Neighbor Exodus: Tuesday morning my brother & his wife fried us some eggs and bacon over the fire, which we laid on toast. We finally met the ‘squatters’ who turned out to have permission, but were merely in the wrong place. We happily offered to help them find their property and got along quite well.
My brother knew his precise pace, so we did some math and he walked while I followed on the quad. After spending the morning finding his property, we stumbled upon another, long-abandoned encampment. It was much larger, but just as messy. They have a survey scheduled and should move within a few weeks (what a relief). However, with make-shift encampments popping up all over, it was clear we couldn’t leave much behind.
We took a wrong turn on the way back, but got to stumble upon lots of other cool things, like meadows, ponds, geographical markers, all of which took 30 minutes at most.
Facilities: When we returned, my mom had everyone painting bird houses, huddled over two coolers which had the drinks I was after. This just wouldn’t do! I got to work on the picnic tables, while my brother started on running the water line from our new source to the shower spot.
With the line ran, we positioned our pallet-turned-platform from last year between a few choice trees, and hung the water heater. It worked, but we had to keep the flow low to have enough pressure to trigger the heater. In our calculation, we would have enough pressure, but I think we missed the friction loss.
With a good table, the family had busted out Scategories. It was immediately apparent (as the camp fell silent) much to the admiration of my brother and I. I assembled the second picnic table with ease, and we prepared for our night out on the town for dinner.
Fine Dining: It started to sprinkle before we left, so a few folks took precautions. There’s a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place that makes delicious, authentic meals at affordable prices. I fed half the group for $35, with drinks! However, while we ate, the sprinkle turned into a steady downpour, and warranted worry set in.
Taking the left-overs and 4 other members of our party, I headed back to camp for damage control. My brother ran to town to get rain gear. It wasn’t good. The super-fine clouds of dust on the road had turned to utter slime when exposed to the rain, and even in 4 wheel drive, I didn’t make it up the hill. I got stuck in a rut trying to back down, requiring 4×4 Low to crawl out.
Imagining the onslaught (inevitably taking place) a mile away at camp, I backed up to the gate. I hit third gear before the hill, ensuring I had lots of momentum. My mom clung white-knuckled to her handle, making all manner of strange noises. The kids shared yells and whoops as we slid sideways around turns, in and back out of ruts, but we made it. Now I know this makes the road worse, but we had to get home, right?
I texted my brother, in his 2wd pickup, to stay at the gate. (I would ferry them up the hill.)
Once at camp, we realized that the in-laws stuff was SOAKED (no rain fly) and the blanket hastily tossed on top the tent was now a super sponge. My mom’s tent had sheets of water running down the inside, either collecting in pools, or soaking into her bed which was too big not to touch. My Aunt’s was dripping on her bed, too, and we needed a fire. I went into ‘command’ mode and started being bossy. Soon we had commandeered the shower tarp for a tent, started a fire, and saved what could be managed. My sister-in-law also helped me cut up a whole tree for firewood before it got too dark.
Fortunately, my camper was nice & dry, as was my brother’s tent. He called on the radio to get a ride, and that’s when it happened.
I stepped out of my camper in the failing light, right into a hole from a rock that had been removed. My 200+ lbs from a 20” height was no match for a 90 degree ankle, and at that moment something popped, and my foot felt on fire. It’s kind of blurry in my mind now, but I must have made some obscene noises, as everyone was very concerned.
Now here I am, in the rain, needing to pick up the other half of our party. My foot will bear no weight, and I need to drive a stick on a dark, slick, bumpy road. Yay. Nothing to do, but grin & bear it, so I grab my aunt’s walking stick and hobble to the truck.
The road was a challenge, having 1.5 hours more to soak, but we made it. I was able to get my trekking pole/monopod out of the truck, and return the stick to my aunt. I was out of commission, and very disappointed. Later, my brother and I jokingly deduced that this all was the cause of us not following our rule: “Only work 1/2 a day while on vacation.”
Some folks learn harder than others, I guess. Stay tuned, as our group was scheduled to double the next day…