Belden Town (population 22!) is a tiny town on the Feather River in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, northeast of Lake Oroville in Plumas County. It was the setting for a recent weekend excursion.
The weekend and all activities were organized by volunteers from three Burning Man camps. (Texas belongs to one of the camps.) 200 people attended.
What a wild weekend it was!
I don’t know what the organizers/”Camp Counselors” do for a living but if they aren’t event planners, they should be! Upon check-in, we were given wristbands, camp stickers created just for our event, and printed agendas of the weekend activities.
A select few stayed in the limited-availability cabins; the rest of us camped. The town of Belden was rented out for our private event. After check-in, we immediately set up our campsite. I brought my roomy 8 person tent w/ built-in closet (haha!) for the two of us. The extra space was awesome but setting it up was not awesome and actually a bit complicated mainly because the stakes weren’t working in the rocky soil.
The bathroom was a bit far and there was just one shower, which was extra charge, so a shower was just not gonna happen. Gross! Thankfully, we planned to spend the following day in the river… a trade-off for eschewing a shower.
The foil dinners we so painstakingly prepared were not cook-able, as we didn’t bring a camp stove and campfires were not allowed, so we got a late dinner in the resort restaurant then drank beers with the rest of our fellow campers in the adjacent bar while listening to music courtesy of the camps’ DJs.
The weekend included nonstop jams. Each DJ was given a 1 hour time slot. Music began at 10 am on the river outside, then moved inside to the bar at 8 pm until 2 am.
We turned in early that night. Frequent sex was a little limiting due to the bathroom location but it was still hot and passionate. YUM. Yes, even on an inflatable air mattress.
Pancakes, coffee, and mimosas were served both mornings courtesy of the pancake camp. (Camp names obviously not mentioned to protect my privacy, Tex’s privacy, etc.) I was given a custom-made balloon hat, then both Tex and I signed up for the Connect 4 Tournament. Super fun! Neither of us won anything other than a “participant” ribbon. Drats!
Afterward, we fulfilled our volunteer commitment of checking in cars but everyone was already accounted for by then, so we spent the time drinking champagne with the rest of the volunteers, visiting with various Pacific Crest Trail hikers as they came through Belden, and jumping on the trampoline (ow, my back!).
We wandered back to the tent for lunch of cheese & crackers and beer. Tex’s friend and tent neighbor, Nola, came over for some cheese & crackers. In return, she offered us some of her chocolate mushrooms. I had taken mushrooms once before, long ago at a Grateful Dead concert in my early 20s while on a 2nd date. The dude was younger than me, very cute, very sweet, and gifted me the tickets for my birthday. Awww! Unfortunately, the concert was not a positive experience but the mushrooms were not to blame. Dude took too many mushrooms and maybe even acid and fell and bonked his head hard on the pavement as we were standing in line for refreshments. That incident freaked me the hell out because I was convinced he was going to up and die on me the rest of the evening.
I considered this mushrooms offering over 20 years later because: 1) I love chocolate, 2) I was in a safe environment with my beloved Texas, and 3) My small people were in Europe with Mars and, therefore, I was off-duty for the next several days. I am, however, very biochemically sensitive so I took just 1/4 of the chocolate. Texas took the other 1/4; Nola took 1/2.
Nola said we’d get the giggles. I didn’t believe her. That doesn’t happen on mushrooms, does it??!
Texas and I changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the river, stopping briefly to puffy paint some wood stumps at the puffy paint station and have a conversation with a couple fellow campers about spiders. (!!!!)
Once at the river we climbed into a small inflatable boat and drifted on the water with about 75 other people. Bliss! The music was awesome. The weather was awesome. The people were awesome. It was all so mellowwwwww.
The scenery was vivid. Colors were intense. Everything seemed brighter. I felt more alive.
And then the giggles hit. Hard! Texas and I could not stop laughing.
Every so often, Texas would get up to get us more beer at the riverside keg. We drifted around, talking with fellow floaters. We moved from the boat to the large inflatable “island”. I danced on a floating wooden platform with other campers, which was hilariously awesome. It was like dancing on a large surfboard with 4 other people. Unstable. Wavy.
Upon getting out of the river I must have stepped on a rock. My right foot hurt. I didn’t think much of it but noticed that I was hobbling quite a bit. Back at the tent, I decided to inspect. Ugh. A bubbly fleshy mess. I fixed it up with alcohol swabs out of Texas’ first aid kit, then applied antibiotic ointment and a bandage.
Texas and I had drunk too much beer that day so we were in bed by 8 pm. (!!!!) I thought we’d wake up later and participate in the space themed dance party that night but we slept right through it. We of course had middle of the night sex and morning sex. I can’t get enough! Hiking to the bathroom after each sexcapade was a big bummer, though. Ah, the perils of camping… and being prone to UTIs.
The next morning my foot felt even worse, which sent up “what the hell?” red flags. Upon further inspection, it looked like it was becoming infected. There was a red ring around the abrasion. Texas took a look and suggested that a rock might be embedded in my foot. WHAT?! I felt around and, sure enough, the fleshy mound seemed excessively hard. I made a careful brushing motion (ouch!) and a fairly large flesh-colored angular rock came loose and fell off my foot. What the…?! No wonder my foot wasn’t healing and actually getting worse! I re-cleaned my foot with alcohol, this time without the rock, and again applied antibiotic ointment and a bandage. All was good after that. It irritated me to think that I was making it worse all that time by walking around on it, wedging the rock further into my foot.
After pancakes, packing up/cleaning up, a quick hike, and a quick lunch in the resort restaurant, we were on the road by noon for our 4-hour drive back to San Francisco. I was eager to take a shower and sleep in a real bed.
Texas and I had broken up for a few days before this camping trip (more on that in a separate post). This weekend getaway was especially good for us because it was full of passion and we were able to bond and reconnect. Things were looking up.