This is the second in a series of stories about the inspirations behind our soaps. Many camping stories have contributed to the scent profile of Fire in the Hole, our campfire soap, and this is one. We hope you enjoy these as much as you enjoy the soap inspired by them.
My friends and I had gone on a camping trip to a dry lakebed just north of Ludlow, California. We had all arrived after sundown, with most of us arriving throughout the night. We had come here many times before, and it was a gloriously undisturbed place where we were free to do whatever stupid stuff we wanted to.
As usual, we brought firewood for a massive fire and many of us were enthusiastically throwing propane canisters and gas cans (yes, really) on the fire. When that happens, people yell "FIRE IN THE HOLE" to warn people around, which is where we got the name for the soap, Fire in the Hole, our campfire soap. More fire is better, right?
We were drinking beer, and maybe some scotch, as is our way. There was definitely a drunk front moving through the camp that night, with periodic showers of absurdity and a high chance of stumbling.
My friend Plaid has a very dedicated contribution to these events: Redneck soccer. It’s so ridiculously dangerous people have to wear special clothes to participate (um, boots and cotton, not flip-flops and polyester – we’re not talking about safety clothes).
Here’s how redneck soccer works (DO NOT TRY THIS ANYWHERE):
- get a large package of toilet paper
- wrap the individual rolls with wire – the object here is to keep the rolls together as long as possible, while still giving the tissue paper air
- soak these rolls in gasoline
- light a roll of toilet paper on fire. Since it is covered in gasoline, it will burn vigorously.
- play soccer.
Yeah, seriously, that’s it.
After a night of all this, bit by bit, the fire died down. People brought chairs to sit around the now-glowing embers.
And then we went to our respective sleeping places, where we enjoyed the rock-like sleep of the very drunk.
In the morning, I woke up in my tent to a loud buzzing. The buzzing wasn’t coming from anywhere in particular, and as I put on my glasses and brought my senses back into my head, I saw little shadows darting past on the walls of my tent.
The sun was out and my tent heats up quickly, but something weird was definitely happening outside the tent, so I cautiously unzipped one of the windows to find… the entire camp was covered in bees.
It was probably about 2005, and the public was in a frenzy about killer bees. News reports from everywhere warned about these Africanized swarms, alighting on people and literally stinging them to death. They were very aggressive.
In addition, I’ve got a bee allergy. I wouldn’t have to be rushed to the ER if I got stung, but it would certainly ruin my day.
I could hear people moving around in the camp, and none of them were shrieking for their lives. Was it possible that my tent was the bee center, and the rest of the camp was bee-free? I wasn’t even sure how I’d get past these bees to another part of camp until I saw an unopened Tecate in my tent… I must have brought it back to the tent in my pocket.
It was the perfect distraction.
I opened the beer and unzipped my tent door a crack – a bee came in, but went right back out when I threw the open Tecate away from my tent door. Bees love beer.
The diversion worked, and the bees started swarming towards the beer that was quickly spilling onto the dry lake floor. This diversion was not going to be a lasting solution, but maybe I’d be able to make a break for it across to the section with bacon and (I assumed) no bees.
Sprinting for my life, I went into the shade structure someone had set up that morning (God knows how). Jonathan (aka “Dr. Whoa”) was sitting in a camp chair in adult diapers – that’s another story for another day – and yeah, everything over here was also covered in bees.
But the bees seemed content to enjoy the skunking beers left over from the night before. They were docile as flies (and still about as annoying, since any beer I opened became an immediate bee-bath).
I heard yelling, and then girl-shrieks, and Matt came prancing excitedly out of his truck in his boxers, no glasses, because he had left the windows to his truck open over night, and his truck was filled with bees. Oh yeah, he had previously been sleeping there.
That repeated itself every time a new person emerged from their sleep – first yelling, then running, then confusion, then acceptance. We were making bacon. There was coffee. Other things were more important than bees.
We spent the rest of the camping trip in the company of these bees.
At dusk, they went away. In the morning, they returned.
I don’t think any of us got stung by these bees. It just ended up being a weird story, which you are now reading.
We got home and googled the path of the Africanized “killer” bees, and as it turns out, they were migrating through the very area we were staying in. Were these the bees? We’ll never know if they were just regular bees, or if we had managed to be the only cordial hosts to these winged visitors.