This weekend marked the 5th year of a gathering of friends from elementary school, high school…and beyond. A group comprised of some of the amigos…and some who are not official member. This year’s event was held at Lake Shasta. Due to an overload of activities in my schedule in the weeks before and after this event, I was not attending in full. My participation would be limited to a dinner/evening visit.

Saturday The plan was to meet Pecos at the Packers Bay. From there we would boat to the campsite and meet fellow friends A, J, and T.

First off, Packer’s Bay is a small marina…it is ONLY accessed by I-5 north. Only. While driving, I was half paying attention, half top rocking to Kid Koala mixes…I noticed Packer’s Bay…and a 1 mile sign, and figured it was the next exit, and so jumped off the freeway.

Soon I was at the lake, and looking for a way to the water. The lake is low. I was driving on dirt roads I had no idea ever had been made. Eventually aout a mile later I got to a dock area. I noticed nothing looking like Pecos…so I asked some college meat head, ‘This packers bay?”

“uh……..no. Go up a mile it’s up there.”

Then I remembered it was a funky exit. I went up…exited the proper spot and drove to the lake. The lake charges $8 to park. They didn’t have any pay envelopes…so I didn’t pay. I went to the dock, and there was Pecos, and T waiting for me. We got in the boat…which belongs to Pecos’ brother Roberto. I only mention this because everything that guy touches turns to sh– so I ‘m a little skeptical about the upkeep on his stuff.

We got in…and Pecos annouced, “hey…started right up this time.”

If this were a movie, or a book…this would be what we call forshadowing.

We left the dock, and let’s just say Pecos isn’t the worst boat driver ever, but he certainly could use some practice. He drives fast, and not necessarily in the right part of other people’s wakes…

Time passed, we arrived at Green Creek campground…a nice little place accessible only by boat. A and J came down and helped lug beer and ice back to the campsite. Once there, we sat and caught up on what everyone had been up to the past year…talked movies, jobs, kids, trips, and spent some time in good natured ribbing of each other. Good times.

This would be about the time the bear came back. In the boat Pecos mentioned there was a bear near camp. Great. I don’t like bears. I just don’t. They’re great to see from a distance, but the thought of one in my camp ever just freaks me. I look on the hill and there’s this good sized bear, lollygaggin’ acorss the hillside. He was 25 yards away at most…which is a good distance to look at a bear, and seeing how there were 5 of us, I wasn’t really concerned about him bumrushiung us. It was cool just to watch him. The thing that did concern me was the lack of fear it showed. We weren’t quiet, and he paid us no attention…didn’t scamper off, look at us, or anything. It was also the middle of the day, which is usually when a bear would be in the grass resting and what not.

Throughout the nex couple hours we could hear the bear making noise up on the hillside in the bushes…which let us know he was there, and in our estimation…biding his time to come thrash camp. A and J made a decision to move the tent and sleeping quarters to another camp site, and leave the food and all it’s smell in the one site, in the bear box. Worked for me. I’m not sleeping there.

After dinner we sat, socialized some more…and about 9:30 it becam rather obvious we’re not the late night party machines we used to be…so I suggessted they take me back to the dock, before they got too tired and didn’t want to. It was agreed that it was a good plan…so all 5 of us went to Roberto’s boat to take the ride back.

Roberto’s boat had some issues starting…but, eventually, it did…and we were off.

10 minutes into our boat ride the engine cut out. In the middle of the lake. It was funny at first. We joked about Roberto’s crappy boat, and laughed at the thought of floating in the lake with no lights. T and I grabbed some fishing poles and made a few casts. A and Pecos tried to get the boat going again…arguing if it was a battery, flooded engine, starter, out of gas…etc. I called my wife to say ‘hey, we’ll be late, but they’ll get it going then I’ll be home…”

an hour passed ans T and I were bored fishing…and the engine wasn’t going anywhere. In the distance a boat was playing Rappers Delight. Someone was having a party. That sounded fun.
After another 30 minutes went by they decided me going home wasn’t happening. Great. So how to get the boat back was a lot of fun. We had to paddle, but because this boat belongs to Roberto…it’s not properly stocked for an emergency. We found a paddle…it was broken and had a pointed shard for a handle. It was one paddle…so it had to be passed to and fro from side to side to keep it paddling in the right direction…towards shore. Someone found some flippers, so they were added to the array of things that helped us paddle forward.

