Monday, July 25, 2005

Wilderness Experience

We went camping this weekend to Shenandoah National Park, we went there two years ago and had great time, so we thought we better go again before we move. So we packed up the tent, chairs, snacks, cooler, bug spray, water, air mattress, air pump, snacks, sun block, card games, Frisbee, candles, hot dogs, snacks…you get the idea, we ended up with too much food and not enough clothes, blankets or ice.

We left at about 1:00pm on Friday afternoon and proceeded to endure three hours sitting in traffic on route 66 trying to get out of DC. Three hours in the car with the air-conditioning off (we have AC in the car, but it makes the car work too hard and it was already running hot just sitting there) in 95+ degree heat without any breeze. I just love marinating in my own sweat to start a vacation. Now I have to say the boys handled the whole thing pretty well. Angel babe gave up about 45 minutes in and went to sleep; the poor thing had sweat dripping down both sides of his little red cheeks. And darling fiancé just kept talking about how happy he was that we are moving away from DC. I put on a happy face and tried desperately not to curse the car so as not to induce the wrath of “fate” and have the car overheat.

My car is a 1995 Honda Civic DX coupe. This is the first car and only car I have ever owned. I can still remember the new car smell it had when I got it and how much fun I had driving around with the sunroof open and the radio cranked up the summer after my first year of college. The car was my ticket to freedom and confirmation that I could do whatever I wanted. I didn’t need to depend on anyone, I had my own car. Now I’m a bit older and wiser and my little family doesn’t really fit into this car, but a new car doesn’t really fit into our budget either. So I tell dear Betsy how much we love her and beg her to make it from A to B without incident. So far, so good.

Back to camping. Once we finally entered Shenandoah and began our drive along Skyline Drive to the campgrounds everything changed. The temperature dropped a good 10-15 degrees, the breeze coming through the windows was cool, pleasant and sweet-smelling and the scenery was absolutely breath-taking. Along the drive we spotted a black bear, several deer and a few circling hawks. We set-up the tents (one for us, one for our stuff) and fiancé perfectly grilled some steaks and veggies, we made S’mores and snuggled by the fire. We were all pretty beat so it was an early bedtime.

That’s when things started to fall apart. Every other time we’ve been camping the three of us all slept comfortably on a king size air-mattress—not this time. For some reason this was now the most uncomfortable bed on earth. Angel babe had no complaints and was snoring away—he is so loud—but fiancé and I barely slept three hours all night. First, Angel likes to sleep on top of me when we share a bed, so I was rolling him off of me about every 30 minutes, I might as well have jumped up and down on the bed for all the disruption this caused. The air-mattress is basically a big balloon, push down on one side the other side goes up; move around a little and the resulting waves move everyone else too. Angel would then migrate to his dad’s side and attempt to burrow his little feet into the small of daddy’s back to keep warm. More rolling of the snoring babe, more waves. For even more fun we failed to correctly estimate how cold it was going to be up there at night. The thin sheet over us in our shorts and t-shirts wasn’t cutting it. Then we both had to pee—of course—but it was so cold we didn’t want to get up. I finally caved at about 5:30am and climbed out of the tent to go the bathroom. Getting off the bed caused such a dramatic shift in the weight distribution that fiancé was dropped down a few inches closer to the ground while Angel was bounced up to the top of the bubble, still snoring.

I should let those of you haven’t actually met me know that I have pretty bad vision, I have worn contacts since 7th grade, I only where my glasses for about 30 minutes a day and that is when I’m reading in bed before I go to sleep or fixing Angel babe breakfast before I get back in bed to try and steal a few more moments of sleep. When I got up to go pee, I didn’t put my glasses on. I stumbled out of the tent and into the dawn mist, I bet that it was beautiful, but I can’t be sure. I started the short walk to the bathroom and realized that I didn’t want to walk across the grass in my flip flops because the grass was so wet with dew. I knew there was a sidewalk leading to the restroom, but I had always taken the shortcut across the grass. I was sure I could find it. I walked down the road a bit and realized that in fact the sidewalk didn’t lead from the road to the bathroom but from the bathroom to more campsites on the other side of the grass—the grass that I didn’t want to walk on.

Now I’m cold, tired and nearly blind walking through thick mist on wet grass twice as far as I would have if I had just sucked it up in the first place. I’m almost to the bathroom when I see a brown mass on the side of the path, I can’t tell what it is and figure it’s a bush or camping gear. Nope, when I’m about 5 feet way I realize it’s a deer. A serene deer munching on its breakfast of dewy grass. The deer at these campgrounds are pretty tame and have walked right through are campsite before without incident. But usually they keep a distance of about 15 feet from people and if you get too close they move away a few feet or walk off.

Not this deer. She didn’t move; she just looked at me. I stopped dead in my tracks; she was between me and the bathroom. I couldn’t keep going without walking right next to her. She just looked at me and kept munching. I was afraid that if I moved closer she might bite me or run into me in an effort to get away. I just stood there, freezing and having to pee. Finally I took one more step forward. She looked up at me, took one last nibble of grass and looked over her shoulder as she crossed the path and walked off as if to say “I move when I’m ready to move, you just have to wait.” I scampered to the bathroom and then took the short cut back over the wet grass to our tent. Darling fiancé was on his way to the bathroom (If he was asleep, I woke him up when I got out of the tent.) I started quickly telling him the whole encounter and how I walked right up on the deer without seeing it at all. Darling fiancé looked from side to side and said “The deer are all over the place, they love to eat the grass covered in dew. How could you not have seen them?” I looked around and saw no fewer than 10 deer in a 100 foot radius. “Sweetie, you really need to get lasik.”

In the next episode: Hiking, star-gazing and Smokey the Bear.


At 10:22 AM, Blogger Cattiva said...

Hey, you're a VA blogger, too - cool!

We like to camp up there as well. I can't take it for too long, though. Something about being trapped in a tent with my kids for lengthy periods. Ack!

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Rissa Roo said...

Hey Cattiva--I love your blog, we seem to share the same parenting style. We absolutely love are kids, but let's face it they can do some annoying stuff too. Angel babe was pretty good--we tired him out as much as possible. But because he is an only child he spent a good amount of time whining "Please play with me." And after a day of hiking, all I was going to do was have a cold drink and sit down.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Arazaree said...

Heh, I'm as blind as you are. I wouldn't have even ATTEMPTED that walk without putting my glasses on. The first thing I do in the morning is reach for my glasses, THEN I get out of bed, pee, shower, and put my contacts in.


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