Saturday, April 19, 2008
camping with tom jones
I was gifted with a most wonderful CD the other day - Tom Jones - Greatest Hits. It was a drive-by gift, handed to me by my friend Karena, from her car window to mine, as we left the Kultur Cafe the other day. (I always think of Boy George and want to call the place the Culture Club) I popped the CD right into my player and listened to it, cracking up and singing my head off, all the way home. When he got to What's New Pussycat?, I went deep into the forests of Nostalgia Land, back to a memorable camping trip from my childhood...
We were one of those Camping Families. We never flew on planes or stayed in hotels (or even motels), never went to exotic destinations, except for one trip to Disneyland, if that counts. We always spend our family summer vacations camping in California. This particular year we were in Charity Meadows, in the Sierras, sort of near Lake Tahoe. My sisters and I must have been really young, because I remember us all wearing our matching turquoise hooded sweatshirts, and we all had whistles around our necks, which we were supposed to blow really loud if we got lost. Pom-Pom, the yappy little brown poodle was along for the trip, and Mom had warned us to always keep her on a leash because a hawk might swoop down and eat her, thinking she was a rabbit or something. Bizarre new levels of fear can be introduced to kids on a camping trip that they'd never experience in the suburbs of San Jose.
There was a giant boulder, as big as a house, at the back of our campsite. Someplace there's a picture of my sisters and me, with our little sweatshirts and whistles, sitting way up on top of that rock. It was a terrific rock, but of course we couldn't play on it by ourselves because we could have fallen off, broken our necks, and been eaten by hawks along with the poodle.
One of the days we were there, my dad decided to hike up to a nearby lake and do some fishing. All of us girls stayed back at the camp, painting rocks, drinking Tang, and eating baloney-on-raisin-bread sandwiches with American cheese and Miracle Whip. And Mom had brought along a radio, which got one little station that as far as I can remember had only two songs. I swear it's a true story. All day long we heard nothing but Where Are You Going, My Little One, Little One, and yep, What's New Pussycat. Quite the soundtrack for a campout.
The day went on, the music played, the sun went down, and my dad still wasn't back. This was way pre-cell phones, there was nobody else in the camp ground, and Mom didn't drive. She was understandably pretty worked up over the whole thing, and by the time poor Daddy wandered back to camp, happy from a solitary day in the wilderness, Mom was about ready to hitchhike home and call a divorce lawyer.
Eventually they made up, of course. More sandwiches were eaten. We painted more rocks. Tom Jones kept singing. Weirdest camping trip I ever went on, but I'll always have a soft spot for Tom Jones, turquoise sweatshirts, hawks, and Tang.