Mom to the rescue

I am DEATHLY afraid of spiders.

It’s been this way all my life, ever since my dad INSISTED on catching the spiders in my bedroom in a plastic bag which he SHOOK IN FRONT OF MY FACE before depositing them “safely” outside.

You can imagine my youthful horror.

My mom, on the other hand, is DEATHLY afraid of snakes.

So is The Swede, for that matter.

And just like I’m sensitive to even LOOKING at a picture of a spider, they are sensitive to looking at a picture of a snake.

The other day I was with my mom and we were inspecting the backyard shed, looking for my camping equipment.

It drives me crazy that she RELOCATES all my gear all over the place, but since it’s free storage, there’s not much I can do about it.

So there I am, digging through conduit, pool covers, and tarps when I come across my tent.

Pete (as I like to call my tent) has seen better days.

He’s been to four burns, two unSCruzes, and countless other minor camping trips.

I fear this may be Pete’s last hurrah.

So I haul out Pete lickety split and that’s when I see it. . .

A snake?

A spider?

A mouse?

What was in the shed?

It was a spider.

A big, knobby black widow.


I immediately freaked out.

I told my mom to back out of the shed slowly and I followed her.

She, thinking it was a snake because who would freak out over a teeny tiny spider, backed out rather quickly and asked, “What is it?”

It’s a BLACK WIDOW! I practically screamed at her.

Oh, is that all?

She casually takes off her shoe, steps into the shed, and beats the black widow with her shoe.

There you go!

Just so you know, you can be 44 years old, have two kids of your own, a college degree, and be a relatively accomplished camper and yet MOM STILL HAS TO COME TO THE RESCUE.

Just sayin.

Cheap booze but top shelf ambiance

The Swede is not coming to unSCruz this year.

Yeah, I cried like a baby when I found out.

It was SO MUCH FUN last year.

It was especially fun having him there for the wedding, my strip tease to George Michael’s Freedom, and all the costumes!

AND, I got laid A LOT, so there’s that!

This year his daughter is having knee surgery so his absence is understandable.

I hope she has a speedy and peaceful recovery.

But planning for unSCruz and the Pagan Bunny Burn with or without my Swede has got me going through all my camping totes and organizing ALL MY SHIT.

And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve lost my stove!

How a person loses a stove, I will never know.

It’s BRIGHT RED, after all, and takes up a considerable amount of space.

Fortunately, I found my backup one, but it’s EVEN BIGGER and takes up EVEN MORE SPACE.

The irony is, I’ve also lost my flatware and dinnerware.

I suspect they’re off partying with my stove.

So I got replacements – new flatware and new dinnerware.

And because I’m neurotic, I also bought placemats.

Who in their RIGHT MIND eats off of placemats when they’re camping, I don’t know?

But I can tell you I drew the line when I was tempted to buy chargers for meals (the plates that go UNDER your dinner plate and only serve the purpose of being pretty and dressing up the table).

That impulse buy I resisted.

But I did get a paper towel holder, a flatware caddy and a collapsible kettle.

It’s ironic, isn’t it?

We go camping to get away from it all yet we haul all this CRAP out with us to make it more like home.

Don’t even get me started on lighting and music.

Fortunately, that seems to be Tejas’ area of expertise, so I’ll just leave him to it.

We’re sure to have a nice little shady patch of ground with slick lighting and mood music.

We may buy cheap booze, but we have top shelf ambiance.

SoulFire 2016: The Heatstroke Chronicles

white witch michelleMaybe it was just me.

Maybe everyone else did just fine.

But I managed to get myself good and overheated as well as dehydrated at SoulFire TWO DAYS IN A ROW!

Tejas and I arrived on Friday at 10 am and set up camp in the heat. Once camp was set up we drank rum and cokes until I started to worry that I wasn’t getting enough liquid so I drank 3 diet cokes.

Just a word of advice: Diet Coke DOES NOT PREVENT DEHYDRATION.

No it does not.

Because at about 9 pm after battling a dehydration headache for about two hours, I gave up and went to bed with 3 Tylenol RIGHT WHEN THINGS WERE GETTING GOOD!

I laid there, freezing cold, wanting a bed partner to snuggle with while I recovered.

But no, there were no bed partners to be found.

I laid in bed until about 1 am, then got up to party only to find that the party was winding down.

So back to bed.

Try again another day.

Cue Saturday.

I’m drinking TONS of coconut water to keep me hydrated and yet with the 95 degree heat I still manage to overheat.

Dante took me to the Restaurant to sit in air conditioning and cool down.

I was dizzy walking up the hill to the Restaurant (even though I was wearing nothing but pink ruffled panties and a crochet bikini fringe top).

There was an art exhibit going on in the Restaurant and I found that if I positioned myself just right I could stare at a picture of a dolphin while the vent blew cold air up my butt.

It was amazing!

