Monday, July 7, 2008

A Holiday Weekend at the Campground

The girls and I spent the holiday weekend with my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend at Comlara Park. It’s the campground we always went to growing up, and although camping is a phenomenon The General claims he will never understand (“I don’t work 40 hours a week to pretend like I’m homeless on the weekends” is his mantra), I was excited to bring the girls out for a weekend of camping related activities. There’s just something about carrying on traditions with our girls that I remember from my own childhood, even if it means running the risk of going slightly insane in the process.

My original plan was to drive down to the Old El Paso after dinner Thursday night, spend the night at my parent’s, and then drive out to the campground Friday morning. I made a last minute change to the itinerary deciding instead to drive out to Comlara with mom and dad late Thursday night. We didn’t get there until almost 10 o’clock, and it’s a slight understatement to say that the girls were excited to be there. We got them settled into their bed in the camper soon after our arrival and then all the adults (minus Dad who turned in for the night with the girls) settled in around the campfire where we proceeded to listen to Punkin talk non-stop for the next hour. Even Shortcake, our notorious bedtime avoider, was politely requesting that Punkin shut the hell up so they could all get some sleep. My mom and I decided no one would be getting any sleep until we all retire for the night, but still Punkin held out on sleep until almost midnight. She got so desperate to stay awake that she started singing the theme song for Calliou. She woke up again, crying, sometime around 3 am. One would think this child, who gets (and needs) a solid twelve hours of sleep on a typical night, would have given us a late wake up call, but such was not the case. Both girls were up and ready to go by 7 am. My mom’s question to me Friday morning was this:

Is she (speaking of Punkin) always this loud in the morning?

My answer:

No. She’s always this loud all day long.

Following are some lessons learned from our 4th of July weekend, summed up in the following excerpts:

1. Shortcake didn’t want her picture taken.

She instead requested she be the one to take pictures. Her framing of subjects could use some find tuning, don't you think?

2. I knew full well the magnitude of Punkin’s voice, but I had no idea how far it carries when out in the open air or when inside of the close confines of a camper. I also felt pure fear when I heard my mom proclaim, in a conversation about the differences between Punkin and Shortcake following a disciplinary moment with my youngest, “It’s like watching Amanda and Erik all over again”. God help me, and please send help immediately. Anyone know the Super Nanny’s direct line?

3. Shortcake has the camping blood running through her veins. What a trooper. She had a blast last weekend, and honestly I feel like I didn’t even see her the two days we were at Comlara. She was just pleased as punch to hang out at the site, fish for the first time with her Papa, clean out the camper or help on garbage duty, and play games with mommy or Grama.

4. When camping with Punkin two pieces of equipment are more vital to her well being and the mental health of all others with you more than anything else – an extra tent and a pack ‘n play. Although everyone told me we wouldn’t need either I am so glad I had to foresight to bring them anyway. Affectionately referred to as “The Cage with the Cage”, this is where Punkin willingly and eagerly went for three naps and bedtime on Friday and Saturday. It was our saving grace, our haven, our moment of peace and quiet. I do believe when she went down for her second nap on Friday I heard a collective sigh of relief run throughout the campground. And don’t worry – we didn’t make her sleep in this tent alone all night. We brought her back in the camper with us when we all went to sleep.

5. Erik isn’t very much fun when he’s sick, but Aleve makes him feel much better. And then the world is a happier place.

6. This is Punkin on Saturday morning. Everyone else was inside the camper, and Punkin went out to the picnic table and attempted to pour herself a bowl of cereal. Apparently we were being too loud for her and she needed to just get away for some alone time. If that’s not irony slapping you square in the face then I’m not really sure what is.

7. Sunsets by the lake are awesome.

8. Walks on trails next to the lake are awesome, too.

9. Eating raspberries along those trails is not awesome. It’s just gross.

10. When you see me with a camera you should always be on guard. Anything is fair game for blog material, I assure you. Take, for example, this photographic opportunity I titled, “Man Made Irrigation”. You can kill me later, Dad.

11. This is Gunner, a horse disguised as a German Shorthair Pointer. He joined us on Saturday morning and was a much welcome canine companion when compared to the two yippy dogs at the neighboring campsite. Also, a note: complaining about yippy dogs to the park rangers will result in karma biting you square on the butt a day later.

12. In our case karma presented itself as a different park ranger showing up at our site and telling us we have to vacate immediately. Although the sign showed a departure date of 7/6 in LARGE BOLD MAGIC MARKER, somewhere along the lines a mistake was made and we were told that our site had been reserved by another camper starting at 3 pm on Saturday. Of course this ranger didn’t care to tell us this until 3 pm on Saturday when half of our party was down fishing at the docks. An hour later this entire campsite was thrown into trunks, truck beds, and inside the camper and hauled away. My brother, the ultimate finagler, plans to right this wrong is the most advantageous way possible. Gladly, the girls (especially Shortcake) handled the premature end to our camping experience with more acceptance and dignity than her mother, uncle and maybe-someday-if-Erik-ever-makes-an-honest-woman-out-of-her Aunt Cari did.

13. Camping is hard work, but the reward for the memories made is well worth it.

But next time I’ll remember to pack the duct tape and sedatives in my first aid kit. One of us could surely use them.


Anonymous said...

We had a great time, We missed you General. Gramma Poke

tlk said...

why is the general such a spoil sport?

The General said...

I was working

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a great time!!
What a great picture of Punkin with her Uncle !
Thanks for sharing !


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