I think it took about an hour to get to shore.

I had to call my wife and say, ‘uhm…not going to make it home tonight…sorry.’

Then came the realization…I had no sleeping stuff. No pillow…no sleeping bag…no pad to sleep on. They had decided to walk to camp which wasn’t too far away. In my mind, I went over two options.

A) go sleep in a tent on the floor, on rocks and roots…next two T and J who both snore like a chainsaw humping a bear. AND we had a bear in the neighborhood that could help out. OR

B) Sleep in the boat…and look at the stars (which were all out and awesome.) And kick back…and try and catch some sleep on the floor of the boat.

Both places were going to be uncomfortable, So I chose the boat…figuring the stars, and fresh air would be to my advantage.

I elected to stay with the boat. The others hiked back to camp…I watched their broken lantern fade into the hillside. I set to work trying to get comfortable. It was impossible. Even with the four life-vests I used to try and make a pad/pillow, I was still to tall to fit comfortably anywhere except the back of the boat…which was by the gas cans, and gas flooded engine. I was as comfortable as I could get, but I was also getting a headache from the gas fumes.

The stars were nice though…

I could hear the houseboat still throwing their party with a variation of hits from yester-year, rap, techno…and the occassional rock classic. After every song the crowd would let out their “woooooooooo’s and whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’s” The D J would say a few words then the songs would kick back in. Sometimes there would be about 10 minutes of silence…then another song. It was definately a very random party being thrown.

They partied for hours. I dozed off once…I think…but I might have been high on gas fumes. When I woke up they were still partying…somewhere, off in the night. They played limbo, then closed the night with dueling banjos. Very nice.

The worst part of the whole event wasn’t the gas, or the music…it was the biting wind that blew through the lake. It was SO cold. I tried to take one t-shirt off and put it on my legs, then I tried to put all my extremities in the other, like a ball…that didn’t work. I put both shirts on and tried to hide in the shirt…then my feet were cold. I love Crocs…but keeping your feet warm…they do not. I was freezing no matter how I twisted my body. I never fell asleep again

Needless to say, I watched the sun come up. It was one of the first ones I’d seen, that I actually hadn’t planned on seeing. When it came up…I fished a bit…to try and take my mind off the cold. I caught nothing…even though the fish were practically back stroking the surface of the water. FInally, it was light enough to start going towards their camp. I went to make a fire. Very least, I’m getting warm.

Now I had no idea when I’d get home that day…and the longer I took…the less of my ‘family day’ I would have left. I wandered over to my sleeping friends…they made no signs of any that led me to believe they were going to wake any time soon. They also had no plan to get home.
I looked down the hill and noticed a house boat packing up to leave the cove. hmmmmm.

I went down, and asked them if they were gong by Packer’s Bay. They were. I asked them if they could drop me off there. They could. Prayers answered.

They were really nice people, even though I’ll never remember their names. They offered me breakfast..which I declined, because I felt awkward enough hitching a ride. Although, I did have some coffee…which was REALLY good, even if it was made with crystals. The houseboat went SLOW. I had a lot of time to try and converse with people. I talked cameras with one guy, fishing with another. They were all from the L.A. area. They were trying to finish all their food and beverages before they got back…so they were offering me soda, water, beer, gin…anything I could help them finish. THey were troopers…drinking at 7am…I couldn’t do that…but I did have a soda.

After an hour plus we reached the docks…I was back. I thanked them sincerely for their hospitality…and headed up to my car, which…had no tickets on it for not paying.

Great. So although, I was nearly frozen in the bottom of a boat..got high on gas fumes, put my back in dissarray…and deprived my body of much needed rest…it all worked out.