Monthly Archives: July 2012

Smart? Not So Much.

Smart Car 2

Smart Car 2 (Photo credit: shindoverse)

I must admit, when Smart Cars started appearing on the roads around here, I had a few choice comments to make about the validity of the name.  Okay, I’ll concede that the gas mileage is decent, although I hear it’s nothing like the 70 mpg that was originally claimed.   Its biggest asset appears to be its ease of parking, which I will admit, if you like to frequent the beaches south of LA, can be a really valuable thing.

What bothered me at first glance was the apparent crushability of the thing.  How could you possibly feel safe in a car like that, especially in traffic?  Thanks to my Car Nut Husband and his propensity for browsing You Tube, however, I have since had to revise that opinion. After seeing some amazing crash-test footage that demonstrates the “Tridion safety cell” design in action, I must say I am impressed.  Perhaps the Smart car is not quite as fragile as I had thought.  But even the crash test people noted that while the car preserved the seating areas even after hitting a wall at 70mph, the human body is not meant to take that rate of deceleration, so any humans inside a car in that case would still have some pretty serious injuries.

Which is why, dear lady in the blue Smart car tooling down a six-lane road just ahead of me this morning, I wanted to weave through rush-hour traffic until I got up next to you, roll down the window and give you fair warning.

Because no matter what the label on the back of your car says, if you are driving along sometimes in your lane, sometimes with two wheels over the line into the next lane despite the car already occupying it next to you, while at the same time tailgating a panel truck and eventually trying to pass the truck by cutting in front of it through a gap into which only a Smart Car could fit, and all the while having an animated conversation with the person in your passenger seat, that’s just not Smart.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that demotes the model to Idiot Car.

Categories: Around Town | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

A Friendly Warning

When you are sitting by the front door waiting for a child who is taking a long time to get ready, and the rest of the family is waiting in the car, it is probably best not to give into the temptation to get on Facebook to pass the time, because the tardy child might just walk right past you and out the front door without you noticing.

Five minutes later, when your husband comes in and wants to know what’s taking you so long and finds you playing Candy Crush Saga while the entire family is waiting in the car for you, well, there’s just no way to explain your way out of that one.

Not that I would know any of this from personal experience, or anything.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

From Clean to Peanut Butter In Four Seconds Flat

SOMEONE in this house, someone who shall go nameless (partly because I’m not completely sure who the someone is), put the peanut butter back in the fridge with the lid set neatly on top, but not screwed down.

Where is the logic in that, I ask you?  Setting the lid ON TOP, but not finishing the task?  Why not just leave the lid off?  If you’re going to set it on top, why not screw the thing down?  But no, this person set the lid on top so that it LOOKED closed, but it wasn’t.   And then this person set the jar in the fridge, a time-bomb waiting for an unsuspecting victim with a penchant for peanut butter.

That victim, of course, would be me, in a hurry to make a sandwich for the 18 year old, who was about to leave for his third shift in 24 hours. Grabbing the peanut butter jar with my left hand and the bread with the right, I turned to put them on the counter, only to discover that all I held in my left hand was a lid.

The plastic peanut butter jar cascaded slowly out of the fridge behind me, turning end over end, spewing its contents as it fell.  Hitting the ground hard, it bounced high and continued its spectacular journey, coming to rest only after it had spun a few more times, hit the ground and rolled across the kitchen floor.

The 18 year old witnessed the disaster in all its glory from a prime seat in the sitting room next to the kitchen.  It rendered him speechless.  Or perhaps that was just lack of sleep.

I stood, frozen for a second, and surveyed the damage.  Peanut butter on the floor.  Peanut butter on each shelf, as well as the door of the fridge.  Peanut butter on my shirt, my pants, my shoes, my feet.  Peanut butter dripping down my calf.  Peanut butter on the stove behind me, on the wall, and on the cabinet at the other end of the kitchen.

The 18 year old, finally finding his voice,  pointed out that there was even peanut butter on the armchair next to him in the sitting room.

So I did what any self-respecting homemaker would do.  I took a deep breath, picked up the jar of peanut butter…. and called the dogs.   They were ecstatic.

I let them handle the floor, the walls, and eventually, my feet.  I worked on the fridge.  The kitchen’s pretty clean now, the dogs are content, and the sandwich has been happily carried to work by the 18 year old for a midnight snack.  It was a teamwork kind of moment.

As a homeschooler, I feel it is my duty to turn each life experience into a lesson, so I’m considering assigning a back-to-school essay in September for the three kids still under my tutelage.  Something along the lines of “Domestic Responsibility: Why It Is Important To Finish Each Task To Which I Set My Hand.”  That way I will most likely address the issue with the culprit, and for the two innocent children, whichever they turn out to be, it will be a good opportunity to learn from another’s mistake.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Unless the culprit turns out to be my husband…

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Diary of An Intrepid Camper – Coming Home

7:30ish – I seem to have misplaced my watch.  Oh well.  The sun is up.  That’s close enough to time to get up for me.

