Otherwise Known As Camping

Every circus has a tent, or two.  We barely had one. But with a stocked cooler of water & beer, and a package of hot dogs, we embraced the onset of temporary insanity and left the safety and comfort of our modern amenities for an adventure in temporary homelessness ... otherwise known as camping.

Punkin Testing The Tent
We love spending time outdoors in our local state parks, so when a friend invited us to tag along on an overnight excursion, we jumped on it.  It would be a hands-on learning experience, to let us know what lessons or future purchases we would need to someday become true campers... outdoorsmen... survivalists.  After all, we are halfway through 2012.  Isn't it time we get prepared? 

We would be camping in a large grassy yard, next to a lake, and behind a travel trailer that had become a permanent structure on the lot, that we would have access to.  The girls would be sleeping safely in the trailer, and Hubs and I would share a super-single sleeper tent, that seemed to be roomy enough for two.  Notice I said "seemed", but that's an issue I'll revisit later.  The trailer also had a lovely thing I like to call "plumbing", and mankind's greatest gift to itself... air conditioning.

True to it's recent reputation, the day was hot.  Hot, like Buster Poindexter eating a tamale on Liz Taylor's tin roof... hot.  As soon as the cars were unpacked, and the tents set up, we high tailed it to the lake beach for a refreshing swim.  Okay, so the water was about eighty degrees, but when the heat index is one hundred and fifteen, even a warm bath is somewhat refreshing.

We had a blast floating up and down on the swells created by passing boats and jet skiers.  Punkin discovered fresh water clams buried in the sand, and recruited Bee (our hostess) in digging up a small bushel.  We practiced our people watching, most of whom were in rare form.  Let's just say it was evident that Lake Royale was no South Beach.  After a few hours, we retreated back to the campsite in search of food, however that hunt became a search for the campsite!  But this episode of LOST was one of the best parts of the day... an extra hour of riding in the back of Jay's pickup truck, along those little country lanes!  Jay even did a little off roading, accidentally of course, but that doesn't negate the enjoyment.   

Malibu and Vegas
We coaxed a true summer feast out of two small gas grills:  hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob roasted within the husk, and baked beans, with watermelon and potato chips.  The fire pit was fueled, and the beer began to flow.  It was about that time that the party crashers arrived. 

Party Crasher
No, not "Vegas and Malibu",  the friends from Raleigh that showed up with bags of graham crackers, Hershey bars, and marshmallows.  I'm speaking of the wolf spiders that crawled out of the grass to investigate our tent!  The "smores smugglers" were a welcomed addition to the evening, partly because I'm quite fond of them, and partly because they offered me a ride back to the city if the spider situation got out of hand.  I did not take them up on it, but I almost wish that I had.

Quirky Docksiders
After a little conversation (and some quirky behavior) on the dock, we headed back over to the lake for a belated fourth of July fireworks show.  (Yaaay, back into the pickup truck!).  We stood at the end of the dam, where we could watch the techs lighting the fuses by hand, and the explosions were right over our heads.  Of course, we had to stand in the grass for an hour, because we didn't think to bring chairs.  Not even a blanket or a beach towel.  Seating became a major issue for me by the end of the night.

With spiders on my mind, and an unbelievable ache in my back, the night took a darker turn for me at that point.  Irritable and moody, I climbed onto the hood of the car to rest my throbbing feet, and watched as everyone danced around, and even through (I know, men are idiots) several colorful fountains of sparks.  The girls battled each other with sparkler swords.  The firepit popped with firecrackers, and glowed in a mist of red and green smoke bombs. When the smoke cleared and the sparks died out, most of the group disappeared into the darkness on the dock.  Hubsy fed the fire until it satisfied his latent pyromania, and then vanished into the darkness behind Bee and the Jayman, leaving me alone and frustrated.  I would have joined them, but again, no seating.  Every chair on the dock was "occu-pado", and my legs were as heavy as "hippo-pados", so I waited.  Upon Hubsy's return, he listened to me vent, and like a snake oil salesman, he suggested a remedy to cure my most pressing ailment ...  full sobriety.  On such a sweltering day, I opted to keep bottles of water nearby, rather than beer, for the entire day.  Now it was late, and I was thinking "Better late than never!"

The Princess and the Sugar High
I must take a moment to mention that my girls were handling this whole experience very well.  They, too, think fondly of our friends, and they thoroughly enjoyed being allowed to sit among the adults and participate in the mature conversation (although mature might be pushing it a little).  I'm sure that deep inside they were engaged in some serious Darwin-like observation, and making mental notes of everything said and done.  They were living it up on the temporary reprieve of their soda restriction, and the marshmallowy gooeyness provided by Vegas, the self proclaimed "best smores maker ever".  By the way, who ever decided that smores were the perfect snack on a camp out was probably not sober at the time, either.  If you should decide to partake of this decadent dessert, make sure to be near a water source, or bring plenty of wet wipes!

Men and Their Fire
When much of the crew left the dock and retreated to the comfort of the trailer for a while, Hubs and I confiscated the dock chairs, and set them up around the fire, for some comfort of our own.  Since the battery of Jay's truck was wearing down, from playing the radio all day, Hubs turned it off and turned on the music player on his Kindle Fire.  Malibu and Vegas headed back to the city, and Bee and Jay joined us on the lawn.  The kids were sent to bed, and they reluctantly obeyed, although popped out a few more times to test the waters.

The rest of the evening was reserved for the remaining adults.  We shared a few scary stories in true campfire style, but it didn't take long for us to realize that, at some point, we had morphed into the walking dead.  The time had come to test the tent theory, and my theory had been disproved.  The super single sleeper tent was not large enough for Hubs and I sleep, even uncomfortably so.  The body heat of two adults who had been active in the sun all day turned the small space into a sweltering tropical dungeon.  After about thirty minutes, we were clambering to get out and worship what I came to know as "Sweet Mother Oxygen".  Indeed the night air was sweet and cool with a slight breeze coming off the water.  We sat on the dock in the small hours of the twilight, listening to a flock of geese honking and squawking in the darkness, and trying to figure out if our eyes were playing tricks on us, or were we really seeing little critters on the lawns around us.  We completely enjoyed the peace and serenity of our environment, until deciding to seek slumber from the reclining bucket seats of the car.  It came complete with air conditioning and soft music.

I managed to coax twenty minutes of rest out of the night.  Hubsy was blessed with a solid two hours.  At six in the morning, I went inside for the benefit of ... plumbing, and discovered that, while the Princess snoozed soundly on the sofa bed, Punkin hadn't had a minute of sleep either.  And so the first fireside meeting of the Biancos was called to order, and we second and thirded the motion to get the hell out of there!  Not wanting to seem like ungrateful campsite flee-ers,  we cleaned up the area of scattered debris from the previous night, wrote a farewell note, packed up, and headed back to, what I have come to call "Sweet Mother Home".  Does anyone see a pattern developing here? 

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