"Adventure is a relative term," explains Eric Malone, Costanoa's
director of adventure experiences. "For some people, adventure is
climbing El Capitan. For other people, it's no TV."
Although Malone, a former Outward Bound instructor, has spent years
roughing it in the outdoors, he chose to see this latest trend in
upscale camping not in a snotty fashion, but as a new opportunity
for folks who might not otherwise enjoy an ancient pleasure.
"This creates opportunity for people who may not have the time or
the inclination to go camping," beams Malone. "Now they can have an
adventure escape in nature without sacrificing creature comforts."
Kathy adjusted immediately, clicking through the temperature
control on the mattress warmer for our queen bed and browsing
Costanoa's General Store, possibly the only sundry store in the
world that sells locally produced wines and red chile dipping
pretzels. But at first, I found Costanoa a strange place. The tents
- canvas bungalows squatting on raised wood platforms - were
sequestered about the 39-acre property at neat intervals in the
high grass and connected by gravel roads with street signs, making
the place look like a suburb where the landscapers had gone on
strike. Sometimes you would see maids bumping along the road with
cleaning carts and mops. And in the evening, campers wandered about
in white bathrobes, a sort of Hugh Hefnerish version of Night of
the Living Dead. They had probably just donned the terry cloth
robes hanging in their tents to head to the communal bathrooms for
a shower or sauna. Still, that first night I made it a point to
lock our screen door.
Lying in bed, listening to the wind in the pines, I heard something
even more terrifying.
"You may never get me sleeping on the hard ground again," sighed