St. Joe’s Peninsula on Florida’s Emerald Coast has a beautiful park with miles of sugar white sand dunes, blue-green water and a campsite a few minutes’ walk from the beach. It was here that a group of campers descended one evening in late August. They set up the tents, and then, still sweating from the exertion of unfurling the precisely symmetrical tents and banging the pegs into the earth, started the campfire. They grilled mounds of expertly marinated chicken, drank Pepsi frosty from the icebox, and played cards.
After eating all the food and drinking all the drink, they decided that a walk to the beach would be nice. They did so, flopping on the silver sand and talking in the purple darkness. They went for a walk through the trail in the forest, spotted two pairs of glassy eyes in the distance and became convinced that they were to meet their deaths at the claws of these fearsome wildcats. Alas, the creatures turned out to be deer.
Then someone suggested a drive. So a drive it was, the sounds of the sea always just outside. Two hours later, they stopped at a gas station and stood around in the neon lighting, drinking bad coffee. An hour or two of sleep in the honestly assembled tents, and then the sun rose: a glorious pink and blue and gold. A couple of them walked on the long boardwalk near the white dunes and flew kites as the sun came up, taking pictures that would unfortunately be lost once they started getting passed around from party to party.
About a year later, a larger group made the same trip. Alas, it was cut shorter than originally planned, by a considerable margin. Why?
“There were too many mosquitoes. And many other kinds of bugs.”
Evidently, the Camping Gods do not always smile.