It’s Not the Destination, But the Journey

Oregon Trip Day 1

IMG_7384We couldn’t avoid it. 8 hours in a car.

To get to our Oregon Beach mansion, we would need to make a long, long drive. With 2 boys, age 8 and 12.

Here’s a quick breakdown. No one was murdered. For all you who bet against that, pay up.

So we packed half the house, lept into the car, and plugged in the flux capacitor –  which doubles as a phone charger – and we were off. Not back to the future. To Lincoln City.

Crossing the border was no problem. The fellow was even friendly. Who knew they hired friendly border guards? No snarky remarks. No nasty looks. No rubber gloves and ‘please bend over, sir’.

However, no sooner had we cleared Seattle than our phones told us we’d used up all our travel data!

WTF?

How? HOW?

Immediately, we shut down everything. All data streams. All GPS. All videos about cats. We had to go dark until we reached a wifi zone.

We took the legendary I-5, and drove like mad, as much as we could. There was lots of traffic. LOTS. At times, we were at a standstill. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world relieved me when I got too tired, too grumpy or all sleepy-like. She drove about 1/3rd of the way.

Along the way, we listened to music. I mis-sang the lyrics to pretty much every song. No one wanted me to load up my Sound of Music album and sing along with me.

We ate breakfast at Denny’s and lunch at the Cheesecake Café. The Cheesecake café was outstanding, the Denny’s, less so. Maybe not a big surprise to anyone. cheesecake-factoryWe also stopped for lots and lots of pee breaks (small bladders being what they are.)

But someone once said that life is a journey, not a destination.

8 things we saw

  • At a Starbucks stop, we saw a guy who loved his mom so much he had her name, birthday (and the day she passed), tattooed on his arm. Kinda cute, right? Here’s a guy who loved his momz. And it may have been cute, if he’d not also had the words “my mom is beautiful”, “I love my mom”, “My mom is amazing”, “Mom’s are the best” and about 20 other tributes to his mom inked into his arm. He also had mom written in a heart, upside down. I kinda suspect Norman Bates would do something like that. I locked the doors when we parked beside him.
  • We saw that you could buy a 3D printed miniature of yourself. Being a narcissist, this appealed to me immensely, though I was vaguely surprised that there was not already one made of me. Being old, I was stunned, yet again, at our advances in technology.
  • download (1)The Cheesecake Factory does not have a Penny in it. This was sad. Every cheesecake factory should. It would be a big selling point. It did, however, have cheesecake. The line was WAY too long for us to get any, though. This was sad.
  • There is Big Bang Theory lego. No cheesecake café, though.
  • There is Simpsons lego. How freaking cool is that?
  • Gun racks. Even in Langley, it’s just not a common sight. Saw a lot of gun stores, too. Same deal. Not so much a common thing here. I wanted to stop and see what $500 would buy. The Youngest was also keen to shoot an Uzi, but the Prettiet-girl-in-the-world gave me the Ukrainian evil-eye so we kept on driving.
  • There were some pretty big folk. I mean BIG folks. Now I’m not the skinniest person in the world, but holy hamburgers, batman, there are some people who look like they can barely walk.
  • The sky was full of smoke. You could taste it in the air. It burned our eyes. All of Washington and Oregon seemed to be on fire. Yet, the sun lit up the hazy sky with the most beautiful pale red at sunset. Like the sky, too, burned.

It took us about 9-10 hours – maybe a bit longer due to everyone trying to escape the smokey interior of Oregon.

Then we arrived. As we stopped at the grocery store (ok, editor’s note, the ‘grocery store’ may have been a store called the Liquor Outlet), we ran into our first family members. An uncle and aunt.

For the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and the boys, there were smiles, which (of course) makes total sense since they’re awesome. Me, however, I was given a good looking-over before the uncle came over to shake my hand.

“So you’re the famous Joe we’ve all heard about.” He took my hand. Shook it firmly.

