Saturday, January 3, 2009

We probably should have just stayed home...

Well, we made it back home this afternoon, safely! However, not unscathed, if you'd call it that. We took our time Thursday getting up, finishing up packing the camper, etc., and left the house around 11:00am. We made it to our favorite campground around 11:30, only to find out the campground was slap full, and the current tenants of our site had not checked out, and had until 1:00pm to do so. We asked if we could change our reservations, and go ahead and get set up, and the ranger informed us we could not do that as he was truly full! Wow! The first time we camped here in September there might have been5 other campers, and now they were full? The ranger at the gate was kind enough to check us in, and invited us to "feel free" to utilize the picnic area until the current tenants vacated. He also asked us to please not harass them or intimidate them in any way as to encourage them to leave sooner. Out of curiosity, we drove by our site, only to see two tents a truck and a mini-van open, and very empty, and the tent had a mound of stuff to be organized into the vehicles, the picnic table was covered, and we both thought the same thing, there was no way they'd be completely packed and out of there early, let alone make it on time! John and I drove to the playground and picnic area and let the kids and the dog roam around and play until we felt the time was adequate to check in on the soon to be "our" campsite. At 5 minutes til 1:00, we headed that way, and John, being in the second truck got there first, and called me on my cell phone, saying, "He's just now loading the bikes, it's going to be a few more minutes." Finally around ten after, the man pulled out, and John told me to head that way. Just as well, as I'd turned right, instead of left coming out of the picnic area and ended up at the front gate, rather than the campsite loop. Oops!

We'd taken both trucks since John had to work on Friday, and wasn't feeling well to begin with. The plan was that he would leave in the evening on Thursday night, work Friday, and return to the campsite around 4:00 (if not sooner!) on Friday. We got our site set up, got our New Year's Day meal of ham, black-eyed peas, rice and collard greens going, and the kids got a real shower around 7:00 in the bath house. When we arrived, we saw a familiar family, and amazingly, Hanna remembered the little girl's name was Olivia. They had been camping there when we were there last in October. We found them, and both kids hung out with Olivia and her friends most of the weekend. After I had taken my shower, and taken care of all my evening activities, John left the kids and I around (9:45pm). Poor guy, he said it was around 11:30 when he finally went to bed at home, after showering, and of course, his alarm went off nice and early at 4:30am!

