Lucky, if somewhat sodden

Hey, guess what it’s doing here in the Adirondacks. Go on, GUESS!

It’s raining. Pouring, actually. Has been for hours.

The good news is that the rain held off until late afternoon, today; we arrived yesterday afternoon and had just finished setting up when my dad and step-mom pulled up to settle into the campsite across from ours. Last night’s dinner was a low country boil prepared by Otto, because you can take the boy out of the south but you cannot put him in a camper without Andouille sausage. Or something. We had planned to eat outdoors, but it was already sort of damp and icky, so we discovered that our U-shaped dining area in the camper is juuuuust big enough to seat six people who really like each other. (It helps if two of them are basically only half-sized.)

After dinner we decided to go for a short walk, which turned into an unintentionally longer walk, and as it was getting dark and the children were cranky, I feared thing would end badly, but we found our way back and capped off the night with moon pies.

This morning we got up and made coffee and threw cereal at the children and all went for a hike. (This time we took a map. Hooray!) We figured out where we could come back and fish, and we returned tired and muddy and hungry. After lunch, my dad broke out his watercolors and he and the kids painted for a while as I did some work, my stepmom read, and Otto did the dishes.

Dad painted a picture of their campsite.
Monkey painted a picture of “a made up solar system!”
And Chickadee painted a picture of my dad painting his picture.
(I would be hard-pressed to tell you which one is my favorite. Chickadee did, however, capture every detail of the t-shirt her Grandpa was wearing, right down to the fancy ampersand in the text. I’m just saying.)

[Side note: Apparently artistic talent skips a generation. I still can barely draw a straight line, and both kids are already better artists than I’ll ever be. I’m pleased for them, and preemptively sad for their kids. Heh.]

By then it was early afternoon, and we packed up the fishing gear and headed back to the river. Monkey was entrusted with Dad’s fishing net, which he waved around until we threatened to take it away from him. Then he let it hang by his side, but started barking military orders at the rest of us as we worked out way down the bank. (Only my father complied. Monkey spent a lot of time giggling “ABOUT FACE!” and making him go in circles.)

The fishing was slow going, and just when morale was starting to flag (“I don’t think there are any fish here!”), Monkey caught a trout. It was beautiful, and also too small to keep. He was a little disappointed, but still excited that he’d caught something. (We took a picture. He looks very proud.)

Chickadee caught three rocks. Only two of them refused to give the hook back.

I fed several worms to the fish and reeled an empty hook back in. I suppose it’s because of my giving nature. And utter suckitude as a fisherwoman.

Dad caught another trout, also too small to keep.

And then the thunder started up.

It was not an inconsequential walk back to camp, and it was a steep one, at that, and I had visions of us trying to climb back up the hill in the rain and mud, but we made it back before the rain started. Then we battened down the hatches. Okay, we don’t have any hatches; we packed up loose things like camp chairs and shoes we’d been leaving in front of the camper, and we waited for the storm to hit.

So it’s been raining now for… four hours, maybe? And all six of us are hanging out in our little camper. We all played Cranium Whoonu and Apples to Apples while demolishing cheese and crackers and carrot sticks, and then we had a lovely dinner of veggie chili (say whatever you want about camping with a trailer not being “real camping;” I will happily give up my camping cred for the ease of throwing dinner in the crock pot at breakfast time, and having hot chili to eat when it’s cold and miserable outside). After dinner we scattered a bit; Chickadee and Dad have been working their way through Yahtzee and cards and who knows what else. The rest of us are reading, except for Monkey, who is experiencing a bit of stir craziness and had to be sedated with a dose of the Nintendo DS.

It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, too, so we may go hit a museum or something to get out. Or maybe we’ll get half a day of sun again so that we can hang around outdoors.

“You’re going to make a lot of memories in here,” remarked my dad, yesterday, after we’d given him the fifteen second tour of the camper (“This is the kitchen, and there’s the bunks back there and our bed up there”). We’ve only been here for a day and a half and already I’m grateful for this trip. Grateful for the gorgeous surroundings, for my parents’ ability and willingness to join us and make the adventure that much more interesting, for the stories we’ll tell later about the rain and the mud and how I played “Lucky” in Apples to Apples and the options offered up included turkeys, gorillas, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Yes, a spirited debate about the relative luckiness of leaving a legacy that changed the world vs. being shot as part of it did ensue.) (Also, you should never leave the house without your lucky gorilla.)

But most of all, I’m so, so grateful that the camper doesn’t leak. And that we’re not sleeping in tents.