“No, we left him at home,” I said. “It’s just me. Just Joe.”

He laughed.

It was a good start. We now had food. A few things to drink. And we arrived intact.

It was, however, too late to really do anything. We had a quick meet-and-greet with everyone, then it was off to bed.

The real adventure would begin tomorrow.

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Oregon Preamble

killersSo, what’s the perfect vacation for an introvert, a writerly introvert at that?

Reading a book in the sun? Exploring an underground ruin with a flashlight taped to my head? A week in the basement playing World of Tanks or writing about serial killers?

It could be all of the above, but taking a trip to Oregon to spend a week with a whole group of people I barely know was a vacation that filled me with dread. Like a rabbit feels before it’s dropped in to play with the lions.

But Oregon itself is lovely this time of year. Not too hot. Lots of waves, at least on the beaches, and we’d found a few amazing things to do. As well, we’d been booked into what can only be described as a mansion overlooking the beach. The mansion had about 20 rooms, a HUGE kitchen, a coffee bar and entertainment room downstairs (with pool table and foosball), and… AND a theater room that sat, like, a thousand people. Or something like that.

Oregon 038

Oh, I gotta have one of these in my house one day

The boys salivated when they heard about that theater room. How cool would SpongeBob be if he was on a 120” screen? How loud would the gunfire be in a Terminator movie when we were surrounded by surround sound? How comfy would the chairs be, all leathery and soft and with built in drink holders?

So, ah, how bad could it be?

Well, for starters, we had an 8 hour drive down. With 2 boys, that could spell trouble. It would be 50/50 that someone, somewhere would be murdered.

Then there was the whole meeting-Joe thing. All of the people coming to the mansion had heard about me, but only a few had met me –  and if I’ve learned one thing in life it’s that I’m way better in myth than reality.

Just like I’m way better in writing than in person.

ryanThere’s nothing like hearing how awesome I am, then meeting me and learning I stare off into space a lot (I call it deep thinking, others call it looking like a zombie), or finding out I cannot make a coherent sentence first thing in the morning, pre-coffee (and all of that without me drinking too much). Or, God forbid, discovering that I am, in fact, not 6’3” and do not look like Ryan Reynolds.

It’s sort of like seeing a Kardashian without make-up. It’s kinda sobering.

Picture by Darrin Lee

Picture by Darrin Lee

But no matter. This was our big family trip and dammit, I was going to make the best of it.

It would be a great chance to get to know the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world’s extended family. I would talk to everyone down there and learn a little more about them. I would not get drunk and dance on any tables (a sordid tale from my youth I’d rather forget). I would walk the beach and breathe in the cold, sea air. I would watch a few sunsets, feel the sand between my toes, listen to the sounds of waves.

And, knowing about how the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world’s family loved to cook amazing dinners, I would likely also come back about 20lbs heavier.

So, we loaded up the car, triple checked we hadn’t forgotten anything, and drove off, the Oldest armed with a phone-full of trivia he meant to challenge us with. We had snacks. The boys had games to play. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world had about a zillion songs on her iphone. We were ready to do this.

There were plans for the beach, plans for suppers, a plan to go on a dunebuggy ride (OMG how cool), plans to watch movies on the big screen. There were plans to do crafts, plans to see glass being blown, and plans to make plans.

I do love a good plan.

So, let the adventure begin. Joe meets Oregon and the family. How hard could it be?

 

Posted in Blogging, Oregon, Parenting, Stepdad, Travel, Traveling with Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Back in Time – Step-dad Adventures

time machineIf I had a time machine, I wouldn’t go forward – it would likely depress the hell out of me – but if I could go back, then, oh man, would that be cool.

I would love to see things that I’ve only read about. The Battle of Waterloo. The signing of the Magna Carta. The invention of the printing press. Marilyn Monroe naked. You know, the important stuff.

However, since The Oldest has thus far failed to actually invent a time machine, we are bound to this world and this time. But even here in Vancouver, there is history to be found.

