The camping trip that wasn’t

We should be camping right now. Soaking up the fresh air and relaxing in the cool waters. Watching the stars by firelight, both dancing to the rhythm of creation, tugging us along behind. Basking in the glow of new places and chocking them up in the annals of camping history.

But we’re not. We’re at home, because our trip was destined for failure. I’ve never been so sure of any camping treachery, even the Coon Fork Conspiracy that insists that we must be ill every time we visit our favorite local site. This trip was Not. To. Be.

We began planning our summer out back in January. (That is when you finalize all summer plans when you have a slew of kids and far too many people to plan around.) We reserved a site at another favorite spot, a bit less local, but full of magic and wonder. A weeklong pass of happiness.

But no. The signs of derailment began almost immediately. No less than five sabateurs quickly weaseled their way into our plans, from a company buy-out cutting the PTO in half, to the ill-planned kids’ classes and jobs. We rolled, we rocked the mid-flight adjustments, we bit the bullets and took one for the team.

We rescheduled. Not once, but twice. Not just a shuffling of dates, but a whole new venue just to make it all work for the fam – or as large a contingent of the fam as one can reasonably hope for. We cancelled ($19.70) our already once-altered ($12.00) reservations, and grabbed a site at a closer-to-home place that 5 or 6 people have recommended over the years. We could trickle in as needed, have at least a few days with our feet on the earth, and somehow accommodate nearly everyone’s insane lives. It was all good. We were pretty proud of our flexibility, patience, and general roll-ability.

But alas, after this weekend, it was all for naught. A big tossing of the old moola down the proverbial drain. The realization that the chicken coop was still not repaired and ready to protect our dwindling flock in our absence was frustrating, but not insurmountable. A devoted chicken-sitter would patch our procrastination.

Even the creeping cognizance that this was not the place that all those people recommended, but rather a randomly chosen spot with a far-too-common name, quite possibly centered in the depths of a toothless populace with a firearm fetish, was not enough to keep us down. It would be great. We were certain it would be great.

These minor setbacks, along with their several and boring accomplices, were not the demise of our camping trip. No, the dual straws that attacked our camel came in much more heinous forms. By Monday, Kiddo #3, or #7 – depending on your accounting method – the one with the intimate recent history with asthma and bronchial distress, caught her sister’s cold and took it right to her chest. Kind of a big deal with her.

This was a problem. We had sworn many moons ago to never take a trip with a sick kid. Let’s just say we were aware of the horrors this practice presented, and knew it was not a mistake worth repeating. And this kid wasn’t just sick; she was flirting with that familiar path that leads to gasping for air and eventual emergency room trips. She needed 100% committed care to pull her through sans hospital, and really, 4 days in a tent was not going to be the best idea. Among the least of the concerns, where would we stow the arsenal of supplements, remedies, and requisite heating pad and teapot? And would the care team be able to set up on the same site, or would we have to reserve another site to house them? Where would we park the generator? So many logistical issues.

But still… maybe it would be OK.

The eternal optimists. (Read: The eternal stupids.)

Thankfully (WHAT???), the complementary camel-assailant was not far behind, rocketing us from denial-come-suicide back into the harsh and inevitable reality. Next up? Tuesday morning, Kiddo #2 (#5?) comes home from swim team practice with a concussion. Really.

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The concussed one, poolside

Do you know how you treat a concussion? You rest. You really rest. Physically and mentally. You do nothing. You eat, you sleep, and you vegetate.

So the 13yo can’t do a thing. Can’t go for a walk, can’t swim, can play with legos, read a book, or look at a screen. Can’t play cards, can’t tie knots for fun, can’t be outside without sunglasses or even read the covers of the audiobooks we got her to pass the days away. Silly putty and listening to music (not too loud). That’s it. That’s all the stimulus she can take. No guitar, no drawing, no thinking beyond how to get the food to her mouth.

Wednesday morning (yes, it took me a full 24 hours to deliberate), I made the executive decision to cancel yet another campsite reservation ($31.00).

So we are not camping. And we’ve embraced it. Instead we run to and fro all day, ice pack here, moist heat there. Essential oils here for this one, there for that one. More tea here, less light there. Another lozenge? More ice? Let’s wring out your lungs. Where is your ice pack? Please drink your tea. You should take a nap. Take your supplements, dear.

And we still go looking for adventure elsewhere. One has to wonder why we would look beyond our own home.

For the record, since the official cancellation, two more kids have contracted the icks, one has twisted her ankle in a library-induced sprint, and the cats locked themselves in the camping trailer overnight, leaving them with no choice but to relieve themselves all over the firewood, leaving us with no choice but to empty the trailer to eradicate the smell and keep it from oozing into every piece of our gear.

Not. To. Be.

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