Ok. Miss Melody (of Clevelandwomen.com fame) and I are friends from college and beyond.
In fact, I totally got her the online writing gig. It's true. Thank you cards can be sent via email. Monetary 'thank you's are always welcome. But I digress.
So Melody gets this hair brained idea to go camping. With the least likely camping crew, ever. Her, Brad, Marcello, Erma and me. Alright, maybe Melody and Erma have gone into nature to return again, and Brad may actually be quite the outdoorsman.
But Marcello and I are so so so not campers that we completely outweigh the skill of the rest of the crew. By a lot. Like Biggest Loser a lot.
I even have issues with peeing in a hole. I won't do it. I will hold it for the entire weekend, so help me God.
Melody: "But Elizabeth, it's a cabin. It has everything, including a Jacuzzi."
"Oh. Ok. That's fine then."
Technically this is called "cabining" from all those diehard campers out there who believe that unless you kill your supper you are not really roughing it. Which is true. Killing something and eating it would be rough.
But that's why God created Tyson and Stouffers and all the other semi-real food stuffs in the grocer's freezer. So I don't have to kill anything. Unless it really really makes me mad…well, even then I think I will just point at it aggressively and shake my head.
So I arrive in my own car at this resort camping cabining thing. Because I need to drive myself, I'm not a carpooler. It limits me. And I might want to leave early. Especially if the cabin smells.
The rest of the crew had arrived earlier. Already planning the next mornings hike. Suspiciously planning I might add. Shifty eyes and all. Yeah. That was foreshadowing.
We eat and then play some board games while the Jacuzzi fills with water. Around 1 AM or so, we all wander off to one of two bedrooms filled with bunk beds. Which are the most uncomfortable things ever invented by man. Aside from 4 inch heels. At least those have a hidden benefit, like being noticed by guys.
Needless to say the next morning I'm groggy and able to comprehend only short bursts of information, much to their satisfaction or perhaps evil planning…hmmmmm. We eat and then begin our hike. Which requires my SUV.
Brad: "Ok Liz, it's on the left, I think."
"I see it, let me just pull into a parking spot." I put the SUV in park, it faces the trees and the beginning of the trail. We get out of the truck. There is a small field and a statue directly in front. "So. Um. Guys, what kind of trail is this."
Melody: "Nothing you want to worry yourself over."
"Huh? What's that supposed to mean?"
Melody: "Nothing. Don't worry. You'll love it."
I walk over to the statue. "In loving memory of…." Wait. In loving memory?? LOVING MEMORY?? As in someone died??!!
"You all are taking me on a trail where someone died??! Where's the map?"
Erma: "Relax. It's in the car. The other trails were too easy. This one has a cliff view. If we stay on the trail, nothing will happen to you, believe us."
Ha. Believe them. Why am I worried? But being so sleep deprived I give in and follow them.
As we hike up the trail, I must admit that it isn't that bad. The scenery is beautiful and when we got to the cliff, the view is rather breathtaking. The trail actually cuts the side of the cliff, curving with it in a gentle semicircle shape. 1/3 cliff above, and 3/4 cliff below. The trail markers end at the middle of the semicircle.
Ok, so. Hike's done, time to go, right? Yeah. According to whose luck, oh right…Mine.
Melody decides to continue the "trail." Up the cliff. Up the rocky death cliff. She gracefully scales a massively steep rock and navigates a small tree, climbing up to the top.
I look at the path she took. Oh. Look. A hole between the rock and the cliff wall. Wait, sorry, not a hole. A cavern. A deep 100 foot dropping cavern. This huge rock she wants me to climb is like a would-be bridge. A bridge between the cliff drop and the cavern. A bridge without stairs, guard rails, rope. A bridge that just went straight up. Erma follows her, then Brad, then Marcello.
"Guys, I don't think I can do this..."
Erma: "Come on up Elizabeth, just be careful."
"I really don't know about this...."
Erma: "You can do it. Just use your knees for leverage."
"Hmmm. No. I choose life." I can picture the headlines now. 29 Year Old Women Falls to Death.... Because She is Stupid."
Melody: "Come on. We'll help you. Look, we can make a human chain. Grab my hand."
I look at the human chain. Yeah. Um. The only thing helping them help me is a little baby tree. That's right. Brad holds on to the tree and Erma. Erma holds on to Melody. Melody stretches out her hand.
