Every summer for the past five years or so, my friends and I have been spending the 4th of July weekend camping by the Eel river in Mendocino county in northern California. We usually gather around 30 people and every year we set a theme, that we loosely adhere to. In the past, we had themes such as Indian Summer, when we built a tee pee and decorated the place with Native American paraphernalia. Another year we had a Hawaiian theme and we roasted a baby pig. One year we bought glow-in-the-dark sticks and we broke them open, splashing the paint all over our bodies and danced around covered in glowing paint.
|Devin, building one of the shade structures. The beach has no natural shade, so at 100 degrees outside during the day having no place to hide from the burning sun can be a real torture.|
|It's not just natural, it's supernatural.|
To reach this secret spot by the river you have to haul all your camping gear across the river. Depending on season, the water can be really high and fast, or low and easy to cross. We got lucky this time around, as the water was not higher than your knees. On Friday during setup time, we hauled a lot of shade construction gear across the river: duffel bags stuffed with down comforters and pillows, canvases and 2x4s for shade structures, tables and tarps, coolers and camping gear. Normally, we are low maintenance people and can camp in more basic conditions, but for this annual event we really go out of the way to make it special.
|Flynn and Jordan|
|Meet Jenni. Who wouldn't want such a beauty to make you scrambled eggs on a camping stove in the morning?|
|Flynn has made a special appearance on this trip. He's carved himself a new life away from us, but we were happy to see him again this weekend. We've missed him a lot and it was so great to have him with us again.|
|Babes, babes, babes.|
|It was 6pm and we started getting ready for dinner and hanging out around the fire.|
|The babe pad.|
|Travel buddies reunion.|
And this is Elena, another special lady in my life. Elena picked Anne and I up from the airport when we returned from our trip - she was the first (and only) person to see us in our dirty and ragged backpacker state. Elena is probably one of the funniest people I know and I hope her new and awesome boyfriend doesn't steal her completely away from us.
|Bill, showing off his steak, a well-deserved treat after a hard day of dirt bike riding.|
|It's a steak-off! Nicole's medium-rare top sirloin cut was juicy and melting in your mouth, so that makes her the clear winner.|
|A moment of quiet before the sun went down.|
|Beautiful Balprit cooking up some bacon. YUM!|
|Lots of things going on in this photo.|
|Clare and Luna, the chillest camping dog ever.|
|Boys will be boys!|
|Clare, Elliot and I miraculously color-coordinated our beach outfits. I guess electric blue is the new cool color.|
|At night time, we all gathered around a big fire. This was one of those moments you never forget.|
|And finally, the new lovebirds in town: Elliot and Jenni, both radiating with happiness all weekend long.|