Scattered clouds dotted the sky over the Pacific Ocean. The sun warmed a cool breeze, which blew in from the water over the trees it sculpted. The Love Wagon, a red Ford F150, headed south on Highway 101 on Oregon’s coast just outside of Depoe Bay.
The sign on the side of the road read, “Beverly Beach State Park”.
Richard made a left turn into the park. Driving passed the convenience store we entered the park and pulled up to the registration booth.
“Hi folks,” the Ranger in the booth said, “do you have a reservation?”
“Yes, under Richard Cranium,” Richard said.
The Ranger laughed.
“It’s my legal name, do you need to see my license?” Richard asked with practiced patience handing him his drivers license.
“Yeah,” the Ranger said taking the license. Shaking his head he said, “I thought that was a joke when I saw the reservation.” Looking at me he said, “and what’s you’re name, Fanny?”
“Only I spell it with an -ie,” I said smiling, “do you need to see my license.
Turning red he said, “Sorry.”
“We’re used to it,” Richard said smiling.
“You’re campsite is D29. To get to the D ring you need to turn right here,” he said pointing, “and follow the arrows. You’ll see the sign post for D ring. Your site will be three quarters of the way around the ring,” he said handing us a map. “Enjoy your stay.”
We drove down the one way street passing children riding bicycles, people walking dogs, RV’s, tent and yurts. Richard turned left at the sign for D ring. Site D29 sat tucked in by the path to the bathrooms. A water spigot stood five feet from our site.
Richard and I high-fived each other. Who wants to search for the bathroom in the middle of the night?
He backed the Love Wagon into the site.
“So what do you think, put the tent up next to that tree to give us a little privacy and put the tent gazebo over the picnic table?” he asked pointing to the picnic table nestled up to the green belt separating us from the bathrooms.
“Looks good to me,” I said.
We unpacked the truck. Forty-five minutes later our new tent and portable gazebo transformed the site into our personal playground.
Richard pulled the food storage containers from the truck and put them on the picnic table. He found several large rocks and placed them on top of the containers.
“I don’t want to go through what we did last year,” he said wiping his hands on his pants.
“Do you want to go for a walk on the beach before dinner?” I asked.
A stiff breeze chased all the clouds from the sky. Several families flew kites. Richard and I built a small sand castle before the waves washed it away.
After dinner Richard built a fire in the fire pit. I handed him a stick and some marshmallows. Holding the marshmallow over the flame it caught fire turning black and cracking before he blew it out.
“Now this is the perfect marshmallow,” he said popping the smoldering morsel into his mouth.
“I prefer mine a toasty brown,” I said holding mine closer to the embers turning it slowly.
“That’s great, it means I get to eat your boo boos,” he said smiling and rubbing his hands together.
The moon, near full, rose over the trees as we put the fire out.
“Without the fire it’s kinda cold out here,” I said zipping up my hoody and pulling the hood tight over my short cropped head of hair.
The sounds of the campground died down as our fellow campers turned in for the evening. The dull roar of the ocean lulled us off to sleep.
Jolted awake, I asked, “What’s that noise?”
We could hear scraping and sniffing followed by a crash. Richard grabbed his shoes and a flash light and crawled out of the tent. A moon beam illuminated a family of six raccoons undoing the containers on the picnic bench. He chased them out of the gazebo and into the woods. He cleaned up the mess and returned to the tent.
We curled back up into our sleeping bag. The rhythm of the ocean restoring calm, we drifted back to sleep.
Snort, thud, squeal. Our furry friends returned for dessert.
“Wait here, I’ll take care of this,” he said crawling back out of the tent.
I could hear him yell, “oh no you don’t. Get away from there.” I could see the flash light dancing around our site followed by the sound of critters scattering.
They visited us three more times before the sun rose.
“I want a nap, damn it, then we’re going to Wal-mart to get containers with locking lids, cause we’re not going through this for another evening,” he said, shaking his fist in the direction of the picnic table his eyes blood shot.
After a short nap, we drove the ten minutes to Wal-mart. Four containers, the fresh food to fill them and two dozen bungee cords later, we returned to camp.
After we repacked the food, Richard wrapped two bungee cords around each container. Then looping two more bungees together he stretched them to their limits and strapped each container to the picnic table.
“Let’s see them get into that,” he said smiling.
Bathed by the light of full the moon, the marauders responded to the challenge. One raccoon hung from each of the bungee cords holding the containers to the table while another four worked to free the containers.
Richard burst from the tent. He yelled and threw pinecones at the raccoons. They raced each other to retrieve the pinecones thinking they were food.
The littlest raccoon charged Richard. Standing on his hind legs, oinking like a pig, and waving his paws at him.
When the raccoons finished eating they left camp, waddling off, their tails held high.
As my cousin Bud would say, Richard was ‘hotter than fish grease.’
Bright red up to his ears and shaking he announced, “I’m gonna show those raccoons a thing or two and store all of the food in the tent.”
“Richard, why don’t we put it in the car?”
Richard’s eyes glazed over, he sputtered for a moment and said, “Fannie, I love you, but bite me.”
