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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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