Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Adventures in Camping, and/or, We Got a New Dog

Oy vey, Dilligent Readers, it's been a minute, am I right? Yes. Yes, I am. But fear not, I have many exciting (or not) stories to share! Such as the fact that, for the first time in 7 years, I went *camping*. I know!

See, for YOU, camping might rank up there with a big fat yawn and a "so what" but for ME, camping is pretty much my personal equivalent of finishing the Tour de France or running a marathon, or pretty much anything else where you need a lot of endurance and a possible blood transfusion.

Blood doping aside, I obviously survived the weekend. But it was touch and go friends, touch and go.

First off, I was excited because I'd brought my big fat air mattress. Queen size. About 2 or 3 FEET off the ground. I inflated it with Ye Olde Battery-Powered Air Pump. After about 3 hours, I noticed that it was finally full. Yay! But wait, what was that ominous hissing sound?! Oh. A huge leak. AWESOME. So, I had to sleep my Princess-and-the-pea pampered ass on the cold, unforgiving terra firma. NOT good.

The kids slept nicely on their small air mattress. Being the good mother I am, I resisted the temptation to yank it from under their wee little slumbering bodies and haul my aching carcass onto the sweet, sweet air-filled comfort. They OWE me.

Then, the first night we were there, it was (typical Indiana weather) and a bizarre cool-down....which meant it was about 40 degrees that night. C O L D. Lucky for me though, The Man brought *choices* in sleeping bags. I chose the cold-weather bag. Let me clarify though: this wasn't just ANY cold-weather bag. This was a MILITARY issue "mummy bag." Like so:

This is such a serious bag that it has *instructions* on the inside. Like: "For EMERGENCY EXIT (all caps, naturally), grab edges of bag and pull to release zipper." Emergency exit? Oh yes, if you're caught sleeping by the enemy, or if you just get so hot you're melting. Either one, really. But a bag with emergency exits? That's a serious ass sleeping bag.

And because our military does NOT mess around, even in its sleeping bags, it was WARM, friends. Your Favorite Writer was nice and toasty, while next to me, ever gallant (heh) The Man shivered his handsome manly parts right off. That's what you GET for making me go camping, The Man. Make a note.

After I'd (finally) drifted into a troubled sleep (thanks to the lumpy evil ground) I was awakened by a noise. Noise-EZ. Plural. I immediately elbowed The Man. Velma-from-Scooby-Doo style, I couldn't see a bloody thing and my glasses were MIA.

"Oh wow! It's a ton of raccoons!" The Man exclaimed.

See, normally I'd be all "awwwww, I want to hug one!" you know, because they're cute with little adorable people-fingers. And yet, when I'm sleeping on the ground in a mummy sleeping bag, with a huge Bloods/Crips gang of the little suckers only a foot away from my head, they're not cute. Actually, they're probably rabid. I read a book about a person who was infected with rabies, and it basically made him turn into a crazy vampire. And then he died. Sure, it was fiction, but I'm pretty sure that it would happen that way. I can't take chances.

Also, raccoons think that root beer is the business, in case you weren't aware. I wasn't aware, until one of the little thugs found a can that the kids had helpfully left under the picnic table. Then, I had to listen to the rabid sucker drowning his sorrows in root beer. He liked it so much, he tried to eat the can. Then, he just took the can WITH him, probably to reverse engineer root beer back at the raccoon crib.

As they were leaving, they all kicked the aluminum camping trash can for good measure, since it was bungee corded shut. I'm pretty sure they were cursing in raccoon-language, but it basically just sounded like weird chirping noises, so I couldn't tell for sure.

Once we fell back asleep, we were all (children included) awakened a couple hours later by the sound of rain on the tent. The Man said we'd be fine unless it poured. It pretty much poured. Water came in, but unpredictably, so a good cold rain drop to the eye added suspense AND excitement at three in the AM. You know another thing I like about my house? A roof. Without holes that drip.

In the morning, we all enjoyed breakfast, which only took about 2 hours to make. You know, 1 hour and 50 minutes to light the awesome camping stove and then 5 minutes to cook the bacon. Bacon was a highlight. Bacon is usually a highlight.

We then spent the next 3 hours after breakfast trying to decide if we were going to risk the weather that day, because it totally looked like rain. I was very vocal about my dislike for rain. Think: cat stuck outside. That's my general disposition when I get rained upon.

