Flying with the Falcon

Gone to the Dogs

*Photo of our mopey dog, Luna. We love her very much, though she’s convinced we don’t give her enough attention, food, or time outside. And every time we leave, we’re never coming back, just like every other time we left.

I feel like I was recently writing a blog post about best-laid plans going sideways. Here I am again, writing a blog post about best-laid plans…but these plans went sliding down a muddy slope. Last week, I wrote a lovely post about going to the Adirondacks, whitewater rafting, romping around on Whiteface Mountain, and left you with the teaser that we expected to go backpacking in the High Peaks region of the wilderness. Well, that’s not exactly what happened. I want to first say that I am about to fall down a rabbit hole of amused ranting, but I promise to end on a high note, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

The day we left the camp where we stayed with Michael’s family, we decided to give Michael’s legs a day to heal from the horrible sunburn he got while rafting. His burn was so bad it swelled, and he couldn’t even put his sneakers on without pain, so we thought it best to wait a day. We found ourselves a campground in Wilmington, called the North Pole Campground (more on that in a minute), pitched our circus-sized tent we use when car camping, and called it a day. It was still hot as a witch’s britches, so we honestly weren’t going to be sad about not heading into the woods with packs and hours of hiking over several peaks, followed by making camp and dinner. The heat melted us both into puddles, and the campground had two pools available for campers to use. Let me tell you, that was a welcome treat. After paying the hefty fee for a tent site with no hook-ups (a whopping $35, which is about what we often paid for full RV hook-ups), we were led to the site by a nice gentleman in a golf cart who showed us the possibilities for where we could fit our tent. For the price we paid, I was disappointed in the site itself. No area flat enough to place the tent. No picnic table. No directions to the bathroom, and no direct route to the bathroom which I found difficult to locate on the map provided. Okay, no campground is perfect. I can deal.

We pitched the tent on a spot which was the flattest we could find, and because the heat was really ripping we decided to go for a swim. By this time it was late afternoon, and the air temperature alone could probably have fried an egg. Since this campground is actually located in two separate areas on two sides of the street, we had to drive to the pool. I didn’t mind driving really, since it was just another excuse to shove my face into the AC so I could breathe, but when we got to the pool area, there were not many places to park. A guy in a golf cart offered to move for us, which was nice, and then we wilted into the pool for a short half an hour or so before a storm kicked up and the sky opened and ended our pool time. Not a problem. Being in the pool did its job of cooling us down considerably, and we felt more like human beings after our swim. We got ourselves dinner, fortunately regaining the picnic table which had been removed by our neighbors, hung our wet suits and towels, and night began to creep closer. When we finally rolled onto our air mats to sleep, our neighbors decided to come back to their site for the evening.

Let me just say, the rest of the night did not go well. Our neighbors had their car running and their headlights shining and they were talking at the top of their voices for a long time before finally quieting down. Typically campgrounds have quiet hours by 10pm, but I was too darn tired to get up and ask them to be quiet. Eventually I fell asleep anyway, only to wake up a few hours later to the sound of thunder. I wasn’t really too troubled about a thunderstorm, but it’s hard to sleep to the crashing and flashing. And it’s hard to sleep when the rain beats on your tent and you discover to your horror that your tent is not as waterproof as it used to be. I try not to be that person who only sees the misery, but this particular night was not one for the cheerful happy camper. As the rain dripped down from the tent canopy, we rushed in a stupor of exhaustion (neither of us had slept well for several nights in a row before this) to relocate to a dry spot in the middle of the tent. We hurried and scurried to move everything around so the important things like cell phones and books and flashlights and bedding would stay dry.

Eventually the rain made itself just nuisance enough to dribble down the sides of the tent and left us at least the middle to sleep in rather restless damp dreams. What made the night extra fun was that once we relocated, we were sleeping on an incline. If you’ve never tried to sleep on a hill, this is your friendly neighborhood camper telling you not to bother trying it. You won’t sleep much when sliding down a slope all night long. Several storms rolled through the region that night, each of them dropping a good deal of much-needed rain. I’m sure the forest rangers were rejoicing, as the Adirondacks had been dry for the prior month or so, according to our rafting guide. We, however, emerged from our tent like zombies in the late morning. So late, in fact, that we realized without even discussing it that backpacking was not happening for us on this trip. Michael had been able to get more sleep than me, but neither of us was anywhere near rested enough for a hike over several high peaks that day, and the thought of strapping on a heavy pack made me want to cry. On top of the sleeplessness, all our bedding was wet. And after the rain, the trails would no doubt be nothing but mud and I forgot to pack our gators. Seriously, way too many counts were against us this time. Sigh. It makes me so sad.

We wanted so very much to go hiking. Lesson learned: never plan a hiking trip after you go on any other trip. Because we went rafting before hiking, the sunburn problem really threw a monkey wrench in the works. Tent leakage did not help. Lack of sleep was probably the worst of all. Next time we plan a backpacking trip, we are going directly to the trailhead and that’s that. On the bright side, I’m certain my mother-in-law was glad we came home a night early because our dog, Luna, was howling all night while we were gone. HOWLING. This surprised us, as she has never done that. She’s used to staying with Michael’s mom when we go out of town and can’t bring the dogs, but Michael was only home from New Hampshire for a couple of days before we left. Apparently Luna did not approve. If we go again, we may need to try to bring her with us, though I don’t know how well that’s going to work. She’s getting old enough that mountain climbing may be too hard for her, and she will need to carry her own food and water—a factor which may prove to be too much for her, even though she’s a stubborn husky mix.

Come hell or high water, we came home swearing up and down that we would make a point of camping later in the summer. Both of us are desperate to get out in the wilderness, and we have camp food ready to go in the bear can. Don’t want to waste it! Must go camping! Must climb mountains! Must escape screens! These are the important things in life, and we must make time for what we love. It’s essential. I will not give up on camping, especially after the debacle we just left behind us. Truly, though, these are first-world problems. I complain with a dose of reality, still thankful I have a home with a comfortable bed, choices about taking vacations, plenty of food to eat, a reliable new vehicle, my family is safe, and I have a husband who is wonderful. All these annoyances in my silly little vacation are miniscule problems, and nothing in comparison to carrying all my belongings in a bag because I have no home. It’s completely different when you carry all your belongings in a bag because you enjoy escaping the world for a while. Even though I didn’t get to do that on this trip to one of my favorite places, I still got to enjoy the Adirondacks. The rafting was an absolute delight (and I’m addicted now), and the stars were glorious in the night sky. Time with Michael’s family was a lot of fun, especially getting to be with his niece and nephew. For all those aspects of the trip, we are grateful. And this is where I hope to stay centered. Grateful for what I have, because in this moment I have plenty. Friends, please get out there and find some joy, remember to be grateful for what you have, and then do something nice for someone who doesn’t have anything. I think I might just find a way to help a homeless person this week, a thing I like to do once in a while. It’s been too long since I did that. If you like, leave a comment about nice things you’ve done for someone else this week. I love hearing from you!

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