As part of our make-this-the-best-summer-ever plan, we decided to go do something in our backyard. No, not literally in our backyard cuz that would be lame, apparently, but we decided on something close by. We went to see Fort Langley, a national historical site with, you know, history stuff.

fort langleyOk, first, isn’t it funny how if it’s close by, you don’t often do it? We’ve lived 10 min away for years. And have we gone to see it? Ah, no. We have gone to Whistler and San Diego and exotic Victoria, but Fort Langley, it’s like it’s in a different part of the world. Or Surrey.

Still, I mean, how many people in England go visit the queen? Or how many people in Washington DC go to see the Lincoln Memorial? Or how many Egyptians go wander around the pyramids? It’s just not done.

But we wanted a bit of adventure and in the finest tradition of me being totally unable to predict what the boys will find fun or not, we thought, why not give the old Fort a try?

We were blessed and cursed with good weather. Good news, it was warm and sunny. Bad news, we had stage 4, code red, end of the world water restriction in effect, so no green lawns that would make for such great pictures, and absolutely no fires. At first, you might think, hey, fires, no big deal, but wait a second, you’ll see.

What made the site so cool, though, was that there were so many hands-on things to do. It’s the genius of modern museums. Someone, I want to say Albert Einstein, thought, hey, cool sh*t needs to be touched, played with, interacted with.

And this site had that in spades.

IMG_7338Our first exhibit set the tone: A musket demonstration.

Me, I learned where the phrase ‘half-cocked’ came from (ah, it came from a musket which could be half cocked, but not yet ready to fire.), and the boys got to see how it would have been loaded, and then were given the chance to actually try it out. Not to shoot, mind you, just hold.

One of the many things I admire about The Youngest is his fearlessness when it comes to volunteering to try stuff. Want to shoot a musket? Sure! However, it might also, one day, lead to ‘want to join the army?” Sure!

Anyway, The Youngest, nerf-gun guru that he is, jumped at the chance to try out a musket. Sadly, due to the restrictions, they were not allowed to do any live-fires, so all he could do was hold it and imagine. My guess is he was thinking about shooting me for not taking him skating the other day. But he held the heavy gun and did his best to aim at the wall while the instructor held the barrel (apparently, he’s not allowed to ever let go of the actual gun while someone else has it.) He was in heaven.

thin red lineAfter that exhibit, I transformed into History-Professor-Joe, that horrible creature that only comes out in forts, castles, dungeons or at parties where I’ve been drinking lemoncello. I explained how the soldiers used to fight, shoulder to shoulder, one rank of men firing at another rank of men.

The Youngest, ever skeptical of anything I have to say, thought I was kidding. He thought that was pretty stupid. He said he’d lie down and shoot. Or run away.

I told them how that would be seen as unmanly at the time, though good common sense for today. I think I’ll show him a video.

IMG_7342The Oldest, on the other hand, had huge fun making a slate board house. Being all minecraft-ie, he loved that he could construct the walls of a house! Who knew that real life could be like minecraft? Had he been able to mine and fend off zombies with diamond swords, we never would have got him to leave.

After that, we all tried valiantly to make a barrel… and all of us failed. Even when a nice older lady came by and tried to explain how to do it. I want to say she worked there, but who knows, she may have just loved being there and dressing up. I’ve often thought I’d do that one time. You know, dress up as a walmart shopper and misdirect people. Dress up as a royal guard and stand watch near the Queen’s home.

Anyway, think of barrel making as Jenga meets pick up sticks. Even when they made it as easy as they could, we could not get all the wooden parts of the barrel to fit inside that round metal thingee. I nearly had an aneurysm.

IMG_7351Then the boys took on hammering out things on the blacksmith anvil. The Youngest, his gloves far too large for his hands, looked a bit like he’d mashed all his fingers which made me giggle. The Oldest, after nearly braining his brother with the hammer by accident, did an admirable job of actually crafting something that looked like something. Minecraft-skills at work, again!

