At some point in our lives we’ve all stood in front of a kiosk staring at an arrow pointing down to a dot with the words “You are here” typed above it. Most of us never think twice about it but to me it’s one of the best underrated quotes of our time. We’re always somewhere but we are never really “here”.
When the opportunity came for me to take a trip to a place I had never been with people I had never met, I looked forward to the thought of being lost. I wanted to find my arrow and be present in a foreign place.
The event was C.A.M.P camp at Pismo Beach, CA. The letters standing for “Crack Alley Moto Posse” which basically was a group of friends that all rode motorcycles and use to live in the bad part of town. Since then life had gotten a little more “grown up” and they created a long weekend event snatched from the common clutches of demanding careers to get back to the essential parts of life.
I arrived more than two hours later than planned, but I had made a decision before I left that I would not be on a schedule and upon arrival it appeared everyone else had the same idea as I. The campsite was a combination of relaxed and chaos with people talking by the fire while others circled around on loud two stoke shitty dirtbikes. It was strangely calming following the revolutions mixed with heat and soft breeze, no one seeming to care about the never ending raining of sand kicked up from the knobby tires. Music played from loudspeakers and faded out the crashing of the waves. There were tents scattered in one section and a grill in another manned by a tall and hairy gentleman in head to toe leather fringe. The motorcycles and dune buggies were to the left next to the trucks that were backed in with their tailgates down adding extra seats or a place to nap. Nothing felt out of place, not even the couple guys playing backgammon next to the liquor stash.
I was a stranger here but no one noticed and was immediately immersed in conversations before being tossed a helmet to head out to ride the dunes. There wasn’t any time to be uncomfortable not even when I got the dune buggy stuck in the sand trying to climb a hill that was way to steep for the little amount of power it had. Two random guys showed up to help tow me out and then they smoked me out. If only everyone was this friendly and trusting.
Back at the campsite the more the sun faded the more we started to amplify. The music got louder and the drinks got stronger. We ate fresh grilled carne asada on tortillas delivered hours before from two guys who rode up from Mexico. They were strangers too. Our desert was over 150 shucked oysters covered in hot sauce that photographer Monti Smith brought in a large cooler. We washed them down with beers and chased that with whiskey. Restlessness loomed, distracted and dared us before we were ready and before long we were dancing, sharing stories and creating new ones. For the first time in a long time I wasn’t on my phone. No one else was either.
As the sun slipped below the horizon, some retired to their tents or slept were they lay and quickly 2 am rolled past and we reached the part when the night has its guard down and dares you to do stupid things.
There’s a reason why the dreamers aren’t the ones who ever sleep, they are too full of action and impatience. We danced in fires, wrestled under the stars, howled at the moon (In our defense, the moon was full and we were left unsupervised) and lost our voices but no one cared, we were no longer sharing past stories, we were busy being engulfed in the moment. Somewhere between darkness and dawn one by one we made friends with slumber and retired for the last bits of night.
The next morning a mist and fog rolled in as we rolled out sleepy eyed but still ready for adventure. Slowing we congregated around the fire telling tales about what the night held to those who passed out early. What seemed like an endless buffet of bacon, eggs and tortillas filled the air with deliciousness and after eating we started coming back to life. Some of us went for a swim in the cold pacific waters and the others got back on our bikes to challenge the sand one last time. Even though our bodies were hurting from riding the day before and our eyes were half open from the lack of sleep we still wanted to squeeze what was left of this fuel inspired excursion.
We were boundless and free where no maps are needed to find our way because there was no where we need to be other than where we were. Traveling to places puts us at the edge of something wonderful, doing it with friends or strangers gives us liberation.
I came out to C.A.M.P. with no expectations, only an appreciation of chances. I took them and it was there, lost on the west coast that I found out what it meant to be here and the best part was that new friends quickly became the shorthand that old friends are. The experiences that were created in two days welded us together and I will forever be telling stories from that weekend. So if it’s riding shitty motorcycles in the sand, paddling toward an ocean sunset, camping under the stars or dancing in fire-however you greet new experiences doing it loud is always a must. And if you’re lucky you’ll loose your voice along the way.
“My takeaway from the whole C.A.M.P. was just how rad my friends are. People flew in from Tennessee and drove up all the way from Tijuana just to party at a beach with their friends and ride some old bikes. I can't think of a much better time. I'm not sure if I swallowed more sand from smiling the whole time, or getting passed by Blake in the dunes, or by waking up face first on the beach. And as Ruben said " with a brother, you have family. But with a friend, you have family and friend"’- Monti Smith