Growing up strictly a city girl, when I think of taking a vacation it never includes camping or being surrounded by nature. I dream of chichi hotels and room service and spa treatments. It has only seemed a natural desire to want that High City Living, coming from low city surviving. I have always pretended that I'm not the Camping Type, but I just think I am an inexperienced camper meaning I've never really camped. I love nature deeply; I am renewed by Her. I'm just not exactly sure how to spend the night in Her. That, and the dense silence of the woods and mountains scare the living shit out of me. I feel safer in the white noise of traffic and the ruckus of the street, even the occasional gun shot (though I don't hear that much any more), than the black hole of nature at night. There are so many things lurking and stepping on twigs and diving into the bushes. I CAN'T TAKE IT.
Once we stayed in Lake Tahoe with friends. We stayed in a sick lake house with like, three thousand electrical outlets, far from rouging it. One night I attended a fiction reading across the lake, and when I returned to the house about midnight, I found the house locked. Everyone was asleep. I decided to check all the doors but as I rounded the far side of the house, it was so dark that I started imagining bears and Jason and fucking flying squirrels -- I don't know what the fuck -- but let's just say I'm happy their wasn't a video tape of me sprinting (HIGH STEPPIN'!) back to my car with a high-pitched squeal in my throat.
I opened my car door and heard major rustling in the garbage bins next to where I was parked and I dove head first into the car. I redialed Husband's phone 40 times which he must've had on vibrate, and I wondered if I could sleep in the car with the temperature in the low 40's. Could I get a room at one in the morning in the sleepy Lake Tahoe town? Out of the trash bins came two raccoons the size of boars. And the buggers sat just outside my car door. I thought of every Animal Planet show I had ever seen. Had any been entitled When Raccoons Attack? I didn't think they were aggressive towards humans. Unless they were rabid. I opened the car door to scare them off and when they just stared at me without moving, I concluded that these were indeed rabid. After 40 minutes, right before I was about to head to the local 7-11 and pull a weird all nighter, Husband called back and finally let me in the house. I pretty much jumped from the hood of the car to the threshold, over Mr. Rabid Raccoon. So, you see, I love nature. I'm just a little scared of Her. And She smells fear.
So, I spent my Thanksgiving vacation in a chichi desert resort where they were laid back about kids and dogs and they handed me a glass of water with limes every 50 yards and dabbed my brow if I wanted and called me Mrs. Rivera because they didn't know that I'm a dorky nobody that is fairly new to -- and always surprised by -- this lifestyle. I always feel like I'm infiltrating. However, we all had a great time. I hung out by the pool with my homemade hummus and raw crackers. I got a facial and took a eucalyptus steam and an outdoor jacuzzi and hung out in a robe for an hour reading a magazine in the locker room. "Would you like a chilled wash cloth, Mrs. Rivera?" I thought, Me, Mrs. Rivera? Then blushed and bowed, "Yes, thank you." I worked out every day and read the paper and pretty much did nothing else. I do feel giddy about this kind of treatment. And sometimes a little guilty too like, am I perpetuating an oppressive caste society or am I supporting jobs? Uh, I tip well for what it's worth. And I know when I was on the other side, I appreciated that. But seriously, how much waste do resorts like these generate? Ug. I didn't let them change the sheets or towels when we were there and figured that was a small contribution in conservation. Wasn't it? But I quelled my concerns a bit by concluding that this type of relaxation and renewal is good for the soul and allows me to do good things for others.
I did some Nature appreciation too. There is something cleansing about the desert. The sky seems bigger there and the mountains are always more crisply outlined and colored in brighter oranges and deeper purples. I find the desert foliage interesting and beautiful.
We plan to come to this resort again next year for our Second Annual Lazy, I Mean Renewing Thanksgiving, for which I'm down. But I also decided while I was there -- while I was sleeping by the pool with an umbrella'ed ice tea and an untouched book next to me - that in 2006 I would like to try a real camping trip. I figure if part of my vegan reasoning is to be kind to the Earth, I might want to get to know Her a little better.