  1. Little Bird

    Word games. Word games for the whole family, and you get to stay dry.
    Sounds like you’re having fun!
    I’m just curious what kind of magical battery your computer has to last so long.

  2. StephLove

    Lucky indeed. Sounds like a memorable trip.

  3. Em

    I agree about the memories. Even the ones stuck inside while the rain beats down. It sounds like a really great trip, even if there isn’t room service.

  4. Jean

    Oooh Mir!! The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is supposed to be really good. Put that on your “in case of rain” list, if it’s not too far. Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. Wave as you pass Exit 9 on the Northway on your way home. I’ll be in the Finger Lakes, probably similarly soggy.

  5. Wendy2

    We love Apples to Apples when we all get together. So much fun to argue why your card is best.

  6. hollygee

    But what about your folks? Did they bring a camper or a tent?

  7. hokgardner

    I’m originally from outside of Albany, and a camping trip to the Adirondacks sounds beyond lovely, even in the rain. I’m now in Austin where the heat is unbearable.

    Enjoy some of the cool weather just for me. I’m homesick.

  8. Heather

    I want to go camping now :) Except I don’t have a camper, so we may have to skip the rainy part haha. (Good thing I live in a semi-arid desert!)

  9. jennifer

    “utter suckitude as a fisherwoman.”– I can SO relate to that!

  10. Karen

    Welcome back to NY! Did we mention that it hasn’t stopped raining here since…um, well for a while. It sure is green and pretty though, huh? The ‘dacks are a great place to make family memories! Have fun!

  11. Sara

    Sounds great! We love Apples to Apples too- some of our best family moments have happened over that game. Hope the weather gets better!

  12. Sharon

    You could always hit the stores and outlets in Lake Placid if you get desperate!

  13. carolyn

    Apple to Apples is the best game ever. My girlfriends and I took our teenagers to the beach for spring break (8 of them in one house) and that game was a huge hit. Easy to play and some of the most hilarious answers…we love it!!

  14. Megan

    Hmmm… trying hard to pull up some empathy but a) summer finally well and truly hit and it’s [in irritating nasal whine] HOOOOOOOOOOOOT here [also dry] and b) it sounds like more fun than 12 bears and twice as hairy (sorry, new phrase to me so I’ve been using it wherever even remotely appropriate). Wonderful thing to go camping with a whole family of people who can enjoy both the wet and the only slightly soggy!

  15. getsheila

    It sounds like Nirvana. Enjoy the respite.

  16. Burgh Baby

    I bow to your camping smarts, in that you went for the camper and crockpot option. The tent thing sounds fun, right up until you consider what you have to do when it rains.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  17. Melisat

    I’m actually a little bit jealous. Enjoy your lovely family and the memories you are making.

  18. Aimee

    Rain notwithstanding, it actually sounds awesome!

  19. Karen

    Wow. Sounds like so much fun and a zillion family memories. Vacations for me now are about resorts and beaches and cute cabana boys, but you just made camping with the family sound like the best idea out there. Even in the rain. And that saying something. :-)

  20. Angie

    “You should never leave the house without your lucky gorilla” should be on a t-shirt. I’m just sayin’.

    Apples to Apples is a great game for making memories. My family still jokes about the time that I played the “piranha” card for the word “cuddly.” My son attacks me saying “NOM NOM NOM cuddle with me!” at least once a week.

  21. Tracy

    I want it to rain and I want cold weather. It’s going on the 3rd week of 100 degree weather, today it’s suppose to hit 103. And the 4th week without rain. Oh, I want rain and cold weather!

    Try and enjoy the trip as much as possible..there are nothing like making memories for your children.

  22. highlyirritable

    Sounds like fun! We have a tent trip planned for later this summer. I told the kids it was WAY WAY up north, but truth is it’s only a 20min ride from home. I just plan on driving up and down the highway until they fall asleep before we get there. That way, if it rains, I can get us home in no time flat.

    That’s awesome your parents went with you AND you all enjoyed yourselves. Close quarters, rain, my kids AND my parents is actually what I fear the 4th level of hell to be like.

  23. Katie in MA

    Apples to Apples is the best game ever. My sisters, brother and I played every night last week when we were stuck in our own rainy vacation in Boston.

    You also get mad props for being biased in favor of ampersands. :)

  24. TC

    In theory, this all sounds unbearably sweet and homey and delightful.

