I am bedraggled, and more than just a touch stinky. I passed merely perspiring and began sweating around 1:30 this afternoon. From camping, you ask? No. I have never camped. Ever. I find myself wrinkled and wilted wearing the noticeable aroma of Eau du Nature, underpinned by the fragrant bouquet of Eau du Roadside, both from taking my children to camp.
The plan was simple enough. We were to take our three plus our neighbors’ son to camp this afternoon. In exchange, they will pick all of them up on Friday. Due to the distance to camp –about 2.5 hours from here –the neighbor spent the night with us, went to church with us, and we changed into comfy clothes at church, went through a drive through and started out on our easy peasy drive down the interstate. The kids put a movie in while they ate. Tummies were full and hearts were happy with anticipation –both theirs and ours. It was a close call as to who wanted to get rid of whom more for the week as both parents and children eagerly imagined their soon to be freedom. No parents! No children!
Our reverie blew up only ten miles down the interstate. Boom! I was driving and Joel asked me what I ran over, or what hit us. “Nothing”, I said. The fast lane was clear behind and ahead of us. The boys spoke up from the far rear in the Suburban to say, “Mom, we hear a noise like a tire losing air. It sounds like ssssssss.” Right then the instrument panel lit up to show “loss of tire pressure”. We merged quickly into the slow lane and then onto the interstate shoulder, straddling the grass shoulder with the right sided wheels.
Joel and I kicked into crisis mode. He called AAA. I called 911 to ask for a Trooper to sit behind our car with flashing lights. We told the kids to stay buckled in, which to their credit they were all very mindful and calm. I called the camp and left a message because no one answered. Joel, through church contacts, succeeded in reaching exactly the right person at camp on his cell phone. We said a quick family prayer for safety and asked God to put His angels around us as 18 wheelers roared by at 70 m.p.h. only feet from our swaying Suburban.
The trooper arrived and it turned out we knew his relatives. He was extremely friendly and helpful. We sweltered as we stood on the black asphalt in the mid-day sun. Sarah Grace, in tears from fear, smiled at the teddy bear he gave her. The serviceman changed our tire without even needing the children to exit the car. With that, and thank yous exchanged, we were rolling again not quite an hour and a half from the time the tire blew.
We followed our Google maps through lush green cornfields past scenic hills and through valleys at the base of the Smoky Mountains. We rejoiced at the turn into the camp, knowing we were finally safely delivering our precious cargo, and our journey was over. We exhaled with relief as our adrenaline dropped.
It wasn’t quite over. We checked in (we were the last ones for whom they were patiently waiting), ready to drive our sport utility vehicle to the rustic cabins to unload luggage and children onto the cabins’ front porch steps. Not so fast. In the midst of the summer humidity, a counselor held out a long bony finger and pointed up–UP the mountain—which we had to walk to deliver our children and their belongings to their cabins. Not graded, smooth pathways. Mountainous, root lined, poison ivy laden, buggy insect infested trails. Someone mistakenly thought that I wanted experience the outdoors. No, I wanted to open the tailgate, off load, and say with a cheery hug, “Bye! Don’t let the tailgate hit your behind on the way out!” But, up, up, up we went. With backpacks, pillows, and sleeping bags. Sweating. A lot. And, then once they were safely ensconced in a cabin with a counselor, Joel and I walked down, down, down the trails, then down the dusty road (which was for what vehicles, I ask? Not ours apparently.) to the gravel parking pull off, and finally, blissfully into the car where I blasted the air conditioning.
I hate camping.