Monday, September 10, 2007

Labor Day Honeymoon: a tale of two bigfoots, part 2

The road to Happy Camp was filled with twists and turns, and the Honda was filled with kvetching. After our experience in Willow Creek, there was definitely an anti-climactic cloud hanging over us as we forged onward up Highway 96.

I had never been to Happy Camp, and having packed fairly light, was a little anxious that we hadn't stopped in Hoopa to stock up on some groceries. But as we pulled into the parking lot of the market and stepped inside, my fears were easily put to rest. Everything we could possibly need was there on the shelves.

The town was actually much prettier than I had expected. We found a campground called Curly Jack where we would spend a couple nights with some guitar-playing rafters, set up camp and then headed to the park where the festival was being held.

I'm sure Bigfoot was much happier with the display of love given him in Happy Camp. There was art, jewelry, clothes and crafts, and I was excited to see that the majority of it was hand-crafted. There was a magician wearing a bright yellow suit at the pavillion who actually pulled a rabbit out of...something...maybe a hubcap? Anyway, the kids loved him. After that, we got a sneak preview of the Bigfoot court. Having lost the coveted Fortuna High prom queen prize to some undeserving slutty cheerleader in 1988, I felt a little tear well up in my eye at the sight of the beautiful Bigfoot queen. The only criticism we had was that just like in Willow Creek, there was an extreme lack of Bigfoot schwag. We could only find one type of t-shirt. I can't find the words to properly describe it, so I'll just let the picture speak for itself.

The food at the Happy Camp festival was also superior. There were huge Indian tacos, barbequed flesh, pizza, and just about any kind of deep-fried morsel you can imagine. Squirrel and I were really looking forward to dessert. There was a booth serving gigantic bowls of shaved ice in over 20 different flavors. In the center of each huge mound of flavored ice was an equally huge mound of soft-serve ice cream. It filled up the middle and came spurting out the top like some kind of weird sweet volcanic treat. It looked fabulous - but after the tacos and the side of the largest fried zucchini rounds ever, we just couldn't stomach anymore. Besides, we had to save room for Reese's s'mores. We headed back to camp happy and satiated and fell into sweet Bigfoot dreams accompanied by an off-key version of "Fire and Rain."

In the morning as we sat drinking coffee and enjoying the quiet, we skimmed over the program for the rest of the festivities. The parade started at 11, and we definitely didn't want to miss that. We figured we might be able to get in a quick swim before heading into town. But wait! There was something else we just had to be a part of: the local elementary school's pancake breakfast! We hurriedly got dressed and headed to the school. Who would possibly want to miss being served lukewarm food by surly thirteen-year-olds who'd rather be anywhere but there on a Sunday morning? The bonus was that we also got to eat on plastic trays! It was the best $10 we'd spent in a long time.

The parade was everything that a small-town Bigfoot parade should be. Here's the beautiful queen:

We talked to this guy for awhile. He told us that after the parade he was going to get Bigfoot on the back of his bike and do a photo shoot in the woods for "Easy Rider" magazine. Squirrel, who has ONLY looked at "Easy Rider" because roommate in the Army had a subscription....uh huh....yeah, that's it....said that he had noticed some of the women in the magazine looked like Sasquatch, but he had never seen the real Bigfoot in one. Maybe Squirrel's "army buddy" will send him this issue.

My favorite entry was the "State of Jefferson" garbage truck. That guy could really fling the candy!

Of course Bigfoot was there, but he was quite elusive. I only managed to capture a flash of his foot as he went running by.

It was HOT in Happy Camp, and standing on concrete for an hour made us sticky and sweaty and ready for that swim we had missed to go to the pancake breakfast. We headed to the store to hopefully find a local who knew of a good swimming hole.

"Oh, sure!" said the woman who was bagging groceries behind the counter. "You take this road here and drive, oh, between two to six miles or so. It'll take you about fifteen minutes - twenty if you drive slow. Look for a perfectly manicured lawn and a turn-out across the street. Park there and you can walk right down to the river."

The directions were a bit sketchy, but we were sure that we could figure it out. We drove, snidely wondering what "perfectly manicured" actually looked like in Happy Camp. After about ten minutes I noticed that we seemed to be going much higher than the river. After fifteen, the county-maintained road ended, and we got out to take a look. We were high above the river, and there was absolutely no way down. Figuring we'd gone too far, we turned around and headed back down the hill. We stopped several times along the way whenever we'd see what appeared to be some sort of lawn. Each time, we saw what looked like beautiful swimming holes, but there was no way to get to them without seriously risking life or limb.

At one turn-out, we saw a trail leading back into the woods. We could hear water in the distance and hurriedly ran down the trail imagining the glorious swimming hole at the end. The trail ended abruptly in several walls of poison oak. Each way we turned there was more poison oak - it was completely impassable.

Trying to remain positive, we drove a little bit further, parked the car and decided we might have a better chance of finding something on foot. We walked and walked in the stifling heat. Streams of perspiration began to drip down my forehead into my eyes. My flip-flops were making matching blisters between the toes of both of my feet. The bag of towels and books I was carrying felt like it weighed fifty pounds.

At this point, I began to get a little bit cranky. And perhaps a little bit paranoid. I imagined the woman in the store laughing hysterically and telling all of the locals who came in about the swimming hole snipe hunt she had just sent some dumb tourists on. I visualized her glowing red eyes....the little horns starting to peek through the dark roots of her unkempt blonde hair...the forked tail curled up inside of her out-of-style stonewashed jeans.