So, lessons learned:

Diet Coke is not the same as water

Coconut juice will not prevent overheating

Do what you need to take care of yourself

However, if you fuck up (like me) then friends are so helpful when you’re not feeling well.

Love to Tejas for giving me Tylenol and love to Dante for cooling me down.

michelle and tejas

The Weekend Boyfriend

For the weekend of unSCruz, I had a boyfriend.

The Swede went with me and basically admirably filled the position.

  • He helped me load and unload my truck.


  • He helped me get Tejas back to camp Friday night (after we lost him for 4 hours).
  • He helped cook and clean.
  • He wore costumes.
  • He held my hand and told me I was beautiful.
  • He kept me warm on the cold nights in Watsonville.
  • And he gave me a thorough tongue lashing.

Yes, that means EXACTLY what you think it does.

The Swede was sweet.

For all my worries that he would have trouble fitting in, The Swede did JUST FINE.

Better than fine.


He even let me take post-coital photos of the two of us.

unSCruz was a blast and I can’t wait to blog about all the things that happened.

But by and large, the BEST PART OF THE WEEKEND?

The Swede.



Some of you know the story of Mac, the incredible white German shepherd my ex-husband rescued for me when we lost our oldest son to cancer.

That dog brought me back to life and saved me when I was at my lowest, deepest point of suffering.

Mac died when he fell out my truck window onto Highway 80 when the boys and I were coming home from a camping trip.

I remember watching him fall in my rearview mirror and also seeing my 60 pound, 7 year old son desperately trying to hold on to him.

I thought that perhaps my son was falling out the window too.

You can’t imagine the horror I experienced.

My son stayed safely in the car but sadly, Mac was killed while getting off the freeway (10 years to the day after my oldest son died).

We’d just finished up a LOVELY vacation at the Yuba River with my Uncle Donald, Aunt Stacey, and my cousins Jennifer, Travis, Bella, Matt, and Nick.

It was amazing.

Today, I was reminded that when it was my turn to swing on the rope and fall 8 feet into the water, I was chicken.

I didn’t want to jump.

And Mac stood by my side and waited with me while I worked up the courage. . .


And only after I jumped did he follow suit and jump in with me.

He was an amazing dog.

And I feel lucky that I somehow managed to take this picture of him THE VERY MORNING OF THE DAY HE DIED.

The last picture I ever took of him.

And I’d like to think that in the afterlife, he is playing in the water, in the sun, surrounded by family.

I love you Mac.  You are not forgotten!



I love to camp, which is ironic considering my parents never took me camping.

My father actually thinks it’s a ridiculous past time.

Little does he know.

My first camping trip was with my friends Albert and Barry and my then BFF (now sister-in-law) Robin when I was in college.

I got busted for posing topless in the water, I remember.

In any case, I’ve sold my tent trailer Dolly so it’s time to pull out my super big Insta-tent Pete for UnSCruz.

The one thing I’ve never mastered with respect to camping is how to keep it cheap.  I know camping is SUPPOSED to be cheap, but somehow I always fall woefully short of it.

For instance, I have $567.89 worth of groceries in my Safeway online cart [the one thing you should know about me is that I don’t go grocery shopping myself if I can help it].

That’s for 3 – 4 people and includes a case of beer, 750 ml of single barrel whiskey, 750 ml of fine rum, 3.5 L of vodka, 3.5 L of gin, and a 3L box of red wine.


It also includes dinners of steak and potatoes and spaghetti with meatballs in a homemade pasts sauce.


It’s because I have all this time on my hands to plan things out and work on them.

And as if the food and drink isn’t enough, I’m planning a little surprise for my campmates:

A Bloody Mary bar with all the fixings!

But why stop there?

I figured out I could also make Aviator cocktails, Gin fizzes, Mimosas, French 75s, and Screwdrivers with just a few extra ingredients.

Have you heard of Amarena cherries?

OMG, they’re heavenly little spheres of happiness and make a delicious finish at the bottom of an Aviator cocktail!

Of course, all these cocktails require accessories:

  1. Measuring glasses
  2. Bar spoon
  3. Cocktail glasses (acrylic)
  4. Champagne flutes (acrylic)
  5. High ball glasses (acrylic)
  6. Plates and bowls to put the fixings in
  7. Tray for display purposes
  8. Stainless steel cocktail shaker
  9. Skewers
  10. Ice buckets


To the tune of $327.85 in my Amazon basket.

Of course I haven’t BOUGHT anything yet.

I’m waiting to see if my inner Martha Stewart/ Type A/ Overachiever settles down a little.

It also occurred to me that I could go to Goodwill to get all my accessories.

But that would require me to shop.  In a store.  In person.

And we all know I JUST DON’T DO THAT!

Camping at Stanislaus with my friends and my dog Mac (RIP sweet boy)


A Good Night’s Sleep

I’m OBSESSED with UnSCruz!

Can’t wait for it to get here.

As it turns out, I am so impressed by UnSCruz, I’m inviting all my friends to come.

