July 4, 2005

Happy Independence Day

E & I just concluded one of the best Fourth of July celebrations I can remember. Fireworks? Yeah, I've been listening to 'em loudly screaming and booming in the night. But I haven't seen a single one, unless you count the teenager across the street who threw poppers into the street so the cars that drove by would make 'em pop. Normally, the fireworks are a major part of the reason why I sleep with a smile after the 4th. But no, despite the awesome power of explosives, and my full support of a holiday that uses them for entertainment instead of evil, this Fourth was great because of the way it worked out, which somehow involved no staring at flashing light.

See, back in January, E2 and I looked for open campsites where we could camp and celebrate the holiday weekend. As is our norm, we were behind the curve and several of our first choices were already fully booked. Two years prior, E2 & I had gone to washburn campsite in San Simeon. The chemical toilets stank up the entire campground, the fog never cleared, the sites were too close, we were awoken every morning at the ungodly hour that old people think is morning by the sound of their RV generators that were 20 feet away at best on both sides, there were no trees at the campsite, there was only one hike and it wasn't that good, it didn't warm up above 65F the whole weekend, and well, in general, it was suboptimal. Sure, we had fun, because hey--it was vacation, and camping, and with friends--how could we not have fun. But, despite the fun, the other negatives made us cross San Simeon off the list of posssible summer camping destinations.

Never say never though. Because when everything else is booked for July by January, you start to reconsider your options. Damnit, we wanted to camp! So this time, we booked a site at san simeon creek instead of Washburn. This weekend couldn't have been more different than last time. Again, we were right next to the bathrooms (driving from the bay area on on a Friday night means you arive later than the locals and get to check into one of the last available sites), but they were flush toilets that were cleaned daily. And really, when camping, proximity to the toilets is not a bad thing if they don't stink. The building acted as a noise and wind block on that side while we were blessed with trees to block the noise and wind (and provide shade from the sun for E--who's a sun wuss, and doing Georgia proud with a nice red neck after this weekend). Unlike last time, where we had a nice view of the parking lot, the view from this site showed us deep blue ocean, a cliff, and behind us, the gorgeous california foothills. To make sure we enjoyed ourselves, the fog burned off each day around noon and beat the weather forecast by about 10-20 degrees (I'd resigned myself to 60 degree days, it would be worth it to hang out with friends and relax). So, now, I'm dark, full of Vitamin D and just generally happy.

E2 & S/O came as planned. Additionally, D & R (who decided on Thursday to fly up from Southern California--an AWESOME addition to the plans) showed up. We all hung out in the sun during the day, playing bocce ball on the beach, lazing around, drinking beer, wine, soda and water, getting sun burnt, eating gourmet food (car camping) and reading books. Each morning, E & I slept in. And each evening, we all gathered around the fire and talked about everything and nothing.

At the end of the weekend, E & I even managed to fit in a visit to my grandparents and I was happy to see that my papa's anger at the dog is expressed with more vehemence than the last time--clearly he is feeling better.

Overall, I can't imagine a better way to spend the holiday. Friends, sun, beach, bocce, grandparents, reading, sleep, and amazing food (thanks to E2 who did all the shopping and pulled some mad favors from the carniceria). At around $50 per person total for three days including food, lodging, and parking, it was a bargain of a vacation. And yet, despite the low price, in terms of enjoyment, it was high on the list of favorites for the year. Not to mention that there's nothing quite like that first shower after not showering after 3 days of dirt, smoke, smores and grime.

Basically, I feel very lucky to have spent such a wonderfully relaxing and fun weekend with friends who could join me and can't help but think that it's a future payment to compensate me for the weekend of sucktitude that July 4th will most likely be next year while I'm studying for the bar. Oh well. I'm full of good food, relaxed and tan. I'll worry about the bar when I'm actually studying for it. The focus this summer is on fun. So far, so good.

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