My 31st Birthday (part one of a zillion)

Now that I’ve scorched the earth and set the internet on fire, I want to share pictures of my 31st birthday with you haha. But it’s going to take me ten thousand posts to do it because there are almost 50 pictures I *NEED* to show you. This was just an awesome day as well as a great birthday. Thank you Kristyn!!!

Kristyn surprised me a few days before my birthday by telling me we were going CAMPING!!! Now if you know one little thing about me you know for a solid fact that I love nothing better than living in temporary shelter, sleeping on an air mattress and cooking my meals over FIYAH! I am an “easy camper” though. There has to be reliable access to toilets and water. Also it helps if we are near recreation haha. Do NOT take a bitch out into the wilderness because for all of her (read: my) big talk about camping, I am a city-dweller at heart. I just like to pretend I’m a mountain woman by pitching a tent on an expertly manicured lawn once in a while. Don’t hate.

So as you know from “HOLLERATION-GATE 2010”, we are broke-ass broke. Also we don’t know shit about how to go camping in Southern California. We only know how to go camping at one specific campground in Upstate New York haha. ANYWAY, since that campground is out, we have been researching a cheapie option to scratch our camping itch. Kristyn found two places that looked promising. One was free with an “Adventure Pass”. The other had a nominal fee but kind of seemed more ON the beaten path which is how I like it.

Well. The one that seemed like we wouldn’t become victims of crime by going there had…well it had burned to the ground. We only found out because I had the wherewithal to call the Forest Ranger. So off we were to the potentially sketch one.

I WISH we’d taken a picture of this place. It wasn’t terrifying to behold necessarily. It just was completely overrun with gnats. Like in your mouth, in your eyes, in your ears. And it wasn’t so much a campground as it was a “squatters’ rights” type place. It was like a waystation for people on their way to somewhere else. It was basically empty when we first pulled up but then some weird old foreign men and a team of bikers pulled up. Then a young couple came over to say hi. Guys we are friendly. We look friendly. We act friendly. But we are both agorophobes at this point and NOT used to social interaction. Besides we just wanted this weekend to chill, to have a few days off together and to stare into a fire. These kids were WAY younger than us and just itching to “party”. This is an instinct my younger camping self can identify with. Shit, even my older camping self likes to get my blueberry beer on. BUT they said they’d been there for days partying hard. This was their LAST night and they were “inviting mad heads”. They insisted we party with them and would not allow us to politely decline. They threatened to throw some “slabs of meat” on the grill and bring them to us. We had to tell them we were veg. It just clearly was not working out with us. The girlfriend was kind of the “Haha, let’s just let them enjoy themselves…” variety. The boyfriend, however, had an energy drink/brewski combo tallboy in his hand so not only were his inhibitions lowered, his energy was high also. Haha.

So yeah we left.

I had something of a nervous breakdown in the car because I didn’t want to spend the whole night looking for somewhere to go. So we found a KOA campground that was like 20ish minutes away. It was definitely more spendy than the $0 we were going to spend but knowing that people could hear us scream was kind of a nice feeling.

We got there in full dark just before the front desk office closed. We decided to rent a spot not in the regular tent camping spot but in the “Rustic Area”. The regular tenting area was closer to the pool, the store, the bathrooms and the playground. BUT you also had tents surrounding you and VERY close. We were the only people in the Rustic Area and this is how we do.

The thing about the Rustic Area is that it is maaaaaad dark. And you can’t pull your car up to the site. You have to park and then drag all of your shit down a sandy hill into an area with no lights. So we haven’t put up our tent since August of 2008 and it didn’t come zooming right back to us. This is the second nervous breakdown of the evening.

We were starting to bitch at each other and the tent was going nowhere. We each at one point said, “FINE. THEN YOU PUT IT UP BY YOURSELF!” and huffed away. Haha. So Kristyn went up to the car to get some stuff and I was alone with the tent. I begin to hear a weird sound. I wasn’t sure if it was a motorcycle or a bear growling. I don’t know why either didn’t trigger my fight or flight instinct. Probably it was because I was way too irritated and tired to take it under consideration. Kristyn, however, was further away from the source and is also way better in an emergency. She calls, “COL! COLEEN! CAN YOU HEAR THAT?!” And I just kind of blearily looked up and muttered, “Yeah.” And she goes, “WELL GET OUT OF THERE! I MEAN IT! RUN! GET OUT OF THERE NOW!” And so I had a decision to make. I am sorry to say that I did not react immediately. I stood there and actually took a beat to listen. Then I took the fuck OFF. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to run too fast and provoke whatever it was to chase me. (As an aside, my ex-boyfriend’s Dad owns a Construction & Demolition Business. They keep Rottweilers in the yard to keep out thieves and nogoodnicks. One time I went there with him to drop off one of their trucks. The dogs were on chains but he held them close so I could get out of the truck and walk to the car. He told me to kind of hotfoot it but NOT to run. He also promised me that there was no way in hell the dogs would get free. I know you know where this shit is going. Anyway, once I got out of the truck, the dogs started going crazy. When I was halfway between the truck and the car, one of the dogs broke free and RAN at me. I don’t know whether he was screaming, “RUN!” or “DON’T RUN!” but in any case, I RAN. The dog ended up biting at me but missed. I must have deleted what happens next because I don’t know if he caught the dog or if I just happened to get in the car a la Cujo. All I DO remember is him laughing at me A LOT. Thanks a lot, haha.)

