1. There’s “free wireless internet” available.
2. Your car is within easy walking distance, let alone curbside to your tent.
3. You don’t need a shovel to bury your own poop (i.e. there’s a public restroom).
Regardless, I spent part of the weekend at Malibu Creek State Park. Just because the entire time was spent outdoors, and we slept in a tent, it doesn’t make this camping.
Looking past all that, the park itself was pleasant enough. Clean bathrooms, not too many bugs, and generally well kept grounds. Its nice to know that even a short drive can get you far enough away to see the Milky Way after the sun sets and fall asleep to the sound of crickets that almost drowned out the drunken frat boys who stayed up til 3am at the site next to ours. (Dudes, if you’re reading this, drunk dialing your friends on your cell phone to say you’re in the wilderness really kills the illusion).
We never ventured farther than our temporary postal of land, but the park boast a fiften miles of trails, a rock pool, and plenty to see to make you forget about living in Los Angeles… like the remains of old sets from M*A*S*H and Planet of the Apes.
Speaking of the drunken frat boys, while playing football and managing to hit each of our cars at least once with a fumbled pass, one of them started complaining of being stung by a bunch of bees, and walked over to our little compound to find out if we had a first aid kit. Our fearless leader (known in podcasting circles as the AmHam) sliced up an onion and told the frat boy to rub them on his stings. He was as surprised as I was to say it really worked – rubbing an onion on the bee sting eliminated the pain and reduced the swelling.
In the meantime, another frat boy playing football also complained of a bee sting, and walked over for help. Again, the onion saved the day. All the while, the rest of the fraternity kept playing football in the same general area, and every couple minutes one or two would complain of a bee sting. Eventually, one suggested that maybe they should move somewhere else to play football.
Nose grease vs. champagne
Apparently too impatient for the bubbly to settle on recently poured plastic cups of champagne, the AmHam showed a trick he’d learned from catering staff: he briefly rubbed his nose with his index finger to collect a smidgen of grease, then tapped the champagne fizz, instantly settling it. After some experimentation, my girlfriend said it also worked with sodapop. I’m torn between disgusted and just disbelieving.
The Albertsons on Las Virgenes, right off the 101 as you head down to the park, is possibly quite the best organized grocery store in all of L.A. The first thing we bumped into upon entry was a display for s’mores – marshmallows, Hershey bars, and graham crackers, all on one shelf. Since this is what we’d stopped off for, it was like a blessing from the cavity fairy.
But as someone who was raised in the Midwest, what really struck me was that they referred to soda-pop as “pop” – not “soda” like the rest of Los Angeles. I never thought the West Valley could endear me, but this small touch brought a tear to my eye.
Who needs raincoats?
If there’s one thing I know about Los Angeles weather, its that no matter how sunny it is, no matter the forecast for clear skies, if you’ve planning any sort of outdoor activity in advance it will rain. Alas, while normally I’d have brought a poncho just in case, my girlfriend looked at me like an idiot when I’d suggested we pack a couple.
So, indeed, on our first night under the stars in forever, it rained… the first shower since April during one of the driest years in Los Angeles’ history.