Did I mention that we're on a 100 foot cliff? Because I don't know if that point got across. And the only thing that will keep me from dying is a little baby tree.
Melody: "Just grab my hand."
Melody: "Just grab it"
"Dude. The little tree isn't going to hold all of us."
Brad: "Yes it will, just grab on to Mel's hand."
"Fine. But if I die, I'm so going to be PO'd."
I lock on to Melody's hand and they pull me up the moss covered rock. Grabbing on anything I can find, I make it to the top of the cliff onto grass. And so begins our journey…off trail. With no map.
"This is nice. So quiet and beautiful."
"I wonder where all the other hikers are"
"You guys know where you're going right?"
"Ok, um. Where's the map?"
Erma: "It's in the car."
"Yeah. The map to get to the trail. But what about the map OF the trail? Where's that map?"
Erma: "That is the map. They are the same thing."
Marcello: "You mean you left the map in the car?! The CAR?!"
Melody: "Don't worry all these trails have markers. See. There's one right now."
Marcello: "Yes, but how do you know what direction to go? The marker is just some guy on a horse, no direction, no left or right arrow."
Brad: "Guys, don't worry so much. We'll be out in like 20 minutes. We'll just follow the markers"
After doubling back twice on two separate trails, wondering up some random steep hill, only to go back down it….
Brad: "I see the car!!!"
I run up to where they are. Oh thank God! The car! Wait where is it? All I see is lake. I strain my eyes over the horizon. I see the car. Beyond the lake. The very big lake.
"You mean it's across the freaking lake!!!!"
Marcello: "But I don't remember crossing over water."
"But then how did the car get on the other side of the lake?" I ask. The car faces us beyond the lake. Taunting us.
Melody: "How did we get on the other side of the lake, what the hell?!"
Brad sighs. "We are not on an island."
Marcello: "But I don't remember crossing over water."
Brad: "Guys, we are not on an island."
Marcello: "Someone is going to have to swim for help, or maybe we just sit here and a ranger on a boat will see us."
"Yeah. Right. What ranger will be cruising around a lake when all NORMAL people have MAPS?"
Marcello: "Then someone will have to swim it."
We all look at each other.
Brad: "Guys for the last time, we are not on an island. We can follow the lake edge and get to the other side and get to the car*."
* Readers, if you could… Please reread Paragraph Fifteen from the start of the story. Find anything funny there? Something to do with the car…. And where we actually parked it…. I don't know about normal people. But after wandering lost for 5 hours at this point, the mind does funny things. Considering we parked the car facing the forest. And nowhere near a lake. But apparently that slipped our minds at the time.
"We are going to die." Tears are now running down my face. "I can't take this anymore…"
Melody: "I am so sorry, Elizabeth. I am so so sorry."
Erma: "I'm having fun!"
One look from Marcello and Erma did not mention the word fun for the duration of the hike.
We were following the lake. On the actual lake's edge. In water. And mud. With the dead fish.
"You guys, I don't think this water's good for the cuts on my foot that my shoes made. You know, from walking for hours and hours. I don't want to get gangrene. Can we move to higher ground?"
Marcello: "Yes, my shoes are new. I vote moving to higher ground."
It's odd how things work out. Because once we got to higher ground we saw something that made Marcello scream like a little Agentinian girl."
Marcello: "PEOPLE FISHING!!!" He runs at them, arms flaying, that crazed look in his eye. "HELP!!! HELP!! HEEEELLLLLPPP!!"
The family turns slightly in their chairs. Poles in hand. And just look. Never actually speaking. Just looking at us. Well, mostly at Marcello as he charges at them.
Marcello: "We need help! We are lost! We need to find our SUV!"
The older man, points to the SUV parked in the lot. Facing the forest. "That it?"
Marcello: "THE CAR! I FOUND THE CAR!!" He runs towards it. Hugs it and begins kissing the hood.
Melody turns to me. "So that wasn't that bad right?"
"Nah. It was fun. I'd do it again."
Melody: "Believe me, our trip to Chicago won't nearly be this dramatic."
Brad: "Oh yeah. We are meeting up with that KC guy, the gym teacher, right? The guy you met from the Star Wars online game clan thing." He smirks.
"Shut up, Brad."
Why do I have a bad feeling about this next trip? But that's another story completely.
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