[FrankenFish goes camping: A heart-warming tale of breakfast booze, zombie cows, and drunken axe murderers.]
When we last left off, I was about to travel into the wilderness with Culture, Blonde Beyonce, and an older woman we barely knew who could potentially want to chop our bodies into little pieces and bury them on a remote ranch north of Santa Barbara.
Well, that didn’t happen, even though all the conditions were just right for that sort of thing.
There were definitely a few moments when fireworks started going off in my skull, like, Warning, warning, you are about TO GET YOUR ASS MURDERED, but surprisingly, nothing ever came of it. And it wasn’t like we had any means of escape. Despite how great my amazingly well thought out plan about using my car as a sailboat was, that shit never would have worked.
See, this is what I thought our situation was:
But this is what it really was:
Before we left on this little adventure, our Volunteer Buddy was all like, Do you have a four-wheel drive car? and we were like, Ummm, no? She cackled and said, This should be interesting!
You guys, no lie, I am writing a fucking letter to the Mercedes-Benz Corporation expressing my everlasting gratitude and newfound brand loyalty that will last for the rest of my sad little life. MY CAR IS IMMORTAL. I have put it to the ultimate test, and it has survived. I should get paid for providing Mercedes with their next car commercial.
It is important to note that my Mercedes-Benz 190E Sport Line is 18 years old and has more than 200,000 miles on it. Yet, for some reason, it seemed like a really good idea to drive it up a mountain with NO ROADS. I have never screamed so loud while driving. I prayed for the duration of every fifty foot, forty-five degree angle dirt climb of that journey. And when I thought I had made it to the top, our Volunteer Buddy points at a terrifying grassy knoll that is basically vertical, and tells us to back up and take a good run at it.
Spoiler alert: We didn’t make it.
[It is necessary to watch this video with the sound on because the important part is listening to us scream - and hearing me say, "Guys, let's never show this video to my mother." This video is proof that you should always listen to your mother.]
When it became obvious that we would never make it up the hill, we were forced to abandon my loyal vehicle in the middle of a field and climb into the car of our potential murderer. As I waved goodbye to my only means of escape, I discovered that the “road” we would have driven down – had I made it over the grassy knoll – would have been impossible to navigate. I would have had to leave my car in the valley, never to be seen again!
Once we were a million miles away from cell phone service and society with a woman who had apparently adopted an injured wild pig, raised it, and then shot it in the head and eaten it (this is a true story, people), we pitched our tent. There seemed to be an awfully large amount of cow poop scattered around (in fact, as we discovered later, we pitched our tent right on top of a huge cow pie). This should have been a warning sign. Sadly, at the time, we were too busy suppressing our intuition to notice that huge amounts of cow shit usually signify a large amount of cows.
We left our sad little camp and took a hair-raising, four-wheel drive journey to the beach to explore and eventually cook dinner. However, a full on sandstorm was underway and everybody (even the ladybugs) were hiding.
[In a survival-of-the-fittest situation, the ladybug on the left will survive due to its amazing shelter-seeking abilities. The one on the right? Well, it's about to be killed by a wind storm. I think this post demonstrates that I am more like the bug that is going to die.]
Cooking dinner in those wind conditions was completely impossible – we realized very quickly that we would have to drive to a small town called Buellton a few miles up the road to eat.
The worse part was that we were all covered in sand and dressed like hobos when we walked into what appeared to be a cheesy steakhouse off the freeway. Sadly, The Hitching Post (yes, that is the name of the restaurant) was completely full of swanky rich bitches from Santa Barbara who were busy vacationing in their mansions on Hollister Ranch. Our Volunteer Buddy took one look and ordered herself two huge margaritas. It was suddenly as if Culture, Blonde Beyonce and I had acquired a crazy alcoholic aunt. The kind that harass all the waitresses and hit on all the cowboys. And order way more food than we could ever possibly eat.
A plate of mussels, a huge stuffed chile, soup, salad, a baked potato and a steak later, our Volunteer Buddy is drunk as hell and ready to go back to camp.
And because I’m the loser with all the large vehicle driving experience (I blame this on The Boyfriend and his sixteen-passenger van) I get behind the wheel of our Volunteer Buddy’s blue SUV and take off towards the pitch-black roads of the ranch.
At this juncture in the narrative we begin to realize we are in way over our heads.
After we get deep inside the ranch (after much panicked steering around sharp corners and cliff-edges) I turn over the car to our drunken Volunteer Buddy. Why? Well, I calculated our survival rate. And, after thinking about it, it was much more likely that we would survive the descent down the mountain into the valley if a drunken – yet experienced – driver was behind the wheel instead of me.
Volunteer Buddy interpreted our screams as she swerved merrily around corners as an invitation to tell us stories about how the authorities were going to find the car empty at the bottom of a ravine with no trace of our bodies.
I couldn’t even make this shit up.
Blonde Beyonce grabbed my shoulder from the back seat in fear and whispered my name repeatedly in a panicked What-The-Fuck sort of tone. We were laughing hysterically - only Volunteer Buddy didn’t know it was because we were in a hysteria brought on by the absurd way in which our lives were destined to end.
We were basically shitting our pants when we reached the peak of the mountain. How would she kill us? Would we even make it down this valley without crashing? WAS THIS THE WORST JOINT DECISION WE HAD EVER MADE?!
The SUV lurched down the slopes of the valley as we yelled, and shrieked, and laughed. About halfway down, Volunteer Buddy changes subjects abruptly from death and murder to cows. She wonders aloud, What if the cows are in our camp?
OH MY HOLY SHIT STOP THE CAR WE ARE ABOUT TO BE MURDERED BY ZOMBIE COWS.
The headlights wash over at least a hundred cows only feet away from our car. They have completely obliterated our camp. Our tent is nowhere to be seen. The only thing visible on this completely ink-black night is a mass of swarming cattle, their eyes glowing evilly in the glare of our headlights.
We abandon the last remnants of our self-control.
The whole car explodes into sobbing, wet, blubbery laughter. Tears are running down my face and I can no longer breathe. This is it, I think, They will find my body two months from now, crushed instead the shell of a SUV trampled by cattle.
Our Volunteer Buddy takes in our reaction and smiles. She wails triumphantly, “You guys are THE BEST!”
She then proceeds to save our lives by driving into the massive herd of cattle with her car and frightening them away from our camp.
It’s like a war zone. Our tent is flattened, and the ground has become a minefield of cow pies.
We re-pitch our tent to the best of our abilities and crawl inside, still shocked and shaken by the night’s events. We pass out immediately, and I am plagued by nightmares of cows sticking their heads into our tent.
The sun rises, and we face the day knowing we are not going to be murdered.
We celebrate by busting open bottles of alcoholic cider at 10 AM and driving with gusto down the mountain, open containers in hand (yes, in my poor Mercedes). We visit the wind caves and the horses and cows (which are not nearly as scary in daylight) and frolic in the fields like jack rabbits on meth.
As for our Volunteer Buddy, well, the jury is still out on whether or not she is a serial killer...
...but if the fortune cookie I ate today has anything to say about it, our Volunteer Buddy is probably not a cold blooded murderer.