So in the vast and complex universe of Wenoses, there remains a simple truth: Moses and I don't really vacation together. Not that we don't want to but it seems like every year, when glancing at our summer schedules we are confronted with the unfortunate and all too familiar realization that approximately 0.01% of our vacation time overlaps. You'd think that after nine consecutive years of this happening it would either no longer phase us or that we'd finally get the hint and start planning earlier. But no. Each year it comes as a complete and utter surprise and each year it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.
The most that Mose and I can hope for is to steal away from a long weekend or two. Yes, I know: our lives are horrible. I too am shocked that Oprah never did an episode about it.
As I am sure you all remember--and if you don't, check your diaries because I am sure you must have written about it--Memorial day weekend the Wilks boy and I ran off to San Clemente. This weekend, to honor the ole Independence of the Republic and the death of many a red coat, we went camping in Catalina. That seems pretty American, right? Well, maybe not to Pimungans.
Anyways, I've been wanting to do this basically since I moved out here. But, you know. Life and stuff trumps all. And yes, my eloquence is unparalleled blah blah blah. Stop embarrassing me.
But I'm getting away from myself. So the whole camping in Catalina thing has never quite worked out but now that Moses is finishing his program and our time in LA has a more imminent expiration date, I was determined. I maybe even told Moses we were doing it first and asked questions later but who remembers? Not me. Nevertheless, the trip was booked and we were excited.
Fast forward to the night of July 4th and Moses and I are packing for our trip. It's been a while since I've been camping and I have sort of forgotten all the subtle nuances involved. I keep trying to add ridiculous things like lotion to our list. Moses scoffs. But what if my skin gets dry? I ask sincerely. It's camping Wendy, it's suppose to be uncomfortable.
And there it is. My memories of what camping actually is come flooding back to me, alongside a clear recollection of what it means to "rough" it in the Adirondacks. I am then faced with the startling fact that I don't like to be uncomfortable and all my dreams of once being a low maintenance female specimen are promptly dashed. Gone are the days of playing Oregon trail in the side yard with my brothers. Give me liberty or give me my box of Kleenexes and a pair of nail clippers, I guess. Is it too late to sign up for glamping?
The next morning, Moses and I rise at 5AM, shower, and pile our gear into the car to get to the Newport ferry by 8AM. While we are finishing zipping up the last back pack, some hooligans set off a lunch pale full of fire crackers in the alley behind our apartment. Suckas! We're already awake.
Good lord, Kozak get on with it. I am getting, I am getting.
So, the drive down to Newport is surprisingly pleasant and Moses and I are both cheery despite neither of us being morning people. In fact, you can safely file me under AM troll. I had gotten discounted tickets through my work and damn it, LA, if your discounted anything doesn't continually surprise me with all its hidden fees.
When we arrive, we quickly learn that we have to pay $15/day for parking. Happy Freedom from Oppression for us! There was an additional $12 processing fee for...I don't know, maybe the city of Newport needed it to buy a new pair of roller blades or something. Our gear is heavy and we heave it into a veeeeeerry long line. When we finally board the boat, we get stuck on the tippy-top, totally exposed to the elements and the icy ocean air. By this point the bloom was fading pretty fast from the Wendy Rose.
We arrive in Catalina around 10:30AM and check in at our campsite isn't until 2PM. So we lug our back packing backpacks and cooler and weave our way in and out of the throngs of tourists on the dreadfully crowded and festively decorated streets of Avalon.
By the time 12:30 PM rolls around, Moses and I exhausted and annoyed with carrying around all our stuff. We decide to stop and get a coffee before we head up to the campsite. I have no cash. I never have cash and every single place in Catalina has a $10 minimum for credit cards. So there I stand in the coffee shop with puffy face and friction burns on my shoulders, trying to piece together a $10 order when all I really want is $5 worth of coffee. But luckily, I have been blessed with the type of optimistic personality that tends to make the most out of things.
[Pause for dramatic effect.]
Our campground is a mile and a half from town, so Moses and I down our overpriced caffeinated milkshakes and decide to hitch a ride there on the Avalon trolley. The trolley comes by within moments and stops. We begin to perform the frantic scramble to assemble all our gear to board when the trolley driver (conductor?) wordlessly points to a sign that reads: NO COOLERS OR LUGGAGE ALLOWED ON BOARD.
Here, I am at my lowest point. I'm still lamenting the $45.00 I will have to shell out for parking when we return to the main land, I am running on a generous four and a half hours of sleep, I have been heaving around bags that are too heavy even for my Jillian Michaels sculpted muscles and now I am being told that I have to walk a mile and half to my camp ground in the rising heat of the day. Son of a mother.
