I have been away a while. I am back. I was on summer vacation....
Remember summer vacation?
For our family, it was supposed to be a two week togetherness extravaganza to Quebec or the Grand Canyon or some equally memorable place. But school bureaucracies, exorbitant gas costs, and pressing work commitments shortened it to 5 days, a tent, a minivan and two dogs and a very slim budget—can you say canned food?
Here is what I remember:
Never EVER go camping with dogs. Especially not neurotic shelter dogs on anti-anxiety meds. Especially not escape artists with sensitive stomachs. I for one will never forget the quaint town where we stopped for lunch and the dog got diarrhea all over the front seat. Thank god the only store in town was a hardware general store with sanitizing wipes and old fashioned cleaning supplies. Getting dog crap off of your phone charger probably qualifies as a never to be forgotten experience. My children learned several new swear words which they have been practicing. In public.
Never EVER go camping with a snarling teenager. You can only hear I HATE CAMPING four hundred times in a day. On the four hundred and first rendition, you want to run over your child with a backhoe. I have a diva daughter whose idea of camping is spelled H-I-L-T-O-N or S-P-A. Being trapped in a mini van on a camping trip was, in her world, child abuse. She was completely lost without internet access and wandered adorable seaside towns looking for wifi like a junkie looking for a fix.I will always remember wondering what planet she is currently on.
Never EVER go camping with three children who after 4 hours in a car together absolutely hate each other and scream this sotto voce in front of 40 people while hitting each other at a charming village where you are trying to find a lunch spot that serves gluten free meals and SOMETHING vegetarian that does not include cheese or fish and has nothing fried. By the way, in this universe, in the Midwest, this does not exist. You need Dr. Who in his tardis to find an alternative universe where this is an option. I will remember to pack more food in the future.
Never EVER go camping after putting in two months of 12 hour days. You are too tired to think straight so you forget essentials like MATCHES to light the fires you need. You can’t remember ENGLISH so you stay stupid things. My son says cute things like “Buy me a piece of paralyzed wood for a souvenir” (He meant petrified, but the idea of a paralyzed tree kept me laughing for days) or how about “The allergy pill is stuck in my sarcophagus (esophagus)”. I said things like “if you take the last cup of coffee I will murder you.” And I said this in front of people who then backed away looking at me funny. They are going to remember me!
Never EVER go camping in a region where rain is a remote possibility. The Walmart tent WILL leak and after four hours in wet clothes you can feel your flesh mold. Who cares if the plants and farms need it—when you camp, water from the sky is your enemy.
Pie saved us. Cherry pie from a farm stand that melted in your mouth and was so good you cried. It made you think of all that is good about summer, and sand and rolling hills and sunny skies. We drove 50 miles out of the way with $4 a gallon gas to buy another one because pie really could save us. There was also an apricot that was the epitome of apricot, and then there were Bubble Gum Plums—I am not making this up, they tasted like bubble gum and I bought them at a farm in Berrien County Michigan. There was a loaf of sourdough bread bought on the side of the road that was everything a loaf of bread should be and we ate it in 5 minutes flat groaning with pleasure, except for the gluten free celiac who looked at me with death in his eyes and made me promise to take him to the Gluten free bakery when we got home so he could experience joy in a loaf of bread TOO.
We ate fudge on Mackinac Island, collected Petoskey stones which now litter the bottom of my mini van, swam in a NEW great lake, Lake Huron which was clear with a muddy bottom, saw the Bridge that is featured in the graphic on our license plate and got enough sand in my doors to ruin them, and well, we survived. We brought home stories we will tell, and memories.
On the way home we bought a rabbit. An adorable six week old Dutch Bunny from a 4-H’er at the county fair. Because I always need a little more love and one more mouth to feed.