About a half hour later – Made omelets for breakfast, not because I’m such a SuperMom, but because the milk was off and toast is too fiddly over a camp stove.

After breakfast – All hands are on deck for the Tear Down Of Campsite And Packing Of Trailer.  It goes so much easier when the younger two are able to help.

Five minutes later – Addendum to previous entry:  It goes so much easier when the younger two are able to help… if you put them to work at opposite ends of the campsite.

About an hour or two after that – Boy Scout Husband is doing the obligatory Trailer-Fiddling while I help the kids fold the tent.

Five minutes later – while the three kids and I were working on getting the air out of the folded tent, we heard a loud THUMP right where we had been standing a few minutes before.  It was a pinecone that had just fallen out of the tree.  I believe they call that kind of pinecone a widow-maker.

Half an hour after that – The tent is folded, the campsite is picked up, the van is packed, the trailer is almost closed and ready to be hitched up.  We are now at the part of tear-down that only one or two people can do and that takes, according to the children, about six years. The 17 year old is taking some last Camping Portraits.

This shot is destined to go down in the annals of Schmidt Family Portraits as Best Camping Shot Ever.

Half an hour (or six years) later – Hitched up, ready to go. The 17 year old, who at my request had roamed the campground in search of a few last scenic shots, met up with us just as we were ready to pull out. Here is some of her “work”:

I can see she and I are going to have to have a talk about the definition of the word “scenic.”


I was telling my Mom that there is a new Bed & Breakfast in town, so next time we go up there, she could go with us and stay at the B&B. As soon as she saw this picture she exclaimed, “Oh, look, is that the B&B?” And you wonder where I get it.


Five minutes down the road – Trying to figure out a way to convince the Comedian Husband to let me out so I can walk, at least until we get past the hairpin turn. It’s too early to feign carsickness. Maybe I could develop a headache.

Two minutes later – He didn’t fall for it. I just joined in and screamed “Marty, slow down!” with the rest of them. Really can’t wait to bring the 18 year old camping up here, just so we can bring him in on the family joke. He will so enjoy it.

Ten minutes later – Boy Scout Husband is considering pulling over to the Deer Lick Car Wash to clean off the trailer. I’m skeptical.

After that – We didn’t stop. Just as well, because I didn’t see any deer, so I don’t know how it was going to work.

Lunchtime- Driving down the mountain. Not stopping for lunch. Shoving Turkey Jerky in the mouths of anyone who protests.

The 17 year old gave one last try to capture a scenic shot of the view from the top of the mountain, while we were driving.  Unfortunately she forgot to factor in opposing traffic.




Hours and HOURS later – Have arrived home and are unpacking trailer. 10 year old was helping unload a food box when he discovered that someone had packed the pancake mix upside-down. He is not happy. The dog is.

In defense of the 17 year old’s ability to take scenic photos, I submit the following, all of which were taken by her.  Because although this blog provides a perfect outlet for me to take the Mickey out of my kids, I cannot help but default back to Proud Mother.

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Diary of An Intrepid Camper – Day Three; The Antique Store and the Biker Grandma

7:30 a.m.  The one night that I sleep blissfully all the way through the night and the Armchair Astronomer Husband tells me that he got up at 3 a.m. and could clearly see the Milky Way but didn’t have the heart to wake me.

7:40 a.m.  The 10 year old has somehow gotten wind of the fact that the Camping Spreadsheet calls for pancakes this morning and is sticking his face in mine asking me to get out of bed and make them.  I see no way out of this that does not involve me making pancakes.

8:15 a.m. In one of those serendipitous dovetails of events (or perhaps the word is providential) that occur now and then, I realized I had packed blueberries as a snack and that they somehow got put in the fridge early on in the trip, so they were still perfectly fresh.  Blueberry pancakes and coffee.  Now that’s camping.  The Bacon Master Husband made some darned good sausages to go with them.  It’s a beautiful morning.  I think I may have arrived at the point of the camping trip where I actually relax.

9:00 a.m. Dishes were done by the kids and we gathered to plan the day. The 17 year old’s only wish is to visit an antique store she saw in Running Springs. The 10 and 12 year olds’ only wish is to swim in the lake again. The 3 a.m. Astronomer Husband’s only wish is to take a nap. And mine is to sit in a camp chair and read a book. As things work out, I get my wish first. Woo hoo!