Back to my bullshit. I got to the top of the hill and we like DOVE into the car and locked the doors. We sat there shivering and not sure what to do. A car pulled up and we were all, “Oh god, now who is this?!” It ended up being a campground worker. He was here to ask us why in the world we were cowering in a Honda Accord (or whatever it is we drive). We told him about the bear and he said, “Oh that? That’s not a bear. It’s just lions.”

We were all, “Back the fuck up. Lions. Lions?” It turns out that the campground is right next to a pretty famous big cat preserve called “Shambala”. Actress Tippy Hedren from “The Birds” owns and operates it. My thing is this. How faulty is my fight or flight reaction when a LION doesn’t trigger it? I think that might be something to take to a psychologist so let’s deal with this another time.

The good news is that after he arrived, about four other guys from the campground arrived to say hello and to DEMAND that they help us with our tent. We tried to refuse, wanting to be polite but realized that if we didn’t let them help, they’d be offended. And also, we might scratch each other’s eyeballs out. They had that shit up lickety split and we were SO GRATEFUL. We basically just went to bed after that. It was probably like 10 or 11pm but we were exhausted. We watched a little “Buffy” and went to bed.

In the morning, we woke up pretty much at the crack of dawn. We found the bathrooms and realized that I needed to find a store to buy some ibuprofen. I had a headache and that is NO WAY to spend a birfday. (BTW, ibuprofen is probably the only thing I did not bring in our house.)

So we got a little lost and couldn’t find a store. We found a little old lady who looked a LOT like my Nana sitting in some weird contraption reading a paper on a street corner. The contraption looked kind of like a cross between a step ladder and a walker. It seemed like the sort of thing that you could walk around in and then kind of lean back and rest your bones if you need to read a paper on the corner. I wanted one. Anyway, that nice lady gave us directions to a CVS and we loved her desperately.

Also, Kristyn gave me her prezzie and it is something I’ve been DYING to have for a long time. I’ll show you in a minute. I also took pictures of the prezzie that Tiffany gave me but I think they’re on Kristyn’s phone. LOVELOVELOVE.

In our travels, we drove through some pretty beautiful areas. There are so many mountains out here. What you are seeing is the Angeles Forest. If you’re wondering why it is always on fire, it’s because it’s DRYDRYDRY. Everything is sand and basically kindling.

Here is a picture of Kristyn’s parents car. They traded us before we left because it is more reliable than the one we’d been driving (incidentally also their car but with us having driven it into the ground, sorry). I like to show pictures of the car places because I feel like if my car were on the other side of the Continental United States than I am used to seeing it, I’d kind of like to see a picture or two haha.

And here I am. The birthday girl in (sort of) the desert.

And here is Kristyn’s present to me! It’s a Diana! I have a Holga and I have been a Holga purist for a couple of years (although I can never develop the color prints). I just for some reason convinced myself I was morally opposed to Dianas. I think that might have come from some Amazon reviews I read because I don’t know where I got such hate in my heart. Anyway, there is a Lomographic Society store on Santa Monica and the AMOUNT of accessories for Diana is staggering compared to what’s being made for Holga. And I really, really want an instant back for it so I can take Instax pictures (eventually). Plus it has an awesome flash, you can buy really cool lenses for it and there are adapters to put the lenses on a Nikon which is awesome. Oh I also want the 35 mm back for the Diana because you can do sprocket photography unlike the 35 mm back for the Holga (which Vanessa kindly gave me two birfdays ago). So yeah, nerd stuff aside, I carried this camera AND its box around with me all day haha. This version is the “Snowcat” and it has a little white cat all over it. LOVE.

On the way back to the campsite we decided to see what all of the fracas had been about the night before and found this sign:

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