When we were in and around our 20’s, we found that the four day weekend granted us for Thanksgiving was an ideal time to light off into the woods. For one thing, it afforded us an extended stay in the beloved woods. Second, it was hunting season, and that meant we could go hunting. Third, the weather was, sometimes, pleasant.
This decision of ours was met with harsh criticism from the parents, at first. Who did we think we were, eschewing the family unit during the holdiay?
What’s the harm, we countered. It’s not like it’s Christmas or anything like that. We’ll be celebrating like the Pilgrims did.
Even our friends threw disdain in our direction, ‘Who do you think you are going camping on my favorite holiday?’
‘No television? No football? Yikes! Oh noes! Damn you both!’
Eventually they just gave up and let us rifle through the pantry and wished us farewell.
Thanks, bye, see you in four days.
The first Thanksgiv-o-fest was at The Rock. And what a Thanksgiving it was. We had hiked our non-perishables (beer, liter of Jack Daniels, couple of 2 liter bottles of Coca~cola and canned food) up the week before. My sister dropped us off on Wednesday night, after dark.
We were clad in full camo, backpacks loaded with all we could carry. I had a small pre-cooked chicken wrapped in aluminum foil and Dollar carried a pumpkin pie fresh from the Hillside bakery – white box wrapped with string and all. Once again Dollar’s unerring sense of direction led us to our perch, without flashlights, mind you, ’cause we were stealthy like that…and the security guards over at Hewlett-Packard across the street were always on the lookout for strange goings on in the woods.
We hiked our heavily laden asses up to our cave and setup for the night. None of our pre-stashed goods had been touched. Morning dawned to find a herd of deer in our camp, a very good sign. They had no clue we were there and when we popped out of the cave, we were maybe 20 feet from the closest one.
I can’t remember the exact events of the day, mostly hunting, cutting firewood and drinking. Thanksgiving dinner was a whole chicken, potatoes, asparagus, and a bottle of Dom Perignon – courtesy of Dollar. We drank out of glass champagne glasses that we stashed the week before for the occasion. Upon completion of the bottle we smashed our glasses in the fire. How decadent of us.
If memory serves correct (and it may not) we went out hiking after dinner. Night hikes are a given on any camping trip with the ‘crew, but on the edge of a cliff it takes on a new meaning. And two drunk idiots trying not to tumble down the rock face would have been quite a sight, if there was anyone there to sight it.
We stumbled ourselves out to the cliff-iest of cliffs. A place where you could dangle your legs over the edge and not have to worry about bumping rock for maybe 80 or so feet. It was there, in all our glory, that the Rockslider was birthed.
The Rockslider was a slug of Jack Daniels, straight from the bottle, washed back with a chug of Coca~cola, also straight from the bottle. It worked for us, quenching the fire nicely. Remember, we had to travel light and had smashed our good stemware an hour previous. We each tied our respective bottle around our neck with a length of cord and when the moment hit us, we would be all ready to go.
In retrospect, the first pro’lem would be that Dollar is not a Jack Daniels drinker. The both of us only learned that after this trip. Second would be the battle cry of the evening, namely ‘a double dose, will make you comatose!’ prompting one to repeat the glug-n-chug process right quick. (Dollar’s inspiration). Lastly, and something I wasn’t aware of until this trip, was that Dollar’s sixth sense of direction was severely impaired when forced through a filter of good Tennessee whiskey.
At some point, we figured we should get back from the edge of the world as we knew it, lest someone be scraping us up off the rocks below come morning. Yeah, we should get back to camp and spend the rest of the evening there. And thus started the hike from hell.
We must have hiked up and down that mountain (hill, for you western folk) a half dozen times. The last time down, Dollar lost his footing and tumbled/slid a good 20 yards before coming to rest across a fallen tree, losing his survival kit in the process. (Yes, despite all of the indications otherwise, we were smart enough to have our survival kits on us. We never left camp without them).
It was then that I began to consider shifting to survival mode – aka, let’s sleep this off ’til morning. But Dollar, he insisted we try again.
We hiked back up the mountain until we reached the top, and knowing our camp was about 1/4 of the way down, began to descend, again. Only this time, Dollar was having some issues with balance and judgement. And, because he was leaning on me most of the time, so was I.
At one point, we stopped to rest and I thought I recognized the small plataeu we were on. It looked like where I had been gathering firewood that morning. Dollar was not so sure and wanted to continue down the mountain. Somehow I convinced him that we were at the right latitude (he is not easy to sway when he is drunk) and we began to move laterally, in short order stumbling into camp.
But the evening was far from over.
Dollar retired to the cave to rest. I stayed by the fire. Not long after I heard some commotion and Dollar erupted from the cave and forcefully emptied the contents of his stomach about the escarpment. (Which I duly recorded via photographs). Interesting, I thought. That was a mighty fine dinner he just tossed out. ‘Meh, whatever’, I said to myself, recalling the fourth rule of Bird (which emphatically states: Drink, and the world drinks with you. But puke, and you puke alone).
When I turned around, I noticed that the fire was getting larger. I staggered up to the pit and saw that it had spread into the dry mulch/rotten log soil and I had a full blown, out-of-hand fire on my hands. I proceeded to stomp/beat/scrape and whatever to put it out, but this bitch was on the move. It got into the dry leaves under a fallen log and in no time a very large area was in flame.
I called out for assistance, but my request fell on deaf ears. Dollar was incapacitated. I wound up pouring about a 12 pack of Budweiser cans on the blaze, effectively quelling it’s thirst. After that I was able to subdue all sparks and hotspots. It was no big deal, about the beer, I mean. We had plenty.
Finally I sat down and cracked open a brew for myself to wash away the cinders and smoke inhalation. About that time, Dollar hung his head out of the cave and tried to come up to help.
‘Go the fark back to sleep, you drunkard.’ I said, launching a beer can in his direction. ‘And don’t puke in the cave!’