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Trip Log, or Lack Thereof

Memorial Day Trip Log: Friday Night

Our three-hour trek to Oklahoma’s wilderness -- I mean forest harvesting areas that look suspiciously like wilderness -- went remarkably well. The kids quietly watched movies in the car the whole way, and Truman panted peacefully as he looked out the large back window of our Honda Pilot, happy not to have been sold on the black market despite the two half-digested, bile-covered socks he left for us on the rug this morning. In an amazing potty training feat, we only had to stop once for the kids to go to the bathroom, but unfortunately that was on the side of the road because when Bryce says he has to go, it means RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I FAILED TO MENTION THIS PRESSING URGE 20 MINUTES AGO WHEN IT STARTED. John tried to take Bryce behind a tree that was about half the width of Bryce’s tiny waist, in attempt to leave us all with some dignity and also avoid a citation for indecent exposure, or child molestation. In addition to its insufficiency, that small tree also happened to be among a grove of chigger-infested tall grass, so I frantically opened the door and put a stop to that nonsense, and then John and I had a minor argument over where the appropriate location would be for our child to expose himself to the highway traffic. We decided on a position utilizing the car as a shield on one side, and John on the other. After he was finished, I breathed a sigh of relief, like, “Phew! We didn’t get caught!” and then John opened the door to put Bryce back in his seat and said, “Quinn, do you need to go potty now?” even though I was frantically waving my arms and sending LOUD ESP signals telling him “IXNAY on the OTTYPAY, let‘s just drive the 20 miles to the next town because my heart can‘t take the stress of all this public peeing.” It turned out to be a wise decision to let Quinn out, though, as I learned when John returned to put Quinn in his seat and proudly said, “this is Mr. Niagara Falls, right here!”

Neither kid took a nap today, so by the time we ate dinner at the cabin tonight, Quinn was especially touchy. At one point, he was playing some sort of game with my step-dad when it occurred to us that it had been a while since we’d checked the status of his bladder. “Quinn,” I said, “Do you need to go potty?” Before the entire sentence was even out of my mouth, and without turning to look at me, in his complete annoyance and irritation that I had dared to interrupt his concentration-demanding tickle game and remind him that I exist with my nagging burden of a voice said, “LEAVE ME ALONE!” with a flourishing double-clenched-fist-throw down and a look to my step-dad that implied, “God, she is SUCH a drag, with her constant insistence on TAKING CARE OF ME.”

Shortly after that, we attempted to let the kids sleep in a big bed together in our cabin, knowing they would probably play and giggle, and being perfectly okay with that. Really; perfectly okay. Well, except for the fact that the giggling was so very loud, and it also involved kicking pillows off the bed, loud hiccup sounds, tongue-clicking, and clapping. It sounded like a primitive tribal language lesson in there. After 30 minutes and as many trips in and out of the room, 12 extra glasses of water each, a few empty threats of losing music and blanket privileges (yeah, right - then they scream and cry; and who really wins that battle?), we did something we weren’t really intending to do, and that was to separate them by putting each of them into one of the two bedrooms in our cabin, leaving us with the twin beds in the living room. Nice.

Fortunately, after that step, they were both asleep within five minutes, which left me some time to realize that something was missing in my day. Food? Drinks? Laptop? Blog! The blog, that’s it! We weren’t expecting to have wi-fi, so we were prepared to deal with dial-up in this remote location. Where’s that phone jack, anyway?

No phone jack.

A strange, shaky feeling came over me. I hadn’t thought through this crazy trip. What exactly does one do without an internet connection? What kind of primitive establishment is this, anyway? We’re paying money to be here, cut off from communication with the world?

To while away the non-technology-filled time, we watched the dog chase a fly, and now you can too.

Memorial Day Trip Log: Monday Afternoon

Well, so much for the log. I'll try to sum up the rest of the trip from memory. First of all, we played a lovely game of Musical Beds on Friday night, which taught us that for Saturday and Sunday nights, we would each be sleeping with one kid to avoid all the night time shuffling, as much fun and excitement as it had been to sleep-walk to a crying pre-schooler in an unfamiliar, pitch black cabin in the woods. The next day, even though the kids should have been really tired, they insisted on going for nature walks and looking for things to do. What's up with that?

On the first walk, Bryce spotted this lovely animal skull, and declared that it was a dinosaur skeleton, "because I know everything; I'm an expert. Experts know everything and I'm an expert." (He's into repetition. That's why we're all on the brink of insanity over here. Not to mention humility...MAN is that kid humble! )

Me: "Well, actually, an expert doesn't know everything; they know a lot about certain things. Like a dinosaur expert would know a lot about dinosaurs."

