Our campsite was surrounded by water on nearly all sides (the St. Johns River, Fort George Inlet, and the Atlantic Ocean). We (my brother Nick, Elle, her friend Taylor, Matt, and me) were situated on the north bank of the St. Johns River in Huguenot Memorial Park, directly across from Naval Station Mayport and along the route that all ships take from downtown Jacksonville or from the port to get out to the Atlantic Ocean. We’re talking sailboats, shrimp boats, speedboats, fishing vessels, yachts, casino boats, and container ships.
For dinner, Matt cooked our hamburger patties perfectly, leaving one additional patty since there were only five of us. That we had an extra hamburger could not have worked in Elle’s favor any better than had she and her friend Taylor been attacked by seagulls causing Elle’s dinner plate to go flying through the air and sending both girls screaming back to camp, dinnerless and afraid. Oh, wait…that is what happened!
Luckily, Taylor’s dinner had been left carefully on a fold-out camping chair, undiscovered by seagulls and completely (thankfully) untouched. Good thing we had that extra hamburger so Elle could actually eat a dinner. And it’s also a good thing I had packed extra clothes to wear because promptly following the attack on the kids and the subsequent hamburgling by the gang of seagulls, one of them totally did a fly-by and shit on my cute, flowing summer skirt.
And that is how our camping trip began. Not on a bad note, just a funny one. I think everyone’s cheeks were sore from laughing so hard. I know mine were…even while I changed my clothes. Bastard birds.
It was terribly windy, too, which felt good while the sun was beating down on us during the day and early evening, but when the temperatures dropped that night into the high 50s and low 60s, it was downright chilly. The fire was nice for a little bit, but man…the wind!
Sending two little girls with sharp objects topped with marshmallows towards a blazing, wind-whipped fire might not have been the best idea, but making s’mores is a kid’s job! The grown-ups eventually took over s’more making and the smoke blinded us all, so much so that we often had to stand in the middle of the park road to help our eyeballs find clean air again. However, we all agreed that s’mores are still the most delicious damn things on the planet when you’re camping.
After we’d decided to go to bed, the wind kept us all awake for the majority of the night. As did the tow truck that trolled the campsites looking for curfew violators and the massive container ship that decided to blow his horn (not once, but twice!) as he passed the campground.
I think it is important to note that a tow truck moving just a few feet from your head sounds like a helicopter preparing to crash onto your tent and that scrambling inside your sleeping bag to prepare for such impending doom and death just makes you annoyingly noisy to other tent mates. Also, inconsiderate captains of gigantic container ships who blow the ship’s foghorn twice in the middle of the night should be warned of Matt’s sudden blast of curse words, which he will startlingly yell skyward to nobody in particular because, well…we were actually asleep at that one single moment.
Did I mention it was windy? We may never have really fallen asleep but we did stare up at the moon and stars and listen to the crashing waves nearby. Not a bad way to end a day, though sleeping would have been nice. That’s why we’ll try again another time…in the woods.
36 before 36 – item #31: Go Camping. CHECK.