11:00 a.m.  All this down-time around the campsite is giving the Boy Scout Husband ample time to tinker with the trailer.   This is the first time since we bought the thing four years ago that he has been able to poke around in it without a deadline hanging over his head.  And that is why today, the day that he was able to tinker uninterrupted for a blissful two hours, is the first day since we bought the thing four years ago that the sink works. It was a simple matter of removing a couple of inches from the intake hose on the water tank, he tells me.  There was an air bubble.  Simple physics.  Eight to ten camping trips since we purchased this modern marvel of convenience used from a nice couple in Corona, and now he’s telling me it was simple physics that robbed us of the running water in our sink. I have another word for it.

Oh, but wait, that’s not all.  Apparently, now that the water pressure is working, the hot water heater will also now work.  WHAT?  We have a HOT WATER HEATER???

Which means we can take showers. HOT showers. I am speechless.

Does this still qualify as camping?

11:30 a.m. I have finished my book and I’m pretty sure the antique store will be open by now, so we are heading down to Running Springs.

11:38 a.m. Just passed the hairpin turn. They all yelled, “Marty! Slow DOWN!” in unison. Note to self — pack ear plugs for the next time we drive that road.

11:50 a.m. We are almost within sight of the antique shop, but the road has been shut down so it can be repaved. Sitting in a long line of cars waiting to be escorted through by a pilot car. Had plenty of time to examine a house on the side of the road that is for sale.. only $550 a month for a square box with probably two rooms. Maybe three – I’m sure by now it has indoor plumbing. The 12 year old is making a case for why we should buy it, or possibly a larger house, so we can come up here any time we want. It would have been an excellent time for a lesson in economics, but homeschooler status notwithstanding, I have finally relaxed, so I let it go with the comment, “Okay, dear, right after I buy you that pony.”

11:55 a.m.  While being escorted through the roadwork, we missed the turn to the antique store.  The Quick Thinking Husband turned at the next road and pulled a U turn so we could turn back onto the main road.  It was at this juncture we noticed the sign the construction crew had put at the intersection we wanted to enter.

I have a feeling this is going to be a really long wait.  I mean, we sat there a good five minutes and that sawhorse didn’t budge an inch.

12:05 p.m.  Finally made it to the antiques store, which turns out to be named “Treasures Trove.”  Because, you know, they have more than one treasure there.

12:10 p.m. The music inside the store is provided by a record player and consists of easy listening favorites from the 40s and 50s.  Which I thought was a really neat addition to the atmosphere in there until my kids asked me what that machine was that was playing the music.  The TechnoNerd Husband explained it in great detail to the kids, who were fascinated.  I noticed that the record player looked a lot like the one I had as a teenager and just felt really old.

12:15 p.m. Turns out the 17 year old’s aim in antiquing centered more around taking photos than actually buying anything.  But she really did a good job of capturing the ambiance of the place.

12:20  We had the store to ourselves for a few minutes there, but it has been invaded by three large women with loud voices. Which doesn’t really bother us, except for the fact that the 17 year old and I, in order to fend off peals of uncontrollable giggles, must now avoid catching each other’s eye. Somehow the combination of the Italian accent of the sweet little shopkeeper, Montovani blaring from the record player and the inane comments these women keep sharing with the entire shop, pleased with their own cleverness, one supposes, is just too much for me. I may have to go sit in the van.

12:22 p.m. “Hey Linda, look! There’s some little statues here of frogs here playing poker. Look, look at the frogs. Oh, look, they’re on lily pads, Linda, look at that.” To which Linda replies, in a supercilious tone, “Well of course they’re on lily pads. They’re frogs.” Well. Score one for Linda, I guess.

12:30 p.m. Carefully squeezing past one of the women, who had plopped herself down on an antique chair and was blocking the main aisle, the 12 year old clutched her latest find, a story about horses called “King of the Wind.” I remember reading it at her age. The woman in the chair stopped her and asked, “Whatcha got there? Kings of the Wings? Huh. That a book about birds?” The 12 year old glanced wordlessly at the picture of the horse on the cover and then just smiled and said, “I’m not sure. I haven’t read it yet.”

12:45 p.m. The 10 year old has found something he ABSOLUTELY must have. More so, apparently, than the typewriter the 12 year old has been making a case for. It’s a pocket book of Greek and Roman Art. It appears his preoccupation earlier this year with Greek myths is spreading into an interest with all things classical. Trying to contain my exuberance, I casually sighed and said, “Oh, well, if you must.”

1:00 p.m. Having torn ourselves away from the Treasures Trove, we are heading back to the campground. Oh no. Here comes the hairpin turn.

Just to qualify, this is the Boy Scout Shower-Fixin’ Husband and me, not the older, weathered biker couple grandparents.

1:30 p.m. The grilled cheese sandwiches were such a hit the other night, we decided to repeat the meal for lunch. I don’t even know where the darned spreadsheet is.

