Posted in Just Funny, Parenting

The summer of our discount tent…

a Shakespearean tragedy in six acts

I’m planning our second vacation within a year. The REAL kind where you stay in hotels with spa services and see “bucket-list-worthy” things and indulge in food that rivals art.

I’m being spoiled, and I gotta admit, it’s glorious.

To date, most of our vacations haven’t gotten past the dream state.  We’d talk big, but when reality set in there was either no time, or no money, or no time and no money. tentThe trips we did take, however, had one common denominator:
A little, gray nylon two-person tent. We probably still have it somewhere in that hoarder’s paradise we like to call a garage.  And we used to sleep in it. The tent, not the garage.

Act One
To pee or not to pee
That is the question. Many moons ago, I went on an overnight retreat with some college friends to an island in the middle of the lake. We were armed with a few coolers, fewer tents, and a bass boat. I was fine with the tent arrangements, but it never occurred to me to ask what the arrangements were for the, uh, facilities. Turns out, there were none. No arrangements. No facilities. We were completely sans potty. No bathhouse, no wooden outhouse, not even a respectable bucket. So, “to pee or not to pee?” The answer was not. Not to pee. Not once. I “held it” for 36 hours.

Might be my proudest accomplishments to date.

Act Two
The lady doth protest too much, methinks
I was a whopping 8 months pregnant when we set out on this next little adventure with a couple of friends. My body desperately needed sleep, but I did not want to be tossing and turning, as this was the point where I had to wake fully, lift my belly with both arms, and roll carefully in order to avoid stretch-marking. So why we thought tenting was a viable option at this point in my gestational journey I will never know.  Yet there we were, camping on the beach on our way to ‘The End of the Road’ in Homer, Alaska.  Pam and I got the tent. In retrospect, I have no idea where the guys slept, rocksbut I suspect they snoozed on a king-sized air mattress under the stars while she and I were left to sleep on the rocky beach. Rock. Not those cute little pebbles for landscaping. Rocks. Boulders, really. The pitting alone lasted a good week. The resulting stretch marks I carry with me still.

Act Three
To sleep, perchance to dream
Two years after “tent on the rocks”, I volunteered as the activities director at Midnight Sun Camp. Kacey was two and tagged along easily. Half the camp was comprised of teenage girls who refused to let her walk. My toddler fell asleep one night after dinner in the arms of one of these sweet girls.  When we settled into our tent at bedtime, I was exhausted, having been awake since 4:30 that morning. Kacey, however, was bright-eyed and bouncy.

Being a good mommy, (or at least being moderately concerned she would escape from our tent and encounter a hungry bear), I stayed awake and sang songs. Lots of songs. Repetitive songs. Annoying songs. I think I was hoping to bore her to sleep. “Old MacDonald” had an enormous farm. “Found a Peanut” took me from a rotten nut all the way to playing a harp in hell, Dear Liza nagged on and on about “The Hole in her Bucket”, I caught dozens of “Baby Bumblebees”, and “The Wheels on the Bus” went round and round and round and round and…

Act Four
Sweets to the Sweet
Up to this point in my parenting I had opted not to give Kacey sugar, in any form. No soft drinks, no cookies, no M&M’s, just a healthy little girl who was happy eating fruit and veggies. So, as the Wheels on the Bus went round and round and tried to coax her to sleep, I was the one who drifted off… and woke at sunrise to find my baby girl face down on the tent floor, starburstdeep asleep in a self-induced sugar coma, encircled by a rainbow of wrappers from eating an entire BAG of Starburst she had discovered in the suitcase. An ENTIRE bag.

Act Five
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears (and your washer)
When Kevin was tiny, we went to Gatlinburg on the absolute cheapest vacation possible. Our plan was to hike, fish, swim in the river, grill our own meals and sleep in the two-person tent… yeah, all four of us. It really had to be cheap because we had no money. I mean, we had NO money. If we had, you KNOW I would have hired a team of dogs to sniff out the nearest Marriott, but there was absolutely no wiggle room in the budget.

My “shoot from the hip” husband didn’t want to make reservations. After all, we were just tent-camping. We’d “wing it” and find a perfect place. My IOP protested (that’s Internal Organizer Person). She screamed inside my head, “NO!!! We have children and I’m neurotic about spontaneity if it’s not properly scheduled in advance.” But I played along, mostly so I could say “I TOLD YOU SO” later.

We went in June. I mentioned Gatlinburg, right? And June? And the fact that we had no reservations?

Well, I had reservations alright, but not the kind that held a place for us to pitch our tent.

So at 5 p.m. we started looking for a spot to camp… and at 11 p.m. we finally found ONE open site.

Act Six
Out, Out Damned Spot!
The elkmont camp site (2)spot we got was on the trail to the bathhouse, so every person who walked by woke Kevin, who at 18 weeks old, had one skill: screaming. And he showed of his talent all night long, every night. Kacey was forced to sleep at a 79-degree angle with her head above ours and her feet in my kidneys. Did I mention she was a kicker?