John: "Wouldn't that be a paleontologist?"

Me: "Well, he doesn't know what that is, and besides, a paleontologist would still be a dinosaur expert."

Bryce: "Yes! It's a paleontologist!"

Me: "Do you even know what that means? What is a paleontologist?"

Bryce: "It's someone who digs up dead dinosaur bones."

As I walked along in my shamed silence, wondering how he'd found time to learn about paleontologists when he couldn't even manage to figure out how to take a bite of an entire ravioli without choking, I heard him come running up behind me, "I saw a snake skin back there, but it was slimy and it scared me so I put it down." When he saw my horrified look, he offered to show me the snake skin, which turned out to be a fishing lure, "in the shape of a tap dancing cane." Not a "J" or a "hook"; a tap-dancing cane.

After so much enlightenment, I don't know what would have compelled us to look for the nature center we'd heard so much about. But rather than actually looking at a map or a brochure, we just started driving down the highway that cuts through the national forest area and assumed the first place that had the word "museum" in its title would be the right place. We expected it to be small and quaint, but we didn't expect it to have a taxidermy studio next door. You would think when we saw that it DID, in fact, have a taxidermy studio next door, we would have said to our city-dwelling selves, "Hmm. This probably isn't the right place. Let's keep looking." But, no. We did not say that. We got out of the car and paid $20 to walk through the taxidermy studio's display of its finest specimens. We saw things like this, while our kids went back and forth between being scared (like I was) and running down the single hallway screaming (like I wanted to be).

After we all recovered from THAT trauma, we saw a unique sight on the volunteer firefighter's headquarters on our way back to the cabin: a hand-written sign that read "BAKE YARD SALE." We looked at each other, incredulous. Could it be?? Had some risk-loving entrepeneurial volunteer forest fire fighter conjured up the genius scheme of combining a yard sale and a bake sale into one blowout event?! Yes, indeed. And they had some real treasures:

After this admittedly disappointing outing, the kids were pretty bored, and were either climbing on the furniture or trying to escape at all times.

To make up for our failure, we made sure to fill the rest of the time with plenty of traditional tourist-in-the-woods activities, like train rides and marshmallow roasts.

And, oh yes...there was one other outing of which I unfortunately can't post pictures, because John is paranoid and refuses to bring his "expensive equipment" to places where there tends to be lots of "splashing" and chances for it to be "ruined." I don't know, something or other about not wanting to threaten his "livelihood." In any case, my mom and step-dad rented a boat and we all went for a chest-tightening spin around a large body of water none of us had any clue how to navigate, but since my step-dad had extensive boating experience, we put the entire trip in his hands, which seemed to make sense until we all noticed as we approached a certain lake island that we could see these brown and tan sharp objects just beneath the surface and then BA-LA-LALALAM! discovered what that extremely knowledgeable 14-year-old had meant when he'd told us to stay a certain distance from shore. After that, when Bryce wasn't asking me what "that bumpy water was called" (later he said, "oh yeah, it's called 'shallow water'! Now I remember!"), and when Quinn wasn't pushing the emergency "horn" at my step-dad's secret encouragement and potentially throwing the entire lake into cardiac arrest, both kids (and John) were giving their very best pirate "ARRRGGGH, matey! Ahoy there!"s at random intervals, and Bryce was insistent that we stop at all the two foot by two foot "islands" to search for treasure. Bryce also kept confusing the lake with oceans and rivers, so John explained how the lake got there through the use of a dam, after which Bryce started saying, "Wow, I see a WHOLE LOT OF DAM WATER!"

On our way back, we noticed what seemed to be a friendly couple on a suspiciously still Sea Doo, waving at everyone that passed by. "These lake goers sure do like to socialize," I thought, as I scanned the horizon for the next island so as to warn my step-dad not to crash us into it. Then John said, "Uh, I don't think they're waving to say hello. I think they're stuck." He was right. The poor saps had been blowing their little emergency whistle and waving with the international sign for GET OVER HERE AND HELP US for 45 minutes before anybody bothered to do something other than lift a beer from their boat, smile, and speed away (and if it hadn't been for John, I have to admit, we would have done the same. We're stupid. That's all there is to it. John just married into the wrong family, is all). After an agonizing and slightly embarrassing 20 minutes of capsizing their machine when we anchored our line to the wrong part of the Sea Doo (Note to self: Do not attempt to wrap the line around the handle bars, no matter how much it seems like this might work. It does NOT work.), we got them back to the marina and all was well. It was only later that night that John and I both admitted that as soon as we'd pulled up to the stranded couple, we thought, "wouldn't it be horribly, ironically tragic if they ended up being lake pirates?"