Sunday, June 10, 2012

Memorial Day Hell.

Memorial Day weekend.  I could end the story with that one fragment of a sentence, but what would be the fun in that?  I swear, between my kids and the dog, there's never any reprieve.  Every year, I get all excited right around Memorial Day weekend.  The planning take hold, lists are compiled--this sudden urge for the perfect summer-kick-off-weekend is always on the forefront.  It's as though if the first summer weekend is perfect, the rest of the summer season will fall easily into place.  And as my children are getting older, these summers feel more and more important--to me, if not to anyone else.

And so this year, after the last two DISASTER camping trips on Memorial Day weekend, I was bound and determined to have the perfect summer-kick-off.  Lists were made--from camping supplies to the food we'd bring.  Great preparation was taken going through all of the gear, with another shopping trip getting all the supplies that were either missing, broken, or seemingly essential for this year's trip.  Marissa and I spent two hours filling the cart, deciding on what was needed and even putting back some things that seemed silly to buy (i.e. the plastic carton to hold the eggs).  I strategically packed the Sorento, perfecting this job with ease and skill that the women in my family all seem to have.

As we hit the road, kids were happily listening to their music, dog found a comfy spot between them both, and there was excitement in the air.  Granted it was a bit windy out, but we figured it'd either die down or it wouldn't be that bad in the location we were headed.  Before hitting up the lake, Brandon would be playing in his last soccer game of the season.  His game went well--they won once again, Gates enjoyed chilling under the tree with Kent, and I sat and watched the game with Riss.  Perfection was still looming all around, and I was happy.

Two and a half hours later, we piled back into the Sorento and hit the road lake bound.  We were all quite anxious to arrive, set up the tent, and get our camp on!  Oh yeah.  The ride itself was enjoyable--in other words, there was no arguing or bickering or moments where I wanted to pull over to beat some kids.  Yup, good trip.

Upon arrival, the wind seemed to take notice and apparently wanted to greet us.  Kent and I made our way down to introduce ourselves to some of my sister's friends (who were also camping for the weekend--except in campers, not tents) and figure out where to sent up our site.  The wind was approaching 25 miles an hour at this point.

The lake was beautiful.  Gates was getting along famously with Body (sister's boyfriend's dog).  Kids were happy.  My husband kept giving me the look of "Yeah, this isn't going to end well," which I was pleasantly avoiding.

"Babe," he began.  I looked toward the lake.  "Babe," he said a bit louder.  I turned my head and flashed a beautiful smile toward him.  The smile that always makes him melt.  He grinned back, shook his head, and asked, "Where are thinking this tent's going up?  It's going to be like a kite in this wind."

"It'll be fine," I answered nodding over toward the trees.  Perfect.  I mean the trees will totally block the wind, right?  "How about in there?  Next to the water, in the trees."  The kids were all for it, running toward "our" spot.  They began clearing branches, making sure our spot was ready.

"You do realize this site is at an incline?" he questioned.

"Yeah, that's fine.  We'll face the water--it'll be fine."  I honestly had no idea whether or not it'd be fine.  At this point the wind picked up to about 30 miles per hour.

"Honey, you do realize it's all sand over here."

"Kent, it's FINE.  Plus the sand makes it easier for the tent stakes to go into the ground."  Which was completely true.  No need for the mallet over here!

By this time the dogs were running through the water, chasing each other and having a grand old time.  I was pleased that Gator was doing so well!  After all, he'd never been off leash like this before--except at home every now and then.  But never in public.  And he was behaving.  This was going to be the perfect weekend.

Kent and the kids started unloading the camping supplies and bringing them down to the site.  I was supervising (the MOST important job, if you ask me).  Kent was unrolling the tent, getting the long tent thingies put together, and I was putting the stakes into the tabs.  "Wow, babe, this is easy breezy!"  The tent stakes slid right into the sand, no problem.  I thought back to last year when I was pounding them into the rock--yeah, that was awful.

And it was perfect.

For about 10 seconds.

Then this gust of wind picked up our tent, with no regard for the tent stakes I meticulously put into place.  "Sit on the tent while I try to put the tent rods in," Kent directed.  And so I sat.

And the moment I got up, the tent soared into the air, with sand flying straight into our eyes.  "This isn't going to work," he started and I had no choice but to agree.  Sand was everywhere--the tent stakes were now buried, but without the tent.  Yeah, the wind was going to win this one.

I headed over to the others to tell them of our dilemma, when I heard Brandon and Marissa screaming for Gator.  He had long tired of the water and running with Body, and decided to jump the fence across the way.  The fence that housed the farmer's cows.  "Ah, shit," I mumbled and started to whistle for the damn dog.

He was going nowhere but after the cows.  And that's when I saw this big ole' cow begin to jump two fences, with Gator right on her heel.  He was barking and herding her.  And we were all screaming for him to "COME!"  Yeah, he didn't listen.  And that when we saw the heifer lift her leg and give Gates a huge kick.  Marissa started screaming and crying, and I began to worry.  I know the power behind those kicks--not first hand, but from my sister who is a dairy farmer, and has had her fair share of injuries.  Thinking my poor dog was killed, I lunged toward the field, yelling his name.  Kent was on my heels.

And that's when I saw him, the prodigal son returning home.  He was limping, made his way in-between the barbed wire fence, and collapsed right at my feet.  "We're going to have to take him to the vet!" I told Kent, afraid his leg was broken.  Marissa was now in hysterics when another camper headed toward us.

"If the farmer sees any dogs chasing his cow, he'll shoot them on site."  That was enough to send Marissa and Brandon over the edge.  Suddenly my angel babies turned into mafia maniacs and were ready to come unglued on the farmer.

"We are going.  Let's packed up and blow this clam bake.  We can go camping in a hotel, with a pool and room service, but I'm done with this!"  the mama bear had spoken.  Kent took Gates and walked off his injury.  He was fine, just a bit shaken up.  Within a few minutes his limp was gone.

So another year, another Memorial Day weekend that bit the dust.  And I've decided that next year, should we want to ring in the summer, we will do so poolside.  As for camping in Colorado, May is simply too early.

We did make it home, safe and sound.  Ordered pizza and movies that night, went bowling the next night, and ended up having a great weekend--tent-free!

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