Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More camping photos

More pictures for your viewing enjoyment!

Hell's Canyon

Okay, okay, okay. I know it's been a lifetime since I last blogged (a month to be more specific), and Scott keeps telling me to blog about our camping trip. He thinks I'll put a nice "spin" on it. What does that mean? Does he not think that what I type is the way it really is? I believe he thinks I embellish a bit- PISH TOSH!!

So, now on to our camping trip!

A couple of Friday's ago, we went with the Winter family up to the Dunes in Michigan. It was a gorgeous day, and a pleasant ride up there. We set up our family tent, and Aidan and Enoch set up the tent Aidan had received for his birthday. The boys, of course, immediately wanted a fire in the fire pit (the little pyro's they are). They were sorely disappointed to hear that there would be no flames until later that evening. We got unpacked, and decided to drive up to the beach. It was gorgeous and practically deserted! We soon found out the two reasons why: 1) We should have recognized by the dried up corpses along the loooong sandy hills (okay, not HUGE hills, but to these thighs, they were big enough) to the beach, that it would be more than a pleasant jaunt to the beach. But, we chose to look the other way and continue merrily for about two minutes until all of us, but the kids, were questioning whether the beach was REALLY worth it. We finally made it to the beach (with only a few stops for emergency oxygen) to discover the reason for the deserted beach #2) Ice water. The lake was all but frozen over. Oh, sure, it looked pleasant enough from a distance (and before walking over the physically draining sand hills), but one toe in, and you were all but a frost-bite victim. So, while the adults stayed a safe distance from the water (and contemplated who would illegally drive a vehicle to the beach to pick us up so we wouldn't have to walk back), the kids played in the lake (these are the same kids that won't touch bath water unless it's at least a mild hot tub). Scott and I stood watching, playing rock, scissors, paper, to see who would have to go in after the drowning victims when their body became paralyzed by the shock. Okay, we didn't really play rock, scissors, paper, but I let him know that it wasn't going to be me going in (although, looking at it from a scientific standpoint now, I have a lot more layers of...well, let's just call it warmth, on my body than he does). While the kids played in the lake, and made sand forms around their bodies, Ava took the opportunity to taste the cuisine at the beach- namely the sand. I don't think she much cared for it, even though to make sure she tried it several times. Well, since no one volunteered to drive down to the beach, we made the trek back up (which seemed much longer and more difficult) to get changed. We de-sanded the kids (baby powder is a miracle worker when it comes to this), and headed back to camp.