All of us touched the furs, the cannons, the cannon balls, (Yup, I said balls), the wooden walls, the wooden windows and pretty much anything they had out on display. (Oh, momma, the wooden rooms smelled amazing.) We also watched a real blacksmith show us how it was done (minus  the fire, which was, you know, somewhat of a critical aspect of heating the metal). Once again, The Youngest volunteered, this time to rip up rope to make kindling, but he got as much tangled up in it as he did at tearing it apart. Picture a cat that’s lost a fight with a ball of string and you kind of get an idea of the end result.

uniforms'The cutest moment came when we went in the big house and the boys volunteered to dress up. ‘Volunteered’ may not be the right word. I think we paid them $5 and promised never to post any pictures of them in uniforms on the internet. Too bad, cuz they looked adorable, or, in the case of the Oldest who thinks he can no longer look adorable, he looked ‘fierce’.

Maybe I’m just a romantic, but there’s something about a uniform. Sadly none were in the fat-McFatty size that I needed or I would have worn one around all day. If I was in America, I think I’d totally be one of those guys who’d dress up in a revolutionary uniform and run around with all the other re-enactors. Or, as the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world calls them, nutbags. (See Ad below.)

So, all in all, a HUGE success, much to my surprise. Again, no one died, or was set on fire. No fingers were mashed with hammers. No one shot anyone.

That’s my usual ‘low-bar’ way of insuring success.

But this time, fun was actually had. (Oh, and don’t tell the boys, but they even learned a little bit of history.)

One of the best days we’ve had this year.

Next up, a white water rafting trip and a visit to the Police Museum.

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Is It Ok To Be Wrong?

This is a first for me. I got something wrong.

waterlooOk, not quite a ‘first’, but it was the first time that I managed to get something completely wrong while talking to the boys.

I guess it was bound to happen at some point, you know, you think the battle of Waterloo was in August when everyone knows it was June 18th or like when you mix up Elizabeth Banks for Chelsea Handler (though I still think they may be the same person).

But while driving to Toys R Us, The Youngest was all keen on buying a Nerf gun. Now, for those of you who haven’t been in a Toys R Us for years, or espouse a kinder, gentler, gun-free upbringing, then you may not know that Nerf has gone crazy with its guns.

nerft gunThere are zombie nerf guns. Nerf turrets. Nerf knives and nerf swords. Nerf ammo shirts. Nerf disc weapons. And, of course, uber-Nerf guns that are completely customizable. Oh I’m sure there’s still the odd Nerf football or water guns, but the Youngest had done his research and desperately wanted a Nerf N-strike Elite, streamlined, lightweight Rapidstrike CS-18 blaster.

To be fair, he knew his weapon. It was accurate. It had a clip that held about a billion little Nerf bullets that get lost underneath the furniture. It had a telescoping stock. And it was huge.

In the world of kids, (ok in the world of guys, HUGE matters). I mean, who wants a little gun when you can have one half your size?

Which leads us, in a very shaggy-dog-story type way to where I went so wrong.

So here is the conversation in the car.

“So, Joe, did you know that you can buy all sorts of modulus for the Nerf guns, like a laser sight and a chainsaw and there was this guy who had like a hundred moduluses on his gun so he had like twenty grips and five scopes and three barrels that you could join together to make one long barrel.”

“Wait, what? Modulus?”

“Yeah. Did you know that Nerf has many moduluses for all their guns, now?”

“It’s modules.”

“Moduluses.”

“No. Modules are things that you, like, add ons to other stuff.”

“Modjewels?”

“Mod. U. Als.”

“Oh. Modules. So, Joe, did you know that there’s a module that looks like two clips when it’s really one and when you shoot all the bullets from one of them, you just flip it over and put in the next one?”

“Cool.”

But here’s the thing. When we got to Toys R Us, what did the stupid Nerf guns call their add-ons guns?

