The story below is not embellished. The events at the Navasink Falls are forever burnt into my mind because it combined humor and the real potential for tragedy. So it seems incredible that after thirty-five years when FACEBOOK re-united me with two other witnesses, neither of them remembered the incident.
Hospitality Creek is the campground that my family was invited to last week. Near Williamstown NJ, about thirty west of Atlantic City this pleasant oasis is hidden behind the thin line of trees along Route 322.
This beautiful and immaculate property is impressive. It has a large man-made lake (complete with live swans) , a state-of-the-art kiddie water park and an in-ground pool.
Our hosts took us lakeside and nestled under the trees, we picnicked. My son Andrew knew a lot of the kids from school and we watched them thrash about in the lake.
Later we took a tour of the grounds. You'd be in heaven if you like seeing every type of camping vehicle; luxury mobile homes, Winnebagos, slide-out campers and tents. One family brought up six kayaks and we all got a chance to use them.
Later with a hardened shell of big spray covering 95% of our bodies, we had a barbecue and socialized with other couples. Our kids ran off the burgers, hot dogs and chips by playing "man-hunt" and chasing each other through the woods.
At ten-thirty there is a curfew which signals the beginning of the real kid fun. In the ninety minutes that followed, twenty or so of Andrew's friends experienced the joy of border line juvenile delinquency as they ran around trying to avoid getting caught by the "Golf-Cart Nazi." He's the eighty-year old who patrols the joint after dark.
At midnight, we drove home and took much appreciated showers.
The whole campground experience reminded me of the bygone era of bungalow colonies. I'm guessing that bungalow colonies still exist but that they are being phased-out and are evolving into such camping meccas as Hospitality Creek. It's a similar concept except your home/shelter is mobile and you can take it with you wherever you want to go, (like a half hour from home).
Seeing the fun my son had running around in the dark reminded me of the story referenced in the opening of this blog. I was twenty and we had great times at a friend's bungalow colony outside New Paltz NY. The actual town was Accord (they pronounced it Ah-Cord not Uh-Cord). The height of this weekend was the memorable experience at a nearby swimming hole called Navasink Falls.
Our destination was a long walk through the woods. When the trail ended, we had to tip-toe along an ever-growing trickle of water. This rivulet deepened to a ten-inch stream and emptied into a deep, oblong lagoon. At the far end of this secret paradise there was a thirty-foot high cement foundation for an obsolete train trestle.
On this occasion, we were six couples sunning ourselves after swimming and jumping off a lower ledge of the cement foundation. The locals teenagers occupied the top of this platform and the brave ones did magnificent dives from that great height.
We were there an hour when in the distance, we saw other friends (the nerd couple Dave and Candace...don't call her Candy). They were carefully navigating the stream as they emerged from the treeline. They were made for each other; aside from being a pair of dull milquetoasts, they were also as pale as they could possibly be without being albinos. Typical of them, despite it being 90 degrees, they were wearing shoes, jeans and button-down shirts.
Dave held her hand. At the agonizing pace of a snail, they maneuvered inch by inch from dry rock to dry rock. Suddenly, Candace slipped and fell face-down into the depths of the ten-inch water. Mind you, the apparent drama queen's back never got wet as she kicked, floundered and screamed. We were all laughing until Dave (the big wuss) while standing next to the victim yelled, "Help, help she's drowning!"
All our unwitting hero had to do was encourage her to get to her knees, pull her up by her shirt collar, (or grab the sluggette's long strawberry blond hair and yank her up). Instead Dave kept hollering, "Help me, help me." None of us budged. Then, like Tarzan, a local kid dove off the top of the trestle, swam a hundred yards against the current and pulled Candy's...I mean Candace's head from the water. He might have saved that moron's life.
Now that's the kind of memories I wish for my son. He might even get them because today we got an E-mail from our Hospitality Creek host and we were invited/encouraged to do an over-nighter with them next year. I didn't think we did the camping thing...but probably will.