Michael finished packing his stuff and loading the car early on Monday evening. Even when he was driving to the campground late on Tuesday.
It was not his first time camping, or the first time he went to Lake Crescent. He was actually a great fan of the lake. Especially now with the nice weather in August.
But he was nervous. More than ever. He had met a girl online only three months ago, but they had clicked almost instantly. It was not on some dating site or app, it all started with just a twitter coincidence. They both replied to the same message and got entangled on a healthy, entertaining discussion.
They moved it to DMs and continued talking like that for a few days. Twitter led to email, email to chats, chats to a few phone calls.
They had not share pictures or videos, which is unusual on our digital era, but something else they shared was a certain apprehension with some social networks. None of them had facebook, or instagram accounts. They both appreciated their privacy dearly.
But for a couple of little paranoids they were, they had broken each other walls.
They had finally decided to try to meet. When she told him that she lived in the Vampire infested city of Forks, he almost cried with laughter, and delight, as he found it amazing that they had been all this time mere sixty miles away. Michael lives in Port Angeles.
So they agreed on meeting halfway. Just in the middle between both cities you can find one of the most beautiful lakes, with amazing options for camping. Well, unless you try to find a site during the weekend on Summer.
So they decided to go there on Wednesday morning. The first one to arrive would grab site 30, as that was the day they started discussing a few months away - April 30th. If that was taken, the second option was site 4.
They agreed on a nice way to communicating the second to arrive which was the site selected. They would add a small heart on the paper displaying the site reservation.
But Michael was too nervous now. And he was almost aborting the plan. So, to prevent that, he decided to change his part of the plan. He would go there the night before, on Tuesday. He would grab site 30, but he was going to grab a second one, close. He would put the heart mark and all, but would wait in the other site instead until he saw her coming.
He would then see if he was brave enough to join. He was so anxious that he could not wait to Tuesday to pack everything. Now he needed to sleep… if he could.
Jennifer, on her side, had decided to leave on Tuesday evening. And do the same.
Jennifer left her office by 4 pm on Friday, got home and grabbed what she was taking to camping.
They had agreed on taking a tent each. They were not jumping that fast from twitter acquaintances to sharing a tent. She had a two person tent, a bag with her clothes - a couple nice swimsuits included, as the lake was nice this time of the year -, her bathroom bag and some food, including a whole set to make some Smore’s.
As she was packing light, she did not even need to move the seats of her Fit. She checked gas - full tank, more than enough for the short trip. She also checked for cash, as Lake Crescent sites cannot be paid online or with cards.
Everything seemed ok, so she jumped into her car and panicked for about five minutes. She just sat there, staring at the car parked in front of hers, her mind blank, her face pale. Then she reacted and slapped herself into action. She turned the engine on, set the car to drive and put it into motion.
It was a really short and simple trip. She just needed to head West, and she could not miss it. She had been there a thousand times. Well, maybe not a thousand, but every Summer of her life was already a count of thirty-one. Adding a few other occasions, she had been there between forty and fifty times already. So getting there was the easy part. The plan still changed after that.
Her current plan was to grab site 30, or 4, and put her name and the heart in the reservation, but she would get an extra one and wait there.
She would just sleep in her car and spy early morning on Wednesday.
She mostly trusted Michael. She wanted to believe that everything was true. But the internet was full of horrible stories of people not being who they pretended to be. Truly, most of those stories included profiles full of nice pictures - mostly fake - with eventful Instagram and Facebook accounts and these perverts would quickly display some of their handsome, muscular and sexy fake personas in full.
Mike had not done anything like that.Like her, he did not want to show himself to the world and public unsafe sites. He had not followed any of the typical psychopathic characteristics of these online perverts. But what if that was his strategy? She would wait in a site nearby.
Her trip was relatively quick, a little over half an hour. She could go at about fifty to fifty-five miles per hour most of the time. It is not exactly a straight road, but a slightly curved one. The only interesting thing along the way is the incredible number of times you cross the same Sol Duc River, again and again.
And she was nervous, and anxious, and that made her impatient. She just wanted to be there and everything to be finished already, no matter what the final result. Everything but this angustious wait. But once she got there, the only thing she could no now was to wait.
And getting there early just meant she had to sit and wait longer now.
Her plan had changed again. She would get one campsite where she could look into site 30, but she would not grab 30 right now. She was going to come early in the morning to watch Mike as he reserved site 30.
It was a much better plan, she thought. The reservation panel is just by the restrooms, so she could just linger around, as if waiting for somebody. There was no reason to suspect her going there and back. Not at that time in the morning, at least.
So, she chose site 29, drove there and tried to sleep. She managed to, eventually, at least a few hours until 5 am.