Friday I struggled with a "weather change and NO HUMIDITY" sinus headache, and did my best to keep the kids occupied during the day. I should add, they both woke up around 1:30am, and were quite awake, so I put in a movie (THANK YOU JESUS FOR DVD players!) They watched 101 Dalmations (the animated version) twice in it's entirety.) They decided it was time to get up around 7:30am, so our day began early! We got up, got dressed, went to the bath house to go to the bathroom, emptied our "make-shift" potty known as a "luggable loo" from the night time (luggable loo is a toilet seat that fits on a 5 gallon bucket). I realize to some this may seem crude, however, I find it very convenient, especially being left alone with the kids, I could not trek across the campground in the middle of the night for the restroom, leaving one of my children unattended, and I certainly couldn't send them on their own. We ate our breakfast and headed out on a morning hike. When we returned to the campground around 10:45 the kids met up with Olivia, who was still in her pj's. My kids asked her quite bluntly, "Why are you still in your pajamas?" She looked a little bewildered as she answered, "because I just got up!" The Chappell children would consider it a "cardinal crime" to be caught in bed after the sun came up, let alone waiting until nearly noon to get dressed. We said our farewells for the time being to Olivia and her mother, and the kids and I headed back home to pick up the things I'd realized Thursday night I'd forgotten. Hanna and Daniel were especially concerned about getting the "smore sticks", which are very long handled metal prongs made especially for cooking whatever you should choose over a campfire. We visited with our neighbor, and also picked up more firewood from his pile of wood in his backyard. His wife begged with me to please take more, take more! I told her not to worry, we've got plenty of reservations for camping in the next few months, I'm certain we'll whittle that pile of wood down in no time flat! I came to the conclusion that never again will I pack up the camper with John and the kids home! It's too distracting, and allows too much room for error and negligence on my part. In the afternoon, while Hanna was playing with Olivia, Daniel helped me bread the chicken we were going to cook for dinner. Fried chicken in a cast iron skillet on our camp stove. By the way, battered chicken fried in peanut oil is fantastic. John and I agreed it was much better than frying it in vegetable oil on the stove at home! John called me around 4pm and told me he was headed our way, but just had to stop and "fuel up" the diesel truck. Knowing that he'd be there soon, I got my oil going, and started my rice-a-roni (which by the way, is not that great on a gas stove) It was when my fingers were coated with flour and grease that my cell phone rang again and John said the truck was acting up and he didn't know if it would make it out there. What?! We're not sure what the problem is, but he described it as if trying to direct a bucking bronco down a straight road, and he was losing the battle. Hopefully, the issue is something in the fuel, or fuel tank, or filter and can be easily remedied! Otherwise, it may be time to shoot the truck, and put it out to pasture! It's a 17 year old diesel truck, with only 60,000 miles on it. During the process of frying chicken, and listening to John's road troubles, the kids were also fighting inside the camper, as they were supposed to be lying quietly watching a movie. Not! John called yet again, and said, "well, just go ahead and eat without me." At one point, he'd wanted me to come and get him, but that quickly fizzled, and he finally arrived at the campsite in his work truck at 6:30pm. When he got there, he did say, the chicken was pretty good cold, so it must have been awesome hot! I was so happy to see him when he finally got there. I'd plowed my way through dinner, and taming the kids, and they kept acting up, and I'd threatened several times during all of this, to "pack up, and just go home." The only reason I didn't was because I didn't want to pack it up in the dark by myself! While finishing up dinner, and waiting for John I started a fire with the wood we'd acquired from our neighbor, plus one piece of "lighter knot" from our supply. When John got there, he commented that the piece of "lighter knot" I'd chosen was about 4 times bigger than I needed, and that it would probably burn for 6 hours or more. He was right! Around 11:30 it was burned down enough that he could bust it up, and pour water over it, so we could go to bed. Apparently, this "lighter knot" contains a lot of turpentine, and burns hot and long, and the only way to put it out is to submerge it in water, if it's a large piece. The kids slept through night, mostly, however, they both sounded like seals all night. I was quite concerned lying there, listening to Hanna cough and wheeze, and I wondered several times if we'd made a bad decision going camping this weekend. It just seemed as if everything was against us, with John being sick earlier in the week, the truck, and now the kids were sick, and sleeping in the night air!

Amazingly, this morning, the kids were raring to go on a walk with Daddy. It was our plan to get the camper all packed up, so that when we returned from our walk, all we would have to do was fold it down. We managed to do so, and checked out half an hour before check out time! We went on the same hike as the previous day, only this time, the dog was actually willing to jump into the creek, and she had a great time. We let her stay off her lead for awhile, and she pranced and hopped down the trail, fling water on all of us from her still heavily dripping wet tail! All of us found it rather amusing to watch Callie prance through the water. Hanna and Daniel both seemed to be rather top heavy while hiking, as this was the day they both kept falling down on the trail. Daniel even has a slight case of "road rash" on his tummy from tripping as we went up to the main road off the path.

So, we made it home, unpacked the camper, laundry is in full motion. I still wonder, as I sit here, listening to my children coughing in their bedrooms, trying to sleep, did we do right, staying, or should we have come home? I'm concerned especially with Hanna, as her cough sounds very bad. She had a fever at dinner time. Earlier during this post, I was interrupted as she came out and couldn't breathe (her nose was stuffed up), so we started a battle to apply Vick's vapor rub. She absolutely hates the stuff, although, in the end, I won, and it did work. She could breathe again! I had to chase her around the living room to catch her to put it on, as she screamed, and then screamed more, because it was "making her cold." I put a damp hand towel in the microwave, and then sat with her in my lap with the warm towel on her chest. This warmed her up, calmed her down, and activated the Vick's. I've also since, put some on Daniel's chest, who loves it, and giggles through it. Go figure! They're so different. Depending on Hanna's progress through the night, I'll either be taking her to MediQuick clinic tomorrow after church, or, I'll be taking her to see her doctor on Monday morning. I guess there's a blessing after all... there's no school on Monday, as it's a "teacher in-service day", so we have an additional day to rest before she returns to school.

Next time, I hope we're smart enough to heed the warning signs, and just stay home. I also have to add.. I think the tooth fairy will be coming again tomorrow night. We couldn't quite get the second tooth to come out this evening!

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