Originally published on the family blog. You’ll just have to match the snippets with the pictures in your own imagination. The crux: annual camping trip to Patrick’s Point.

I made a silly playlist. It had Michael Jackson and Cookie Monster and Journey and many many Coldplay songs. ‘Viva La Vida’ came on right as we reached the last, best Vista Point en route and so we said ‘okay universe’ and stopped to viva.

Our site was right: backdoor path to the crest trail and the iron ocean and striped sky, hidden from the circling rangers with their rules and the middle-aged crunchers with their matching jumpsuits, close to bathroom, trash and potable faucet of potability. “Do you know the difference between a cactus and a corvette?” I think the forest giggled. Pete slept with Big Agnes every night.

A ladder on a hill, tidepools. Sky: grey, rocks: grey, creatures: red white purple orange. Lives and civilizations under foot, generations of microscopics. A cave! If we had a wand we would have searched for the horcrux. ‘Don’t worry Harry, don’t worry Albus, we took care of it already. Go back to Hogwarts and live long, full lives.’ Josh found someone’s sweatshirt and stowed it away. How very Josh. Climb back up the ladder, climb climb climb. Strip off layers, kick rocks.

‘Sister’s my new mother now, mother!’ Chips, soup, cheese, Catan.

Everything is mossy and grey and eerie and patient. The walking trails are dinosaur movies. It’s all pure and primal and it blinks and turns its head away when the tiny, tiny humans walk through with their clicking boxes and sharp voices. Stella doesn’t relax, she is an animal in the animals’ land and feels more dog blood in her veins than ever. She alone can protect us from the raptors.

The waves breathe in sand and exhale mist and the birds sing strange songs with more notes than science can explain. There is only green and brown and grey until the tree with pink flowers appears with its big blossoms and then shrinks back into the lush, only to appear around the next corner.

We talk of God and not-God. The fire is too low. We talk of reason and affection and faith and not-faith. The Muddy Buddies make circles of their own volition. I play movie games in my head. ‘Brendan Fraser was in Crash with Terrence Howard who was in Hustle and Flow with Taraji Henson who was in Benjamin Button with Cate Blanchett who was in the awful Elizabeth sequel with Clive Owen who was in The Bourne Identity with Matt Damon who was in School Ties with Brendan Fraser who was in Crash with Don Cheadle who was in…’

At Lost Coast Brewery they lie to us and then pass us over. We wonder why brew food makes us suffer the things we suffer. Waiting. Vowing to make new traditions next year. Starving. Thinking of a year ago and a Joker vs Gotham. Waiting. Finally sitting. Waiting. Exercising our powers as consumer diners. Turkey sandwich and Great White. Lovely golden Great White. Like water, only beer. Driving in the not-quite-rain. “Lyn was named Princess Of Verbosity,” said the verbose one. 50mph is so unbearable.

Luffenholtz, I love you. In 5 or 4 or 3 or 2 years you will either be utterly unreachable or there will be a fancy road and a fancy parking lot and you will be developed and crowded and whitewashed and neon and you will say ‘don’t look at me’ and it will be something more than tragic but nothing less than unsurprising. But you’re not yet. You’re still hidden and just barely accessible and precarious and rocky and a permanent embrace, high or low tide. You are foreboding and morose but calm and pure. Your sand is in my teeth and it tastes like peppers and apples. Your textures are sharp, gritty and cold and I eat warm food with skins and juices. I validate you by seeking heat against your cold.

Ranger: “That wouldn’t happen to be a service dog, would it?” He was too young, too interested in his coworker to believe in law and in order.
Me: “Nope.” I didn’t say that she also didn’t ‘happen’ to be my dog.

I am alternately hushed and thrilled. I’m like a child unsure of which instinct to trust: my excitement or my reverence. The reverence begets the excitement. I have years of this salt in my lungs, years of moss and sand in the treads of shoes both long since disposed of and under the bed. I have years to go before I sleep.