Three dads and four daughters go into the woods…Sounds like the start of a bad joke, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is no joke. It’s a tale of extreme weather…foraging…hunting… surviving in the wilderness…(for what amounts to as lest than an entire day) Enjoy the fail…
It’s Saturday. M & I hastily throw together a backpack with a few necessities and we are off to start an adventure together. First stop, Wal-Mart, the land of plenty. (Plenty of whack-jobs…at least we fit in). We purchase only the necessities that one might need to survive in the wilderness for almost an entire day. We buy hotdog supplies, s’more supplies, kid friendly drinks, and the rest of the cart is filled with chips, beer and beef jerky…okay, mostly beer. We checkout and we are off to meet up with our Sherpa’s at base camp.
The journey just to get to the campsite is daunting in itself. It takes an entire 10 minutes and we are already hot, tired, and frustrated…mainly because we don’t get to hear the end of “Thrift Shop” before we have to park and unload. (Now we will never know if he bought that broken keyboard…and what about the knee board?)
We opt to hold this years DDG at a local lake and one of the 3 dads just so happens to have a boat at said lake. It is our mission to hit base camp, throw the tents up and get out on the water post haste…Of course, this takes slightly longer than anticipated. Each dad brings his own tent. One dad is either smart, or just lucky and brings a small backpacking tent that is quick to set up. The other two of us bring tents that are sized to sleep a small village. While these tents are only slightly more difficult to set up for a single person under normal conditions. When coupled with 40 MPH straight-line winds, they are near impossible. We endure. Three tents are eventually erected…barely (we had to forego the rain flies on the two larger tents as the winds were just too wild to even attempt that mess.)
The girls manage to entertain themselves while we dads wrestle with the tents and the wind. They find a mother herring of some kind that is nesting. For whatever reason, this herring builds her nest out in the open in the sand on the lake beach. Of course, the girls see a pretty bird and they want to get near it…so they do. This mother bird does not like the site of 4 girls prowling around her nest full of eggs and she becomes rather hostile. After several warnings from us dads about messing with animal mothers, and several run-downs by the momma bird herself, the girls seem unfazed and eventually they run momma off from her own nest! The next thing we see is one of the daughters running up the beach holding an egg in her hand and cheering as she had just won the last golden Wonka ticket. Before we even have time to get to them, the egg has been dropped and one baby bird is lost. After violently explaining to this little girl that she is a murderer and a terrible person (I think one dad even kicked her in the ribs), we force her to wipe her tears away with the murdered fetus and oh look…it’s boat time! (Don’t worry about the girl’s psyche. We booked her an appointment with Dr. Kermit Gosnell…she will be all better soon)
We get out on the lake and find an awesome little cove that is shielded from the wind…and we have a blast! The girls take turns jumping off the boat into the frigid, murky water. The dads take turns shoveling beer and snacks down our fat, unshaven faces. Our time out in the calm cove has makes us forget the tornadic winds that we were battling at base camp, and for a fleeting moment, we fool ourselves into believing that the winds may have actually subsided.
We get back to base camp and somehow manage to get a sustainable fire going. I feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway. We quickly realize that the two house-sized tents are not doing so well in these harsh wind conditions, so we improvise multiple tie-downs and stakes to keep the tents, at least, somewhat upright. The girls have fun roasting hotdogs and marshmallows in the fire while the dads have fun swilling beer and keeping the girls from falling in the fire. Only one child catches flame and kudos to her school because she knows to stop-drop-roll. After getting her snuffed out and resuscitated, she gleefully rejoins the group around the fire. If you find yourself downwind from her you catch the sweet aroma of charred mammal flesh drifting with the wind. If this campout takes a turn for the worse, I know who’s getting eaten first…
After the great s’more cleanup, we get the girls into their jammies and let them attempt to all sleep together in one tent. Obviously this does not work worth a damn and we end up sequestering each of them in their respective dad’s tent. Slowly, One-by-one, they drift off to dreamland. Meanwhile, us dads sit around the fire drinking ourselves off to drunkland.
Morning comes too soon, but she is a welcome sight nonetheless. Groggy and hungover, we begin to tear down camp in the hurricane force winds. (That’s right, the winds never slow…never calm…never stop.) As we are breaking down our campsite I look to where the girls are playing and what are they doing? They are effing with that effing bird and her nest again! Rather than administer more beatings, I just sit down on the ice chest and smile as I watch them play a game of cat and mouse with that poor momma bird. The girls squeal with both fear and delight as the angry mom chases them away and this warms my stone cold heart to its core. It looks like breakfast is on Mother Nature today! “Girls, bring daddy those eggs!”
