Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fall Camping

We spent Friday night packing and shopping and washing and loading. Our goal was to wake up early Saturday morning, hop in the car, and head up to our campsite on Blue River. I finally crawled into bed around 2 a.m., thinking "Oh, we'll be on the road by 8." Yeah, right.

This end-of-season trip is something we'd planned all summer - it was originally Steve's idea, and then Jimi was all "YEAH! We can roast a goat!!!" and so the plan was hatched. We were going to take a few days off work, construct a roasting spit over Karen's lovingly built fire pit, somehow acquire a goat, then spend 4 days camping and roasting and eating and drinking and laughing and talking and shooting with our 20 or so nearest and dearest friends. Here's how it really went:

Karen started sending me facebook messages 3 weeks ago, reminding me of our First Weekend of November Camping Extravaganza. The goat-roasting idea thrown around with such enthusiasm in June had long since been discarded, but we were still hoping to head to camp on Thursday for a nice long weekend in the woods. As of a week ago, I told Karen we'd not be able to get time off from work, so we'd be up after work on Friday night. By Thursday, Steve and everyone else who'd been planning on going, except Karen and Gary and some of Gary's friends, had backed out, and I was sending Karen the news that we now weren't going to arrive at camp until Saturday morning. Karen assumed we wouldn't show at all (because we do that sometimes).

We woke around 9:30 Saturday morning, and despite waking in a good mood and then sharing that special grown-up hug, by the time we were finishing our last minute packing details and piling into the car, we were bickering like a couple of 5 year olds. We did a quick attitude check, kissed and made up, and were on our way.

The weather was warm, nearly 70, and the skies were clear and blue. A beautiful day for camping. We had Chik-Fil-A for breakfast on the road up, and arrived at camp before noon. I had two beers before we started setting up the tent. The river was running clear and high, and there was a stiff breeze cutting across the cornfield. Finnegan was exploring every inch of the corn and the riverbank, and had two thick black streaks of something I can only imagine was either dead animal or shit running from his face back to his haunches along his right side, and he smelled horrible. I'd promised myself, Jimi, and Karen that I was not going to run after that dog all weekend; I trusted that he was grown enough by now to know how to find his way back to us if he wandered off. Besides, there weren't any other campers within site for him to bother, so I figured he couldn't get into any trouble. Karen and Gary had gotten a huge fire started the night before and it was still a-blazin', putting off a lot more heat than we really needed for the warm afternoon, but that didn't stop Karen from adding more logs when Gary's friends arrived. The single other couple we'd been expecting had somehow grown to three carloads of people; three couples, including their two children each. Karen was all "GARY! WTF?!" Indignant sarcasm filled her tone as she loaded another armful of logs on the already-too-hot-for-the-weather-fire, "Well, we don't have enough wood for TWO fires, so they're gonna have to go find the farmer and see about buying some from him." Maybe it sounds bitchy now, but it was funny in that hilarious way that Karen does so well. Besides, it's not like they could hear her. The arrival of so many new people meant Jimi and I had to move our tent. We'd put ourselves on the far end of the camp from Karen and Gary, so as to allow for plenty of space between our tent and theirs should we decide to get freaky and loud after we went to bed. These new arrivals (did I mention there were like 6 kids?) were setting up their half-dozen dome tents right on top of our "Gubna's Mansion", and, well, there was just no fucking way we were going to be sleeping in the middle of Camp Suburbia. So we moved our tent to the other side of Karen and Gary, putting them in between his friends and us, and apologized in advance for any noises they may hear in the night.

More beer drinking, bullshitting, a few rousing games of cornhole. Cutting potatoes, wrapping marinated pork loin in foil, moving coals from the fire to the cooking section of the pit, trying to convert pork-cooking time from a 1 pound strip in an oven at 350 to a 3 pound cut wrapped in foil and thrown over a fire about which we were unsure of the temperature. "Here, let's have some beef jerky and nuts and this Little Debbie cake while we wait for dinner. Will you get me another beer?" Ah, the beauty of camping. These are the parts I love.

The part where I was walking down to the other camp and tripped over the cornhole set and banged up one knee and the other shin? I didn't like that part so much.

