Yesterday, following this prompt from San Diego Momma, (What is your craziest travel adventure?) I started telling this tale from my sordid past. Scroll down to read part one. Here's part two:
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(photo borrowed from this guy)
(photo borrowed from this guy)
After we'd regained our composure in the restroom of a gas station in nearby Pittsfield, my boyfriend (always looking ahead for an opportunity to mooch) suggested, that since we were in Massachusetts with no place to go, I should call up my aunt and see if she was up for a visit. My aunt (actually my great aunt, the matriarch of my father's Irish Catholic family) lived in New Bedford, an old whaling town on the coast near Cape Cod. I had not had any contact with her in a couple of years, but I was pretty sure that she had heard rumors of my fall from grace, ie: my leaving home and school to travel around like a vagrant with my hippie boyfriend whilst thumbing my nose at responsibility and polite society. The thought of calling her up out of the blue (and it would have to be a collect call) made me a nervous wreck.
My father's side of the family (particularly the older generation) seemed to me to have very high standards of moral conduct. Maybe it was the proximity of New Bedford to Plymouth Rock, the original landing site of those uptight pilgrims who founded our country.
Or maybe it was the vision of my aunt's (a retired schoolteacher) stern countenance and upstanding character and the fact that any moral misconduct would be most likely be reported to my father that turned my knees to jello. In any event, the LAST thing I wanted to do was to call my aunt and ask to use her place as a crash pad with my hippie boyfriend and gay sidekick. The boyfriend, in his infinite wisdom, cajoled me into calling her (collect) and telling her that we'd be no trouble...we had a tent, and we could simply pitch it in her backyard and she'd hardly even know we were there.
(photo borrowed from this site)
I made the call from a phone booth somewhere between Pittsfield and Springfield. It did not go over well. Perhaps I didn't have the powers of persuasion that my boyfriend so obviously possessed. Maybe I didn't really want to go there. In any case, my aunt's response was unfailingly polite, but firm. That of course, she'd love to see me, but my friends would have to find alternate arrangements. The tent in the backyard was a definite no. I was relieved, but now I had to face the boyfriend and tell him we had no place to stay. His response was not exactly repeatable.
At this point, my gay best friend suggested we check out Cape Cod. We were headed that direction anyway, and he'd heard it was a nice place to
pick up guys hang out, a gathering place for artists and others with alternative lifestyles. Maybe we could camp out there on the Cape for a couple of days and check it out. Next stop: Provincetown.
We rolled into Provincetown that afternoon, our ride dropping us just outside of town on Hwy 6. The weather was warm, and before us spread sand dunes rolling gently out to sea. It looked like the perfect place to camp, and was
illegal but free within walking distance of town. We climbed over the guardrail and hiked out a ways, up and down the dunes, and finally pitched the tent on the lee side of a small rise overlooking the ocean and invisible from the road. It was a lovely spot, and we left shortly to check out the scene in Ptown.
We checked out the galleries and gift shops, and as darkness fell, the bar scene picked up. Not being a drinker, and being underage kept me outside on a bench while my boyfriend and friend (who had fake id) checked out the nightlife. As
jailbait an underage girl in a gay resort town, I was at least relatively safe alone on my little bench, and after a couple of hours we decided to head back to the tent, and walked back along the road, now brightly lit by a full moon. As we came to the bend in the road where we thought we had set off across the dunes, it was apparent that we had sorely misjudged our wilderness camping skills: the tide had come in while we were out partying, and the water now came almost up to the road, the tops of the dunes just peeking out above the water.
This did not deter my best friend and my boyfriend, who by this time were both three sheets to the wind. They took my hands, and dragged me, whining, into the current, wading waist and then shoulder deep through the tide and up and down across the dunes. We had no idea if our tent was even still where we'd left it. I was positive we were all going to die.
We didn't die, and miraculously found our tent, but I was not convinced that the tide was all the way in, and couldn't sleep most of the night. Someone had to stay awake and keep watch while the two drunken idiots slept like the dead. At one point, a small boat with a searchlight on it motored by (I was convinced it was probably a police patrol boat looking for illegal activity) but they apparently didn't see our bright orange and green tent.
I suppose I did fall asleep for awhile, because I woke up to warm sunlight on the tent, and two snoring guys next to me. I quietly crawled out of my sleeping bag, and felt around for my glasses. When I started to unzip the tent screen, I came face to face with the biggest tick I had ever seen. It was on the outside of the screen, and it was then that I slowly realized all the hazy spots covering the tent I'd noticed before I put my glasses on were actually many, many more giant blood sucking bugs. I lurched away from the tent door, falling over my friend, and started sobbing. I'm not a wuss when it comes to bugs, but this was just too much. I figured these things could probably drain the three of us in about 30 seconds and leave our empty shells for the next high tide to take out.
The boys woke up, probably stirred by my now uncontrollable shaking, and complained loudly. When they realized what was happening, they both sobered up immediately. My boyfriend tried to tell me that they were just flies, and I was being a sissy, until he put his glasses on and gasped. My best friend, on the other hand immediately grasped the situation, and joined me in sobbing hysterically. My boyfriend (ever the knight in shining armour) then took control of the situation and went outside to scrape the ticks off the tent, while we cowered inside. When the coast was clear, we packed up and hiked back to the road, where my best friend promptly stripped naked and begged me to inspect him for ticks. The three of us looked like a trio of monkeys going through each other's hair looking for parasites.
By that summer, I had taken the GED, got my high school diploma, moved to California and enrolled in college in San Francisco.
My boyfriend hooked up with my best girlfriend and mooched off her, crashing in her dorm in upstate NY.
My gay best friend found a sugar daddy in Greenwich Village and took to spending winters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
c'est la vie.