After we finished loading the Love Wagon we heard a noise coming from a site across from us. A small black bear rummaged through our neighbors food storage containers.
“Why don’t we sleep in the truck tonight,” I said. We grabbed our sleeping bags and climbed into the back of the truck. We heard the bear burp and wander back into the woods.
A few moments later we heard a tent zipper slowly open and the sound of a muffled female voice. Followed by a man’s voice saying, “Marjorie, I don’t care what you say, we’re packing up and leaving tonight. I’m not going to be killed by a bear in my sleep.”
Following a frenzied clean up, they drove out thirty minutes later.
After learning such a valuable lesson, Richard and I settled into a restful camping routine, which consisted of a long stroll on the beach, visiting the local aquarium and some kite flying. Then back to camp to enjoy our campfire, have a hot meal and watch the stars come out.
About an hour before sunset, a family drove in with an old pick-up truck attached to a fifth wheel. They moved into the site across and one down from our own.
A woman in her early forty’s climbed out of the truck wearing three inch ivory colored heals, teal pedal pushers and an ivory colored silk sleeveless top, her brown hair coifed into long loose curls. Behind her a teenaged boy somewhere between the ages of 13 and 14 years old played some sort of gaming device and listened to an iPod. A man climbed out of the driver’s seat wearing a white polo shirt and pressed khaki pants with polished dress shoes.
Richard tapped me on the shoulder, his finger to his lips and pointed in their direction.
The woman laid out a red table cloth on the picnic table then spread out a lace cloth over the top of it. She climbed back into the fifth wheel.
The boy sat on one side of the picnic table and ignored everything around him. The man struggled to extend the awning on the fifth wheel. The woman returned carrying several white cartons that may have come from a restaurant or caterer, topped with a box of Twinkies. She spread boxes out on the table and returned to the fifth wheel.
“Do you think we should offer some help to that guy, it’s obvious he doesn’t know how to lower the awning,” I said.
We walked over to their site.
“Hi there, would you like some help with that?” Richard asked the guy working on the awning.
The woman popped her head out the door and said, “We’re on vacation and prefer to be left alone.” She glared at her husband who shrugged and turned his back to us.
I looked at Richard and shook my head. We walked back to our campsite.
We decided to watch.
Richard stoked up the fire. We moved our camp chairs for the best view.
“Is that Stardust they’re playing?” I asked Richard.
“Sure sounds like it.”
A neighbor a few sites down played big band music setting the mood of the unfolding spectacle before us.
When the man couldn’t get the awning down, he kicked the trailer, grabbed his foot and unleashed a long line of colorful euphemisms. When he stopped jumping up and down, he joined his son at the table. The woman brought out plates, flatware, a glass and two champagne flutes.
The family enjoyed a hearty meal. As the sun set, they retired to the privacy of their fifth wheel for the evening. They left everything on the table for the entire animal world to see. Talk about the blue light special at K-Mart.
Not more than five minutes after the family settled into their private dominion, the same raccoon clan, which invaded our campsite the previous two evenings, moved into theirs. Richard and I enjoyed an unobstructed view.
The raccoons soon invited their second cousins over for the buffet. Pretty soon Aunt Suzie was doling out the Twinkies to the baby raccoons and Uncle Ralph was serving up the main course.
The moonlight no longer filtered by the trees reflected from the windows of the fifth wheel illuminating the table. Fifteen raccoons sprawled over the table eating and snorting.
I heated some water to make cocoa. When I rejoined Richard, two younger raccoons rolled over the top of each other knocking the champagne flutes and a dish off the table.
The woman shot out of the fifth wheel waling like a Banshee. Uncle Ralph stood up on his hind legs and hissed at her. She shrieked and ran back into the fifth wheel like a frightened child. Four or five of the raccoons waddled off back into the woods, tails held high.
Richard and I discussed this during the pause for sponsor identification and decided the raccoons left because they were full.
A few minutes later the woman came out waving a broom in the air and scared the rest of the raccoons away.
We never saw the dad or son during any of the action.
The woman looked over in our direction, her hair in disarray, a line of sweat formed down the middle of her silk shirt. Richard and I raised our mugs of cocoa with mini marshmallows.
A guttural scream escaped her lips as she threw the broom against the side of the fifth wheel.
She yelled, “I am not going to take this anymore.”
She grabbed a garbage bag. Retrieving the broom she scooped everything into it and knotted the top. She flung the garbage bag into the truck bed, which made a loud crunching noise when it landed.
Ripping open the door of the fifth wheel she screamed, “we’re leaving and you better get your asses in gear.”
The door reverberated when she slammed it. She charged the driver’s side of the truck, flung the door open and started the engine with a huge roar as the driver side door slammed shut. The dad and son exploded from the fifth wheel diving into the truck cab nanoseconds before she drove off.
“Do you think toasting her was a little over the top?” I asked laughing.
“Who cares,” Richard said, “live theater’s always better than television.”
Richard and I waved goodbye as they blasted passed our campsite.
As the sound of their tires faded we could hear Louis Armstrong singing “. . . and I think to myself, it’s a wonderful world. . .”