Food was done in a couple of hours, and we feasted like kings on pork and potatoes and green beans and peas and mac & cheese. More fire-stoking, and with the day's work behind us, we gathered around the fire to share stories and laughter and beer and smokes and hot apple cider and jibes and digs and more laughter and stories. I only lasted till about 9:30. Because I'm that fucking lame.

The sun had been down for hours, and the clean air was crisp and cold. It was COLD in the tent. We'd had the windows open most of the night, and I think Jimi's right - being right on the water, that cold damp got into the tent, into our flannel sheets, two thermal blankets, and sleeping bag. We should've closed the windows sooner. I froze. I started the night in panties and a (wifebeater) (tank top) (pick one), and while my legs were freezing, I wasn't willing to get up to put on pants or socks. So I laid there and froze. Jimi followed me to bed a few hours later, and we snuggled up close, curling our bodies together, but only for warmth; our earlier talk of loud tent sex was forgotten. I had a developing headache, and Jimi was snoring in my ear. I'd forgotten my earplugs, my nose was whistling, and I was not feeling very sleepy. I left Jimi all tucked in, and Finn and I went out to stand around the fire. I took a few hits off whatever was left in the pipe, hoping it would make me sleepy. I had taken my contacts out, and thought most of Gary's friends had settled in for the night, but then Alesha walked up, wrapped in a coat and hat and gloves, grinning an embarrassed grin, saying she couldn't take the cold, so they were heading home. They had just started breaking down camp, and I was impressed with how easy-going her husband seemed to be about it. I would be pissed if I had to pack up in the middle of the night, in the dark, freezing, tired - and then have to drive ALL the way home. Blech, no thank you. But they were in good spirits, I think just ready to get the heck out of dodge. I left them to their packing, found a bottle of water and used it to wash down a Goody's headache powder, peed behind our tent, searched our toiletries bag again for earplugs (with no success), then went back to bed, snuggling as close to Jimi as i could, leaving my pants on this time, but discarding my socks. About then, Jimi woke up with his first round of leg cramps, a common occurrence when his legs get cold. So he got up to pee. And then came back to bed, snuggled up, promptly fell asleep and started snoring. And I laid there. And laid there. And got madder and madder. I got up again, this time to get the nasal spray for Jimi, hoping it would stave off the snoring, and forgetting about the generic unisom in the same bag. Back to bed, again. More snuggling up. And, at last, sleep.

And then Jimi got the second round of leg cramps.

And so our night went. He'd get comfortable, I'd need to shift positions. I'd try to get comfortable, and he'd need to shift or get cramps.

Eventually, Finn woke us up jumping on the bed, ready to go outside to do his business. I unburied my face from the covers, and BEHOLD! It was daylight already. It was probably 7, the sun wasn't even up over the trees in the east. I got up to let him out, intending to come right back to bed, but when I saw the kids were up at the other camp, I figured I should just get up and enjoy the morning. Besides, the fire was still glowing, and sitting next to it would at least be warmer than inside the tent. I stoked the coals and had some juice, then decided to walk around the corn with Puppy Face. I changed into some warm clothes, wrapped my head in a scarf they way Jimi hates because he says it makes me look like his Grandma (but I don't care because it keeps my ears and head warm), and took off down the road, Finn running ahead and disappearing into the corn. He came back with a fresh smear of death/poo down that same side, I guess because the two streaks from the day before had mostly worn off.

I made hashbrown casserole as my contribution to breakfast. It was cooking okay on the fire grate, but Jimi made it a bed of coals to sit down in, then packed coals around the sides, and covered the whole mess with a few boards to keep in the heat, like a makeshift oven. It became "potato gruel", a thin, semi-soupy version of hashbrown casserole, but like any dish with cheese, sour cream, and potatoes, it was good. After breakfast, we broke camp and headed home - both of us grumpy, dirty, sore, and ready to be home. Jimi washed the dog, I started laundry and dishes, and we've had sausages for lunch. I'm ready for my shower now, and probably a nap.

I don't feel rested like I normally do after camping, and I don't like going up for only 24 hours - it's too much work for too little time enjoying. I'm glad we went, though. I'm just more glad to be home. :)

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