The refusal of the route south of Big Sur to stop mud from sliding onto its thoroughfare has resulted in a most unexpected turn of events discovery, thanks to several industrious and well-traveled friends I have on Facebook. As we were stranded in Santa Barbara, it was suggested by several folk that we look into El Capitan Canyon. These lodgings were only 20 minutes from SB but worlds away in terms of experience. We are camping. Well, not exactly camping—El Capitan Canyon is a resort/campground that offers what is known as “glamping”— glamourous camping. I think the word “glamping” is a terrible term, not at all onomatopoeic; it suggests galumphing, which is not right. El Capitan is a rustic resort offering camping for those who wouldn’t even contemplate pitching a tent. It offers tents and cabins, but cabins with running water and heat and a microwave; no television but wi-fi; a fire pit and no stove but a general store where you can buy comprehensive dinners and tools to put on the grill or a “s’mores kit” complete with elegant skewers to toast your marshmallows. You’re in the middle of the wilderness, but with well-defined trails and numbers on your cabin or yurt. It’s as close to camping as I am willing to get.
Driving to our designated spot (only to unload; cars are restricted to certain roads) it felt like I was going to camp. I even started wheezing, for nostalgia’s sake. Our cabin was indeed creekside, right by our friends’. One big room with a queen size bed and a loft for the kid. Good, hot water pressure. A porch with 2 chairs and an outdoor picnic table. A pool nearby and dim internet connection which comes and goes. Absolutely unreliable cellphone coverage, at least with Sprint. Perfect for cutting oneself off from technology, but not TOO much. I can blog, but only when the wind is blowing in the right direction.
The kids love it: lots of birds and ground squirrels and places to explore, even a truculent skunk who comes to visit us at night. We take a trail to see llamas and the caretaker there (complete with border collie, stick in mouth) allows us into his pastures to get close to goats and sheep and a very amenable donkey. Flashlights at night, lots of running around waving sticks.
Doug, is in his element, surprisingly, but perhaps it’s because he can build a wood fire AND still shop Gilt online. This laid-back atmosphere suits him, toasting s’mores, telling tales while hiking and sniffing out spiders by flashlight (don’t ask— it’s mystical). His face is red and his hair smells like a brushfire.
|“Wait… can I get wifi here?”
I have settled in somewhat less comfortably. This city mouse is unused to the country rhythm. I find us unprepared for “roughing it,” with no knife or cutting board and find it disconcerting to be eating at night when it’s dark out. A Frisbee fell into a slope rife with poison oak and there are very amusing pictures of me galumphing down the hill in a plastic bag, like I’m entered into some kind of downhill potato sack race, using tongs to pick up the frisbee and then unable to coordinate galumphing back up the hill. I make baked potatoes wrapped in foil that resemble lava rocks on the outside but that are thankfully fluffy inside. I’m slowly slowing down; by the time we leave on Thursday I should be just getting adjusted.
I do love the stars, though; I can take my iPad out into the blackness, turn on “Star Walks” and actually see what constellations I’m staring at. And I’ve found some measure of relief from my moratorium of app games, courtesy of a 6-year-old with a passion for paying board games who has brought along a suitcase full of them. Playing with someone else in person is perfectly legal, and so I’ve been able to get my fix in the form of Pairs in Pears, Appletters, Blokus, Chutes and Ladders and Monopoly.
Doug: Congratulations. You beat a six-year-old again.
Me: Yes, but he’s a very SMART six-year-old.
My normal urban life is circumscribed by a multitude of tethers: obligations, appointments, duties, and nests of coiled slim black cables twisting from the wall. There are many leashes on me, some I’m grabbing, some grabbing on to me. Detaching from these leashes isn’t easy, because while they may constrain you, they’re also holding you in place.
I’m learning. This morning I finally got up early and meditated, setting out my kneeling bench on the porch. No kids, no cooking, no plans. Just listening to the birds and the rush of the stream below. Letting thoughts, and attachments, drop into the water like leaves, and float, float away.
Ah, there’s the vacation.