2:30 p.m. Back at the lake for another dip. This time the 17 year old and I went in and swam into the deep part. I pretended not to know the 12 and 10 year olds, who were showing a dead fish to a group of small children.

2:45 p.m. One lap of the lake at altitude was plenty of exercise for me. The 17 year old and I are sunning ourselves and listening to the older, weathered, biker couple sitting near us discussing their five year old grandson.

“Did you see that?”
“Little Jeremy just borrowed someone’s shovel, used it for a minute and then dropped it right in the water and walked away from it.”
“That’s not right”
“Oh no, look, the owner of the shovel just came to get it and he yelled at her and said he wasn’t done with it.”
“Oh. That’s bull****.”
“Oh, I’m gonna have to get that kid over here. Jeremy! Jeremy honey, come here.”

What followed after that was the sweetest, kindest Grandma to Grandson chat I have ever heard, wherein Grandma calmly explained why the boy’s behavior was wrong, patiently answered his pleas of, “But I was TRYING to be nice, Grandma” and didn’t back down an inch from what she was saying. They then left the lake, much to my dismay, because I just wanted to sit at her feet and ask her how she did it.

Maybe by the time I’m a Grandma I’ll be able to show that much love and justice at the same time. It’s something to aspire to, at any rate.

3:30 p.m. The kids are finally done with the lake and are eyeing the Malt Shoppe. They are making a truly convincing case for a plate of fries. Or two.

3:45 p.m. Caved in. Enjoying a strawberry shake. I can get back on the diet next week.

4:30 p.m. Waddled back into the campsite to find the Well Rested Husband raring to go on dinner. None of us are hungry. Oops.

6:00 p.m. The kids have discovered some of the board games I packed and are happily playing Life. I remember playing that at their age. Only when I played it, it didn’t involve credit cards and lottery tickets. I wouldn’t mind so much about the lottery tickets if they made it accurate, so that you always lost way more than you spent on them, but the 12 year old just won $12,000. Totally unrealistic. And I think if they are going to teach kids about credit and gambling, they ought to include a Life of Crime path too. I’m just sayin’…

9:00 p.m. The Boy Scout Husband and I got about half the campsite packed this evening. We should be out of here in the morning by 10. Or 11. Or noon. Whatever.

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Diary of An Intrepid Camper – Day Two; The Arboretum and Lake

6:30 a.m.  I’m just going to give up on the “we should all get a good night’s sleep” comments already.  That’s all I have to say about that.

6:32 a.m.  I mean, not to go on about it, but it’s just WRONG when my kids get up before I’ve had my coffee.  I’m just sayin’.  That’s all.

6:35 a.m.  What REALLY gets me, though, is that my fake niece has NEVER, in my experience, woken up before 9 a.m. on a camping trip, and let me tell you, we have been on PLENTY of camping trips together (hence the fake relative status). And yet I can DISTINCTLY hear her voice cheerfully calling to the 12 year old, who is rummaging around, for some reason known only to her and the Almighty, directly below the spot where my bed in the camper hangs over the trailer hitch.  If I believed in karma, my faith would be shaken, because I am sure I did nothing to deserve this.  Snarky thoughts about Cameron’s Mom notwithstanding.

7:00 a.m.  The Boy Scout Husband has rescued me with a giant travel mug of the Magical Elixer of Wakefulness.  All is well with the world. I told the kids to go play over behind Cameron’s campsite.  Luckily, they have all been raised better than that and simply rolled their eyes at me.

7:15 a.m. I cannot avoid the siren call of the Camping Meal Spreadsheet, which tells me we are 24 hours overdue for a sumptuous repast of potatoes, eggs and bacon.  Fortified with enough caffeine to jump start a Jeep, I will begin pulling the ingredients out of the food boxes.  All of which look alike, I might mention, (other than the ill-fated lidless green one) and since we pack them in the van each night and pull them out each morning, they are placed in different places in the campground every day.  So finding ingredients is a little like playing a shell game.

7:45 a.m.  Having found most of the ingredients, I am ready to fire up the camp stove.  It is at this point that all the years my friend Cathy and I spent pouring ourselves into the raising of our kids culminate into a brief, yet blissful, moment of fulfillment.  The 12 year old and the fake niece just asked if they can help with breakfast. I gave myself a few seconds to savor the moment, gazing off into the trees, breathing the cool morning air and celebrating this small yet poignant victory, during which time the 12 year old and fake niece undoubtedly exchanged uneasy glances, and then I began barking orders like a drill sergeant.  Well, the newer, more enlightened, critical-thinking-skills-imparting kind of drill sergeant, anyway.  The ones that think bellowing is a last resort.  I’m all about the last resort bellowing.  You can ask my kids.  I don’t think I’m convincing anyone here so I’m going to move on now.