Modulus.

Plural – Moduluses?

I looked at the Youngest.

He was too busy staring at the impressive CS-18, his eyes slightly glazed over, his mouth slightly open.

I could have let it be.

I mean, in one sense, I was right, right?

Modules? Noun. They’re totally a set of standardized parts or independent units that can be used to construct a more complex structure, such as an item of furniture or a building or nerf gun. That pretty much described what we were talking about.

modulus

Am I wrong to want one, too????

But instead, I told him he was right, and I was wrong. Nerf called their modules MODULUS accessories.

Not that he cared. He just wanted to show me all the parts he could use on his Modulus gun.

Now, I honestly don’t know if the parts are called moduluses, but what the hell, they may just be. Who knows? I’m still trying to wrap my head around ‘derp’ or ‘suss’.

The second prettiest-girl-in-the-world

The second prettiest-girl-in-the-world

In the end, grown-up or not, I think it’s important to own up when you’re wrong. I was wrong that the Seahawks would throw on their last down inches away from the goal line with one of the best running backs ever to play the game. I was wrong that Y2K would destroy the world (I still have cans of spam from that one.) And I was wrong to buy an upgunned laptop for gaming when all I really do on it is write and surf for pictures of bikini-clad Sandra Bullock.

So I think it’s ok that I admit I goofed it up. Even to an 8 year old.

******

What about you? Have you ever had to admit you’re wrong to a child?

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Wet and Wild Waterslides

cultus lakeThink you’re not getting old? Try a day at the waterslides. Or half a day.

In an effort to make the summer of 2015, the bestestest summer of all time, we embarked on a day at the water park. Cultus Lake to be precise.

It was a perfect day for it. Hot and sunny. We planned a later visit, (3ish), to avoid some of the crowds, you know, after a lot of the morning keeners had gone home, yet not so late that we’d miss out on all the rides.

It was a bit of a drive, but not as bad as we thought. It’s the amazing thing about living in Vancouver. You’re never really that far away from anything.

Plus, it was my first time at the park. Again, it’s one of those things you just don’t do when you’re by yourself. Like watching a kiddy movie in a theater. Or hanging a picture.

But, hey, it looked like fun and the boys were super keen.

So, the waterpark it was.

No one told me 5 critical things, though.

  • Food here costs as much as food on the moon. It makes sense from a business point of view. They know kids need to eat at some point and if we don’t feed them, (as we found out for the thousandth time), they get all hangry. (“Oh, that looks stupid”, “I don’t want to go on that one”, “oh the line-ups are too long”, or “…too short”, or “that line has a girl in it.”)
  • Every ride that involves some form of splashdown requires you to climb about a billion steps. Oh sure, the first ride you’re so keen you run up those steps, but after 2 hours of stepmastering up and up and up, I’d give a kidney for an elevator.
  • As wet and cool as the rides are, standing in a line in the heat of the day can be draining. And standing in the heat after I’ve nearly coughed out a lung climbing the stairs nearly killed me.
  • There are bugs. Seems the damn things are everywhere. Why can’t they stop bugs from getting in? I want someone to invent a bug-free park. Disney, hello, I’m talking to you.
  • You will get water up your nose in a big way. Like someone used a colonic tube, shoved it up your nose and then turned on the water full blast. It makes me sneeze a lot and walk around like I was constantly smelling something bad (hey, maybe they did use a colonic tube?) Worse, unlike a good colonic, it doesn’t even make me poop better.

cultus lake funNot that any of those things really made the day bad. Exhausting, yes, but not bad. The boys loved pretty much every ride, but they played in the waterpark part the most, splashing each other (and other kids), running around (on a slippery surface without helmets!), and climbing up and down all manner of slides and ladders. Just goes to show ya, you don’t need a 1000′ slide into a pool to have fun.

All of us had great fun zipping through tunnels and cannon-balling into the pool, or riding a raft down some chute that threatened to pitch us all over the side. Me? I loved the rides we could do as a family, all of us in it together, screaming, laughing, getting wet.

