Tales from the Campfire

Janie and I spent this past weekend camping at Dosewallips State Park with our friend Carrie and her son, Emilio. After we jammed everyone and everything in the car, which was no small feat, we were on our way down Highway 99 toward the Edmonds/Kingston Ferry. There was a short line at the dock, so while the others waited, hermetically sealed in their seats, I ran over to the “Mart” for some breakfast snacks. It smelled like patchouli and offered a random combination of snack foods and other weird shit assembled together on one folding table. It was almost worse than that time we had a garage sale and my brother-in-law tried to sell a microwave can of Dinty Moore stew for $20 alongside a pair of his used underwear for ten cents. I passed up the wall of every cheap, watered down brand of beer imaginable, including those white cans simply marked “BEER”, which I am sure they stopped making when I was in sixth grade. I grabbed the most appetizing assortment of things that I could dig out from the near-empty shelves, including beef jerky, honey roasted cashews, a pack of “crunch” flavored donuts, a chicken and turkey Lunchable and a can of Pepsi. As the cashier rang me up I browsed the keepsake table offering up a white t-shirt and a bell. We passed the snacks around the car except The Celiac only got to eat the nuts because everything else contained gluten, so while we were all full on dried beef and heavily processed squares of cheese and circles of meat, her stomach was grumbling and near-empty. We did manage to cheer her up on the ferry with a cup of hot chocolate.

After a short ride across the water, we departed into Kingston and made our way to the Dosewallips State Park, nestled between Hood Canal and the Dosewallips River. Our Google Map directions made no sense so we instead followed our hearts, which led us to the Olympic National Forest and, an hour later, our campground. Dosewallips is located just outside of Brinnon, Washington. Brinnon is made up of a gas station/store, four ramshackle houses, a sprawling nursery and garden center that was far more grandiose than the ones in Seattle and a restaurant/lounge. The people are lovely – all five of them.

Janie and I had our own tent, which was nice because Emilio is typically male in the department of noxious fumes shooting out from one’s ass. While we set up our temporary housing, Carrie mentioned that we didn’t seem to have the hatchet from our prior trip, but that we could use Emilio’s baseball bat to pound in the stakes. As she said this, I remembered that the hatchet was in the box where we had packed up all of our pots, pans, cups, utensils, tablecloth, playing cards, knives and other camping necessities. Then I remembered that the box was sitting on our kitchen table, where it had been for three weeks in preparation for this trip, brimming with every necessary food preparation tool we needed. Of course, I blamed Janie because when things go wrong or missing, it is her fault. That was in our wedding vows. “I Janie take you Linsey to be my gay wife. I will take care of you when you’re sick. I will love you forever, despite your best efforts to make it very difficult to do so. I will pay the bills on time, take my shirt off when I get home from work, stop making that disgusting stir fry and I’ll take the blame when everything goes wrong. In return, all I ask is that you not make me go to Costco, Home Depot or Target by myself.”

It took me about 15 minutes to get past my hysteria and realize that we did not need to pack up and go home because it was all a worthless venture into seeing how much shit we could fit into the car but still not manage to bring anything to make it possible to eat something not chips over three days. After we unpacked enough things to sit comfortably in the car, we took a drive to the gas station/store to see what we could find. In anticipation of us suckers from Seattle, they stocked the shelves with one pot, two pans, a hatchet and playing cards so that our trip was saved along with my sanity.

We spent some time wading into the river on Friday afternoon. It was colder than I expected, so when we stepped out of the water, our legs were a bright shade of pink, but no one cared because suddenly Carrie’s osteoarthritic foot was pain-free and Janie’s ass, which she injured only God knows how, felt better. Was the river a miraculous healer or were they just too frozen to feel the pain? We spent significantly more time in the river on Saturday afternoon, after Janie and Carrie took a long hike into the forests of Dosewallips State Park and I sat around while Emilio chopped wood for the fire and made his Auntie Linsey another drink. The second time in the river we all managed to completely submerge ourselves and, at some point, attempt to swim against the current which was nearly impossible. I almost lost my shoes, shorts, wedding ring and dignity on several occasions. I grabbed our towel to dry my hair on the way back to our campsite and since we’d left it out overnight, I should have checked it for any sort of funny business, but I didn’t and I paid for it with a head smelling of what I can only imagine was raccoon or squirrel or chipmunk pee. It was almost like being at home with Carson peeing on my pillow. Luckily, forest pee washes out quite well and it only took one long, lathery dose of Herbal Essences travel shampoo to get my hair back to smelling like a campfire. If Herbal Essences would like me to create an ad campaign for them, I’d be happy to. Here’s a sample of how I can help market your product:

Antonia from Top Chef: OH, Damn! I think a squirrel peed on my towel and I just rubbed it in my hair!

Stephanie from Top Chef: It’s okay, Antonia. I have just the thing. Herbal Essences makes a travel shampoo for just such incidents. So when you’re camping and a forest animal takes a tinkle on your pillow, you have just the thing to wash that squirrel pee right our of your hair!

AfTC: Wow! That sounds great, but are you sure it will work?

SfTC: I’m positive! Here, let me show you. Just take off your clothes and step into this shower and let me lather you up.

AfTC: Thanks, Stephanie! That feels nice and it smells fantastic. Bye bye squirrel urine, hello Herbal Essences travel shampoo.

SfTC: And don’t forget, they also make a body wash. Check it out!

AfTC: Oh! Stephanie…that tickles!

I have hundreds more like this, Herbal Essences! Call me!


  1. August 27, 2008

    Oh cripes that is ridiculously fun to read.

  2. E's Mom
    August 27, 2008

    Really, I don’t know what those Seventh Day Adventists did to the water but I am STILL pain-free. Quick! Someone bottle that water and sell it for an over-inflated profit!

  3. August 28, 2008

    i have a very special gift for forgetting the most important things i will need on a trip. i get all manic before a trip and pack stuff that we haven’t used in a year, just in case we need it.

    i wish i had been smart enough to have those types of commitments in our marriage vows, it could have very well saved my husband much nagging.

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