Well, I'm back from my oddessey into the wilderness of central Massachusetts and the artificial land of plastic and pretense that is Los Angeles. I did not get eaten by bears. I did not get assaulted by Sean Penn. All in all, with a few minor quirks, it was a good few days. Do you want to hear more details? Settle down, don't all put your hands up at once. Here's the quick version.
Part I - Into The Wild
The plan was to meet at my friend Tim's house to gather up the group, pack up the cars, and barrel down to Munro State Park in Florida, Mass. We were supposed to meet at 6:00, except that I got a call from Tim at 3:00 saying he'd gotten home early and was already drinking. So at 4:00, I quietly stood up, glanced around, nonchalantly announced "I'm going for a cup of coffee", and walked out of the office, down to the parking lot, got in my car and headed for Tim's. I got there and two more friends were there, playing darts and casually sipping beers.
The bachelor and another friend arrived at 6:00. The six of us then piled into two cars (the remaining two friends had left that morning to start setting up the campsite) and took off. The drive took about three hours, and was uneventful except for two things:
1. I almost shredded my brakes on a wicked hill that felt like it was ten miles long.
2. My two passengers, upon learning that I didn't mind if they had a beer in the car, proceeded to get ROARING drunk over the course of the trip. Here's to designated driving.
We got to the park at around 9:30. It was PITCH BLACK. We all strapped on back packs with tents, sleeping bags, a cooler full of beers and whatever we could carry in our hands, and proceeded to hike for about an hour and fifteen minutes. On a narrow path that was next to a ledge that fell straight into a river. In complete and utter darkness, except for our headlamps. We each got blinded at least once. We each fell down at least once. We each drank at least one beer over the course of the hike. No one died or was (seriously) injured. I know, I was surprised too.
We arrived at the campsite at around 11:00, and it was absolutely awesome. Our advance team had done fine work. A fire was roaring, sausages were being grilled, a tarp had been set up as well as a couple of tents and two camping hammocks (also under tarps). We pitched the remaining tents, ate, and then hastily hammered down all the beers we'd brought, dipped into the bottle of Bushmills, and got raucously drunk. At some point I made it into the tent. I do not remember the when or the how.
That morning, I woke up as three friends came in to tell me they were going to hike back to the parking lot to pick up the remaining gear and the remaining beer. I told them they were the greatest friends ever, rolled over, and went back to sleep. I woke up a couple hours later, excited that everything we needed was now here, and ready to crack my first High Life. Except when I got out of my tent... no one else was there. No one else was awake. There was no beer. There was no additional gear. And then I had a terrible realization:
I'd dreamed it. Seriously. I'd fucking dreamed it.
I wandered around in the wilderness for a while until my next friend woke up. We shot the shit, until he got bored and decided we should wake up the rest of the gang. I agreed. He produced a bugle (A BUGLE!) from his backpack and proceed to desperately bleat through it. It sounded somewhat like an elk being sexually assaulted by a bear. Cue cries of dismay and hatred. But it worked. They rose like zombies buried in tents, to consume water and Advil. Finally, three of us sacked up and strapped on empty backpacks and hiked back to the cars. I must say, the hike in broad daylight was much nicer, and muuuuuch safer. We emptied out the cars, made it back to the campsite, and felt much better with the only major task of the day taken care of.
The rest of the day was composed of more hiking, creating campsite B on a small island in the middle of the river, me taking a nap in a tree, grilling, more grilling, and then, by nightfall, staggering around drunkenly making empty threats at each other, bullshitting and laughing our asses off. At one point we tried to cook eggs by putting them in the camp fire, thinking the theory was the same as hard boiling them. Aaaand then we spent ten minutes running around, dodging exploding egg bits. All in all, a day supremely well spent. And I once again succeeded in not hurting myself, other than a minor incident when I fell into the campfire.
Woke up. Wanted to die. Realized that I had to hustle because... I had a fucking plane to catch. Proceed to complain incessantly. Pack up my shit, break down the tent, load up as much gear as we can, eat three strips of bacon and hike back to the car with Tim, leaving the rest of the gang to amuse themselves for the remainder of the day. Tim... he looks bad. Like I-might-have-to-drag-him bad. But he soldiers on, deathly pale and sweating profusely, each of us carrying about 50 pounds of gear, and we make it to the car. We load up, and head out. Twenty minutes later, Tim looks no better. I ask him how he's doing. His response: "I'm trying to keep it together... I might be losing the fight." I get nervous. We drive past a different park entrance.
Tim: Hey, let's look at what's over there!
Me: You betcha.
I pull into the lot, and before the car is at a full stop he's out the door and... um... well, you can probably figure it out. I sit and listen to music, he gets back in and looks slightly less awful. We get back on the road, and I eventually drop him off, swing down to my house, unload the car, kiss the wife, unpack, take a shower, check my email, pack again, kiss the wife again, get back in the car and drive to the airport.
Stay tuned for Part II, wherein I continue my hatred of L.A., suffer through a miserable flight, get very little sleep, and have an "incident" on the plane ride home.