I had a call from Char this morning. She and Mike are on their way to Palm Springs with Rich and Pat and another couple from the Pinata Group for an Elderhostel weekend. She wanted me to know that they were almost to Blackwell's Corners and to ask if we would be there.
We laughed a lot.
Many, many years ago, before Walt and I were married (so that makes it nearly 50 years ago), we used to go camping with Char and Mike, and occasionally others. Char and Mike were married and had little Tavie, the first of their five children, by that time. Because they were married and were starting to buy things together, Char and Mike had all the camping equipment, so whenever we went camping together, Walt and I would bring our sleeping bags and some of the food, while Char brought the stove, lamps, utensils, bowls, and more food.
I think this was supposed to be our first trip to Death Valley. The four of us had planned to go down over the winter vacation, but Tavie got sick. For some reason Walt and I had to go the weekend that we had originally planned, so we decided we could borrow all the camping equipment from Char and Mike and then meet them halfway on our way back and return it to them, so they could go on their own camping adventure.
Mike and Walt poured over maps to find a logical place where we could meet. (We have never done anything with the Blackfords when Mike and Walt have not found a reason to pour over maps.)
They chose a place called Blackwell's Corners as a nice midway point--and besides we liked the name of the place. The plan was that we would meet at Blackwell's Corners at high noon on the first of the year and give them back their camping equipment so they could go on to Death Valley themselves. We also realized that the chance of both cars reaching a midway point at an appointed hour was pretty slight, so OUR job was to find a telephone booth and get the phone number and call Mike to give it to him so that if one or the other of us was going to be delayed, we could call that phone number and let the other couple know, to keep us from worrying. (This is what we used to do, children, in the days before cell phones.)
When we got to Blackwell's Corners we found that the only thing there was a dilapidated gas station. But it had a phone booth, so we called Mike and gave him the phone number, then we went on to Death Valley.
This was, perhaps, one of our more memorable trips in a long string of memorable trips. All of our trips, especially when they concerned the Blackfords, ended up having an element of disaster to them.
I don't remember everything that happened, but there was a lot of wind, I remember, and we were sleeping on the sand dunes. Wind. Sand. Not a good combination. And hiding behind a sand dune isn't really all that effective!
In the morning I was going to make pancakes. I had brought along my trusty bag of Crusteez pancake mix but when I went to get the spatula to flip them, it wasn't there. We hadn't brought along the cooking utensils. I think I had a bowl to mix the pancake batter and Walt (who never throws anything away) dug an old Boy Scout camping set out of the back of his old Rambler. In the camping set was a Donald Duck spoon, the handle of which was about half an inch wide, so I used that to flip the now dollar size pancakes.
I'm not sure if we had more pancake or more sand in the breakfast, but somehow we managed to get through the meal.
On New Year's Day, we headed home and were rushing to get to Blackwell's Corners on time, but it was going to be a tight squeeze to make it at the appointed hour so we stopped to call the phone booth at Blackwell's Corners. It was just about noon when Mike came to a skreetching halt at the gas station. He leaped out and ran into the office and asked if there had been any phone calls for him. The guy looked at him as if he were crazy when right at that moment, the phone rang. Mike picked up the receiver in the phone booth and signaled the gas station attendant that "It's OK--it's for me."
I think that somewhere, if he's still alive, that guy must still be shaking his head over that.
But no, we aren't at Blackwell's Corners today. Fortunately Mike & Char are headed for a hotel anyway, so they don't need their camping gear!