Adventures in the woods.

We are going camping this weekend.  Oh. Yay.  This should result in months worth of stories for this blog.  We live in Florida, so camping- at least for me- is completely out of the question between the months of May and November.  I’m an Irish Girl from Upstate NY.  I don’t do the heat and humidity well.  I am drenched with sweat just walking from the house to the car in those months.  So we are going to go camping in February.  The good news is that the alligators and snakes are in semi- hibernation right now, meaning they just bask.  They don’t eat.  Or bite.  Much.  The bad news is that although I don’t mind the cooler temps down here it is going to be in the 40s at night.  We have a tent.  Imagine setting your AC to 45 and then trying to sleep like that.  Brian says it is an adventure.  I’m not sure he knows the actual definition of adventure, and I am fairly certain sleeping in a nylon and plastic pole structure 10 miles away from your house in 40 degree weather is actually called stupidity.  I mean, don’t people sort of shy away from these situations?  Isn’t sleeping in a tent in the cold like depression era stuff?  Next we will have a fire in a giant metal trash can and gather around it with our liquor bottles wrapped in paper bags.

So since I don’t yet have any stories of near disasters and real disasters and failed attempts at starting fires from this camping trip I thought I could get myself all ready for camping by re-capping parts of previous trips.

When Brian got a tent I told him “These were my ground rules.” I don’t mind camping.  I camped a lot when I was younger.  However, there were stipulations.  I don’t camp in a tent in the rain.  I don’t camp in a tent in the heat.  In fact, I  don’t camp at all in any severe weather conditions such as tornados.  You would think that this would just be understood and I wouldn’t have to spell this out to him.  I also had some small demands.  I didn’t ask for like cable and electricity.  I told him that I don’t camp unless there is a bathroom and access to running water.

Trip number one:

We get to the camp site which he assured me was NOT Primitive camping and absolutely had a bathroom.  There was no bathroom.  There was no water.  There was a big ole’ empty field with a whole lot of trees about.  That’s it.  I fail to see how this differed from our back yard except in our back yard we would be able to use a bathroom and wash our hands and, you know, get a drink.  Also, we didn’t bring toilet paper.  I was quietly beginning to plot his murder in my head.  In these conditions I could easily make it look like he was attacked by a wild animal.  Or just went for a walk in the woods and never returned.  I thank God for a few things in this instance.

1. we were very close to his brother’s house so I told him I was taking Gabrielle and the rest of the girls and we were going to Jay’s and we were going to pee, damn it.  We had already had Jay bring us a roll of toilet paper, because that isn’t humiliating, but trying to help Gabrielle pee behind a bush proved to be beyond my abilities.  So, we all took a field trip to Jason’s house to use the bathroom while Brian made comments about “girls are so high maintnence.”

2. I also thank God that we brought Eve’s two friends Rafael and Ainsley with us.  They proved to be really good sports, awesome at entertaining the other kids, a HUGE help with Gabrielle and Ainsley and Eve pretty much dominated in the assembling of the tent.  We realized, around dusk, that we had no lights.  Except our cell phones.  We also realized that Brian really stinks at grocery shopping for anyone but himself and everyone was STARVING.  You can’t feed a bunch of teenagers a single hot dog and expect they will be ok with that.  So we sat in the dark and played trivia games using our cell phones which we had originally forbidden the kids to use but relented cause really, what else are you gonna do when you are sitting in the dark with a bunch of teenagers?  They were at least interactive trivia games, so we were all playing against each other.  Cause that is what camping is all about.  We were all good sports.  We were all “it is a learning experience!  We will know better next time!” (secretly I was thinking “well this was a first and a last.”) oh, and p.s. we also didn’t bring any pillows.  Thankfully I had a bag of yarn with me so that served the purpose.

Adventure number two.

We went to a different park this time and I went with Brian when he reserved the site because I no longer believe his lies about bathrooms and running water.  There were bathrooms.  Like actual bathrooms.  And a playground for the kids.  It was actually very pretty.  That is until the day we actually went to camp.  When we arrived the camp site was over run by flies.  I don’t have any idea why except that maybe there was a demon around?  There wasn’t any smell of decomposition so it probably wasn’t a dead body stashed nearby, although that thought crossed my mind.   I read a lot about criminals and serial killers (which freaks Brian out.) and for some reason they all like to kill people in our part of Florida and stash the bodies in state parks.  Look it up.  It’s only a matter of time before we stumble over one, it’s always the hikers and joggers that come across them.  I keep telling Brian it’s all fun and games till you find a skull or a hair mat and the next thing you know our camping trip is featured on Dateline and Forensic Files.  In this case I am pretty certain there were not any dead bodies but there were flies.  An alarming and unnatural amount.  There were also some really awesome looking frogs, I would assume they were there for the food, it was like an all you can eat fly buffet.  We hiked.  I talked about dead bodies and various killers that dumped said bodies in the area.  Brian told me to stop talking about dead bodies in front of the kids. Admittedly It was kinda fun.