Was I scared?

Well, no, but here’s something I never knew about before I had kids – you worry about THEM.

I honestly didn’t once fear that I’d be vaulted over the edge and split my head open like a well thrown water balloon. Hell, I didn’t care if that happened. But with the boys, especially the Youngest, I looked at every ride like someone who had to insure the place.

bowlsCould they get hit as they spluttered in the pool by some big oaf who came rocketing out of a ride?

What if they hit their delicate little heads while circling a ride that looked like a toilet bowel (though, to be fair, the Youngest hits his head on a daily basis so I think he has the skull density of superman.)

What if they lose their grip and are flung off the side of the tube, and they are taken by pterodactyls that have escaped from Jurassic Park?

Could happen? Right?

So, adding to the heat, the stairs and hot dogs that cost as much as a small car, I worried about all the what ifs.

But you know what? They were fine. They had a blast.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Wet and wild fun!

******

Anyone else had a great water park experience?

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Magic Moments While Traveling

confessionalConfession time. I like to organize things. Perhaps too much. If I could, I would even organize the magic moments of life, you know, so I could have a camera ready to capture that moment, or at least not be looking elsewhere when something amazing happened.

I guess this need stems from my ability to always be looking in the wrong towerdirection. “Hey, did you see that UFO land on the parliament buildings and leave a flaming bag of poo on the front steps?” “Ah, no, I was looking at the ant by my feet.” Or, “The Eiffel Tower just lit up!” “What, when? I was looking for a hot dog stand.”

But I’ve come to realize that magic moments are like fishing. Not that I fish or anything, but I’ve read about fishing and once watched someone fish, so, yeah, I’m kind of an expert. Anyway, magic moments… fishing…

The way I see it, you can’t catch a magic moment every time you set one up. Like you can’t catch a fish every time you cast. But if you cast enough and fish in the right fishing hole, then sooner or later, you’ll snag something.

So when we went camping, I went with the idea that I can’t create a magic moment, but I can set up lots of opportunities for one.

One could have happened while we were rafting the river, but I was too busy trying not to pass out from having my nuts banged about. One could have happened while I was sleeping. One could even have happened when I wasn’t there, though being a narcissist, I’m pretty sure the universe revolves completely around me and nothing would happen without me.

We did have our moments, though. Building the dam on the river with the 2 boys was one for sure. The water, cold and sparkling, did its best to babble by us, and for a while, it could not be tamed. Little by little, though, rock by rock, the boys built a formidable barrier. Not high, not perfect, but a testament to what can happen when they’re forced away from their video games.

IMG_4005We had another moment around the fire when we played Act One, a game where you read lines from an old movie while others tried to guess it. The Oldest really got into this one, mimicking accents and changing his voice to read the lines. He had us all laughing like mad.

The other moments were simpler. A found leaf. An ATV ride that the Youngest took with his older cousin. Playing Munchkins (a card game.) Watching the sunset over the mountains.

The last moment, and perhaps my most photogenic, occurred in the carIMG_4023 ride back to Vancouver. The boys, exhausted from days of being outside and in the sunlight, fell asleep in the backseat. Normally, when it goes all quiet, (in the house, in the car, in Walmart), I begin to worry. It usually means they’re up to something.

But this time that something was sleeping. Like angels.

It wasn’t something I could have planned (Ok, I could have fed them sleeping pills and then posed them, but I didn’t think of that at the time.) Instead, it was just one of those moments. Nothing that will shatter the world or make you question the meaning of life, but just a snippet in time when I’m reminded what a great second life I’ve been given.

 

 

 

 

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Joe’s 3 Theories of Summer Camping

sunAfter 3 days of camping, BBQs and lots of hot sun, I have come up with 3 important theories. There are those who will argue I came up with them after a mild case of heat stroke or after drinking my weight in Gatorade, but does it matter where inspiration comes from? I think not.

