Diablo Cody flees the entertainment industry
Dear EW readers: I hereby postulate that nature — sunsets, trees, rutting stags, etc. — should be reclassified as capital-E Entertainment. Yes, films and television used to be escapist. But in the age of viral movie campaigns, ultra-robust Wi-Fi, and Leave It to Lamas, I’d argue that would-be escapees ought to reverse course and head outdoors. What better way to neglect the ole inbox than to enjoy America’s dwindling natural splendor? (You guys, it could all disappear in 2012! According to the ”mysterious,” Sony-sponsored billboard I pass on the way to work, THE MAYANS WARNED US.)
This Halloween weekend, I vowed to escape from escapism and hit the open road. I would wake with the birds, commune with mulch, and toast marshmallows. However, I would be doing none of this with a tent, because tents smell weird. I don’t even know how to describe the smell of a new tent; it’s like being trapped inside a pair of lye-soaked Hammer pants. No thanks. This is where the Airstream comes in. You’ve seen them before: gleaming aluminum travel trailers, affectionately nicknamed ”Silver Twinkies.” When Airstreams pop up in pop culture, they’re usually associated with mavericks, philosophers, and lovable weirdos. In Tom Robbins’ Skinny Legs and All, a character has an Airstream trussed up to look like a giant metallic turkey. Until recently, Grey’s Anatomy‘s Dr. McDreamy resided in a 28-foot silver beauty that clearly telegraphed, ”I’m not like all those other attractive surgeons.” But an Airstream offers more than just an evocative silhouette. We’re talking electricity, hot water, and a propane-powered oven. Trailer: 10. Hammer pants: 0.
The husband and I loaded up our trailer with all the macho camping essentials: chocolate, Riesling, the new Adam Lambert single. Southern California offers a wide variety of terrain for campers to choose from; we opted for the ocean instead of the desert because sometimes people die in the desert. And we’re already screwed, what with that Mayan prophecy and all. (THE MOVIE STUDIO WARNED US.)
So off we drove, up the scenic coast, hauling an attention-grabbing silver bean in our wake. We didn’t want to go too far for a weekend jaunt, so we settled on a seaside campground about twenty minutes north of Montecito. Oprah has a house in Montecito, so I figured we could project an O-shaped beacon into the sky if we ran out of water or self-esteem. As we pulled into our ocean-view campsite, I realized that while the canyon was beautiful, it wasn’t exactly secluded. Students from the nearby college had descended with Halloween fun in mind. They drove giant RVs with nicknames like ”Rascal” and ”Renegade.” The crisp autumn air was clouded with pheromones and TAG body spray. The park looked like Camp Crystal Lake before Jason drowned — full of damned irresponsible teenagers with their sex and their marijuana bongs. I wished I had brought a rake to shake in their general direction.
This seemed like a good time to explore nature’s bounty, so we went for a hike, hopped over tide pools, and watched seagulls peck at fish like actresses at the Ivy. The sunset over the ocean was exactly what I had hoped for: red, pink, and bruise-purple. Then again, that’s what the sunset looks like every night in California. Sunset here is like Deal or No Deal; if you missed it, it’ll be on tomorrow.
After cooking dinner over hot coals (rustic!), we settled in for a night of quiet conversation and improvised ghost stories. Or so we thought. The college students had returned from a trip into town, and this time they were in costume. I spotted two French maids, the Pope, and a guy in the classic Karate Kid-inspired shower-curtain ensemble. They carried boxes of Jell-O and jugs of cheap vodka — you don’t have to be Carl Sagan to figure out that equation. Before we knew it, there was a full-on dance party happening. They even managed to erect a small stage, because it’s no fun to act slutty without proper elevation.
Inevitably, nurture triumphed over nature, and I found myself surrendering to the party. I may have even danced on a picnic table while chugging from a bottle of Happy Camper wine. Yes, we came to the woods to escape, but there are aspects of modern life that one need never run from. (Lady Gaga, for instance.) And did I mention the campground had free Wi-Fi?