Saturday, June 25, 2011

Adventures in Parenting: Wilderness Edition

For this installment in our Family Adventure series, we’re going camping. That’s right: camping. Our style is to rough it to the hilt, as you will soon see. We are Expert Campers. That’s right: Expert First-Time Campers.

Sure my wife and I have camped before, growing up. We even camped together. Once. And we pitched the tent with our kids in a friend’s backyard a time or two (NOTE: That doesn’t count as camping).

We knew this trip would be enlightening. We would learn fun facts, like “How fast can you unzip the tent door in an emergency?” (Answer: Not fast enough. Keep reading, if you dare.)

Step one for a fun family camping adventure: Packing.

We brought: Tent, tarp, sleeping bags (4), pillows (4), air mattresses (2), blankets (3), flashlights (3), fan, cooler of food (eggs, bacon, cinnamon-swirl bread, fresh-cut veggies, fresh-cut fruit salad, sliced turkey, lettuce, brats, hot dogs, home-made slaw and chili for the dogs, buns, ketchup, mustard, paper towels, trash bags, salt, pepper, a rhubarb pie, a Buckeye pie, some nuts, and Dorito’s Cheeseburger-flavored chips (NOTE: Yes, they do taste like cheeseburgers. No, that does not make them good)), cooler of beverages (wine (red and white), beer to drink, beer to boil brats, water, Gatorade, ginger ale, Fresca, lots of ice), camp-fire skewers to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, guitar, lawn chairs (4), sparklers (6 boxes), fishing poles and tackle (2 each), duffle bags of clothes (2), duffle bag of towels, and bathroom kits (3).

Can you believe it, we forgot the kitchen f*&^ing sink. Like I said: Roughing it.

Step two toward a fun-filled camping trip: Getting there and setting up.

The kids enjoyed the ride there because I drove fast over the rolling hills and it tickled their tummies. My wife didn’t enjoy the ride there as much because I drove fast over the rolling hills and it tickled her tummy.

My aunt & uncle were already there with a pop-up camper set-up and dinner on the grill. I spread out our tarp and unpacked our tent, and just as I exposed the tent to the air it started raining. The faster I worked, the harder the rain came down. I think it’s important to tell you that the top of the tent is all screen, and before the rain cover is attached it’s kind of like a giant cup.  I’m glad we brought the duffle bag of towels.

Step three to a relaxing time in the country: Food and activities.

We brought some food with us (see Step One) and ate well for every meal, except lunch Saturday because we ate so well for breakfast we weren’t hungry. It happens.

My wife and I took the boys canoeing. I asked for a three-hour tour, but we settled for the five-mile trip. There were several places where rope swings overhung the river. We stopped at one and the boys and I climbed 5-6 feet up the bank and swung out and dropped into the river. It was cold, but fun!

Step four to an exercise in sleep deprivation: The wake up call.

At this point in the story, those of you with weaker stomachs will find out that you have a lot in common with my elder son. It started all evening long, when he ate a chili dog, a bratwurst, rhubarb pie, buckeye pie, a brownie, and a s’more. Then, at precisely 2:35 a.m. he began moaning and kicking my air mattress in such a manner as to deliberately wake me and/or my wife. It took some time for him to convince me that there truly was something wrong, for this child has called wolf a time or two in the past. I made a quick deduction: he had been complaining about the bathrooms since we arrived the day before, so he must be holding something back, and it reached critical mass. (NOTE: Man, that is one complicated way of saying he had to take a shit.)

We loaded into the car and drove to the main bathroom / shower facility. I will put it loosely and tell you everything came out all right (read all the way into that one). Our drive back to the campsite was exciting, as we came very close to scoring some fresh venison on the way.

At exactly 4:32 a.m. my son woke me up again, kicking furiously and saying he needed to go to the bathroom again. Since it was Father’s Day, I poked my wife and suggested she take this shift. Then my son got up really fast and yanked on a zipper on the tent door. Unfortunately the zipper he pulled was to the flap covering the screen, not the zipper to open the door, so he was still stuck inside the tent.

What followed was a sound similar to a bucket of slop being dumped on the ground. Twice. I sprang into action.

First order of business: Open that door. 

Second order of business: Get a flashlight and assess the damage. Luckily a blanket we had laid out by the door caught most of the…let’s just call it a chili dog, a bratwurst, rhubarb pie, buckeye pie, a brownie, and a s’more.

Third order of business: Get rid of that stinking blanket before any foul odor has the chance to permeate the tent (NOTE: I almost made it).

Final order of business: Clean up, helped him rinse his mouth, and get back to bed.

Step five to a camping adventure: Packing up and heading home.

‘Nuff said. 

Stayed tuned for the next installment in our Family Adventure series: The 5k Race…