Luckily, the area we were camping in happened to be on an active duty military base. Sweet. That basically means that serial killers are kept out - well, unless they have a military ID, but random roving serial killers are for sure not allowed. Also, there was an inground pool nearby, as well as lodging. I personally voted for lodging, but SOME people were all "that's not the point of camping" and I was all "I KNOW, that's MY point." Aaaanyway, in the lodging lobby we were able to find a tv with the weather channel (as well as the Spongebob channel) and a pot of sweet, sweet coffee. Win! I would have happily camped in the lobby, but The Man decided it didn't look like rain, and we should continue with our plans. I disagreed heartily, but decided to Martyr Up, and subject everyone to my hostile and frosty silence.

Then, we rented a pontoon boat, so I could command things about tacking the jib and yell "iceberg, right ahead" randomly. We were in the middle of the lake when Clark Griswold and I noticed that the motor wasn't sounding right. He gave it some gas and it would just sputter and hum and not really speed up. Luckily, it worked enough to move us.....just very...slowly. Luckily it worked at ALL because we'd left our cell phones back in the car. In the parking lot. (Although even if we had the phones, who would we call? And reception there was spotty at best.)

While on the lake, we did see two real live bald eagles. They were circling low to the water, and quite majestic. I also left my damnable camera in the car. Double win!

Finally, we putted slowly back to the dock, and told the 12 year old on duty about the motor. It didn't usually do that, according to the tween. I announced that I knew all about boats, including which side port is (hint: it's left, and they both have 4 letters. You're welcome.) and frankly, motors shouldn't do that. Okay, I really just jumped onto the dock and hid from the evil wasps that congregate there. But I do know about port.

We were in luck, readers, because the day started to heat up. We went swimming. This was the highlight (other than bacon) of my camping experience. Mainly because it wasn't anything like camping. It was like lounging, which I basically have a doctorate in. I sipped a Coke Zero and watched The Man show the kids basic swim techniques. In case you wondered, I don't swim much, either. I mean, I can, but my hair takes about 4 hours to dry and I don't like being chlorine-y. I'm very low maintenance, no?

That night, I was deliriously happy, pretty much because we got to leave in the morning. I fantasized about my bed, clean sheets, scrubbing the scent of Deep Woods Off right off my body forever. Ahhhh. Then I spent the hours left hiding from gnats (seriously, WTF. The gnats here are PSYCHOTIC. They flew into my eyes about a billion times. GROSS.) and waiting to go to bed.

The kids were so tired, they basically elected to go to bed early. Yes, yes you can. Then The Man and I sat 'round the glorious campfire and stared at each other for a few hours before we could go to bed. The awesome cold-rated mummy bag that had saved my life the first night was now about 500 degrees. Not awesome. So I thrashed around and tried to use it for comfortable padding, but it wasn't that padded, and not very comfortable. I woke up about 500 times, and then finally sat up, excited that I could see daylight. Yay! I didn't waste any time getting dressed and packing the Crappy American SUV.

I was sore, tired, sweaty, dirty, and covered with Off. HOTness personified in other words. But because I'm an *awesome* daughter (as well as human being) I stopped and saw both my parents. Then, after donuts and visiting, we headed for home.

But first? We had to stop to pick up our newly adopted dog. I know, I know. I'd told you all my Brilliant Plan. I changed said Plan for the sake of the CHILDREN. You can't really argue with that, frankly. I'd been stalking browsing through Craigslist a bit, and found a little girl English Mastiff who was being given up due to the owners' having severe dog allergies. (They kept their hypoallergenic poodle. Did you know poodles were hypoallergenic, just like good-quality earrings? Well now you do.) We met the family before we went camping and liked them and the dog and agreed to pick her up on the way back.

Here she is, Mia (previously named and we kept the name to minimize confusion) the Mastiff. Granted, she's small for a mastiff, but big for a dog. Ta da!

This was the picture that her former people had posted on Craigslist. You can't see how adorable her severe under-bite is, nor the fact that I painted her front toenails hot pink. I know, AWESOME.

My obese house cat is LESS than thrilled with the new addition to the fam. WAYYYY less than thrilled. There has been a lot of hissing, some angry clawing, and a bit of growling too, for good measure. The cat was willing to be brave and think about being in the same room with the dog, until the dog (still a puppy at 18 months) thought the cat was playing. There was some hopping, and cats don't really *like* dogs hopping around, so the cat is pretty much invisible unless he wants food. (Which really, isn't terribly out of the norm. My 4 year old affects him the same way.)

I'm ignoring my flaming anxiety hoping that they will work things out and be able to co-exist. Fingers crossed. Basically I'm giving everyone treats when they see each other so that they'll associate *awesome* delicious goodies with each other. The Internet said it would work. So did a very nice dog obedience lady I called. (And keep pestering.)

So there you have it. Your Favorite Writer is alive, mildly well, survived the horror that is camping, and has a new K-9 unit. Mazeltov!

Comments, questions, what's new in your part of the world?