Recently I went camping with the family. Technically, I guess you could call it cabining. Usually we do a weekend of tent camping sometime in September, but this year we thought it would be groovy to spend an October weekend enjoying some fall foliage. The Mister had found a campground in the mountains (which look more like hills to West Coast freaks like me) and suggested we book a two-bedroom cabin for the weekend. We soon found out that this idea had occurred to, oh, pretty much everybody else about 10 months ago, which left us with the option to camp Thursday and Friday night and shove off Saturday morning. Check in was 3:00 pm Thursday and, fearing the competition would be stiff for the creme de la creme of rustic accommodations, we decided to bust the kids out of school early. I called the school at eleven on Thursday to say I'd found nits in Slappy's hairbrush and arrived 20 minutes later, minivan packed with weenies, spare pillows, s'more supplies, alcohol, etc., to find Phartacus and Slappy enthusiastically scratching away in the nurse's office. We piled into the van and headed off for a weekend of relaxing, low tech, quality family time. Are you snickering yet?
The mountains (hills) were ablaze with color, and we scored a secluded cabin at the end of the gravel road. The Mister and I lugged bag after bag of "essentials" inside while Phartacus and Slappy lapped the cabin, shrieking like banshees to let all our neighbors know the fun had arrived. After settling in, we took a stroll through the woods and found a lovely stream. I took endless photos of trees (enjoy below), and we returned at dusk to find that we were locked out of the cabin. And the van, since I hadn't taken the keys on our stroll. The cabin had a battery-powered keypad entry, and after 15 minutes of arguing about the code we were given at check-in, The Mister set off on foot for the mile-plus hike in the chilly gathering dark to the main office in search of help.
90 minutes, two park employees and two AA batteries later, we were defrosting in front of a crackling fire, reading books, doing puzzles, playing games, and having *conversation*. THIS is what camping -- I mean cabining -- is all about. These precious moments that slip away all too soon. The quintessential family moment. Right? Laughing yet?
Cut to the second day. It rained all morning. Phartacus and Slappy soon tired of books, puzzles, games, conversation, and quintessential family moments and moved on to running in and out between the tiny main room and the tiny screened in porch, which featured a hydraulic-free screen door that slammed like a rifle going off. Highly relaxing. After a few hours the skies cleared, and the afternoon was filled with whining and brotherly brawling, interspersed with increasingly obnoxious interludes of fishing, rowboating, hiking, and marshmallows.
Come 6:00 pm, back with the crackling fire, and a good case of lumbago, and the rifle shot screen door and the fucking puzzles with pieces everywhere and the endless chattering nonsensical *conversation*, I was halfway through a bottle of wine and all the way through my patience for the weekend. When Phartacus complained about Slappy's game-playing deficiencies for the umpeenth time, I lost it and sent him out to the rocking chair on the screened in porch to shiver and reorganize his priorities for 10 minutes, followed by one of those Big Talks about gratitude and character that so adeptly makes children's eyes glaze over. I even busted out my mother's old line about "mistaking kindness for weakness" (Let me know if you haven't heard that one. It's a goody.) After the lecture, I retired grumpily to my lumpy mattress (making sure not to lie on the sloping side by the nightstand lest I roll off onto the floor) to lose myself in a strangely gratifying read about Vikings enthusiastically slaughtering 9th century Britains.
Saturday morning found me fervently (and stiffly) packing up the minivan, pathetically eager to say goodbye to low tech, quality family time. As soon as Phartacus and Slappy buckled their seatbelts, I handed them their Nintendo DS's and heaved a deep sigh of relief. The high tech drive home was pure bliss.