In mid-June, we headed down to southern Alabama to visit Ray’s parents. We started the trip with a two night stay at Tim’s Ford State Park in Tennessee. We had a beautiful campsite, within view of the lake, which the kids and I walked down to that first day.
Ray’s camping trip can be summed up as “worked on fire, slept, worked on fire, ate, worked on fire, went to pool, worked on fire… Breakfast Sunday morning was the only time he was able to cook a “real meal.”
Because there was no fire until about ten o’clock on our first night, the kids hadn’t been able to cook s’mores. So, here they are making s’mores for breakfast. I figure it’s not any worse than donuts, right?
While Ray worked on the fire, the Dude learned to use a pocket knife, kids hunted for bugs, went to the playground, and Boo celebrated her new flip flops.
We headed to Mass at a lovely little church in Winchester, TN. A quick trip to Walmart afterward turned into an hour long extravanganza – ’cause what trip to Wally World doesn’t? – and when we came out it was pouring down rain. Questioning whether I had really closed all the windows on the tent, we headed back to the camp rather than hitting the Jack Daniels distillery. Windows were closed. Tent perfectly dry. Thank you, Coleman.
We ate lunch in the tent while it rained, but were blessed with clear skies for a couple of hours, during which time we hit the pool. We were especially excited to see Bear overcome his fears of the water and even stand in the big pool with his life vest but no death grip on my hand. Somehow, though, the baby pool held the biggest attraction for the bigger kids.
A storm chased us from the pool, and we spent the remainder of the day and night sheltering from the rain. Fortunately, I had brought a few board games and books along, and the Dude generously shared his iPod.
It wasn’t until Ray and I were ready to call it a night that I started to think about all the possibilities… we were now alone in the campground – all the other campers had packed up that morning. In my tired mind, this opened up all sorts of possibilities for bear attacks and axe murderers. The storm added the possibility of tornadoes, lightening strikes, and trees falling on the tent. The fact that Ray brought his hatchet to bed with him did not allay my fears. I didn’t discover until morning that he had also tucked his pocket knife under his pillow.
By morning, the rain had cleared, leaving us with a very wet campsite to pack up. The entertainment value of whittling and hunting for bugs had long ago been exhausted, and the kids took up the universal cry of boredom while Ray once again struggled with the fire. I finally convinced him that we could get our coffee at Starbucks and didn’t really need the fire (little did I know that the south is incredibly devoid of Starbucks.) We packed up the site – a job that only took about three hours. Everyone was on edge, and it was not a pretty experience. The crowning glory occurred when we finally got in the car, Ray turned the key, and… nothing. The battery had died from leaving the doors open with the lights on. While we waited for our jump to arrive, I made lemonade from lemons and took the kids on a little hike – I actually think the dead battery was God’s way of providing the hike I had been longing for but hadn’t been able to sneak in during the packing. While it didn’t last long, it was one of the best parts of the weekend.