(Read part 1 here)
I woke up to the sun streaming through the windows of Elaine’s van, shining on the orange pillows and vintage suitcases.
“Yes! Maybe it will finally warm up in here,” I thought, curling deeper into my sleeping bag. It had been a rather cold night.
I heard a rustle of tent and a rattle of pans. Sitting up, I saw Ashlie and Laurel walking around the campsite doing useful things like boiling water. I assumed Elaine was still asleep, because the blue sleeping bag at my feet had a large lump in it. I’d hoped the sun would warm the inside of the van like an oven, but that wasn’t happening. Oh well. If I was going to be cold anyway, I might as well get up.
Surprisingly, it was warmer outside than in the van. Which was great because we didn’t have much firewood.
It was so interesting to me how, with so little communication beforehand, we ended up with everything we needed. Ashlie brought an aeropress, Laurel brought a propane camp stove, I brought mugs, Elaine brought a pan, and we all brought tea bags. I was so proud that I’d remembered to bring camp chairs, until I opened them up and discovered that two of them were child sized.
“Don’t worry, they fit me perfectly,” said Elaine, plopping down in one. She was much smaller in person than I’d imagined she’d be.
We ate yogurt with granola and fruit, then shoved our motley crew of coolers and food boxes back into my car. We pulled out the maps of hiking trails that we’d procured, and tried to decide between the myriad of hikes available.
“Like, four miles,” Laurel decided, examining the map scale.
“So an eight mile hike, all together,” said Ashlie.
We decided to take a shorter hike of maybe three miles or so, come back to camp for lunch, and then drive to the beach. “This one looks nice,” said Elaine, pointing to the map. Cathedral trees trail.
And it was really just breathtaking.
We hopped off the trails to walk along fallen logs or climb into hollow trees. We felt like elves. Hobbits. Little ants, sometimes.
Which was kinda true, because all our phones died. Except Ashlie’s. We all stole her photos later.
We had to pay eight bucks for beach access, which made us Oregon girls mutter under our breath about those Californians. “It’s not even that great of a beach,” said Laurel, who lives in Bandon and is an expert on these things.
Still, the beach is the beach.
Ashlie and I dozed in the warm sand. Laurel wandered around, exploring, avoiding the water because she’d only brought one pair of pants. Elaine cartwheeled into the waves.
I didn’t know when I’d gone to bed, gotten up, or eaten lunch. I didn’t know how long I’d hiked, or dozed on the beach. We had no cell phone service, and most of our phones had run out of battery anyway. Normally I live a life where I must be in class at precisely 10:00 a.m. and papers are due online at 11:59 p.m. on the dot, and it was really, really nice to get away from that for a while.
Still, the sun eventually sank towards the ocean. We gathered driftwood to supplement our dwindling firewood supply, and Elaine bundled it into her gypsy scarf and carried it to the car.
“We know each other pretty well now,” said Elaine as we sat around our campfire that evening, cooking up an odd concoction of bacon, onions, and lentils. “So I have an idea. Let’s go around and say what kind of guy each of us needs.”
This made for an interesting discussion, but the impractical aspect was that none of us really knew anyone who fit the blissful descriptions we spit forth. “I know someone who would be perfect for Elaine, only he’s married,” said Ashlie.
“Everyone who I get matched with is already married,” said Elaine bitterly.
“Oh! I know someone who’s perfect for you!” I said, suddenly inspired. “I don’t remember his name. I’ll look him up on Facebook when I get home!”
I did. He’s in a relationship with someone else. Blast.
That night Laurel slept in the back seat of my car and Ashlie, Elaine, and I crowded into Elaine’s van. We piled blankets on top of ourselves and put extra sleeping bags underneath us and made a pillow barrier between us and the cold wall of the van. “I feel like a stick shoved inside a marshmallow,” I thought, as I struggled to even turn over.
But I was warm. Gloriously warm, all night long.
The next morning we drank more tea and ate more yogurt, and then went on a shorter hike. Our era of blissful timelessness was ending, because we had to check out of the camp by noon.
We made a thousand plans for camping trips of the future, but flying by the seat of our pants as we do, none of them are set in stone. So we packed up our things. Hugged. Said “goodbye,” and “next time,” and “I’ll miss you.”
Elaine took her gypsy van and drove south, and Laurel, Ashlie and I climbed back in my car and drove north to Oregon and home again.