    In reality, I have what most people would consider a mild case of claustrophobia, and just IMAGINING being in the middle of six people in a U-shaped booth-like table setup makes me hyperventilate. (Take me with you on your next trip. I’m FUN!)

    Have a great rest of your trip. I’m hoping for less soggy weather, and a trout the size of…I don’t know what size trout are supposed to be, but a BIG one.

  25. Paula

    I believe that I am officially “rotting” from all the rain in upstate NY… rah.dick.u.lous.

  26. Sara

    I love Moon pies. If you take those on a camping trip, I want to stow away in your camper.

  27. heidi

    This is how our vacation on Fourth Lake went last week:

    “Hey, Heid, let’s try the hike to the Fire Tower on Rondaxe- it’s just 2 miles.”

    “But it says intermediate….”brisk” 30-minute hike……I don’t know…with four kids??? Plus, all I have are flip-flops. Why don’t we go with this one. Cascade Falls. Listed as easy. And only a bit over two miles?”

    And so we park the brown Mystery Machine at the Trailhead in Eagle Bay. And enter the Adirondacks with a pink Jansport that holds 2 liters of vacation cottage-brewed sun tea, one bottle of Off!, a cantaloupe, and a knife.

    Meadow decides TO-BE-CARRIED is by far the best way to travel and so I utilize my mighty hips; I transition from right to left every 8 minutes or so as my flip-flops smack against the ( now ) even terrain. I remark on the glory of womanly hips.

    At the 2-mile mark, Kenny wonders where the hell the Falls are and discovers a sign pointing to Cascade Falls, Cascade Lake, and Queer Lake spur trail. It seems as though TRAIL MARKER in a particular color actually dictates the way the trail is marked. It seems uphill. I stub my toes frequently and ask Meadow to hold my hand….you know….for her sake.

    If you have checked any of my relatives’ Facebook Wall’s lately, you’ll know that Queer Lake was 97% probable as a destination based on the ridiculous “How Gay Are You” quiz. It’s more than 8 miles to complete that hike. We hesitate. We are trying to decipher which way is Cascade Falls. we have swimsuits. we want to stand beneath the Falls and yell. Kenny points out that two more miles carrying a baby might suck. And the conversation sounds like this:

    “What do you think, Heid?”

    “I don’t know….looks like 2 miles more to the Falls. I don’t know anything about the mountains.”

    “So…you wanna go back?”

    “Or keep going”, I say. “The map showed Cascade Lake as a loop- wouldn’t it only be two miles more to get around a loop and maybe we’d pass the Falls?”

    We go forth. Can you sense the foreshadowing? How do you think this might end? You see, with this family of six, anything can happen.

    My hips are not as stoic as they appear. “Hey, Kenny….let’s swap.” The toddler is lifted to her father’s shoulders.

    After some time, Dad complains. “Wish we had had room to stash the back-pack-carrier in the van when we left.”
    “That sucks…..oh! I have an idea,” I quip. “Stuff her between Evie’s back pack and my back!.” We manipulate Meadow until she is sandwiched against my backside. An arm dangles over my shoulder and another wraps around my neck. She pinches my chin in a rhythmic pattern. She sleeps. Dead weight. In the Jansport. My arms fall asleep. And tingle. “Ummm, Kenny?”

    We are at least 4 miles in and no Falls are in sight. Raine and I pause often….as if a sound-mirage is occurring. “I hear it….shhhhh…right? You hear it, don’t you? Is that the trees? What the hell is that anyway?” We think it could maybe be a moose??

    Kenny notifies us. “There is no Fall sounds. It’s the damn trees in the breeze.” He now moves ahead of me, Raine, Grace, and Evie with Meadow upon his shoulder in deep slumber. The four of us Left-Behinds feel spiteful….and bug-ridden.

    ” I hate bugs in my eyes. ”
    ” I hate bugs in my ears.”
    “Well, I especially hate eating the bugs,” I say as I cough and spit.

    We delve into the the back pack and retrieve the bug spray. We spray until the canister is emptied. We all take a pull off the sun tea. We drain the container. Grace claims to hate it. Evie wants to remove and dissect the tea bags.

    “I’m thirsty, Mom.”
    “I don’t like tea, Mom.”
    “The BUGS!!!!! Mom!!! The bugs are BUGGING me!”

    I bust out the cantaloupe and begin to carve slices and feed them to my children as if we are marooned on a island with no nutrition for days. The panic has set in. Am I being appropriate as the Mother-Warrior? Will we ever leave the forsaken forest? Are there bears? What in the hell does a moose sound like?