Ainsley’s parents are kind of bad asses and they brought a canoe for the kids to use.  We see 5 teenagers walking down the trail with the canoe between them and Brian comments “this is how horror movies begin.” that was reassuring.

Then it rained and when I say it rained, it poured.  At that point I was in the tent reading and had fallen asleep.  I wake up to a bunch of teenagers standing in the rain.  We had Ainsley and Rafael with us again (cause someone has to know what to do) as well as my children and Christian’s friend Alexander.  When it began to rain Brian and the friends we were there with all took shelter in their tents in the next camp site.  Leaving everything behind.  The teenagers then took the plastic tarps (which I packed, Brian un packed and Eve re packed along with a roll of paper towels and lysol wipes.) and covered the food that they had abandoned.  Then, being soaking wet, didn’t want to come into out tent and get it wet.  I made them come into the tent.

It stopped raining and Brian is all “look, the sun is out, just a passing shower!  This is an adventure!” except there was no where to sit cause everything was wet.  The rain also didn’t deter the flies one bit.  So now we have mud.  Wet seats, wet wood, wet grills, wet charcoal and wet clothes wet food that we can’t cook on the wet grills and flies.  I will sum up the rest of the trip by saying I took 6 kids and went home.  Even the teenagers had had enough and frankly, Ainsley has gone back packing through the Grand Canyon and thinks that bringing sleeping bags is “glamping” so when SHE wanted to leave, I knew I wasn’t just being a pansy ass.  I went back and picked up Brian and Timothy (Timothy ate his weight in S’mores that night I am told and relished being the only child for a night.) the next day and I will save the crime scene that we came home to story for another day.  Suffice to say I left Gabrielle home alone for 45 minutes while I picked up the boys.  I came home to a lot of blood everywhere and there was a trip to urgent care were stitches needed.  I have never left Gabrielle home alone again, not even for 30 seconds.

I think it was December when Brian and a couple guy friends went camping again.  I had stuff to do (darn, shucks, ) for work and he took Timothy and Gabrielle.  I wasn’t there to confirm or deny the stories he told, but he says the kids were great and Gabrielle only fell a couple of times when he took them on like a 4 mile hike. (Gabrielle can’t walk across the house without falling on her face so I am leaning towards thinking he is delusional.) however, he DID call me at 1 am and woke me out of a sound sleep.  The phone rang and I saw it was Brian, you know, the man that has two of my children in the woods with him.  I bolted up and answered the phone with

“what’s the matter?!”

He says “Hi honey.”

“yeah, hi, what’s wrong?”

because everyone knows that middle of the night phone calls are NEVER good.

He says “Oh, nothing, well, a bear attacked the camp site.” (I had a momentary heart attack) “and Gabs didn’t make it, but everyone else is fine.  Love you, see you in the morning.”

That rotten son of a bitch.  I could have killed him then and there.  I obviously knew once my head was functioning that he was not serious but that “the phone just woke me up and my kids are in the woods and something must be wrong ” anxiety takes a while to wind down.  Like weeks actually.

Apparently Gabrielle had woken him up to walk her to use the bathroom.  He was tired and has no recollection of this telephone call.  Likely story buddy.

So these are his ideas of adventure.  I would rather go to say Animal Kingdom or Epcot or my own bedroom with a book.  I can adventure as much as the next girl.  I just want to be able to brush my teeth and be dry when I do so.

The real adventure is going to be driving Eve to a competition at 6 am on Saturday morning then back to the camp site and then back to get Eve and transporting all the things for camping and her competition at the same time.  I think Brian thinks I drive that thing Dr. Who flies around in.

I will keep you updated on this week’s excursion into the deep and wild woods of central Florida.  I can hardly wait.

Oh yeah, also, I tried to tell Brian that we could strap the canoe to the top of his jeep.  This was his idea instead.  I had to call for back up.

Update:  In case you were wondering I couldn’t sleep last night so I spent the better part of the middle of the night looking up how many bodies have been discovered in the State Park we will be camping in this weekend.  The answer is five.  FIVE DEAD BODIES.  And who were they found by?  Fishermen, Hikers and Campers of course.  So help me, if I come across a tibia I am going to be PISSED and that is for sure the last camping trip ever.



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