Sunday, July 29, 2007

Camping Trip - Oh Yeah!

The Gleason family ventured to Ginnie Springs over the weekend for some camping fun! We had special guests of Matthew G and Mark M. Mike packed the entire house (OK, he left a couple of things behind) and all of his nifty camping gimmicks with the 4 kids and his brother into his "Truck." Somehow, they all arrived in one piece and seemed happy when I arrived a few hours later. Not only had they arrived, but they had already set up all of the camp! Now, that is the way I like it! :) 3 tents, a canopy, 5 large Rubbermaid tubs, 7 chairs, an air matress, and four cots later, the campsite was ready for some action! I missed the steak dinner (apparently Matthew makes a mean steak and potatoes), but I was happy to be there for some relaxation and family time. We hung around the camp fire, went to the Dogwood spring, and just enjoyed the scenery.

During the night, there is a flashing light that I notice during my sound slumber. What is that? Is someone in our campground? Oh, it is Michael swearing that there are spiders in his tent. I sympathize as I distinctly remember snakes being in my bed as a child. However, I am too sleepy to be much help. He eventually gives up and talks Chris into letting him back into the tent.

Friday morning, the weather was perfect. We ate breakfast (cereal or peanut butter crackers), and we gathered our belongings for a trip down the river. Of course, a trip down the river, especially the first time of the trip, is no minor excursion. First, there is suntan lotion and some complaining by the kids. Second, there is some bug spray. Next, there is the strapping of the rafts (we use rafts instead of tubes) to the car. Finally, there is complaining about where to sit in the car even though the trip is 5 minutes. :) We drive to the entrance of the river and tie the rafts to each other so that we can relax and not lose anyone on the trip. After we argue about the order we should be tied in, we are all ready to go. WHOA......that water is COLD! Are you sure this is 72 degrees???

Matthew, our 5th child, has rushed away from us to find the illegal rope swing. Mike wonders if he will have broken his neck before or after we make it to the rope swing. Morgan is complaining that she is bored within 5 minutes. Oh yeah, this is why I work...:) All of the sudden, Chris is yelling for Mike to pull them out of the large area of grass (known as sea weed to some small people). Mike and I are laughing because you can't really pull people out when you are floating on a river. We try to explain (being the calm sensible parents that we are) that you need to face the back of the raft to where you want to go and paddle hard with your arms. Makes sense, should be no problem! Ha Ha Ha! "I can't do it Dad! There is sea weed. You are going to have to pull us!" has to go down as one of the top trip quotes. Slowly remembering why work isn't so bad. :)

We survive the trip with Michael swearing that he isn't going down the river any more and Chris saying that he doesn't want to go either. Morgan only wants to go if she doesn't have to be in the cold water. Katie isn't exactly thrilled with the thought of floating down the river again. Hmmmm...why did we come again? $35 later, we are now the proud owners of a "flower raft" that is a larger raft that does not force you to sit in the water to float down the river. Morgan is thrilled. I think we can try it and buy another one only if it is a great idea. (Yeah right, I should have just sucked it up and bought 2 or 3).

We finally threaten Michael with being alone at the campsite all alone is not an option, and we go for a second trip. Morgan loves the flower raft and proceeds to do rolls off of it into the water. Wait, I thought the idea was to stay dry? Katie and Michael try it and proclaim that it is worth me flushing another $35 down the drain. Matthew has showered so that he can hang with the Brunswick, GA crew and the "college boys from Jacksonville." I think he might have been sore from the many flights off the rope swing as well. :)

We have another blazing campfire Friday night, and we being Uncle Mark watch as he should be arriving around 9. I owe Mark a lot of things from being his younger sister, especially the extremely large tent we have. We had a nice small tent that would hold 4 of us well - maybe 6 if we really pushed it to the limit last year until Mark had to buy the Pretty Pretty Princess Tent with a Built in Shoe Rack. Remember, it is all for one person! Of course, Mike then had to go buy a bigger tent and a fan. The rest is history. So, we eat hobo dinners of chicken and veggies made on the fire and grill. Apparently, folding the foil tightly is an important step. Oops! Mike and Chris are the only ones with passing grades. Somehow, we all managed to eat. :) Mike then makes chocolate cake in a Dutch Oven on the grill. Quite the treat - Ok, Ok, I am sorry for saying it was weird - it was FANTASTIC! :) The kids decide that cake isn't enough and demand smores too. What the hell...camping without smores is dull. :)

Mark arrives and we set up his tent. The kids are wonderfully helpful and actually sweep his tent and set up his cot. Wow! Who are you and what have you done with the Gleason kids? As we are finishing with the Pretty Pretty Princess Palace, I ask Mark what the little ties are on the top of his tent. He says that they must not be important since they are still neatly tied up. Remember this...:) We all go to Dogwood Spring to cool off. Ahhhhh....that water is COLD!!!! I can't decide whether it feels really good or if I am totally miserable. Thankfully, Morgan is cold so I have to get out. :) We hang out by the campfire for a while enjoying the night before we go to bed. I love camping!

