Monday, January 17, 2011

"PAHT HAHLS": The Anecdote of a Century (Part 1)

Are you ready for the lie?

"Hello, my name is The Jump Seat Pixie, and I am a composed and dignified individual."

That was the lie. 

Now, here's the story...

The Potholes Reservoir in eastern Washington is a 28,000 acre boiler pit of sand, water, and pointy shrubs. There is no natural shelter, the average temperature is in the ballpark of ninety to ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit, no bathroom facilities (save for on the mainland), and, more recently, it's been prone to strange weather fluctuations. 

Hence, it's a haven for the writhing pile of hormonal blenders that is this group of young people: 

Every year, a team of us venture out to Bear Gryll's it in the Eastern Washington desert with style and flare. Every year, new inside jokes are produced amongst the campers and weaponized to annoy those who weren't there for a good three weeks. Girls (aside from B-Dogg) had not been introduced to this frontier until now. And I was READY to participate in the creation of annoying inside jokes. 

Team leaders of Potholes '10 are married couple B-Dogg and Brand-ness. Accompanying them were The Rest of Us: Cinnamon Juice, Straps, Sinsei Slim, Lids, Goldie Locks, Ando, Catwoman, and myself. Catwoman and the Jump Seat Pixie be the newbies, but that doesn't stop our egos from taking charge this trip. Or at least, the Jump Seat's ego...

Having taken little to no prior sleep the night before, we all piled into two trucks and shoved off for misadventure around 2 a.m. Friday morning. The trip over there was splendid and nearly free of incident, highlights including:

Major zombie attack:

Truck Stop Tattoos:

The "Nutella Incident": 

...and three proposals:

We arrived at the boat launch by dawn, and took several trips between the mainland and our choice dune to get our gear together and set up camp. 

The story I'm choosing to share with you is my first twenty-four hours on the dune. Why? Because it was a sucky experience in reality, and thus makes for an EXCELLENT Internet-story. So, let's get this train-wreck a-rollin'!

Now, in my previous blog post, I described to you all that heat is not my best friend, mostly because I neglect to hydrate properly. And though the Demon Blueberry incident put my relationship with heat on thin ice, I think my first twenty-four hours on The Dune was the alarm clock moment in the relationship, and heat and I broke up for seriously. 

That's not to say I'm a pansy when it comes to the outdoors. I grew up with three dudes and a maverick camper for a father, so I'm pretty set. I can start a fire almost anywhere (on purpose or otherwise), I'm pretty savvy with a knife or a machete, and if I ever get trapped in a "glassiah", I will remember to take my "vittimins". 

And, quite frankly, my fragile little ego was pretty set on making sure that these people KNEW I wasn't a pansy camper, thank you very much! Heck, I was going to be the frickin' bad-@$$ of Potholes this year: I was gonna show 'em all that I wasn't your typical little suburbanite chick who ended every audible sentence with a proverbial question mark: "Ah'm gah'ahn tah paht hahls....?" 

This was my goal. I wasn't going to be the problem person, the deadweight: I was going to be the SUPERSTAR of CAMPING! I'd show THEM.

But what was my Achilles' heel this time around, boys and girls?

Yep. I didn't drink enough water. 

Potholes is a pretty hot environment, and the name of the game there (if you're not a very savvy sportsman) is, essentially, Don't Die. Cinnamon Juice, Straps, and I spent most of the morning attempting to throw together a LOST-style shelter from aluminum poles, pant-legs, and a tarp. Once we had that finished, we collapsed beneath it like abused hamsters and slept in the ever-elusive shade and trying to remember what it was that you do when you're overheated...

Somewhere around two in the afternoon, I was beginning to see...things. The first such anomaly was Ando's skin color upon his return from fishing on the other side of the dune...

Now, as I sat contemplatively on one of the coolers, making the calm observation of Ando's drastic change in pallor, I realized what was happening. Despite my efforts so far in keeping myself one-hundred-percent self-sufficient and then some, I knew that I probably hadn't kept myself hydrated as much as I should have...and it was getting pretty delirium was beginning to settle in. I had a decision to make...

I could tell the others that I was starting to get a little loopy...

But then, we had only been on the dune for about six hours (with a whole weekend still to experience). If I admitted defeat-by-sunlight this early in the game, they would never let it down. SURELY I'd be a laughing stock. 

Do you see the game of the ego?

Silly and sinister, that. 

I chose to accept my delirium and instead imagined Ando as a short Avatar for the rest of the day. But that was only the beginning...

Cinnamon Juice and I, being the pastiest members of a rag-tag team of desert dwellers, found ourselves unconscious two hours later, half-buried in sand that we had made an attempt to burrow into from the sun and, eventually perhaps, evolve in mole-people. Despite our sanguine attitudes, inner-tubing and fishing were far from our minds when it came to the oppressive fascist sun. We were whipped puppies in slivers of shade.

At some point, I managed to regain just enough consciousness to make this one, stupid decision...

  This would later prove to be my worst mistake yet...


-The JSP