After lunch and getting Ava to nap for a little bit, the kids and Scott decided to go to climb the dunes. I had seen the dunes from the lake, and there was no way I was going to have anything to do with it. My "dune" was the walk back from the beach. Scott took the walkie-talkies, and just a few minutes into their trail hiking, he radioed back to say there was a dune right around the corner, and we'd have to come see it! So, after getting Ava ready, Toni and their family and I went to the base of THE DUNE. Now, I know Scott thinks I embellish, but this thing had to be AT LEAST a thousand miles high, and set at an 80 degree angle. And here are my kids, going up and down- SEVERAL TIMES!!! Even Scott was in on the action. Apparently, my moron gene kicked in, because I thought I would give it a try- and WITH AVA to boot. Maybe it was self-punishment for all of the lack of exercise I'd been getting this summer and I felt the need to let my body know how disappointed I was in it that it wasn't doing a better job of getting in shape. As if a 30 mile climb up a steep sandy embankment will make up for birthing 5 kids and eating meatloaf for breakfast. I guess I was willing to give it a go! So, up I went. I tried walking up it with Ava, but gave that up just a little bit into it and had to crawl on my hands and knees. Ava kept up pretty good- okay, so maybe she passed me a few times, and I had to drag her back to keep up (down?) with me. After sweating and climbing for what seemed like an eternity, I looked back and was no more than 10 feet from the bottom. Now I was just plain mad at myself- look at these kids and other people- no problem for them! If nothing else, I was going to make it to the top just to prove to myself that I could do it. Well, about halfway up, when I'm seeing mirages of sno-cone stands, I realized that who am I to have to prove something to myself? I'm a good person whether I make it to the top or not. Pretty much just self-soothing so when I have a heart-attack and they wheel me away, I'll feel better about the effort. But, NO- I continued- Good 'ole Scott stood at the top taking pictures (in anticipation of the ever-impending heart attack, I'm sure. Would make a great you-tube posting!) About 2/3 of the way up I was about to die (probably for the 10th time) when Mimi comes trotting down the hill, stops next to me and says- "I'll run down and bring you up a water bottle" In my hazy state of delusion she looked like she had wings. So she bounced down the hill, and skipped back up it in the time it took me to drag Ava and my body all of another 3 feet- only to have slid down another two. Water was a great relief, even if it did have sand in it. At this point I had to throw Ava up a ways and wedge my arm under her bottom so she wouldn't slide back down while I drug myself up a few more inches. I didn't feel as bad as the guy right behind me though, who's wife/girlfriend/? kept shouting from the top "Look honey! Even that little baby can do it! (referring to Ava) Keep going!!" The mumble under his breath was his response. Hey, I feel your pain! Not to mention, that the baby is doing it only because her Mom is pushing her from behind (filling her pampers to maximum sand capacity, thus multiplying her weight by 10). Bless Scott, though. When we neared the top, he came down to get Ava and help her (I must have looked pretty close to death by that point) and the kids were cheering me all the way. How can you not make it to the top with fans like that? After reaching the top looooong after everyone had that had started when I did, I stood (partly to make sure my legs still worked) to take in the view. Ummmmmmm. There were trees. Ummmmmm. And some more dunes. I'm not sure what I expected, but this sure wasn't it. I figured I'd climbed high enough to reach heaven, or something. I WAS taken back,however, by the view "from whence I came". It really gave me quite a perspective on my life. We have all of these struggles that we sweat, and grit our teeth, and DON'T want to do. And, quite frankly, we don't HAVE to do them. We can sit around and complain about how hard it would be, and that we'd rather not. Or, we can suck it up, get on with it, and "endure to the end". There may not even be anything truly spectacular at the end of "the trial", but what is spectacular, is knowing where you are, and looking at where you've come from.

Okay, enough philosophy...

We finished the dunes (coming down was waaaaaay better, but still not worth the trip up), and came back to camp for dinner. Ahhhhh, yes- FIRE! Except that, to make it cruel a little longer, we used our grill, so poor Aidan had to do without 3rd degree burns for just a little longer. After getting settled into a s'more induced stupor, I decided to lay Ava down for bed. It was, after all, past her bedtime by almost 2 hours. I laid her down next to me, and stayed as still as possible. I continued to stay still as she: jumped on my back and stomach, ran around the tent singing "happy campy", jumped on my rear then slid down the side, and stuck her nose right up to my face to see if I was still awake. Yes, I was. After what seemed like 10 hours, she finally settled in for the night- or so we thought. It couldn't have been much past 1 am when she first started screaming. We were able to settle her down. At least for a little while. She started up again at 3. Then 3:20. 3:50. She slept again for a little while longer- all the way until 5:00 am. At which point Scott tossed her over the other kids to me. Nothing like a screaming baby coming flying through the air at you at 5 in the morning. I took the hint that she was now MY child to deal with. I took her outside and sat her in one of the camp chairs, while I stretched out on two others and tried to sleep. She looked quite happy. Apparently her mission was accomplished. But,not for long. It seems that just having me awake wasn't enough, she felt that the ENTIRE campground should join us as well, and the screaming began. I finally brought her to the van, and strapped her in her car seat, I climbed in the front and tried to wait it out. Apparently I'm not nearly as patient at 6 in the morning as I would have liked. I finally stormed out of the van, flung the tent flap open, and announced (louder than probably necessary) that I was done, and HIS daughter was out in the van screaming her head off. He finally tromped out and joined her in the van. I lovingly refer to our tent that night as "Hell's Canyon". I'm pretty sure that's what hell sounds like- weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth included. And the fact that when everything around you is absolutely silent, a scream like hers echoes for miles (and hours). So much for toddler camping. Now I know why people buy campers- so they can shut out noise from people like us. The next morning I was certain people were walking by our campsite just to see "the ones". I thought that if we started doing sign language to each other and pretend we're deaf, maybe they would understand, but I can't stay quiet that long, so we just nodded and waved as people walked by and whispered.

Such was the camping trip. We brought back the typical camping woes: Sunburn, leg cramps, sore back, exhaustion,and 2nd degree burns, but HEY! Isn't that what camping is all about?