With a flurry of hugs (and some proud words from dad) we said goodbye to the our helpers. We retreated back to camp, where I whipped up some peach cobbler in my dutch oven. While usually too much, it was barely enough for this group. With the busyness of the day behind us, we settle in for our first rain-free night in a while.
Friday greeted us, brisk as usual, but no wetter. It brought with us an underlying melancholy of the end of our journey. My brother and his wife fixed us their famous blueberry bagels, with eggs AND cheese AND ham. “You have to have the ANDS,” we always joke.
Camp was rather quiet now, with folks playing Scategories, reading books, blowing bubbles, admiring the local eagle, and making friendship bracelets. Of course, there was not much rest for my brother and I, as we finally had some sun. After a week of camping, we were in desperate need of laundry and showers. I had procured a special plunger made for agitating clothes in a bucket, which I promptly used for two loads of textiles.
With a clean set for my son and I to travel home in, my brother followed suit. All manner of other things were strewn out to dry as well. From foam pads to blankets, and even a tent, we had lots of items to catch the breeze which picked up. Some unfortunate souls were in the shower when a gust freed the tarp from it’s staples, a problem we’re sure to remedy next year…
My brother and I started lightly packing, doing dishes, and generally dragging our feet. When all the sanitation was complete, we filled a few buckets for the fire and drained the remains of our water tank. We had only used 80 of our 300 gallons, but then again, the shower was under-utilized.
After emptying the tank, we were able to pack further, and had no further use for the 4×4 path over the hilltop. To discourage the curious, we drug logs across the road. I drove some T-posts the best I could near our survey markers, and posted some ‘No Trespassing’ signs.
My brother finally retired his old chair from last year (the hard way) and refused to leave the new, more comfortable model. Then, he finally showed off his skills with some magic tricks for the kids. My daughter was a bit of a skeptic, but couldn’t explain it either.
In a crunch to field-test some ideas, I made ‘smones’ while others roasted scones. Several had never tried them before, so it was a good learning experience. We went to bed one last time, with my son putting himself to bed again. (With the LED lights, he’s been able to leave them all on and go to bed free of worry, despite the relentless urban myths he was bombarded with.)
With an estimated 13-hour drive, I was anxious to get out of there EARLY. It was not to be. Even with the previous days’ preparation, there was just an endless stream of last-minute things to occupy our time. We (only half-way) joked that we’d kick everyone out the day before we leave next year.
Living in Texas, this is the only real chance my brother and I get to see each other. We plan and talked all year about it, and it was now over. We’re really close, so when it’s time to say goodbye, you do it quick (like a band-aide). Last year I cried profusely (the guys in my family are all closet softies), but was determined to control it this time. Choking back the emotion, I made sure to hug him last, and leave immediately, which helped a little…
I made great time on the way home, with the best mileage ever obtained in my truck at 19.4 mpg! I had to stop several times to rest, as my brother had kept me up to 1:30 AM by the fire. (A stall tactic, no doubt…) I dropped the kids off at their mother’s, 2 hours before my driveway, pulling in about 10:40 PM. I was thoroughly spent, but was grateful for a Sunday to rest my ankle, unpack, and catch up on laundry.
Looking back, it was an epic adventure. We worked too hard, we made lots of memories, and gave the rest of the family a reason to come back.
I believe (now more than ever) that everyone needs something to look forward to. It may not be some grand cruise, or jet-setting adventure, but it’s hope. Some of my best memories with my kids are $200 stay-cations.
If you don’t have something in your life, I’d challenge you to set a goal, set a date, and start planning for it. The best part is, that one weekend can provide months of enjoyment through preparation and reflection.
Thanks for reading,