So, sit back, rest your brain a bit cuz I’ve done some thinkin’ for ya.

Heat and Flies

mosquitoesOk, here’s my theory on this one. The madder you get, the more the flies and mosquitoes will come. Or, more specifically, the more they decide to land on your face, fly into your ear or sneak up your pant legs.

This theory played out at our Kettle River campsite, a place of beautiful snow in the winter and scorching temperatures in the summer.

Some of us, (The Youngest and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world), seemed immune to buggy things, or at least not too bothered by them.

Others, (me and The Oldest), fought a constant battle with the little blood-sucking denizens of hell.

By the end of the first day, The Oldest looked like he had a case of measles. I looked frazzled enough to pop a vein in my head. He’d spent a day chasing them with a fly swatter like an evil villain out to rid the world of all insects, and I spazzed around like someone being constantly electrocuted whenever one flew up my nose.

flamethrowerSo, take my advice. Buy the best anti-bug gear you can find, don’t be shy with the bug spray, and learn from the zen masters – the bugs can sense your hate, like creatures of the dark side of the force.

You will always forget something.

Me, I usually forget a whole ton of somethings. But traveling with the well-organized and attentive Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, those ‘somethings’ are few. However, it’s not zero, either.

So why do we forget things?

Yes, I have a theory.

It’s not about lists. I have lists, and lists of lists. It’s not about being organized – the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world has that down pat. It’s not even about being a sieve-head.

It’s just that we rely on too much stuff.

That’s right. You read me. ‘Too much stuff.”

pillowIt’s a problem of the first world. In the 3rd world, when they go camping, or ‘what they call hunting for food’, they seem less concerned with bringing a therapeutic pillow and more concerned with them remembering to bring a skin of water or some dried rhino jerky.

Here in the 1st world, we think we need so many things. But do we?

Do I really need to bring my solar-powered iphone charger on a camping trip? Do I need my pineapple-coconut hair conditioner? (which may, in fact, have something to do with the mosquitoes and flies loving me so much.) Do I need to bring my self-heating batman coffee mug?

Probably not.

berries

saskatoon berries. Personally, I thought that was just another name for mouse poo.

So if we are destined to forget something, why not make it a fun adventure to figure out a way to compensate? Forget a mug, use a glass. Forget a condom, try to fashion one from a goat’s bladder (what, you forgot the goat, why then, there’s another challenge for you.) Forget cheerios? Eat a bowl of Saskatoon berries.

Embrace the lack of things, I say. Embrace it.

Now someone pass me my timmies.

Unplugging Can Be Fun.

I know, who would have guessed? But get the boys out of the house and even if they have the option of loading up Clash of Clans and attacking some kid in Korea, you may just find them hopping from rock to rock or inventing all sorts of outdoor games.

My theory?

Being inside a house all the time limits what they can do. I mean, hey, they’re not allowed to leap from sofa to sofa or climb the stair railings or throw things into a bathtub full of water. They aren’t allowed to make dams in the backyard. They aren’t permitted to scream at the top of their lungs or build fortresses out of tree branches and boulders.

The Dam the boy 's built

The Dam the boy ‘s built

While camping, though, all things are possible, and just being outside of a house can inspire the boys to play more, laugh more, goof around more.

Like monkeys let out of the zoo.

Or, to put it in their terms, it’s like real-life minecraft. You can build and create and run around (and one of you could even be a zombie). How cool is that?

However, you have to be sure not to mention that it’s cool. They have to discover it for themselves. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if I say it’s good for you, or cool, or fun, the boys will automatically assume the exact opposite. So tell them there’s no way anyone could make a dam in that river. Or no way you could run around the trailer 30 times while humming the theme to the Terminator.

True, being outdoors with them can be exhausting, but give them a day of running around, and they’re pretty tired, too.

It’s not a bad thing.

******

So thus endeth my thoughts on camping.

Anyone else have any theories?

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