Monday, August 20, 2007

Party Like Rumspringa

Well, we're back... and aside from the ground-in Lancaster dirt on everything that we own, we made it back in one piece. Turns out that camping was a pretty cool trip for the kids, and they survived relatively well without modern conveniences for a couple of days. Of course, we left the campsite to take them to an amusement park right in the middle of the trip, so we did cheat a bit. As opposed to my sister Julie (who I'm pretty certain only takes along a blanket, flint, and 4 ounces of water for her whole family when they go camping on a sheer rock face of Mt Rainier... and now that I'm thinking of it, my sister Jeanne who would rather poke her eyes out with a fork than go camping at all) we had a pretty substantial load of stuff to bring with us, filled up most of the Xterra, and had a few things on the roof rack for good measure.

Sam, at four and a half, wants to help me with everything. Every tent stake that went in; every piece of firewood we collected; and every mattress, chair, lantern, blanket, toy, and scrap of food that came out of the car was supervised by the boy. I swear, its a miracle I can go to the bathroom without him sticking his head in and asking "hey dad, you want some help?". Lily, on the other hand is perfectly content to run in circles around the campsite and giggle... which is actually about as helpful as Sam, so I can't complain... To be honest, it was camping for beginners. We were right outside of Lancaster, PA - which is the home of endless Amish-style smorgasbord restaurants, retail outlets, farm markets, and really really large people... and I don't mean garden variety large, which wouldn't be worth mentioning... I mean large, like, we could have used them for ballast on an oil tanker large. Being rather portly myself, I felt wee in comparison, so it was a nice change of pace... like being a tourist in Brobdingnag. Sure we slept in a tent, made dinner over an open fire, and had smores, but we were steps away from rescue if things went screwy. We were even next to a playground complete with a huge wooden pirate ship which was pretty cool... and Lily, who is usually pretty reserved, immediately made a friend named Emma - a four year old girl who had a "Future Dumptruck Driver" t-shirt on and bare feet... and kept trying to share her Diet Coke in a sippie cup ("just have a couple of sips so you don't get too wired" she kept saying to Lily). Turned out to be a cool kid though, and Lily and Sam both had fun hanging around with her for a bit.
Sara, on the other hand, said she had a good time, but I'm not altogether sure I believe her. We used to go camping all the time in college, and would venture out miles away from the nearest bathroom or outlet for days at a time - and I don't really ever remember her complaining about a thing, although it's quite possible I was drunk. This trip, however, she managed to maintain a weak smile for most of the weekend as long as she kept her hands washed at all times, and actually seemed to be having fun for short spurts... almost by accident..

All in all, it was good but hectic rushing around with the kids and keeping them from jumping into the fire. By the time 10:30 rolled around I was exhausted, and didn't even notice that my mattress wasn't inflated all the way. I almost forgot why I missed camping so much until I woke up at some point in the middle of the night. Cold air, almost overwhelming dull hum of insects and wind, and the smell of grass and soil... and I'm asleep again. Perfect.
... and as the final two parting shots - the kids helping me deflate the mattresses, and Sara - cold, damp, dirty, and "enjoying herself".

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