The following night our car broke down, and I was left on the side of the road for three hours with two hungry kids while Greg dealt with mechanics and tow-trucks. Three hours of “Mama, I’m hungry” from one, and wailing from the other.  At least the screamer could use me as his personal vending machine. I quieted the other with a stick of Trident.

Paying to repair the car meant the travel budget had now crossed over into credit card territory. We caught no fish. It rained. And a tick the size of Bora Bora embedded itself into Kacey’s cranium.

By the time we left, we didn’t even have enough money to do laundry, so we made a bee-line straight for Mom & Dad’s house. When we arrived, I placed Kevin on their doorstep. I rang the bell and ran back to the car, leaving a note on his chest that read, “My family is destitute. Will you please feed us, give us a dry bed, and let us wash our dirty laundry?”

At the end of our “vacation” we were frustrated, beyond broke, and taking home a child with a serious lymphatic infection.

Our clothes, however, were spotless.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny

award-winning cockroaches and beached manatees

This is my bedroom.e2626-mybedroom
I like my bedroom.
It’s dark and cool.
It’s comfortable.
The mattress is firm.
The pillows are fluffly.
Getting into bed is a wonderful end
to most days –
not generally an olympic event.

 
However, while we were in Fort Worth for the cowboy’s “Sadde Boy” competition, we bunked in the horse trailer. (No, not WITH the horse…the back 9/10 is the horse part, the front 1/10 is “living quarters”) I use the term “living quarters” very VERY loosely. It was akin to sleeping in an aluminum shoebox on wheels. The floor section, shaped like the state of Nevada, only had enough room for Kevin’s military-style cot, the step stool, and one standing human. As you can see from the picture, the interior has been gutted, so the walls were bare except for the lovely remnants of brown wood glue. Everytime we turned on the light it threw a breaker. Our “camping spot” was on the gravel parking lot wedged between dozens of $200K motor homes.  We looked like the redneck MIssissippi cousins.
4933242152_44ebfc5025One aspect of the weekend I found particularly enjoyable was the 2-block hike to the bathroom located upstairs and inside the dormitory of the Fairground Swine Building of the Will Rogers Equestrian Center across the street from the National Cowgirl Museum.  Yee. Haw.  When I first stepped into the dark, abandoned concrete shower, which was creepy enough to be the setting where my horror movie doppleganger will die gruesomely,  I was startled by an enormous hog left behind from last weekend’s judging – no wait, that’s just a prize-winning cockroach. He and I did NOT get along. It was a quick shower.

The most entertaining part of the weekend, for those lucky enough to witness it (my 14-year-old son), was me, trying to get into the sleeping bunk of the trailer. Even with the step stool, I was only chest-high to the metal platform. After numerous and wildly unsuccessful attempts to fling my leg up onto the platform, I finally had Kevin stand on his cot, and lift the air mattress up to the ceiling. This allowed me to bend to a 90-degree angle, then roll my entire body onto the platform under the air mattress, much like an injured manatee rolling herself onto the beach. I then spun the opposite direction until I was against the wall, allowing Kevin to drop the mattress. At this point I got onto my hands and knees and crawled onto the mattress. Lying down, there was a good 7 inches between my face and the ceiling. Now to get undressed. Uh oh.  I couldn’t lift my legs – no room. Tried lying in a fetal position and wiggling. No luck with that either. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to manage the removal of my clothing. Why didn’t I get into my pj’s BEFORE I clamored up there? I DON’T KNOW. But I sure as heck wasn’t getting back down and then up again! So I called down to Kevin,
“Kevin, help me pull my pants off.”
“Yeah, right, mom.”
“Please, Kevin, I can’t do it.”
“Like that’s gonna happen. I don’t think so.”
“But Kev, I need help!”
“Suck it up and sleep in your clothes, mom!”
“Kevin, please please.” (Imagine a whiny, cartoony voice at this point.)
Kevin begins to giggle hysterically at the thought of my not having enough room to perform this function for myself, and at the audacity that I would even dare ask his help with undressing. Then, of course, there was the mental image of him actually helping me with this, which, I have to confess, was really really funny.
“Keeeeevvvvviiiinnnn, pleeeeeaaaaassssseeee!!!!!”
More giggling. This time from both of us.
This went on for about 20 minutes until we were in tears.

After we fell into a good sleep, probably from the exhaust fumes of all the other motor homes, we were awakened by an 8.3 earthquake – a crash, a jolt and the sound of breaking glass.  Oh wait, that was just the cowboy backing his truck INTO our trailer. Luckily, the only thing he broke was his passenger side mirror.

Extreme Mustang Makeover – reservations for next year have already been secured at the Hyatt Regency downtown Fort Worth.