Not Cut Out To Be A Boy Scout

I am still baffled that I let myself get into this mess, but somehow, I let down my guard and Mike took us all camping. Semi-camping, because I absolutely refuse to pay anyone for the opportunity to sleep outside on the ground. I can do that at home for free, but I still am not interested. My last camping trip ended very badly. So badly that we did not speak of it above a whisper for over ten years. That was twenty years ago and I still have scars. I don’t want to get into that story because it would take a long time and I would probably get emotional. Let’s just say I fully intended that to be my very last camping experience ever. EVER.Yet somehow, I don’t know how, we were on our way north for three days, with seven kids, a van full of gear, and a dog. Mike found a state park that offered rustic cabins and I guess the cabin is what swayed me. I took it upon myself to be the Grub Master for the weekend and planned what sounded like camping food to me, not that I know anything about it. I was already nervous about the whole excursion and a weekend lolling about in the dirt with Beef Jerky-Ramen Noodle Stew would just be too much to bear, so I decided to play it safe and at least have something safe and clean to eat.  

So here we are driving along. I look behind me and notice Grace has packed every single doll and stuffed animal she owns. She even packed changes of clothes for them. Is this normal or should we seek counseling? 

As I pondered that question, the car lurched to the left, pulled across traffic and glided into a parking lot near Starbucks. I know that this is normal. We never go anywhere without checking in at Starbuc

Hours and hours and hours later, after driving through holiday traffic, witnessing the remains of accidents, and in some cases witnessing major traffic slowdowns for no discernible reason at all, we ended up at this sand strewn plot of ground. The scouts and wannabe’s began shredding saw palmetto to start a fire. I was afraid this might happen. That’s why I packed chili in a thermos so we could have dinner as soon as we arrived. Then we had s’mores because I think there is a law that you have to make s’mores the first night you camp out, and I would never want to get in trouble with the camping police. 

At 6:00 it got dark and the little ones and I began to feel uncomfortable. We all wanted to go to the cabin and get under the covers ASAP. Our cabin was eighty years old and adorable. It had a screened in porch, wooden floors,  a kitchen and bathroom, and a fireplace. It was supposed to sleep four, but since most of us are very short, we had no trouble at all getting an extra person on the futon. We felt like pioneers, especially after Mike kindly built a little fire for our nightlight. 

We were very thankful to have showers and tea the next morning. Then we joined the others for hot cocoa and eggs cooked in the coals. I didn’t hear anyone asking for beef jerky.

Jonathan slept in a hammock the first night. Alone. Poor Chance slept in the van, as he was not allowed in or near the cabins. I am sure he was happy to go along with our plans, as he was very homesick the last time we left him. 

Mike thought a short hike after breakfast would get the blood moving. He suggested we go to the Old Mill Site. Once there we found a sign that basically said there isn’t anything to see here. But there used to be. Too bad you missed it. So we tramped through the woods instead and saw just what you would expect to see in the woods. Trees. All over. Dead ones and live ones. 

We saw a little stream and some of us played Pooh Sticks. Boy Scout tradition, I am sure. 

This little hike was .75 miles. Just long enough for some of us to sit on the leaf strewn forest floor in exhaustion and dismay and declare, “I never want to be a Boy Scout!”

But they perked up when they saw more trees ahead. Especially this one. 

Ethan had at least one stick in his hands all weekend. Jonathan crafted a breastplate out of tree bark. Grandma, the boys just want sticks for Christmas. 

After awhile all the trees and sticks began to look the same. Too bad we missed the old mill by several decades. Wonder if it had a gift shop? 

Then we came upon this tree, which was unique in the forest. It had built in nubs that looked like steps to us. We tossed down our trail mix and accepted the invitation. 

Ethan, who is still scarred from the family picture on a tree branch, was not interested in climbing. Instead he stood on the other side of the tree, out of sight, and randomly catapulted the stick he had carried all morning through the branches, and it landed squarely on my forehead. Now we are both scarred. Only my scar looks more like a dent. 

Even though it would have been too cold, we were disappointed that we could not go swimming, because we couldn’t find the lake. I think they can take down the sign now. And the next one, too. 

Once the children were convinced the alligators had moved on, they consoled themselves with a romp at the playground, and later, a bite of lunch and a chess game at the cabin.  (Turkey sandwiches and Mexican Bean Salad)

The chess game went into overtime. Even though I had gone to bed at sundown, I felt a strong pull to take a nap. Then Mike took the sturdier children on another hike, while I prepped dinner. They took a picture of this “moss-stir”. 

Chance was disgusted that he didn’t get much camping food. Only a little leftover chili when Mike wasn’t looking. The rest of us had Hobo dinners.

For dessert we tried to make Pudgie Pies, but most of them burned. We resolved to practice at home until we perfect the Pudgie Pie technique, because hot pie filling wrapped in cinnamon swirl bread with a marshmallow melted inside, sounds much better than it really was. We sat around the campfire as darkness fell and took turns telling a a story that seemed like it would not have a plot and would never end. It started out with a family, much like us, who went on a camping trip, but ended up in space. 

The next morning we had Hobo breakfast and attempted to wash days of dirt off Hopesie. It was a vain effort, since wet toddlers attract even more dirt than dry ones do. 

We had just about run out of food when it was time to pack up the van and head home. We made several stops along the way- once to see Santa, twice to run around at a park, and last to see Grandma and Grandpa. 

Here Mike is recreating his “deer in the headlights look”. This was one of the most annoying things about having babies in the hospital. All the men in the room stand there and look like this and I am too busy to do anything about it. Fortunately Victoria put an end to this when she surprised us with her bathtub arrival. Somehow it is easier to forgive a reindeer for looking at you like that, maybe because you never do see reindeer in hospitals. 

When we found this park, the children began pressuring us to move to this town so we could visit it again, but no dogs were allowed inside. We found a smaller, more tolerant playground where we had a picnic and a merry-go-round ride, because every kid knows the best time to ride a merry-go-round is right after you eat. Later we met Mike’s parents at  a restaurant for dinner.

36 eggs

So we got home without any injuries, if you don’t count the new dent in my forehead. I guess that means it was a successful trip, but I don’t want to do it again. I’d much rather sleep in my own cottage and build a campfire in the backyard. Someone has to stick around and take care of the chickens. 

© Being Fruitful, 2012