"I'm done," I told Squirrel. "You can keep searching for this damn swimming hole all day, but I. AM. DONE. I'm going back to the car where at least I can turn on the air conditioning." Sensing, in the throes of my temper tantrum, that I might just leave him there, Squirrel wisely followed. We got in the car and drove silently back down the road that would take us to the campground.

Suddenly we came around a turn and saw that to our left was a long stretch of perfectly manicured lawn, and on our right was a gravel turnout. How in the world did we miss it on our way up? We pulled into the turnout and gazed at the glorious swimming hole before us like it was some kind of mirage.

The crabbiness and paranoia disappeared with the first dive into the cool blue water. A little girl who was swimming there too asked me where we were from. I told her we were from Eureka and had come for the festival. "How'd you find this place?" she frowned suspiciously at me as she challenged me to a breath-holding contest. "A beautiful blonde angel at the grocery store told us about it."

We spent several blissful hours floating the afternoon away.

That night Squirrel read me scary Bigfoot sighting stories around the campfire. I was disappointed that we hadn't had our own encounter, but inside the tent, I was sure that I heard the call of Sasquatch in the distance.

The next morning we sadly took down the tent and packed the car to go home. Neither one of us was ready to leave Happy Camp - or Bigfoot. But we'll be back next year. We already have our Bigfoot action figure/toenail jewelry booth all planned out.


Fred Mangels said...

Carol said...

Gosh, I haven't been to Happy Camp for many many years. Is Rawhide Annie still there?

Kristabel said...

If Rawhide Annie was there, I was not introduced to her. Who is she?

Carol said...

I saw her once (or at least I was told that was her). She was famous in Happy Camp (or so I was told).

Anonymous said...

You will always be the prom queen in my eyes. i'm sure you had many more good qualities then the cheerleader.

Kristabel said...

Aw, thanks, anon! You're right - I did! Plus, I was just as slutty as that cheerleader!

Tapperass said...

You have just read another True Confession of Kristabel.

-boy (snickering)

Anonymous said...

Rawhide Annie? What the? In Willow Creek we had "Old Milwuakee Jim", The Shoe Lady, and several other town characters I can't seem to recall their names. Perhaps Bigfoot himself can recall and comment on the Happy Camp excursion.

See...Did I not tell you B&M's Brown Bread is the food of the Gods.

Kristabel said...

Hmmmm....I don't know about the gods, but it certainly seems to be one of Bigfoot's faves.

Bigfoot...are you there?

EkoVox's Brother said...

Humbly, I must confess, Willow Creek got it's ass handed to it on a platter by Happy Camp in "one on one" Bigfoot Celebrations comparisons. How could we compare to that breakfast, that garbage truck and did you see the size of Bigfoot's toe in the picture? You know what they say.....And, yes Willow Creek was lacking in quality, artisinal, homegrown crafts as we could only muster Asian knockoffs. Also, you failed to mention that at the height of festivities some guy decided to teach his woman a lesson and began wailing on her, only to be interviened by a town father who ended up wearing a sling for his intervention heroics...... But wait! Is it possible that lowly Willow Creek could rise up and redeem itself? You see we didn't realize we were being graded on a single event, as we embrace the "body of work" format with many events in a given competition. Before you crown Happy Camp the victor, may I offer you the "Taste of Willow Creek" on September 23?
Talk about Zoot Capri. Seven local wineries, six specialty farms and enough local artisinal hippy crafters to overflow your bunghole. Is it possible the true local, tragically cool, painfully hip Festivalites avoid Bigfoot Days, saving themselves for a real Willow Creek shindig? I think so.
Pinot Noir, gazpacho, amuse buce, terrior, fig compote, fine arts and wine flights are spoken here. In fact, were so cool you may not even be able to attend as tickets are as scarce as a backstage pass to a Delta Nationals concert. Only 800 of our closest, dearest devoutees can attend. And yes, we do sell out. Judge not lest you partake in all we have to offer.
Here's looking down my nose at you with a hint of a smirk.

Kristabel said...

Hey, EB,

For the record, I was only comparing Bigfoot festivals, not the entire year's worth of social functions and tourist attractions. Thanks for filling me in on the good stuff we missed, though.

As for "Taste of Willow Creek," if you're going to do that much blatant advertisement, you could at least offer me a free ticket...or a personal tour....or a pink girlie drink at the Forks Lounge. Geesh!

Tapperass said...

"The defense rests your Honor."


Anonymous said...

".....overflow your bunghole."

Good thing he is talking about wine. Otherwise, one would think of gastrointestinal issues one might receive from eating too many servings of B&M's brown bread with raisins.

You know, I think EB just spammed this blog with , well, unsolicited spam. That was definitely a well placed advertisement for "A Taste of Willow Creek". I'm thinking if "A Taste of Willow Creek" can't think up any other way to promote "A Taste of Willow Creek" other than this style of guerrilla advertising mentioning "A Taste of Willow Creek" inside of a blog comment on battling Bigfoot Days,
then "A Taste of Willow Creek" should be taken to task.

"A Taste of Willow Creek", you should be ashamed of yourself. If we in blogland wanted to have "A Taste of Willow Creek" blatantly advertising "A Taste of Willow Creek" here in the comment section, We would have asked for "A Taste of Willow Creek" to do so.

So, "A Taste of Willow Creek", butt out and get your own "A Taste of Willow Creek" blog so we don't have to read about your little "A Taste of Willow Creek" wine, hippie crafts and fine food soiree.

Geez, the nerve of some people!

(How was that? I don't think they'll ever catch on. Ok, we're even. Now, can I get my Marshall Tucker Band 8-tracks back? And I won't tell mom about the broken lamp incident of 1971)

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