Saturday morning, we wake up to the cereal or peanut butter cracker routine again. I buy another raft. We do the ritual again to prepare for the river and head to the beginning. Mark wisely says he doesn't want to be tied to all of us during the trip. Matthew heads for the rope swing again. The flowers are a big success except that Katie and Micheal share the flower raft. They proclaim that it is not big enough for two people as originally thought. We avoid sea weed...all is good.

After we eat and hang out for a bit, we decide to go down the river again. Where is Mark? Mark, Mark...ohhhhh, he is sleeping!, we load up the car and head to the beginning. Uh oh...are those black clouds by the river? Hmmmm.....Mike suggests that we get in at Ginnie Spring instead of at the beginning as it looks ok there and it is just short trip. As we are entering the river, it is not looking good. I drive Mike crazy asking if we should get out. Finally, it is too late and we must continue down the river. Christopher takes it upon himself to swim us to the Dogwood Spring which is a short walk to our campsite instead of going all the way to the boat dock. We hear some thunder in the distance, but no lighting is seen. There are at least 100 other people on the river around us. It must be ok if others are around, right? I hear Grams in my head...Lightening and water are BAD Amy! Mike thinks we can make the boat ramp. I think it is as good as any option since the spring entrance would take a while and then we would be walking. Chris protests and says, "But I don't want to die...." We laugh. He says ok. We keep going. Not far from our exit, it starts thundering and lightning more. I start swimming full speed to pull everyone to the exit faster. Chris has never slowed down in his paddling. :) Of course, we make it safely out of the river. Mike tries to imagine the calls he will get from Dana.

Apparently, Uncle Mark has woken up and forced himself out of the Pretty Pretty Princess Palace. He is frantically putting things under cover. Oh yeah, I guess we should be doing that instead of hanging out in the rain! :) Mike and the boys leave to go to the grocery store in town to get hamburger meat. The girls and I stay behind. Mark goes into the Palace. The sky falls. It rains. It pours. The old man snores. The thunder is on top of us, or maybe it is under us. It is LOUD. Who needs a light when lightning strikes 2 - 3 times a minute? I am freaking a little, but for some reason the girls are totally calm. I am in awe. It hasn't been long since a storm inside a house caused panic. They calmly watch some movie on the ipod. Remind me to write a thank you letter to Apple. I am too scared to look outside the tent as rain might come in. Katie notices that water is leaking in some on the floor. I am thrilled to have another challenge. We find towels and shirts to block where we think it is coming in and move everything off the floor. We wait and wait and wait. Still pouring.

Suddenly, I hear Mike. The conversation went something like this through the closed tent walls.

"Amy, where is Mark?"
"I don't know, I guess in his tent"
"Uh....I don't think so."

As I ponder what that means, I start to hear Mark's voice. Whew... I peak out the screen and see the Pretty Pretty Princess Palace in a pitiful heap on the ground. Mark says, "The palace has collapsed."

Apparently, the "pretty ties" from earlier WERE important after all. :) Three of his poles snapped under the pressure. Rainfall from the storm was somewhere between 5 - 7 inches in a couple of hours. FUN! I try to figure out where we can put Mark. He keeps giving me skeptical looks - sleep with you and the kids? Sleep in your van? Buy a cheap tent at the store? (ok, I wasn't thinking...nothing is cheap in the camp store). He isn't liking any of my creative ideas. :) We eat awesome hamburgers and hot dogs. It is raining, but we have fun. The boys beat their chests and start a fire in the rain. What are we going to do...SMORES! Mark decides to leave. The kids ask 50 times why Uncle Mark left and at least as many times verify that Mark was IN the tent when it collapsed. The rain didn't stop. It rained most of the night. ICKY...EVERYTHING is wet.

Sunday, it took 4.5 hours to pack up. I think that is a bit excessive and quietly think the though out loud. Michael astutely tells me that we either have too much stuff or too little effort. I love that comment. Matthew and the girls are way too worried about some little lizard to help much with the packing. Matthew earned the nickname of Lizard Boy. We head to the Twin Spring on the way out as we haven't ever been to that one.

We survive the ride home and frantically unpack before Mike flew out to New Orleans to be an Implementation Specialist Extraordinaire. I take the kids to Dana and return to the house for laundry, laundry, laundry. Is it really Sunday already?

1 comment:

  1. Everyone should be happy to know that I have designs for a new tent that should better fit my needs. (really just one need....that it will remain standing even during a mini flood).