In my last post (https://genericdad.com/2010/09/01/cant-we-all-just-get-well/ ) I teased a review of our first family trip to the mountains of New Mexico. 2 kids, 2 frazzled parents and a wagon full of belongings…
My family recently acquired a cabin in the Sierra Bonita mountains of New Mexico. Upon hearing this news we decided that we must get up there and check the place out immediately. The long Labor Day weekend provided just such an opportunity to embark on a most memorable journey.
Based on previous expeditions, we knew that Lil B was not a good passenger and so we decided to hitch up our wagon and ride to Amarillo late Thursday night. The theory behind riding at night is simple. The kids are used to sleeping during this time and they tend to sleep much the same during travel. The first leg of the journey starts flawlessly. We hit our schedule to be on the trail by 7:00pm. The only significant event from this leg of the journey was the awesome Pink Floyd-like lightning show that we were treated to for two hours. The subsequent huge thunderstorm with high winds and torrential rains was not quite as entertaining. Regardless, we pressed on and made it to Amarillo in near record time.
After a brief overnight stay in Amarillo, we hit the trail for leg two of our expedition. This leg of the journey was one of the more difficult to endure for several reasons. The first reason being that we had joined into and official wagon train with my family and being from a small town, they do not like to ride on major trails. This forces the wagon train off the beaten path so-to-speak. In fact, there was a portion of the this leg where the trail degraded from paving-to dirt-to-boulders. Yes, I said boulders…Imagine yourself trying to navigate an unfamiliar trail littered with boulders while the wagon that you are following kicks up so much dust that you cannot see the trail to avoid the larger boulders, so you inevitably hit all of them. Couple that with a one year-old screaming at the top of his lungs because he is being tossed around like my skid-stained undies in the dryer. Regardless, we pressed on and were eventually rewarded with the site of a beautiful log cabin…where our right rear tire immediately deflated due to the boulder gash it received on the way in.
The next 48 hours are almost blissful enough to make one forget about the arduous journey that had just transpired, nor dwell on the one that lie ahead…almost. There is just something about being in the mountains that washes away all of my stress and my problems fade to the back of my mind. I don’t know if it’s a lack of oxygen due to the altitude, or maybe I am just at home in the mountains. I truly hope that I end up living in a mountainous location some day, but I digress. I got to take M fishing for the first time and it was a beating to say the least (could be an entire post of its own). However, she had fun with her cousin of similar age throwing rocks and catching crawfish. She also got to take her first (of many) ride on a 4-wheeler with her Grampy, which she loved. Lil B was happy just to have someone hold him and he even got to taste test many of the indigenous rocks. Grammy saved the day by bringing the girls their own new backpacks crammed with activities. They had a blast.
Of course we knew that the trip had to end, but as we were loading up the wagons I could not help but feel as though we had just gotten there. The third leg of our expedition got off to a rough start. We stopped no less than three times to let Cousin A tinkle, then we made the mistake of stopping for lunch in one of the desolate towns down the mountain. A long hour later we are back in the wagons and headed east to Amarillo. Just as we reach what has to be the absolute middle of nowhere, we see a sign “DWI Checkpoint Ahead”. WTF? That can’t be right, can it? As we top the next hill we are greeted to six NM state troopers at the intersection of state highway X and nowhere road Y. I am sure I was missing something, but there just didn’t seem to be enough traffic on the back roads of eastern NM to warrant a six-vehicle DWI checkpoint…thank God I only do heroin. After the mystery checkpoint we arrive in Amarillo for a brief overnight stay.
The fourth and final leg of the journey was a blur because I had to find a happy place within. Somewhere between Vernon and Wichita Falls I am contemplating those skiddy drawers again. Only this time I am thinking of using them to gag my screaming son. Poor little guy is just not built for the road. On the bright side I think he may have a future in opera. At one point of the final leg my 3 year-old had to intervene and put a stop to bickering going on in the front seat. It is at this point that I check out for the rest of the way home. The wagon and horses were on cruise control…and so was I.
We Shall Return
We will be going back to NM for sure. However, our wagon training days are officially over. I love you, Southwest Airlines…and I love your free drink tickets.
