While the Strip was full of imported partiers over Labor Day weekend, I spent my three day-er within the woodsy confines of Windsor Mountain International Camp in Windsor, New Hampshire. The camp, the site of a friend’s wedding and multi-day adult slumber party, is housed in a town so small you can’t look it up on weather.com and an environment that seems to contain more spiders per square foot than anywhere I have ever been. When you’re borderline arachnophobic, that makes every trip to the bathroom a somewhat harrowing experience.
The wedding itself (you can read about one of the speeches here) was a beautiful outdoor affair, with the bride draped in red satin and looking straight out of an old Hollywood movie poster and groomsmen (including my boyfriend) dapperly done in seersucker and bowties so cheap they bled color onto the white shirts beneath them. But the other highlight of the weekend was definitely the lake. Tree-lined with red-stained water from the wood of decomposing cedars, the lake became our constant destination. We tanned after smudging water on its hot metal docks, bounced on a floating trampoline and swam to a small island at its center, which we dubbed Sally Alley Island after a square dance song that I’m pretty sure is about prostitutes, obese people and maybe syphilis.
Best of all was the rope swing. We climbed the wooden tower, reeled in the rope and took soft steps onto the platform from which we’d careen some 20-odd feet above the surface, trying against all gravity and instinct to keep our knees up so as not to crash into the water prematurely. When it was my turn, I stood there, toes a cautious two inches from the edge, repeating over and over in my head, “Kids do this. Kids do this. Kids do this,” before finally taking the plunge.
Of course they do. Kids are, in so many ways, braver than adults. They throw themselves into things with an abandon that life’s lessons and scars often sand down into lists of pros and cons and non-decisions. Standing on that platform, I could feel my adult anxiety wrestling with my inner camp kid. And when I finally leapt up to seize that rope, I was so, so glad the kid had won.
Longtime Weekly columnist Steve Friess is taking a leap of his own, leaving the city where he’s built a successful career for the relative unknown of a fellowship in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In his final—for now, at least—piece for the Weekly, Steve recounts his Vegas education and a few of the stories he’s covered while living here, many in these pages. He’s been a big presence in this magazine, and he will be missed.
And with his departure we welcome newish blood, in the form of columnist J. Patrick Coolican. That byline will look familiar to some—from previous stories in this magazine about loneliness in Las Vegas and urban blight—or from sister publication the Las Vegas Sun, where Patrick has long contributed intelligent, witty stories that get at the heart of Vegas with a ready sense of humor and a sharply critical eye.
This issue marks the first installment of his weekly Neon Eden column. Read it. Comment on it. Follow him on Twitter @jpcoolican. He’s part of the Weekly family now. Let’s hand him that rope and help him jump.