Monday, June 13, 2011

Camping in Yucca Valley: Part III

The last time I went camping was in 1977 or 78: just me and my dog, Zeke. We used to take off across the desert with a backpack for me & saddle bags for Zeke. As Zeke ate his kibble, I off loaded my stuff into his saddle bags. Hey! He’s a dog! What did he know? He loved it.

Forty-plus years later, I’m going camping again. This time I had a truck loaded with supplies. How can you go camping without that portable iPod speakers? Or an eight-man tent for two? Or a down comforter? Sheesh!

We went camping at Star Struck. The name sounds idyllic. Names and places are often not in synch. At this campsite, the stars were definitely the draw. (Read my prior two blogs to catch up, if you’ve not already.) Steven & I retired to our spacious, luxurious accommodations after an evening of gin rummy, dinner and two bottles of wine. OK, we drank three bottles of wine if you count lunch.

The wind had kicked up while we were playing cards and having dinner. The wind was howling by the time we returned to our tent. The tent was holding up to the wind and performing admirably. AND it was cold. We hung a spotlight from the center point of the tent and placed other on each “night table”. The tent was aglow with warm light.

Then we dove under the down comforters for warmth. We talked for what seemed like hours. “Hey, Steven. What time is it?” “9:30….” “That’s ALL??” We both dozed off. I dozed off… Steven is a light sleeper. He didn’t doze off.

I awoke with a start and a bladder in need of emptying. Steven was still awake. The lanterns were still alight. The tent seemed alive. It felt as if we were inside a living, breathing being. The tent’s walls were expanding. Contracting. Expanding. Eerie

“I gotta pee.”

“Me too.”

“It’s cold out.”

“Yeah, but I’ll bet the stars are incredible.”

“Let’s go.”

We did. The stars were incredible! We identified the Big & Little Dippers, Orin’s belt and others Steven knew. The lights were also on in the neighbor’s cabin. Curtains open. Yikes! Back into the tent and the warmth under the down covers.

I fell asleep. I can always fall asleep. Although, I woke often during the night to the breathing of the tent and the wind. Canvas tents don’t’ make much noise. These modern nylon/plastic tents make a hell of a racket. I’m half deaf. If it can wake ME up, I can only imagine how noisy this tent was! Did I say Steven is a light sleeper?

I woke again with the tent aglow with dawn’s light. I knew I was awake for the day. You know, it’s the type of awake where you just know you’ll not roll over for another 30 minutes of shut-eye. The kind of awake where you just gotta get up & moving.

Steven was awake. “So, What would you like to do this AM?” I asked. There was a brief pause. “I want to break camp & have breakfast in the truck on the way back to Palm Springs.”

I volunteered to head up to the kitchen with the tea kettle to boil water for our tea while we packed up. That done, we packed up our belongings, carried it all up to the truck, stuck the tent & folded it up in the howling wind. It was an excellent exercise in folding up that tent. We were able to get it down, folded up and stowed in its bag within 15 minutes! AND in howling winds! We froze our butts off in the process. Thankfully the sun was warm.

We were up at 7:55 AM and on the road back to Palm Springs by 10 AM. We dissed Star Stuck campgrounds all the way back to Palm Springs. We both agreed the experience was fun and “trying”. I gained a lot of useful information about my camping gear. Steven lost a lot of sleep.

That evening, Steven & I talked on the phone. “You know, Jer, that campsite just might be fun if you went with a group of guys you knew.” “So, Steven, are you saying you’d be willing to go again?” “Yeah. It was kinda fun in a weird kind of way.” “I know what you mean. The desert there is stunning!” “We did have a good time.”

Is that why the place is called Sun Struck?

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