    Dad said that the tracks were moose! I recognized them as the horse shoes that they were.

    A member of our party announces he must take a dump. We walk on. The sensation grows. The Member repeats the need. I describe how a bear shits in the woods. The Member goes as the Bear goes. The bugs swarm as we wait….backs turned as requested. My patience is thinly disguised, “It’s okay, we’ll wait.”

    Remove your underwear, wipe with them, and get rid of them. You won’t be the first in our family to do that.

    By now, Kenny is back-tracking to raise terror in the hearts of his family. “I hear thunder. It’s getting late. We have to move faster…gotta get outta here. Can I have the bug spray, please?”

    We exchange guilty glances. “Sun tea?”

    We hand him half a cantaloupe and a knife. He stalks off. Frustated, he chucks the cantaloupe to the deer. Disappears ahead on the trail with Meadow’s small, innocent hand in his. She marches on. The nap helped.

    “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH SHHHiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT, ” we hear from a distance. Accompanied by Meadow’s cry of frustration. She’s three. We know this cry well. And we know she’s pissed off.

    Apparently, the grass that appeared to be simple grass was a floating grass MAT, of sorts. Kenny’s misstep landed him 4 ft deep in black mud. Meadow landed close by. She loathes mud.

    We Left-Behinds approach. Timidly. “Is there a good way through to that trail on the other side?”

    Kenny’s hands go up and a look of incredulous anger crosses his face as he sneers, “If there was a way through do you think I’d look like THIS???”
    He has mud in his sneakers. Mud up his shins. Mud coating his swimming trunks. Probably mud in his ass crack.

    With each hesitant step forward, I lost a flip flop in the mud. With each lost flop, Raine retrieves it behind me. Each time I hear the sucking noise give up my shoe and imagine the labor of love it must be for this child, who also detests all things germ-filled and filthy.

    Long-gone, Kenny “hellooooooooooooo”‘s through the woods as he worries our whereabouts. With Evie piggy-backed upon me, we soundlessly shout, “Well, if you weren’t so freakin’ far ahead you could see us!!!!”

    I have the van keys.

    We pass rocky slopes. An old fire ring of a girls’ camp of past times. Another creek before the path resumes.
    We stop. Rest and listen. Carve our names on a wooden bridge. Clean our mucky feet by a lake that we cannot name and wish the green canoe before us was not full to capacity with the lake water it sat in.

    We have to be close to the Trailhead. What the hell Lake did we circle anyway? It was no 2 miles. Had to be 7 or 8 by now. Evie requires another piggy back ride. Grace declares, in her Scarlett-tinged voice, “I cannot go on. Just cannot go on any more!” She sits on the dirt. And tears roll down her freckled face.

    Sharp words exit my mouth. “Move!” is all I seethe.

    The skin of my feet between my toes is slipping away from my feet. Evie has a sore at the top of her shoe. Grace is so over-heated she strips to her bikini. Raine is already missing an item of clothing.

    Evie has a EUREKA! “Mom, check my back pack. Remember the recital on Friday? Sheila bought me a pair of black knee highs in case you forgot.” Evie and I each remove a shoe. Remarkably, the same foot. Left. We replace the shoes with black knee highs. We each carry our left shoe and hold hands, limping towards the end of the rail where Kenny waits with a look of sheer amazement on his face. We look a hot mess.

    “Um. I’ll go the next 1/2 mile and get the van. See the road there? You go and wait by the roadside. I be there in 5 minutes to pick you guys up.” Kenny jogs off alone.

    We wait. Roadside. Nearly naked Grace waving her white sundress at us all as if in surrender. Kenny appears with a wry grin, “Wanna ride?”

    PS- I had lotsa Moon Pies, too. Price Chopper had a 10 for $10 sale :)

  28. Nicki

    I grew up in the Adirondacks, have lived in Charlotte, NC for the last nearly eight years. Loved reading about the trip, reminds me of a memorable week spent canoeing through the Adirondacks one summer camp. I was a prune for a solid week and can sympathize.

    Check out Lake George, if you have a chance. Or better still, Burlington, VT. (The Lake Champlain Chocolates shop in the Church Street Marketplace can cure all ills.)

    Enjoy the rest of your journey!

  29. djlott

    I have wonderful memories of singing “Yellow Submarine” one camping trip that got rained out, so to speak. It got on my dad’s nerves, to say the least. But it was that wet outside of the small trailer we were in.
    I recommend the game: Five Crowns…. lot’s of fun!

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