Toni, Kimberly, Tejas, Yvonne. . .

I have a BIG tent.

It says it’ll accommodate 8 people.

Not that I’d want to pack 8 people in my tent.

There’s a little matter of stuffing my queen size air mattress bed in it.

Hey, I like comfort!

It’s not EXACTLY glamping, but it’s close.

The tough part is, I think I’m going to have to share my bed.

I know, I know!

But WHO should I share it with?

My girlfriend?

My friend from Sweden?

Or my best friend?

If I had my way, it’d be my friend from Sweden.

Basically because I wouldn’t mind snuggling up to him.

But perhaps he doesn’t want to.

And that’s okay.

I’m fine sleeping by myself.

It’s been so long since I shared a bed with someone I’m afraid I really won’t get a good night’s sleep.

But that’s the whole point, isn’t it?!?!



2017 Adventures

glampingI’ve been thinking about what I want to do for 2017 (besides hide from our social media-challenged, egomaniac President). I’ve come up with a short list of 10 things I’d like to do over the next year (and more, of course):

  1. Go glamping in an Airstream trailer at the Russian River. Autocamp has drool-worthy Airstreams with walnut cabinetry and the fanciest bathrooms ever to grace an RV. FYI $200 – $350 per night.
  2. Visit Bodega Bay. Check out the views along Bodega Head and grab some fresh seafood along the coast. Can you say fresh crab, straight from the sea?
  3. Spend a few hours exploring Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma. Maybe stop at Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena for a fresh blueberry milkshake and a sushi-grade ahi tuna burger.
  4. Wine tasting trips with friends to Paso Robles, Sonoma, the South Bay and Livermore. Pick up some 2013 Malbec at Concannon Vinyards and Winery.
  5. Check out the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Maybe stop in to Cowgirl Creamery and get some delicious melted raclette cheese on pickles and bread.
  6. Apple picking at Apple Hill. Be sure to fill a growler with fresh apple cider, preferably the fermented variety. Visit my aunt and uncle and cousins at the cabin and have some family fun.
  7. Spend the weekend in Half Moon Bay and Pescadero. Eat at Duarte’s Tavern and be sure to order a cup of their cream of green chile soup. Also go to Harley Goat Farm to buy goat cheese and related goat milk products. Hit the Highway 1 Brewing Company for some brews and stop at the haunted Moss Beach Distillery for a sundowner on the patio watching the sunset.
  8. Go on the Napa Valley Wine Train with friends. Make a weekend of it and go on the Napa Art Walk the next day. Check out Napa’s funy, hip boutiques and art galleries. Saturate with wine. Repeat.
  9. Camping at Grover Springs Campground. Take a soak in one of their simmering hot springs tucked away in the middle of the pine forest.
  10. Hike to Feather Falls and see the three tiers of the falls plunge 640 feet into the Sierra foothills. Go in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom for maximum loss of breath.

So there’s my list, now who wants to do these things with me? My Facebook friends better be prepared for me to hit them up to go these adventures with me!

Now that I’ve made a list, it’s time to start checking off things.

But first, make the rain stop.

Farewell Dolly

IMG_0170I just sold my lovely little tent trailer, Dolly.

I’ve had her for 10 years and used her on numerous camping trips.

Sadly it’s time to say goodbye.

What with my son buying a car (he’s 17) there’s no place to park my tent trailer at home.

I have wonderful memories of Dolly.

  • Eating pancakes with Jay and Mac (my white GSD) at Coastanoa.
  • Taking my boys to the Delta with Luke and going tubing.
  • Camping with my family on the Yuba River.

So many memories are wrapped up in that tent trailer.  It’s hard to let go.

Just cleaning her up for sale reminded me how much fun I’ve had with her.

Check out my baby:

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Ren Faire Shenanigans

Last weekend, I packed up my camping gear, grabbed my friend Kimberly, and we drove to Casa de Fruta to camp out at the Renaissance Faire.

We had a blast.


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 It took all of 30 minutes to set up camp with our neighbors helping – two Ren Faire musicians names Kevin and JK.

We started in on the Rum and Cokes and before we knew it we were swallowing a bottle of white wine with our lobster ravioli dinner. Followed closely by Kimberly’s signature jello shots made with marshmallow and cotton candy flavored vodka. Mmmmm.


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We woke up the next morning slightly hung over but a breakfast set us straight. Then we got dressed in our Ren Faire finest and hit the festival.


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We went to the Ren Faire with some friends who are Ren Faire veterans and knew where to go, what to do, and what to watch.


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 We drank beer from sun up to sun down, people watched, and in general managed to get involved in a few shenanigans.

After the festival closed, we stayed late to listen to a musical performance by the Brick Top Blaggers. It was dancing to their music that I met Stephan, who managed to finagle an invitation back to my campsite for dinner – an invitation I later cancelled.


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But there you have it, one raucous weekend spent getting a little drunk and rowdy at the Nor Cal Ren Faire.