Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Great Family Camping Adventure...pt1

...happened about a month ago. And it did not go at all as planned.

Several months ago my friend K went to South Dakota to visit my friend S.

Crazy Horse in South Dakota

I admit I was a bit jealous because I would have liked to visit too. I've known S since high school after all, when K was only 3 years old. And now my friend is being friends with my other friend and I cant go!? (Actually, I probably could have gone but I didn't make arrangements because I didn't think I could and I really shouldn't be so petty anyway. Its a good thing that my friends like each other, right?)

A few weeks before camping S's sister said her family and K's were going up to go camping with S's family in South Dakota and would we like to go? Yes, we would like to go but we only have 2 sleeping bags and 1 small 2-man tent which we haven't used in 12 years. So no, probably not.

But I really wanted to spend some time with my friends and the kids have never been camping. It's only for 2 days after all, so yes, I guess we will go.

Wait? Where are we gonna sleep? We called around and were able to borrow a large 2 room tent, more sleeping bags, coolers, lanterns, camp stove, the works. Great!

Wait? Who will watch the dogs while we're gone? OK. That's covered.

Wait? How much does it cost? I assume we have to pay for the site or something. Between $2-3 a person we were told. So for 2 nights that's about $30 give or take. I guess we can manage that. (Gabe's business is still quite slow mind you, and we are still living off of savings, which is dwindling rapidly.)

So now, about a week before the trip we are good to go. (All this time and for a long time before I've been mentioning to Gabe that the car is acting up and we need to get it looked at. I mean, I'm just a dumb girl with no knowledge of cars at all but it seems like the transmission is a little wacky. But what do I know? Gabe agrees that it probably need to be looked at but neglects to do anything about it...)

Then Gabe talks to J, S's husband. J informs us that actually the camp sites are 8 persons per site (so we pretty nearly fill that up) and they are $30 per night. Twice as much. Plus we have forgotten that it'll probably take 2 tanks of gas just to get to South Dakota from here. Another $120.

Oh. Deflate. (This is why I tend to avoid telling the kids our plans until we are actually there. The whine and waterworks times 4 is grating to say the least. However, Gabe tends to spill the beans earlier.)

We inform J that because of finances we don't think we can make it. Thanks for thinking of us, we miss you guys. J calls backs a few minutes later and offers to pay the campsite fees for us. Really? Wow! Thank you so much! After discussing it we are back on go with only 2 days til take off.

The girls and I spend parts of 2 days packing and baking cookies and bread and graham crackers for s'mores. Gabe picks up all the camp equipment that we are borrowing and comes home with more than we planned for. ( We have such generous friends!)

Friday morning we have breakfast, pack our last minute items and get the dogs ready for their house guest. Gabe spends an hour or 2 packing up the van and deciding what must go and what need to stay for lack of room. (We need to learn to use the luggage rack on top, the girls could barley breath and it's a 5-6 hour drive.)

Everyone's in the car now except me. I'm giving the kitchen the last once over and grabbing my iced chai for the road. Gabe comes in and says the car wont start. Oh. He tried in vain to jump the van with his dinky little car. No go.

We called S and J to say that although we were ready to go our car was not. Gabe was still hopeful that we could get it moving but I was not so sure.

Two hours later the mechanic has said that we have a faulty battery which cost $100 to replace. And he said that the transmission is going out and ought to be fixed very soon. (The transmission! Hmmmm. Imagine that!) He said that while he couldn't guarantee that we could make it the 800 miles, he was pretty sure it would be OK. Pretty sure.

We've already spent $100 more than we planned and there will be over $100 more for gas just to be 'pretty sure' we wont break down somewhere in the middle of the great vast nothingness that is Wyoming.

Somewhere in Wyoming

(We had a previous car who's transmission went out and was repaired. Twice. We then went on a road trip to California. We broke down in Nevada. Another wide empty space. Thankfully we had just pulled into a little town, but we were only an hour or so from our planned destination for the weekend. We were forced to stay in a hotel for the weekend instead. And we bought a car over the phone and left that one there.)

Deflate again. The car is still packed full and the girls are still hopeful, but we cannot, in good judgement, travel so far with 4 young children in a van so jam packed that even the smallest can't shift her bum 2 inches to the left, when we only
maybe will be able to take the 800 miles in 1 weekend with out breaking down.

Now, despite the fact that I am the least likely candidate to even suggest camping in the first place, I am also the most positive of the bunch. I had been going back and forth in my head as to whether or not there is a reasonably priced place nearby that we could camp. Nothing came to mind so I had planned to check the Internet. Until Gabe said we needed to avoid driving the van as much as possible. Nix the driving all over the Colorado mountains idea.

Colorado mountains (a bit hazy)

So we'll pitch camp in the yard.

*Moans* *Pouts* and *Whines* "I really wanted to go to South Dakotaaaa."

"Yes I know. We all did, but unfortunately that didn't work out."

Even Gabe seemed skeptical and showed signs of rebellion.

"No," says I, "we are pitching camp in the yard and were going camping this weekend as planned. We'll still have fun. You'll see." be continued.