Almost there...

Monday, August 20, 2001

So now that I've had a week to get back in the groove, I can now feel comfortable writing about Lark Camp. We started out on Friday morning about 11:00 heading toward Mendocino after packing the car and dropping off the cat with her sitter. Rick promptly got a page from work asking panicky information about a laptop that had gone south the day before. Even though Rick was at work finishing details until late on Thursday night, this was one that was not noted as urgent, and so was going to be left for his partner Jeff to take care of on Monday morning. No such luck. Turns out that the user forgot to mention that they were leaving over the weekend for a business trip. They needed it now!!! The new guy was trying to take care of it, and failing badly. Between his limited grasp of English and short time at this job, he was flailing. Rick gave him a few instructions, and we went on our way. Soon we were out of pager range. Ahh. No pagers. No cel phones. No internet. No connectivity at all. Just us and a windy road. So of course, I promptly got car sick on the first stretch of Highway 128. We paused in a wide spot in the road at the general store for a soda and a potty break. Then we got back in the car and drove all the way to Mendocino, passing Terri and Jocelyn in another little town along the way. When we pulled into Mendocino, we stopped by the Lark in the Morning store to ask a huge batch of questions and to buy a shoulder rest for my fiddle. Sure enough, Jocelyn and Terri followed us into the store a few minutes later. They graciously showed us the way to the public restroom in Mendocino. For this, they have a special sort of blessing. Then we jumped back in the car and started heading out of town. We popped into the town grocery momentarily to pick up marshmallows for toasting by the campfire. Rick paid with his ATM card, and once again we were sure we weren't in Silicon Valley anymore. They tried to send his ATM card through, but it got all clogged up and spit out a bunch of meaningless numbers. After fifteen minutes (during which I wandered down to the only town bank to grab some cash, just in case), Rick finally ended up paying in cash. And we were off to camp.

We headed down Little Lake Road to the Mendocino Woodlands. We followed the signs pointing to Lark camp and wound our way down a little road. Just before we figured we must have missed a turn, we saw a white sign with black lettering stuck to a tree. It had one of what was to be a series of very bad musician jokes, most of which were about the flammability of accordians, bagpipes, and banjos and various other instruments we expected to see a lot of for the next eight days. We wound down the canyon stopping at each sign for the first 25 or so to read the bad jokes. Finally, we decided we'd had enough and just drove on and went back to listening to our book on tape: "The Vor Game" by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Finally we made it down to a long line of cars waiting to be checked in. It took quite a while, but we were eager to keep listening to our book, so it didn't bother us in the least. Finally, we got our check in materials and headed toward our cabin to unload. Even though we had listed ten people to share cabin space with, they placed us with two strangers. Oh well. The two strangers turned out to be a nice father and son who had come down from Winnepeg just for this. We unpacked, set up our bedding, and headed back down the hill to find out where we should go to find dinner just in time to bump into Frank and Janelle. Janelle has been going to camp for nine years. They were unsure about who their roomies were going to be as well, but they took us back to their cabin to show it off. Cabin 42. They confessed that they were hoping we'd be sharing a cabin with them, and we suggested that might still be possible depending on who their roommates ended up being.

We all headed up toward the dinner line for our first taste of dinner at camp. It was corned beef and cabbage or tofu and cabbage. Even though I don't generally eat beef, I decided that I wasn't brave enough for tofu right now. Of course, it turned out this was only the first in a series of attempts to get us to eat the corned beef. The next day followed with corned beef has for breakfast and corned beef soup at lunch. The next day had corned beef cold cuts at lunch and more corned beef soup. I will probably never ever eat corned beef ever again. Nonetheless, the first night's corned beef and cabbage wasn't so bad. I went to the makeshift coffee house and found that they weren't serving decaf. Desperate for a warm cup of coffee, I decided to just have one cup of regular. We followed that with a game of Scrabble. We called it an evening relatively early and showered up and headed for bed. I spent the next four hours reading my book in bed with a flashlight since the caffeine from my coffee, the snoring of our roommates, and the strangeness of my surroundings had combined into a mighty case of insomnia.

The next morning, the alarm didn't go off. I awoke with a start just before nine a.m.. I was supposed to be taking an Irish Step Dance class at 9:00. It just wasn't going to happen. I roused Rick and got dressed quickly, heading for breakfast at light speed. We made it and found that breakfast was a fairly nice affair. They served a truly fabulous granola. Just the right flavor. Add to that orange juice, corned beef hash, eggs, and french toast, and I was ready to face my classes. I made it to my 10:00 Balkan Singing class only a few minutes late. I proceeded to spend the next hour looking like a deer in front of oncoming traffic. I've never done any organized singing at all and I'm still amazed that Jocelyn and Janelle and Terri managed to talk me into this. But the instructor was really funny, and the song was peppy and light. If only the words were in English instead of Bulgarian, I probably would've felt better sooner. Rick chickened out in the first two minutes and ran away.

My next class was English Country Dance taught by a guy named Jason and his sidekick/fiddle player Kevin, a truly goofy man with an absolutely infectious laugh. Anyway, English Country is the first type of dance I ever learned, and I've still got a fondness for it. Next I headed for Beginning Fiddle. We didn't pick up the fiddle much that first class, and mostly spent our time learning to flap our arms just the right way. Very silly, but it did come in handy down the line. After that, I had to take a break for lunch or miss it entirely, which was too bad because it meant I had to miss Scottish Country Dance. At lunch, we ran into Suzanne and Laura, who turned out to be Frank and Janelle's roommates. Laura was there with her first real boyfriend, Blake. Suzanne was not thrilled. She gave everyone full license to yell "Stop that!" whenever we saw them snuggling, kissing, hugging, or in any other way being affectionate starry eyed teenagers. Anyway, Suzanne had no problem with trading cabins, so we arranged to do it at 6:00. At 2:00, I headed out to the Sean Nos Irish Dance class. Sean Nos means old style. It's a more low style shuffle footwork. Fun, but unfortunately, the instructor decided at the end of the class that she was going to cancel this class and only teach at noon, which was the same time as my Beginning Fiddle class. Sigh. I headed down to the Irish Step Dancing class at the Pavillion and found myself hopelessly outclassed and quickly realized that in all the shoes I'd brought, I hadn't remembered to bring anything with a heel for that sort of dancing (or for the Flamenco class!). At 4:00, I headed back up the hill for a round of cards with Michael, a friend of mine from Wednesday nights at Scruffy Murphys. I quickly pulled him into a game of Aquarius, and introduced him to Jocelyn. Rick eventually made it by and we headed out to make the cabin trade. We repacked everything, and then went to find Suzanne and Laura. This was when we noticed that it would be kind of cool if our cel phones worked. I left Rick at their cabin and went to go hunt them down. I found them in the dinner line having thought that we'd planned to do it after dinner. I talked them into going ahead and attacking it now. This turned out to be a really fabulous decision, since dinner ended up being three hours late that night. After moving everything, we still ended up standing around waiting for dinner for two more hours.

After dinner, we finally made it to part of the English Dance night. I danced for a while and Rick sat outside chatting. We dragged ourselves back to the cabin, showered up, and slept like the dead.

More of this saga tomorrow...

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