Monday, July 6, 2009

Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road?

Friday afternoon as we were following Leslie, Ryan and grandkids on our way to meet Abby for a South Dakota camping trip, I started thinking about how it had been at least 15 years since we had camped with both girls at the same time. All at once it occurred to me that with Abby moving to Ecuador in January, this was probably going to be our last family camping trip. I was feeling sad and depressed that I'd probably never get to camp with both girls together again. All the memories of those early camping trips filled my head. Memories like Leslie's disappointment that Yellowstone Park didn't have swings and a slide, or Abby sitting patiently with bread on her head hoping a bird would eat it. Then I remembered that at one point during the teenage years, after one of those "wonderful" family outings, Dean and I looked at each other and said, "why are we doing this? Do we enjoy torturing ourselves?" All at once a final family outing didn't seem like such a sad event. But now I'm back home and this camping trip was better than great and I want to have more, but I'm sure it was our last with everybody, and once again I'm feeling sad and nostalgic.

Once we all arrived at the campsite the first order of business was to set up camp. For Leslie and Ryan that meant doing whatever you do to get a popup camper ready for occupancy. For Dean and I that meant putting up our tent. However, since it was raining, and tents are better put up in dry weather, some of us sat in the car watching while the camper was prepared and then sat inside the camper while the awning was set up. I admit to being a tent-snob and make no excuses for my belief that "camping in a trailer is not camping". However, I'm embarassed to say that it was me who sat in the camper as the awning was set up and sat in the camper until the rain stopped so we could put up our tent, but really, that's not alot different than sitting in your car while you wait for the rain to stop is it?

It seems Dean's membership in the Safety Committee at work didn't carry over into the real world

but the awning was erected, the camper was ready, the rain stopped and we put up our tent.

Once our weekend homes were ready we moved on to the picnic table shelter. This was a relic from the 80s that Leslie and Ryan brought along which required much reading of instructions and scratching of heads. By the end of the weekend we all decided it might have worked better if the openings had faced the benches. And if the purpose truly was to keep insects out, the big bumblebee and other flying bugs who joined us didn't get the word.

We actually saw a bit of sun Saturday morning

and then took a perfectly timed tour of Wind Cave which lasted just long enough to avoid the afternoon rain.

At one point during the tour Myra, now all of four years old, got going a bit too fast down one of the narrow, sloping walkways and in the interest of preventing a nose-dive with ensuing sobbing inside a cave filled with strangers I asked her to slow down. She stopped, looked down at her feet and said, "Feet! Stop running!"

It was a long day for some of us.

Saturday night we went to the fireworks display in Custer. We managed to find a spot approximately 100 yards away from the staging area and we were so close to the fireworks that not only could we hear them explode but we could feel the ground vibrate. During one series of explosions I felt like I was on the Starship Enterprise. "Warp drive, please Mr. Sulu".

Almost as entertaining as the fireworks was the drive back to camp afterwards. First we sat in our car, one of hundreds of other cars, engines running, going literally nowhere. Ryan and Leslie were ahead and finally creeped ahead far enough to take a left into an alley that Ryan thought would be a way out of the gridlock. Not to be left behind, Dean followed. The alley went up a steep hill and as we were nearing the top Leslie got out of their truck, came over to our car window and said, "this is a steep hill and Ryan needs some sp..." next thing you know gravel is flying, tires are spinning, and Leslie is running toward their white pickup. The pickup began moving faster, reached the top of the hill and turned the corner and we watched as Leslie kicked it up a notch running for all she was worth. The passenger door was open and I had visions of my daughter diving into the truck, legs hanging out the door as it continued moving. Fortunately, once Ryan reached the street he stopped and she safely got into her seat.

One afternoon as we walked back to camp from the lake Leslie and I kept hearing squeaking. It was very loud and persistent squeaking. We searched for a bird's nest and just as we were about to give up a woodpecker flew over to a tree and fed the babies that were hidden inside. Those babies never stopped squeaking/chirping the whole time we watched. It must have been very annoying for the parent to bring the food and still hear persistent complaining.

We also saw deer, buffalo, fish, heron, and a poodle. I mention the poodle because I was informed by my daughters that when the air is humid my hair curls up like a poodle. Later, when another camper walked by with an honest to goodness poodle I questioned their judgement but they wouldn't back down.

All in all we had great food, great company, great conversation, great smells and sounds and views and a terrific weekend.

Finally, why does the turtle cross the road? I don't know but I can tell you that he does. On the road to the campground, as you pass by the lake there is a sign that reads, "Caution, Turtle Crossing." One afternoon as we were driving on that road we actually saw a turtle who was just beginning that dangerous journey across the road. I hope he made it.◦

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I love the pictures! They turned out great. It was a lot of fun. Too bad about our truck. :(