Sunday, August 21, 2011

Birthday Camping Part 1

 Kelly has a great group of friends.  Almost daily, I am so grateful that we put her ahead a year, rather than letting her go through school with the group of kids her own age.

Two of her best friends had a birthday last month, and their mom decided to do a "Beach Camping Birthday Party" for them.

That was this past week.

While Krista was planning this, she'd talked with me about how she was just a little bit apprehensive about taking upwards of 10 girls camping, and being the only adult.  Without thinking, I said "oh, I think this would be a fun thing to chaperone", and before you know it, I was the second 'responsible adult' on the trip.

We left civilization at noon on Thursday, heading south towards the beach.  It was a sunny and clear morning, but as we looked westward, there was a thick blanket of fog pushing over the mountain range between us and the coast.  This did not bode terribly well for 'fun in the sun', but we brought extra layers, and hoped for the best.

By the time we got to Santa Cruz, and turned south on the 1, the temperatures were hovering in the 50s, and it was very, very grey.

We got to the campground in time for a late lunch, and immediately put on all the warm clothes we could find.  The wind was picking up.

(as a fun aside:  I pull up to the ranger station in my van, after my girlfriend (who has all the 12 year old campers in her car goes through).  The ranger looks at me, and says "Man, you look familiar", and i echoed the sentiment.  Turns out she had been Kelly's Horse Camp counselor after second and third grade.  Everyone sing along with me "It's a small world, after all!".)

Anyways, we get to the campground, but we're a bit early, and the people in our site haven't cleared out yet, so we go to the picnic area, and have lunch.  Then, to warm up a bit more, we loaded up all the gear from the vans, and had the girls turn into sherpas for the walk to the campsite.

It was cold, so all the hiking, and heavy loading was good to keep the girls warm.  We set up camp under cold grey skies.

And just as the tents were pitched, the sun burned through the fog, and we were left with a glorious afternoon.

There were a gazillion steps from the campsite down to the beach.  You don't want to forget anything at the top, and have to go back up.  But of course, I did have to make the trip a couple of times.  I looked at it as 'instead of going to the gym'.

But look at the beach!

But hold on a minute... what's that out in the waves?

Let's take a closer look.

Yup.  The girls boogie-boarded with the dolphins.

But my goodness, was the water EVER cold.  I have NO idea how they stayed out in it for so long.  but soon they were needing a chance to warm up, and out onto the warm sand they came.

And a little bit of fun with a kite...
Just as the girls were getting ready to go back into the water one last time before sunset, this enormous cloud of birds came swirling down the coast.  They were a mix of several species.  Gulls and pellicans, for sure, but the majority of birds were just smaller than a gull, and darker colored.

It was just spectacular to watch.  It must have been nearly a quarter of a mile across.  This is just a tiny section of the swarm.  I wanted to get in closer, so I might be able to identify the majority bird in the swarm, but I just couldn't.

Anyways, the sun was hanging lower in the sky, so it was soon time to head back to camp for supper and dry, warm clothes.

It was delicious.  Pasta, and barbecued chicken and burgers on toasted buns.
And then it was time to build a fire and tell ghost stories and roast marshmallows.

Quiet hours started at 10, so at 9, once things were getting really chilly, we packed it in, and the girls went into their jumbo tent to play Dixit and Pictionary.  And once 10 hit, we made sure that the girls turned off the lantern, and quieted right down.  I kind of wish we hadn't, though, because there was a crowd of drunken yahoos in the next campsite, and they weren't feeling terribly law-abiding, once they'd finished off their 3rd bottle of Jack Daniels.  They were whooping and hollering until well after 1am.  Of course, I heard very little, as I was nearly dead to the world five minutes after my head hit the very hard pillow on the very hard dirt.

I'll get to the second part of this narrative tomorrow, after I get in touch with the pediatric orthopedists.  I'm hoping that they'll see Kelly first thing in the morning.  And then i'll need to find some free wifi, as PG&E  is shutting down the power in our neighbourhood all day.

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