the flashlight on the strange object only to discover that it was a GIANT COCKROACH, four inches long with a thick, chunky body like that of a small bird.
I tried denial. "No, that's not a cockroach," I insisted, "it's just a drunken hallucination." Beth didn't care because she was drunk and therefore at complete peace with nature, but C.C. wouldn't let it go and kept insisting that we all freak out about the giant cockroach while Beth pulled down her pants and peed right there in the dirt.
After I escorted Beth to the tent (where she promptly passed out) C.C. and I sat around the campfire, freaking out and jumping up every ten minutes to go examine this specimen as it flitted for its life in the dirt. C.C. thought it might be a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach and made me hold the flashlight while she poked it with a stick. But it didn't hiss. I should have taken a picture of it right then and there but the absolute psychological trauma of being exposed to the existence of such a hideous creature nearly caused me to lose my marbles and I needed some time to work up the courage to photograph it. Plus, it seemed fatally wounded and I wrongly assumed it would still be there in the morning. But it wasn't and its whereabouts remained a haunting mystery for the remainder of our time at that campsite.
If it had been me who had accidentally picked up a giant cockroach with my bare hands, I would have been flown out of that forest in a straight-jacket dangling from a helicopter and taken to the nearest mental institution where I would still be receiving electric-shock treatment at this time.
The best part about this campsite is the skinny-dipping-friendly swimming hole: