First of all, I should say that Jenna has a very nice apartment in a nice suburb of a suburb. There are many of the same stores in different places and the roads do not go in straight lines. Jenna lives with a nice cat named Jolie who drinks from human-type glassware instead of a cat dish. The cat is typically under the custody of Jenna's roommate, but she was visiting her UP homeland during my visit.
At Jenna's house we learned a game that is taking the country by storm called wild rummy while we waited for Brad and Dawn to arrive. We played several round and consumed wine and tequila until one of the players smashed a wine goblet on the table to celebrate a good play. After this, we could not continue on for some time.
Because of highway construction and a softball game, the arrival of Brad and Dawn only slightly preceded the sunrise. Still, everyone got some sleep and we pulled ourselves together to make the journey to the outer banks for camping fun. To get to the outerbanks, there is a lot of driving on tertiary highways.
The trip also involves crossing bridges that are of a non-uniform height. Specifically, the middle of these bridges are significantly taller, not because of underlying topological differences, but to let ships pass through. On the way to the outer banks, we passed inner banks, where locals drive pickup trucks to the edge of the water for a day at the beach. This evidently eliminates the hassle of transporting amenities from the parking lot to a nice beach spot. On the other hand, it must give the beach a parking lot atmosphere.
Though we were planning to camp at a real live state campground, fate did not smile upon us. The campground was full, so we headed south, to the land of commercial campgrounds. Rejecting a junkyard campground we chose to stay at Camp Hatteras, "Family Campground". We realized that this was not "real camping", so we figuratively hung our heads in honor of real campers in the group who are actually hard-core outdoorspeople and bike everywhere in public-transportation-unfriendly cities. Still, we had a real REI tent, so we were suitably consoled as we set it up in the crowded campground, marveling at our fellow campers' ability to not-quite-but-almost infringe on our personal campsite #330.
After intimidating our French neighbors with our talk of their audacity, we went to the beach. Some bodysurfed, others floated, and the power of the ocean's waves was demonstrated. On occasion, members of the expedition were thrown to the beach and raked across its pebbly shore. Though leg-sized bandages would have been appreciated, they were not available.
After a few hours of frolicking, and many hours of driving and almost zero hours of eating, we went to a restaurant to eat dinner. (* in light of our later fire-building, this was one of our best decisions). Another lesson: filling a glass of water with lemons and sugar does not a tasty beverage make.
Following dinner and some clothes changing in the tent that left the floor covered with sand and ocean pebbles, we took advantage of pretend camping by playing bingo. That's right, B-I-N-G-O. Sure, the woods are lovely, dark and deep, but can you find bingo games called by possibly drunk (or mentally unstable) men during real camping trips? I think that we all know the answer to that question. After losing several rounds of bingo to small children, we played some of that wild rummy. Tragically, the game was halted before the final round. This time, by an old and incoherent man who shooed us away from the community center so that evening cleaning could proceed.
Yes, we could have finished the game at the campsite and Jenna could have been the champion (or not). But we were distracted by Brad's hunger. We tried valiantly to make a good (secret) fire, but we settled for flash burning veggie-dogs in a newsprint fire. The only member of the party that could eat the food was Brad.
For fun, we annoyed aliens by identifying constellations using our super flashlight. Later, we were further distracted from games by the sounds of sweet love being made on an air mattress elsewhere in the campground. Then it was time for sleep. Against the advice of the local paper, the rain flap was left on the tent, and by morning it felt like a greenhouse.
The next morning, we were determined to cook breakfast by campfire. Free-range eggs were mixed with potatoes and cheese. Valiant efforts were made to set store-bought wood aflame. When the skillet became warm, the eggs were added. Twigs were taken from nearby wilderness. Sympathetic campers contributed charcoal. Then the mixture cooked, and we ate it, and it was good.
After eating breakfast, watching our neighbors' car pulled from the sand by a tractor, and cleaning the campsite, we were off to another day at the beach. This time we did not go hungry - thanks to abundant snack foods from seven-eleven staffed by Eastern European immigrants. Pods of dolphins swam close to the shore and did dolphin things. Fish flew above the waves. The power of the ocean was again demonstrated through waves and tides. Brad was buried in the sand and fell asleep in the sun. If he were to wear hot pants and muscle shirts to work, the combined effect would be quite upsetting.
After driving home and eating non-MSG (?) Chinese food, we parted company.