8:00 a.m.  Breakfast is cooking. The niece and I are sharing one camp stove while the Bacon Master Husband and the 12 year old are using the other.  The 10 year old wanders into view now and then, just long enough to check on the status of breakfast but not long enough for anyone to come up with a job for him to do.

8:45 a.m. Breakfast having been consumed, the 10 year old can avoid work no longer and has been drafted into clean up duty. To his credit, he is not complaining, other than a gargantuan wrinkling of the nose at the bacon grease.

10 a.m.  Not really sure what happened between the cleaning up of breakfast and now, but I have a vague impression that it involved a second cup of coffee and a couple of incredibly comfortable camping chairs in an indescribably luscious patch of sunlight.  The children are playing happily up the hill, something to do with light sabers, pine cones and Ferengi Rules of Acquisition,

10:15 a.m.  Piling into the van to drive back up the fire road to the site of yesterday’s hike, since SOMEONE forgot to bring her cell phone yesterday and INSISTS that she be taken back there so she can take a photo of that one really cool rock formation and set it as her wallpaper.   In her defense, to those of you with smart phones who are wondering why she couldn’t just upload the photo the Boy Scout Husband took yesterday, you must understand that she is the proud owner of the cheapest phone Verizon offers on the pay-as-you-go plan.  You have smart phones, she has a room-temperature I.Q. phone.  One that takes tiny, grainy photos that render as a postage stamp sized image with pretty colors that coalesce, with the help of reading glasses and a magnifier, into a shape that suggests a close approximation of the object portrayed therein.  But she had to have one of these photos as her wallpaper, because even if no one else can figure out what the heck it is, SHE will know, and SHE will remember how much fun it was that day, hiking with her friends, darn it.  She is going to stop talking about herself in the third person now and get back to the diary.

10:45 a.m  Mission accomplished.  Feeling smug and self-satisfied.  Children are scratching their heads and asking each other why we just did that.

11:00 a.m. Heading down the winding road from Green Valley Lake to Hwy 18, en route to the friends’ cabin.   As we approached a certain hairpin turn in the road, I shared a memory from my teen years when I camped with my youth group.  One of the boys brought his motorcycle and was kind enough to give me a ride on it.  I remember this hairpin turn well because I was yanking on the front of his jacket screaming, “Slow down, Marty, we’re not going to make it! MARTY!  SLOW DOWN!”  To which he calmly yelled back, “Just lean into the turn.  And stop pulling on my jacket.  You’re going to make me lose control.”   Ah, fond memories of yesteryear.

1:00 p.m.  Having collected the friends from their cabin (availing ourselves of their incredibly comfortable couch for a few minutes before once again steeling ourselves to face the Great Outdoors), we are now heading out on a hiking trail at Heap’s Peak Arboretum.

1:05 p.m.  The first thing we found on the trail was the biggest dandelion puff I have ever seen.  The kids knew exactly what to do.

The trail was beautiful.

2:00 p.m. Heading now to Lake Arrowhead in search of lunch. I know, I know, we should have gathered nuts and berries in the woods, but we claim ignorance due to our status as city-dwellers. We can, in our defense, sniff out a Starbucks in 2 minutes flat. You just have to know your environment and develop the skills to survive in it.


2:45 p.m. Had a lovely time eating food that I didn’t have to prepare. Since between the 12 of us we have a veritable plethora of dietary restrictions, we went to three different restaurants and arranged to meet together at the bandstand. As I approached the picnic table area with the two older girls, I was a little unsure of where to go until I saw Roger subtly gesturing to us. Well, okay, he jumped up on a table, waved both arms frantically above his head and bellowed, “HERE! We’re over HERE! Girls, we’re here!”  And this is why we are friends.

3:00 p.m. Heading down to the waterfront to take some photos now.

3:10   Here is what happens when you want to take a photo of your daughter a few feet down the railing, but your son is standing nearby. 

4:30 p.m. By now, having spend two days in the hot, dry San Bernardino Mountains, we are all thoroughly tired, sunburned and suffering from chapped lips.  I gathered the kids together to help me demonstrate what happens when you get a group of people in this condition together to pose for a photo.

4:45 p.m. Heading back to the campground. As we drove through the hairpin turn, Alan shrieked in a high-pitched voice, “MARTY!!! Slow down, Marty!” The 12 year old instantly replied, in a deep voice, “Stop pulling on my jacket and lean into the turn.” The 17 year old, who wasn’t with us the first time, looked utterly mystified, so I had to tell the story again. I have a feeling I’m going to regret sharing this little tidbit of Julia lore.

5:00 p.m. Checked the spreadsheet to see what’s for dinner. It says hamburgers. I’m still full from a late lunch, and I’m a little suspicious of the state of the burger patties, which have sat for two and a half days in a cooler that is now bereft of ice. Opting instead for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, which were slated for lunch today. Or tomorrow. Or something like that. Whatever. I have a feeling the spreadsheet won’t recover from this.