In order for you all to experience what it has been like at my house for the past couple of weeks, I need to take you on a cinematic trip down memory lane. Picture little Gordie LaChance sitting around the campfire regaling his pals with the “Barf-o-rama” story in the classic film, Stand By Me. “Lardass! Lardass, Lardass”, the crowd chants as David “Lardass” Hogan eats his way to victory in a pie-eating contest. Then it hits…the castor oil and raw egg make their comeback . “Slowly a sound started to build in Lardass’ stomach. A strange and scary sound like a log-truck coming at you at a hundred miles an hour. Suddenly, Lardass opened his mouth. And before Bill Travis knew it, he was covered with five pies worth of used blueberries. The women in the audience screamed. Bossman Bob Cormier took one look at Bill Travis and barfed on Principal Wiggins. Principal Wiggins barfed on the lumberjack that was sitting next to him. Mayor Grundy barfed on his wife’s tits. But when the smell hit the crowd, that’s when Lardass’ plan really started to work. Girlfriends barfed on boyfriends. Kids barfed on their parents. A fat lady barfed in her purse. The Donnelly-twins barfed on each other. And the women’s auxiliary barfed all over the Benevolent Order of Antelopes. And Lardass just sat back and enjoyed what he created. A complete and total Barf-A-Rama.”
Of course, this is a slight embellishment with regard to what has recently transpired in my house. We may not have had the Benevolent Order of Antelopes, but we had two toddlers and a mommy doing there best impressions of this classic movie scene. Part of me wishes that we had all concrete floors so that I could bring the hose in like they do at the zoo in the elephant cage. As it stands right now, I feel like I am constantly wading in vomit and feces remnants and it’s quite disgusting. I see little food items on the floor and I don’t know if they came from my toddlers dropping them, or projectile spewing them. I do know this: small trash cans make good barf buckets and baby diapers cannot hold back the full fury of an infant’s diarrhea bomb.
On a lighter note, I think that everyone is feeling much better. We rung in Lil B’s 1st birthday last weekend, and we are taking our first trip as a family unit this coming holiday weekend. We are headed to the mountains of New Mexico for some family time, fishing, and relaxation. I will post a mountain trip review upon our return…if we actually make it back. I encourage any of you to stop by our house and disinfect the dump while we are gone. I will understand if you have to chalk up a total loss and just set the place on fire. Until our return, I bid you all a happy Labor Day.
So two of my buddies and I decided it would be a good idea to do a daddy-daughter camping trip. We all have daughters ranging from 3 to 6 years in age and none of them have been camping before. A weekend was selected and a camping location agreed upon. After a week’s worth of negotiations with my wife, we wer finally cleared for take-off.
Rather than take the economic option and carpool, I was forced to take my own vehicle in the event that M could not handle life on the prairie (I conceded this point during negotiations). This actually ended up being a nice decision because of all of the crap that I had to bring for a one-night camping trip.
The items required for M were as follows (keep in mind this was a one-night event): M had 2 pants, 5 shirts, 3 panties, 4 pairs of socks, a blanket, 2 stuffed animals, 1 princess miniature camp chair, 1 sleeping bag (princess graphics of course), 2 pairs of shoes, 1 towel, 1 pillow, 2 gallon-sized Zip-Lock bags full of every child medicine known to man. Turns out that the only item that I was short on was princess band-aids (I was only outfitted with 4, and once one of them was issued, it seemed that all of the girls mysteriously developed injuries), and last, but not least, a little potty for the girls (this had to be one of the most valuable items we had…guess I just assumed that nature-potty-ing came natural to little girls like it did for us boys…I don’t want to even think of the issues we would have had without that miniature miracle of modern convenience…). In addition to the food items that I was assigned to bring for the group, I had to bring the food items that are M-friendly because she is still a pretty dedicated non-meat-eater. To say the least, the back of my SUV was crammed full (I think it took longer to load and unload than the duration of the actual trip).
A short two hours (and 3 pit stops) later we finally arrived at the camp grounds. While we didn’t get the perfect site, we were able to get a pretty good one. We attempted to bribe the girls with a little snack in hopes that this would keep them occupied while we started setting up tents. Of course this did not work. I counted at least 15 times that there was a toddler/pre-schooler diving into the tent as we attempted to set it up. I won’t even get into how the air mattresses were treated as trampolines…That being said, the tents went up without a hitch.
It was about this time that the third daddy-daughter team arrived (conveniently just after all of the hard work was done hehe). The only reason I mention the late arrival of our third tandem is that they stopped at the general store up the road from the camp site and my buddy unwillingly made a purchase that would haunt us for the rest of the trip.
