My name is Ted Howard and my wife's name is Beth. We have three children; Carl aged 10, Mike age 8 and Beth age 5. It all started so very innocently with my wife and me enjoying our first vacation by ourselves in over ten years and evolved into something that seems like a fantastic dream than reality. Over the past ten years we have had three children and every vacation had included each of them as they came along. Now, with the children staying with my wife's parents for the summer, we were going on our first vacation alone. A few months before my vacation I bought a trailer, which would allow my wife and I to travel the country while enjoying the comfortable accommodations provided by our home away from home.
We decided to make our way to San Francisco and from there head north on highway101 taking whatever side trips caught our interest, until we reached the Crescent City at the northern end of the state. Earlier in the year, while putting away some things in our attic, I had found an old advertisement from the late 50's or early 60's about a scenic campground called Dunland, which was some twenty miles west of 101 and around 120 miles north of San Francisco. I was not sure where the advertisement came from, but had a hunch that my father must have picked it up sometime before his death in the early 70's. The brochure showed an idyllic campground set in the midst of mighty redwoods, and a nearby stream provided a swimming hole with a pebbly breach. I showed it to my wife and she immediately suggested that we stop there during our trip.
"Well, it looks good in those brochures, but they are kinda old," I told Beth. "There is no telling what the place looks like now."
"I bet the place looks even better now," Beth insisted. "They have probably made all kinds of improvements. Give the site's location it is a perfect place for camping. I just bet they have all the hookups for RVs and the like. Besides we are going off on an adventure and whatever the place is like now, it will make for some interesting memories to tell people."
So it was then we started out on our vacation making a quick tour of San Francisco before heading north stopping at various wineries and campgrounds along the way. Finally we reached the turnoff toward Dunland, which turned out to be on one of the most winding roads I had ever seen. After some forty-five minutes of intense driving, it was with relief that I saw the small sign on the left side of the road, which announced that we had reached our destination. I turned into the campground and headed down a small dirt road until a sign in front of a small beat-up trailer indicated that we should stop and check in before proceeding further. I went up to the door of the trailer and knocked. Almost immediately the door opened and a small rosy cheeked man opened the door "Hi, there," the man greeted me, "and welcome to Dunland. We are pretty well filled up this time of year but I bet I can find a good site for you to park your rig. My name is Clark Clark. I and my wife Gretchen Clark take care of this place."
"I'm Ted Howard and that's my wife Beth out in the truck," I responded. "That's quite a drive coming down the highway here. We saw an old advertisement about this place while planning our vacation and decided to stop by for awhile."
"That must have been an old ad you saw. We haven't advertised in years, but not much has changed down through the years. I'm sure you will have a good stay. We do have a sewage dump and we can hook you up to electricity; but, I'm afraid that the generator goes off at 11:00 o'clock. Still and all, you will find yourself surrounded by a great redwood forest and there if a great creek where you can swim if you are so inclined. All we ask is ten dollars a night or fifty dollars a week. There are fresh water hookups at each camp."
"We were planning on staying only a few days before moving on," I explained, "so put me down for three days."
"Good enough," Clark smiled, "but if you decide to stay longer come back and I'll give you the weekly rate. Just sign the register and plunk down your money and I'll direct you to the best camp we have open at this time. I've got a good one overlooking the creek. Just have to warn you about the chipmunks and blue jays, they are pests."
"That is just the natural surroundings we are looking for," I assured the man as I signed the register and gave him the money, "we want to see a bit of the wild."
"Well, you came to the right place. There are plenty of hiking trails and like I said a nice creek. If you need supplies, you will find Fort Hobbs about fifteen miles down the road. It is the biggest town in these parts and you'll be able to find almost anything you want there.
"Your camp will be number fifteen. You can't miss it, fourth camp on the right overlooking the creek. The sewage dump is in the pullout around back of this trailer. Just come back and let me know if there is anything else that you need. My wife and I are here most of the time."
"Thank you," I said impressed by the man's demeanor, "I'm sure we are going to enjoy our stay. I'll let you know if there is any change in our plans."
I went back and drove down the road until I came to camp fifteen. Beth and I quickly set about unhooking the trailer from the truck and attaching the water supply to our trailer. When we had everything in place we decided on taking a quick look around our surroundings. We walked down to the stream and found the pebbly beach, which looked unchanged from the advertisements we had looked at before starting on our vacation. Several couples and about half a dozen children were swimming and playing in the water. We then walked around the campground area. The camps had everything from tents to older model RVs set up in them, which appeared to have been there for a fairly long time. Having made the circuit of our new surroundings we returned to our trailer and set about fixing dinner.
After dinner I started a fire in the fire pit and we sat looking into the flames as the evening shadows grew. I took my wife's hand and asked her if she wanted to take another walk around the park before we went to bed; however, she said that she was tired out from the trip. I told her to go inside and I would make a quick once around the place before joining her. After giving Beth a kiss I turned and walked out into the growing darkness of the oncoming night.
It must have been half past nine when I started my walk and I noticed that all the children were no longer running around the camps. The night was warm and the air was filled with the fragrance of wood fires. As I walked along most of the people in the camps called out to me wishing me a good evening and I responded in kind. I passed camp after camp with each of the campers wishing me the best. The peoples' friendliness was remarkable and my heart was filled with a sense of belonging the like of which I had never felt before in all my life.
As I passed one camp where a tent stood, a man stepped away from the fire and came to greet me. He introduced himself as Fred Wilson and shook my hand with a firm and friendly grip. I told him my name and soon found myself going with him to his campsite to be introduced to his wife Carla. He offered me a seat by the fire and passed me a beer. Fred had a long full beard and long flowing hair, which cascaded over his shoulders. His wife was fairly attractive and wore a long dress.
"Welcome to Dunland," Fred said as I opened the can of brew, "Carla and I have been here for around five weeks. I lost my job due to this rotten economy and they foreclosed on our house. I'm afraid we find ourselves among the newly homeless."
"I'm sorry to hear of your misfortune. My wife and I have been lucky so far, but I know that if things get worse we could be in the same situation as you."
"I'm glad to hear that you're doing better than us," said Carla. "We're not too bad off. We still have some savings and the monthly rates here are very high. There are a lot of fun people around. If you stay for very long, I'm sure you will find that out for yourself."
"Well, if the people are all as friendly as you and Fred, I'm sure we will enjoy our stay," I answered. "Here we are surrounded by redwoods, a beautiful stream flowing by just a step or two from our camp, who could ask for more?"
We talked for a bit longer. They offered me another beer but I declined and asked them to visit our camp and assured them that when they did the beer would be on me. I stood up and shook both their hands before continuing my way through the campground.
As I passed the area of the beach and although darkness had set in, I could see a few people frolicking in the water. I noticed that all the children I had seen earlier were nowhere in sight. Although I could not be sure, due to the darkness, it appeared that the people down at the creek were naked and that several of them were engaged in sex. I quickly made my way toward my camp seeing fellow campers sitting around fires.
Arriving at our camp I entered the trailer to find my wife dressed in her nightgown, sitting at the table, reading a book. I sat down at the table and told her about meeting some new friends. She wanted to meet the couple and insisted that we invite them for supper in the not too distant future. After a short time we went to bed and following a brief love-making session fell sound asleep.
.... There is more of this story ...