7:00 p.m. Since our friends have left the mountain for the concrete jungle of Gardena, I pulled out the Camping Surprise the 17 year old and I prepared before we left, just in case the kids suddenly got bored (read: to ensure that I am able to sit in my camp chair and read a book at least once on the camping trip). It was a bag of brand new art supplies. They fell on them like a pack of piranhas and gleefully churned out comic strips until bedtime. The 10 year old’s comic dealt, predictably, with the imaginary world that goes along with his gigantic pack of trading cards. The 12 year old’s dealt with A Stampeding Herd of Boxen.  She has obviously watched far too much Brian Regan.

9:15 p.m. The lure of the independence of tent-sleeping has apparently waned in the face of the warmth of the trailer.  Both the younger kids have opted to take their usual bunks.  The 17 year old is the die-hard hold out; having conquered her trepidation of bears and hornets, she laughs in the face of the wilderness and flaunts her tent with pride.  Being a smart 17 year old, however, she doesn’t go so far as to forgo her twin-sized air mattress.

9:30 p.m. Worn out from the day. The campground is blissfully quiet. However, having learned my lesson, I make no predictions about the quality of our sleep tonight.

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Diary Of An Intrepid Camper – The First Day; The Hike and The Lake

6:30 a.m.  So much for that good night’s sleep!  There is a bird chirping on a log right next to our trailer.  Don’t they have morning noise ordinances up here in the mountains?

7:30 a.m.  Having brewed a strong pot of the Magical Elixir of Wakefulness, I am ready to face the day.  As soon as I locate the printout of my Camping Meal Plan spreadsheet, I will prepare our first Camping Breakfast.

8:00 a.m. After watching me look through my suitcase and book bag and rummage through each of the food boxes multiple times, the 17 year old asked me what I was missing.  My head buried in yet another food box, I snarled, “The Blessed Camping Paperwork,” whereupon she tripped lightly over to the van, reached in and pulled it off the dashboard.  Where it had been apparently sitting in plain view.  Perhaps I need more Elixir.

8:10 a.m. Scrapped the elaborate egg/potato/bacon scramble plans from the spreadsheet and told everyone to eat muffins and cereal for breakfast.  Gestured in the general direction of what was probably the box containing such items. Drank another cup of coffee, comforting myself with the thought that I can easily shift all the breakfast meals over one column without causing too much disruption to my master plan.

9:00 am.  Since breakfast cleanup was amazingly easy today, The Boy Scout Husband and I have time to play some music together.  Sent the children up the hill behind the campsite to explore, telling them that as long as they could see the roof of the bathroom next to our site, they should be okay.  Hope that’s right.

(While looking for pictures for this post, I came across a video the 17 year old took from the top of the hill.  My voice comes across loud and clear, belting out strains of “Our God is greater, our God is stronger…”  Which is comforting in that just as I had suspected, they were within earshot the whole time they were exploring.  Or perhaps can be interpreted to mean that I have an obnoxiously loud voice.  I prefer to dwell on the former.)

11:00 a.m.  Children didn’t get lost, apparently, because when our friends Roger and Cathy and their kids arrived just now at our campsite to join us on a hike, our kids emerged from the woods quickly to greet their “fake cousins.”

11:15  Drove to the end of a fire road and took off across open country.

As long as we keep our gaze fixed into the distance and ignore the fences we are stepping over, we are able to maintain this perception, at any rate.

11:20 Posed for a lot of pictures with our friends, but I decided to post this picture of our oldest daughters instead of the shots of my friend Cathy and I.  Because, after all, we look just like this.  Especially when we’re camping and hiking.





Having more fun climbing rocks and posing for pictures. “Step back, kids,” I said. “I need to get you all in the sunlight. Just a couple of steps back.”

After the kids climbed down, I climbed up to see the spot where I had them posting. Yep, that’s a 2-3 storey drop right there behind that tree.

The view from the back side. I am without a doubt the world’s worst mother. Or photographer, anyway. Not much return business if your subjects fall off a cliff.























In an effort to prove to myself that it wasn’t really that bad, I handed the camera to the 17 year old and had her take a photo of me in the same spot. Anyone noting the fact that I wasn’t actually as far back as the kids were will be summarily unsubscribed. It was much windier when I was there. And I’m taller than them. Than most of them. By a good 2-3 inches.



























12:00 p.m. I have now handed the camera over to the Boy Scout Husband, hoping that he will be able to take some nice photos without endangering anyone’s lives. This might be a good plan of action for the future.