Inside this standard little general store, tucked away in the back corner behind the fishing lures and Little Debbie snakes was a little display/dispenser of highly polished, multicolored rocks. The idea being that you grab a little draw string bag and fill it with your choice of as many stones as you could fit for a flat rate. Well, my buddy, being the great dad that he is, lets his daughter get a small pouch of said rocks, and any of us would have done the same. However, what my buddy did not know, what any of us did not know, was that these little rocks would be the center of much controversy amongst the daughters. You would have thought that this little girl was the Pablo Escobar of geodes with the way that the other daughters reacted upon seeing them…”yo man, how much fo just one rock?” “I need it, I gotta have it, man” “you got so many rocks, I’ll do anything…cain’t have just one?” The dialog may not have been quite so Menace II Society-ish, but you get the idea.
Despite the small spats over the rocks, things were going pretty well. We took the girls on a nice little hike and let them throw some rocks into the stream. They would have stayed there for hours if we had let them. It was not just picking up rocks and throwing them into the water. No, they had to find the perfect rock. “I have an idea, let’s toss that bag of multi-colored rocks in the creek, whataya say?”, I said…in my head. It was great to sit back and watch them interact with one another. My 3 year-old was on an entirely different plane than the older girls, but yet they all agreed on one thing, throwing rocks into the creek is big fun. Big fun until my daughter looses her footing and takes a little spill into the drink. Needless to say, our little hike was over shortly thereafter.
We get back to camp and it’s time to get the camp fire up and going. To the girls, the lighting of the camp fire meant one thing, and one thing only, SMORES! So we start cooking up some burgers and dogs when we realize that we forgot to bring any type of eating utensils, plates, cups, etc. Thankfully we were eating a typically hand-held meal, so this was not a huge issue. It just bruised our all-knowing camping egos.
So, the girls ate a combined total of one hot dog (no bun), 1/2 of a hamburger, and one hand crafted peanut butter and jelly sandwich (one guess as to who ate this…) This might be cause for concern had they not eaten a bucket of trail mix, a bag of beef jerky, several snack packs of goldfish, fruit snacks, and a drank gallon of Capri-Sun throughout the day. It should be no surprise that dinner obviously did not take long to finish. Bring on the smores.
The smore feast was a really fun period in the trip. None of the girls had eaten smores before and it was quite a treat for them. They had a blast roasting marshmallows although all agreed that they did not like the “black” part. You can imagine the sticky messes that ensued as the girls picked away the charred exterior of the roasted marshmallows to reveal the melted center. I think I am still picking sticky goo out of M’s hair…(hold your “Something About Mary” references please)
As the daylight faded to dark, the good times roared on for the girls. We provided them all with their very own identical flashlight (you would think that this would keep them from fighting over the flashlights…and you would be wrong). I ended up having to provide my daughter with her own (you guessed it) princess flashlight so that everyone knew which one was her light. Ahh to get into the mind of a toddler…We also had a special treat of glow sticks for the girls to play with in the tent. (Between the “crack” rocks and the glow sticks, Insert your rave jokes here.)
The girls’ normal bed times range from 8:00 to 8:30 PM. It was around 11:00 PM that the screaming and giggling finally died down and they all passed out. The daddy’s stayed up until around 3:30 AM enjoying some fire-side beverages, stoking the fire, and solving the world’s problems.
I crawl into my tent and just as I get comfortable I hear the crunching of sticks and leaves outside as someone approached my tent. Then I hear the dreaded, “Merrit is awake and needs to tinkle”. Are you F-ing kidding me! I get up, grab a very groggy and cranky M and head out to the potty. She does her business and I head back to tuck her into her sleeping bag alongside the other girls. Of course she would not just go back to sleep, she wanted me to sleep with her. When I tried to take her over to my tent you would have thought that I shot her dog. Needless to say, we had two six-man tents and 5 people ended up sleeping in one tent and one lucky daddy had an entire tent to himself. No, that lucky daddy was not me…
You would think that since the girls stayed up until 11:00PM or later that they might sleep in, but you would be wrong again…After such a late night and the fact that we were short on eating utensils, we decided to scrap the delicious bacon, sausage and egg breakfast that we had planned (and were soo looking forward to!) to opt for the Pop-Tart variety.
As we ate our “fresh” pastries, the daddy types sleep-packed and tore down camp while the daughter types tried to score more crack from one another. The time was about 10:00 AM when we were finally ready to hit the road home. You can probably guess our first stop. Yep, that infamous general store to score some rocks!