On the other hand, Michael’s trip felt much longer. It’s a similar distance, though, just a little more than 30 miles. But the final ones, around the South part of the lake is much slower.
And, on top of that, Michael’s nervousness did not make him impatient. Anxious, yes, but he just could not hurry to get to the campgrounds. He stopped on several viewpoints and took multiple pictures. Pictures he had already taken years ago. He was just procrastinating.
He even stopped for dinner at the Lodge. It was a magnificent dinner, though. The chef is amazing at the restaurant, and Michael knew that. He then sat outside, with a nice cup of espresso - double, of course - while he watched the sunset. A late sunset, as usual in August.
Jennifer was still awake by then, but she could not see the sunset. Just the nice sky colors through the treetops.
He managed to get to the campground by 10 pm or so. He was not going to set his tent, so he was not really worried about the darkness. But he was too late and somebody had already taken site 29. He looked at the name - some Jane Smith. Well, he got site 31 then, signed as Matt Harris. He could not use his name, as Jennifer would clearly see it when looking for site 30. He used his real name to reserve site 30, and added the consented heart on one of the corners of the paper.
He then went to site 31 and tried to sleep. On the way there he looked at site 30, trying to see this Jane’s campsite, a little jealous to have lost the best observation place. Curiously, there was just a small car parked there. No tent. Probably she had also arrived too late to set her tent, he thought. He did not notice that she was still awake in the car.
At 5 am Michael was completely asleep when Jennifer got out of her car and decidedly walked all the way to the restrooms zone. She actually needed the restroom right then, but she would stay there after, as planned.
Once she walked out of the square building, her surprise was huge. She did not see anybody by 30 at 5, but Mike had it reserved already!
Did he just arrived while she was busy inside? How ridiculous could life be?
She had to go there quickly. It was her opportunity to observe him. He would probably not expect her to be there that early. And she could just look from her car.
But site 30 was empty.
Looking carefully, there were some bags next to the table. Not notorious if you do not look carefully. He probably left them there to prevent that somebody else tried to take the site while he went to reserve it. It is the usual procedure.
But why had he not come back yet? Did he make the reservation and then stayed at the restroom? That would probably count as real irony.
She sat in her car and waited.
Michael woke up by 6 am. He quickly went to the restroom and noticed that site 30 still looked empty. Well, except for the couple bags of provisions he left there the night before. It was still empty when he came back from the restroom.
He was not very happy with his observation point on site 31. There was no clear view of site 30. Site 29 was much better.
On top of that, he had asked a barista at the Lodge to fill his Thermos with good quality coffee, and he had cream for the coffee. But he had forgotten to get any sugar! And he could not drink his coffee if it was not sweetened.
He was completely frustrated by all this at the beginning, but then he had an idea. It was brilliant.
He would go to site 29 to ask for sugar. If this Jane had some, he would offer good coffee in exchange. If accepted, he had an excellent excuse to stay in site 29… with a perfect view of site 30.
It was too good to work, he thought, but he could not let the opportunity pass.
So he went to site 29.
Jennifer was still wondering where Michael had gone, as he was taking too long to come back to site 30.
Maybe he decided to go get breakfast at the Lodge - she thought -, good coffee and some pastries. Or a decent Mediterranean breakfast.
The idea of good coffee was not bad. She had some food she could quickly prepare, but he did not have hot water. And, even during the Summer, lake Crescent can be a little cold. Being there, sitting alone, looking at site 30 this early made her crave some coffee right now.
Suddenly, she noticed this guy coming from site 31. She had already seen him before walking probably towards the restrooms and back. After all, while spying site 30 she noticed most movements of her other neighbors. What caught her attention was that the guy was coming directly to site 29.
- Hello! - he called
- Sorry to bother you - he added - would you happen to have some sugar? I’m willing to trade some good quality hot espresso!
- Are you kidding? - she uttered, laughing - You just read my mind with the coffee! I would produce sugar from a rock if needed… The good news is that I don’t have to do that, as I have sugar. Do you mind it’s brown sugar?
- Not in the slightest - he answered - I would accept unrefined corn syrup if that’s what you have!
They laughed their way to the table, as Jennifer produced her brown sugar and a pair of cups. Michael opened his Thermos, releasing the intense smell of his espresso, and poured it before producing several mini-moos from one of his pockets.
- It smells wonderfully - Jennifer said.
- Certainly - Michael said, and then shook her hand - Matt!
He had used his fake name, and he did not know why.
- Jane - Jennifer answered, introducing herself.
She then got some bread and cheese, so they could eat something. Michael tried to complain, saying that is was not fair, he only brought coffee and cream, but Jennifer argued that the coffee quality compensated.
They were having such a good time during breakfast, that they both forgot about site 30.