1:00 p.m.  Eating lunch with the fake relatives.  The spreadsheet calls for Sandwiches and Fruit, but since we have so much dinner left over from last night, we are eating Leftovers instead, along with some chips, salsa and raw veggies the fake relatives have brought.  I added a container of hummus to the fray, consoling myself that it wasn’t actually on the spreadsheet and was therefore open to use at any time.   I am confident that I will be able to resume the use of my carefully planned spreadsheet by dinner time.

2:00 p.m.  Having rested from our hiking ordeal this morning, we are heading down to Green Valley Lake for a dip in the water.

2:10 p.m. Before swimming, we have decided to stop at the Malt Shoppe across the street from the lake and order everything off their dessert menu except for malts.

2:30 p.m. Now dipping in the lake. At least, the kids are dipping.  Cathy and I are staying sedately on the shore, sitting at a plastic picnic table that and some point has apparently melted in the heat.  We are making a game of it, seeing how long we can sit on the bench without sliding off. The only “safe” spot on the bench is covered in congealed ketchup, which makes our game just that much more exciting.

The kids have jumped right into the lake, which looked awfully cold to me, and assure me it is wonderful.  I am taking their word for it and rather than venturing to the shoreline myself, am making judicious use of the zoom feature on my camera to capture some action shots.

2:31 I now realize what was actually happening in my wonderful zoomed-in photo, of which I was heretofore inordinately proud.

In the background, the 11 year old has just jumped in the lake and inadvertently lost control of the boogie board, which has now crossed the rope that marks the limit of the area allowed to swimmers under the age of 13 and, to her horror, is floating merrily into deeper and deeper water.  In the foreground, the 12 year old appears to be smiling and having fun swimming, but like her mother, her first reaction upon meeting disaster is to laugh.  And at this particular instant, disaster has met her with a vengeance made only more poignant by the fact that she is a 12 year old girl.  The unthinkable has happened.  The entire bottom half of her bathing suit has ripped and is hanging down to her knees.

Which explains the expression on the face of her 10 year old brother.

Add to this the fact that I noticed the boogie board and began hollering to the 12 year old to swim into the deep area and rescue it before it floated to the other side of the lake.  When she began to explain, between fits of giggles, what was going on, I cut her off and demanded that she start swimming immediately, as the boogie board was continuing on its merry way and approaching the fishing area.

She did eventually get through to me her predicament, and I managed to throw a pair of shorts close enough to her that she could swim to them and put them on.  In the meantime, the 10 year old used his boogie board as a kickboard and kicked his way safely over to the prodigal boogie board, summarily hauling it back to the appropriate area.

4:00 p.m. Back at the campsite. I just found a bag in the trailer with clothespins and lengths of thin rope, so I am rigging up a clothesline in a tree.  I am determined that on this camping trip, we will not be plagued with wet bathing suits and towels.

4:05 p.m.  While I was tying the rope to a branch, a piece of bark flew into my eye.  I have now removed my contact lenses and after submitting to repeated flushings of my eye by a water-bottle-wielding Cathy, I think we may have gotten it out.  This was not what I had in mind for the total immersion in nature experience.

5:00 p.m. The fake relatives have borrowed the 17 year old and returned to their cabin, while donating their 11 year old to us for the night, which has resulted in a flurry of moving of bedding and strategic placing of rocks and pinecones under tents.

6:00 p.m. As far as I can make out without my contacts, the spreadsheet dictates Spaghetti and Salad for dinner.  I am too tired to argue.

8:00 p.m. The kids begged for smores for dessert.  Neither the Boy Scout Husband nor I want to mess with a bonfire with the Fire Risk in the area set at High, so we are having a lovely time roasting marshmallows over the stove.  Perhaps slightly lacking in Camping Nuance, but still a highly satisfactory repast of delicious, sticky, overly sugared goo.

9:00 p.m.  The swimming apparently did the kids in, because they have all retreated to their tents.  I sang them a few quiet songs, thinking it would help lull them to sleep, but as soon as I finished the third one a voice came out of the darkness saying, “Oh good, you’re finished.  Now maybe I can get some sleep.”  I’m pretty sure that was the 12 year old.  I believe it will be her turn for KP tomorrow.  At all three meals.

9:15 p.m.  The silence of the campground was just pierced by the frightened wails of a 2 year old, “Mommy!  Mommmy!  Moooooommmmmmmmeeeeeeeee!”, followed by this loving rejoinder from that blessed woman:

“Cameron, cut that out.  I am literally right outside the tent.  Shut up and go to sleep.”

9:25 p.m.  The loving interchange between Cameron and his mother has finished, having gone on, in different variations, for a good 10 minutes before the child was apparently comforted by his father.  I am pleased to report that I restrained myself from visiting that campsite and pummeling the mother.

The mountain is now quiet.  We should all get a good night’s sleep tonight.