So Moses and I uncomplaining begin the trek, making stops every now and then to shift and rearrange the bags that we are carrying. But then.
A man in a truck that reads: Hermit Gulch (the name of our campground, attractive I know) stops and asks if we want a ride up there. I hedge internally. Serial killer or good Samaritan? I have this debate far more often than I would like to. He's in a truck for the campsite so that's got to be legit. Moses and I exchange glances, look up the road at seemingly endless path ahead of us, and quickly answer yes in unison.
Turns out the guy was a serial killer.
Just kidding. He was an incredibly cool park ranger who complained about the high price of everything on the island and made fun of the yuppie crowd that frequents the nearby Catalina golf courses.
This moment, readers, is the turn around. From here, our travels get exponentially better.
We arrive at Hermit Gulch and they allow us to check in an hour early. We find a nice secluded spot with plenty of shade for our tent. Each campsite comes equipped with a charcoal grill and picnic table. In the middle of the camp grounds, there are showers and flush-able toilets. It was like something out of a Jay-Z video, only awesomer.
Moses and I set up camp and decide to test out one of the many nearby and raved about hiking trails. We make our way towards the start of the trail when I see this.
Blood pressure. Roof. Go.
I knew that there were rattlesnakes on Catalina Island. Anytime I go anywhere new I always research what types of poisonous snakes live there. I need to know what I am up against. Whatever, it's normal. I had asked Moses to bring the snake bite kit on the hike, just as a precaution. I didn't really think we would need it. But then I saw that sign near the entrance and another one on the trail and, well, let's just say that my muscles remained tense and my spidey sense was on high alert, ready to stomp a rattlesnake to death at a moment's notice.
Aside from one false alarm--methought me heard a rattle; it turned out to be a dragon fly--that sent me scaling Moses' torso, there was nary a rattler in sight and it was an overall pleasant hike with a number of pleasant views.
That night Moses and I walked back into town for some Mexican food. I was on a big Pacifico and shrimp taco kick.
We walk back to our campsite later that evening and have some Trader Joe's boxed wine and s'mores. Everything bad that had happened that day seems to melt away into an overwhelming feeling of repose. I am here, in nature, with my Moses. There is a cool breeze and life is good. Hemingway much? Why yes, sometimes its best.
The next day Moses and I rise early, putter around the campsite with our coffee (yet another luxury provided for us by the campground) and then walk to the nearby botanical gardens and Wringley Memorial.
We saw lots of neat plants.
With some funny names...
Sorry. Apparently, I am a twelve year old boy.
The Wringley Memorial was pretty impressive and I forced Moses to take a series of obnoxious yet totally organic and not at all posed pictures.
That afternoon, we walk into town again and decide to rent a kayak. Our options are to rent one for two hours, half a day (4 hours and deceptively named), or all day. We determine that the two hour rental suits our needs best but other than our cell phones, we don't have a watch. So Mose and I stop at a local drugstore and ask for the cheapest watch that they had, which was this:
Cute Cat. A delightful Hello Kitty rip off.
Oh? You wanted to know what time it is?
BAM. Cat time!
Needless to say, I wore that watch for the remainder of the weekend.
So with watch safely fastened to Wendy's wrist, we kayak up the coast of the island and stop for some swimming and another photo op, naturally.
You know, that's how we do.
We thoroughly enjoy making fun of all the pun related boat names, like Wait 'n Sea. Shakespeare called and said you are an idiot. Only he something much cleverer than that...
Anyways, when we get back to shore, we poke around town for a bit more.
That's me posing with Old Ben. Whoring himself out for tourists' photographs since 1896. It's like being part of history!
Next, we treat ourselves to an ice cream from the homemade waffle cone shop. The scent of the baking waffle cones permeates the air around it. It's what I think heaven must smell like.
We head back to the campsite later that evening and have an authentic charcoal bbq. The sort of bbq that I have been craving ever since the summer officially began.
And the light was hitting the hills just so that it seemed for a moment like something out of the rural landscapes of upstate New York. I felt very nostalgic and very content.
The next day, once we packed up our gear and checked out of our campsite, we had the whole rest of the afternoon to do whatever the hell we wanted. Here are the remnants:
Consensus: it was an excellent weekend. We have the sunburns to prove it.
Incidentally, when I told Moses how long this blog post was getting, he replied: "sounds like it could benefit from some serious editing."
I think not.
Vacation slideshow complete. I hope you enjoyed your boredom.