Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Camping Adventures

So we went camping and whitewater rafting in Ohiopyle State Park last weekend (western PA). Well, all four of us went camping, but only VNB and I went whitewater rafting. Joanna's good at kicking, but she's not quite a swimmer yet. At least not enough to be in a boat on rapids.

It was the first time that VNB and I had gotten to do anything like that as a married couple. Something about getting pregnant two months into marriage kinda keeps you from rafting. Which, incidentally, provided the childcare for _this_ trip (pregnancy anyway, I know they've been married longer than two months). Except for the gash on my thumb from getting tossed out of the boat and the myriad of bruises and scrapes on my legs from getting pulled back in to the boat, we escaped with no major injuries and even still liked each other at the end of the afternoon. :)

We're still learning how to camp though. VNB had never been car camping before we were married (just backpacking). For his first Father's Day, we took a trip to the Poconos to see a NASCAR race and camp in the woods. He, thinking the trip was his present (and not just the fact that I was going to a NASCAR race with him and an 8-mo-old), and also never having done it before, assumed that I was going to pack everything. I (with my many many years of Turner camping) was expecting the Daddy to do it all.

We managed to get there with a tent, maybe an air mattress, and a few sheets (we weren't going to be at camp much, after all - there was a race to go to and a lake to swim in). We got to camp a little late though and didn't feel like scrounging for wood in order to cook the hot dogs or whatever food it was we brought along, so we went to the local Subway and got dinner. On the way back to the campground I got to introduce VNB to reality of camping with the Turners - as we were pulling into the campground, we started hearing pings as something hit the (new-ish-to-us) car. When we realized it was hail, we pulled in under the trees as much as we could and waited it out.

Thinking that we'd passed the "Murphy" test, we settled into camp for the night. We were borrowing the tent of some friends which had a separate little "room" for AJ to sleep in. We got him to sleep in it, then went to sleep ourselves only to have AJ wake up like every hour all night simply because it was _FREEEEEEEZING_ (did I mention this was August?). So the next day we took turns buying out the little camp store. We bought two very expensive camp chairs, a very expensive scratchy wool blanket, some very expensive food and condiments, and a few other things just for good measure. Then we went to shiver in the lake for a little while. AJ had a blast though, through his blue, shivering, little toothless gums. So that night, we were prepared for the cold. We tucked AJ into bed with us, wrapped up in the wool blanket, and proceeded to swelter all night in the blazing heat.

So the next day dawned with the promise of NASCAR, followed by the drive home. We got to the race early enough to find our (very expensive) seats and discover that in the Poconos raceway not only is smoking allowed, that was the first year where they'd actually set aside a "no smoking" section. Were we in it? Of course not! So we sat in the hot sun, not a cloud in the sky, coughing in the second-hand smoke as the VERY LOUD cars drove around in a triangle (did I mention that we forgot the ginormous box of ear plugs we'd bought for this exact occasion?). After a few thousand laps of heat, sun, smoke, and noise, we decided to give both me and AJ a break from it all and go out to see the vendors. Except that I was wearing shoes that were killing my feet and we were having to lug AJ everywhere since he wasn't walking yet and we didn't have a stroller or carrier with us.

We considered buying me a pair of Crocs at the Crocs booth, but they were like $500 so we didn't. After a while we wandered back into the stands for a while, but even VNB had had enough by then. The race wasn't exciting at all (the Crown Royal car kept spinning out and not hurting himself or any other cars and the #2 was in the lead the entire race), we were all dying of smoke and sun and AJ was screaming (or was that me?). So we found this random restaurant in an old factory or mill or something, had a good (if expensive) dinner, and then made our sunburned way home.

So this trip went better than that one. Of course, it'd be hard pressed to do worse, but it really was better. We're still learning what we need to bring though. We sat there Saturday night after rafting trying to cook dinner. We'd planned for grilled cheese and tomato soup. But after smelling the burgers two sites away, grilled cheese just wasn't really substantial enough. So we figured we'd have grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. Except that we had no paper towels for the wiping of hands or the collecting of bacon grease, we had no tongs for the turning of the bacon, we had only a tiny like 5-in pan, and VNB's backpacking stove (one tiny burner over the fuel canister that you have to balance pans on top of - the table wasn't level and my balancing skills aren't that great, so we ended up losing several pieces of bacon and lots of grease along the way). So the process went like this: cook one piece of bacon cut in half (we didn't have anything other than a pocket knife either); cook another piece of bacon cut in half; cook the grilled cheese (with newly-cooked bacon) sandwich in the bacon grease; repeat ad nauseum (with multiple spills along the way). After about three sandwiches, I gave up for a while and VNB cooked his soup. But then we had all the rest of the bacon that we had to cook. Fortunately our friends took pity on us and let us borrow their actual camping stove and a frying pan that could fit _two_ pieces of bacon at a time.

So then we put Joanna to bed and sat around the campfire at our friends' campsite (two away from ours, up a hill, with several other friends' tents in the middle). After a while, AJ said that he was done with the fire and wanted to go to bed (really - I was just as surprised as you), so I took him down to our site, got him into pjs, and put him to bed. He totally was fine with me leaving him there and going back up to where our friends were. That is until about 30-45 minutes and a couple of rain showers later when across the campground we hear a panicked "MAAAAAA-MAAAAAAA!" Before our friends even know what's going on, I'm sprinting down the hill in the dark in my flip-flop sandals with socks on (meaning that they're not exactly secured to my feet), dodging tents and random tie downs (not to mention trees) to get to our son who was beside himself in terror. We assumed it was from the rain shower on the tent roof that woke him up or something.

By the time I got there, Joanna was awake again too, so I had to soothe her back down while trying to get him to stop bawling. After a while, me being there was only keeping him awake, so I turned off the light, but then he was scared that he couldn't see me anymore, so I was singing to him, but that was waking him up, so finally I just picked him up and held him until he was asleep enough that VNB coming and going didn't wake him. They both then proceeded to sleep at least as well as normal the rest of the night.

The next day we went to the lake and swam for a while. Joanna sat (with only a little support) on the edge of the water and splashed and played in the sand while her big brother and daddy played out in the deeper part. After a fun (if tiring) weekend, we made it home, safe and sound.

At least until VNB discovered that he'd somehow managed to get a viral strain of pink eye. So far he hasn't shared with the rest of us, but we're still very much hoping he gets better soon!

Now to unpack!

1 comment:

Toby said...

Don't forget! More camping Monday and Tuesday! At least then you 'll have Uncle Toby, Aunt Beth, Grammar, and PaPa to be slaves to AJ's whims.

By the way, I got engaged in March, and happy birthday! I'm not a very good little brother. I always mean to call you, but I don't remember until 8:30 at the earliest. 9:30 your time seems kind of late to be calling when there are two babies in the house.