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Diary Of An Intrepid Camper: Countdown to Camping…. The Packing Ordeal

Saturday, June 23
Why is it that the lid to green plastic bin that got left out last time you packed up the trailer and then hung around the house for eight months tripping you up and reminding you that you really need to put it away because there is nowhere in the house for it to live, you know, THAT lid, why is it that when you are finally ready to camp again and want to pack the bin with food, you find that that cursed lid has DISAPPEARED off the face of the planet?

Sunday, June 24
7:34 p.m. Packing is so much easier now that the 10 and 12 year olds can pack their own suitcases. All I have to do is look over the finished product and share tidbits of wisdom that I have gathered in my experience over the years. Things like, “If you’re camping for five days, you will most likely need more than three socks.”

8:45 p.m.  Now at the point of packing where if I don’t sit down and play a couple of levels of Candy Crush Saga, someone will probably die. Don’t judge me.

Monday, June 25
8:30 a.m.  Having finished my morning coffee, breakfast and quiet time, I started packing the trailer, happy that the Day Of Departure has finally arrived.  We should be out of here by 11 a.m.

8:45 a.m. Kicked the 10 and 12 year olds out of the van, telling them there was no point in them sitting in their designated spots when we aren’t leaving until 11 a.m. at the earliest.

8:50 a.m.  ‎1,256 details running around my head of things to accomplish before we can leave + excited 10 year old who tends to show his excitement by talking incessantly about anything that pops into his mind = 10 year old is now banned from talking to Mom until we hit the road.

9:15 Packed some more into the trailer.

9:30 Packed stuff into the van.  Kicked the kids out of it again.

9:38 It has finally dawned on the dogs that we are packing for camping, but no one has told them yet that we’re not taking them. They are following me around… both of them…. looking up at me expectantly. Trying to avoid eye contact… AAAUGH.

10:00 Just discovered that after being kicked out of the van, the 10 year old took it upon himself to pack more things into the trailer, blocking the refrigerator, which some genius of a trailer designer conveniently located in the farthest corner from the door.

10:05 Unpacked trailer.

10:15 Packed food in refrigerator.

10:30 Gathered the luggage from bushes and trees in which it landed when it was forcefully ejected from the trailer by an irate woman who shall go unnamed.

10:45 Repacked the trailer.

11 a.m. -1:30 p.m.  Sat idly and waited for everyone else to get their act together, having completely finished every part of my own packing detail. (N.B. This entry may be a little inaccurate as the stress of not leaving at the designated time might possibly have skewed accurate memory recall)

1:00 p.m. Gave up on kicking kids out of van and just let them sit there and sweat for an hour.

2:00 p.m.  Played calming game of Candy Crush Saga while waiting for Boy Scout Husband to check and recheck hitch, hatches, tire pressure, oil and other boring things.  Pish.  Like those things are important.

2:30 p.m. Finally hit the road.  Took deep, calming breaths, although relaxation effect was somewhat hampered by coughing fit due to Los Angeles freeway pollution.

4:00 p.m  The 17 year old just showed me a page from her journal.  She has apparently been putting freeway time to good use and sketching everything she sees.

4:45 p.m. Driving up a mountain road singing “I Saw A Bear” with the kids.  They insisted I lead it.  WHY did I think it was a good idea to teach it to them 10 years ago?

5:15 p.m. Now singing about barfing up baby bumblebees.  Would really like to not have to take credit for this one, too.

5:30 p.m. Now singing “My Dog Cocoa Ran Away.”  I blame the PBS kids show Zoom for this one.

5:50 p.m. Having run out of camp songs, the 10 year old just suggested that we make up songs about everything we see.  “We’re in the forest and there is a building and I see the road and cars and other stuff too like…like uhhh… some cars and another building and the forest…more forest…..and…um…I like stuff I…er..lalalala…”

The 12 year old, being a quick study, jumped in with gusto:  “I see a tree, and a tree, and a tree, and a tree, a tree, a tree, treetreetreetreeSIGN and a tree again…”

The rest of the family decided not to partake in this form of song writing, especially after the 12 year old’s song degenerated to “I see a dead squirrel on the road–ROADKILL ROADKILL–I see a dead squirrel on the road–ROADKILL ROADKILL!”

5;55 p.m. The 17 year old just threatened to jump out of the car and walk the rest of the way.

6:15 p.m. Finally arrived at campsite.  Helped Boy Scout Husband set up trailer.








6:45 p.m. Within three minutes of arriving at the campsite, the twelve year old discovered that it was populated by multiple red ant nests.  The 17 year old had two reactions.  The first was to try out the zoom lens on her camera:

The second, after she looked at the photo she had taken, was to remove herself to the nearest high point.

9:30 p.m. Dinner is done, dishes are washed, children are tucked into their various tents and bunks.  We should sleep well tonight.

Categories: Camping, Family | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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