Thursday, July 10, 2008
Oh the HORROR!!!!!!!!!!!!
C is for the carnivorous bugs that will eat my flesh... A is for all the comforts of home I will miss (and sob for!)... M is for the mounds of dirt and leaves in my sleeping bag... P is for the poison ivy on every square inch of my children... I is for the fact that I don't like it... N is for the needles I would rather stick in my eyes... G is for the grit under my nicely manicured nails! I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. Why on earth ANYONE would subject themselves to a dirt floor, a tent, buckets full of bugs, a toilet that doesn't flush because you just peed in a hole that is simply decorated by a wooden structure to make you THINK you are in a bathroom is BEYOND me! Tomorrow we leave for Root Hollow. The annual Fellows Family (my husband's family) Reunion. We do this every year in July. Friday - Sunday the week of or after July 4th. 70 people from across the country meet in the BOONDOCKS in Pennsylvania to reunite with family they haven't seen since they packed up their tent last year. This is my 17th year. It's my husbands 30-somethingth year. Ugh. Now, let me qualify this camping experience. There is an actual family reunion committee (and I have made it quite clear to them that at anytime they would decide to hold this function at a local hotel, I would step up and vote YES!) that decides on all the events and activities for the weekend. It is thanks to these wonderful women that I can bring myself to smile and pack for Reunion. They make it as un-camping as possible. I pretend they are doing it just for ME. I am not spoiled (my husband just giggled sitting at his desk at work - not knowing why but those words being broadcast over the Internet jolted him out of his computer trance and tickled his funny bone) and I am not exactly high maintenance either. Sure, I like to have my nails done and I kick off my shoes and prop up my feet when my toes are looking a little, how you say, Francais. But, I just don't GET the thrill of being OUTSIDE in the SUMMER (or any season for that matter) for like 200 hours in a row. Why is that fun? The weather's not always nice, I sweat, it's cold at night, there are bugs... and in Nothern Pennsylvania, rattlesnakes and bears, too! Bugs, Sweat and Tears is what I (affectionately) call it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being outside. I like a summer breeze, the feeling of the hot sun on my tanning skin, lapping waves, a cold drink and not a care in the world. Somehow that image does not translate easily to camping. There you will find me up to my ankles in mud because of an unexpected downpour, wiping mud off my toddler with Kleenex so he can take a nap with 400 mosquitoes who seem to find his pack-n-play quite comfy. All the while my older kids are sneaking their 34th s'more (yeah, they will sleep tonight) and tucking a rubber snake in my sleeping bag and my husband is kicking back with his uncles or out golfing with his cousins. In one scenario I am relaxed and quite happy in the other I am being fitted for my straight jacket. Now, I need to be brutally honest! I DO love this reunion! This family is soooo much fun! There isn't even that universal weird cousin or anything! There is a house with bathroom, running water, etc. There is a HUGE pavilion with a men's and women's bathroom complete with changing tables and showers, a commercial kitchen (yes, I said commercial kitchen!), a large cement slab with 6 or 8 large picnic tables and the 2nd floor (yes, the pavilion has a second floor!) has dorms for those of us who would prefer sleeping with a roof over our heads. This is still CAMPING to me but all these woodsy amenities make it do-able for me! Each year the committee wracks their brains for a theme. We have done Mississippi Riverboat, The Renaissance, Hollywood, The Brothers Grimm and many, many more. This year we are all swabbing the poop deck! PIRATES! Which means costumes, thematic activities and food all day Saturday! The kids just love this! I will have pictures because, of course, even though I am not packed yet I will be MAKING their pirate costumes today/tonight! I work best under pressure. Here's the schedule of events: Friday - arrival, lots of food and fun with family! Some of the cousins get an early tee-time and head out golfing after setting up their tents and kissing their wives good-bye. The kids play in the creek and the women sit with fresh-brewed coffee and catch up on the year gone by. Saturday - a big breakfast is served and art show (everyone brings their entries) entries are placed on the cabin porch, surprise guest arrives and gives out gifts to all the kids (last year it was Fiona from Shrek), come out after lunch and soon after thematic food is served for dinner. Then there is an auction that raises money for that year's designated philanthropy (we usually raise THOUSANDS of dollars as people get really creative with photos of kids from the previous year and grandparents and parents start bidding wars!) and then the kids (and some grown ups) do a talent show. The Menehune makes his appearance (and the little kids squeal) - he is the family's fabled "man of the mountain" who comes down through the trees with a big torch and takes a drink at the creek every year, extinguishes the flame and runs off into the darkness. Afterwards the little people get tucked into their tents and the grown-ups gather around the fire pit with hot drinks and lots of laughter! Sunday - the coffee pot goes on early because last night's trip down Memory Lane lasted into the wee hours of the morning! A big breakfast is served and everyone starts to slowly get packed up. There is a family tree ceremony where carved leaves are placed for new babies and rectangles are placed for newlyweds. There is an awards ceremony for the talent and art shows and the yearly family photo is taken (run, Peter, run!) Cars are packed up and Aunt Winnie rings the big bell as cars pull out of Root Hollow for their trek back home to reality! See. Not so bad. I dread the packing, the drive there and setting up the tent. However, the memories and experiences my kids take away are immeasurable. So, slap some mud on me and call me a Camping Queen, I'll do it for them! And yes, for YOU, I will take pictures! Look for them Sunday night! Pray for me! (LOL!)