“Shoot, I forgot the tinfoil. For the baked potatoes.” I looked at Mike, who kept his eyes ahead on the path’s gentle curves. It hugged the ocean, the way back to the campsite.

“That’s okay. We’ll figure something out,” he said, pulling Rusty to heel. “We can use two pans to create an oven for them. Stick it over the fire.”

“I didn’t bring pans,” I said. “None of the meals I planned included anything that needed a pan.”

“What about the chili?”

“You don’t need a pan for chili. You just set the can over the fire.”

“Oh. Well, we’ll figure something out.”

“We can ask someone at the campsite. Maybe the camp hosts.”

“We’ll figure something out.”

“Camping fail,” I muttered.

I always forget to pack something every camping trip. Thank goodness this time it was something I could borrow, unlike the time I forgot wool socks.

We got back to the campsite and Mike started putting together the fire. I usually bogart that coveted task, but as I’d been the one to forget the foil, I set about amending my mistake. The air had cooled significantly. I pulled on the flannel shirt from around my waist against the chill as I walked to the next campsite.

The middle-aged man stood by a Vanagon and several plastic tubs. At first I thought the piles of equipment on the table were fishing gear, but as I closed the distance I saw it was pieces of an easy-up and boxes full of Coleman lanterns and dingy mess kits.

“Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you,” I said. He looked up from untying a bag of tent stakes.

I stated my purpose quickly. “You wouldn’t happen to have any tin foil?”

“As a matter of fact, I do,” he said, nodding at the Reynolds Wrap on the table. “Help yourself.”

“Thank you so much. You always forget something on a camping trip, huh?” I remarked.

“Oh yeah. Except I think we’ll be pretty well covered. This is all Boy Scout stuff,” he said, looking over at the tubs. “They’re coming up later tonight. Each troop has its own supplies. We bring `em all. I think we have anything you could possibly need.”

“Yeah, I bet.” I set about pulling off two slices of paper-thin foil.

“So, where are you from?” he asked.

“Los Angeles.”

“Oh cool, I have some relatives down there. Whittier, Century City. Even as far as Lancaster. Come down to see them every so often. I’m up in Fresno.”

“Oh, neat.” I suppressed my need to make a joke about California’s armpit. After all, if Fresno is California’s armpit, then Los Angeles is surely its cocaine-burned nose, or maybe its loud, obnoxious mouth.

After chatting a little more, I said goodbye and walked back to our campsite, radiating warmth I’d forgotten.

“Success!” I smiled. “Our neighbor let me have some.”

“Great,” Mike said, crouching by the half-teepee of logs.

“Don’t you just love camping?” I said. “It it feels like the only time we really have neighbors.”

As I set about wrapping up the potatoes, I smiled to myself, glad I wasn’t at home. Out of foil at home meant a quick run to the store. I’d have never known about the Boy Scout Troop from Fresno.

– – –

Photos from the trip

Sunset

House, Trees

Montana de Oro

IMG_2794

 

IMG_2808

Morro Rock

 

Rusty

Rusty, King of Morro Rock


Comments

Surprise Neighbors, Or Why I Love Camping — 43 Comments

  1. I’ve read too many serial killer books–I’d be afraid to speak to another living soul, just in case they were plotting for my kidneys. You’re very brave!
    Tina recently posted…Pine BoxMy Profile

  2. I never thought it possible to put the can of chili on fire,wouldn’t it explode,but then what do I know,I go camping with prepared food and always remember the utensils I need. Your trip is exciting and you know how to make do with what you have,it also requires a cool mind.I honestly have neither of those!
    Ranu

  3. Big fan of camping. Not such a big fan of southern California. You ought to look at what Northern Ca. has to offer in terms of scenic beauty. I have lived here all my life and LOVE it. And Fresno?? I have referred to Fresno as the armpit often. I laughed so hard at that. We have the other pit up north. Better known as the greater Stockton/Tracy area. Anyway, I loved this post. You are right. Campers for the most part are the friendliest people. I mean really, what do they have to be grumpy about? Thanks for sharing this post.
    Keep Inspiring

    • Oh, I love Northern CA! We were only gone for a weekend, so couldn’t drive that far. And I think only Californians understand the armpit reference. 😉 And I drove through Stockton once – it was scary.

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