Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Camping? Glamping? Cramping???

This past weekend, my wife and I did something we've been talking about doing for over two years.

We went camping.

For her it was an "adventure" and reminded her, a lot, of her days in the Army. For me, it was a good opportunity to test out some of the things we've had for an emergency (hurricane) and see how they do under practical conditions.

The week before, we started taking inventory of the things we already had that could be used for a camping trip (camp stove, lanterns, first aid kit, emergency radio, mini-generator) and making a list of things we needed to buy (tent, sleeping bags, mess kits).

With our gear all set, I picked my wife up from work on Friday and we headed about a half hour North to the campgrounds. To say the weather looked ominous would be a bit of an understatement. It was cloudy and windy. The forecast called for storms that night and into Saturday morning, but we were willing to give it a shot.

We had done a few "practice runs" at home, setting up the tent, so we had it pretty down pat. About a half hour was all it took for us to get the tent up and situated.

For food, we had brought some of our "hurricane chow" we got from Wise Foods. It's dehydrated and supposed to have a 25 year shelf life, so it's perfect for emergencies. For regular consumption, not so much. Anyway, I fired up the camp stove and started cooking (boiling water). The cheesy lasagna turned out just "o.k". I mean, it I could see it getting us through an emergency....but not something you really want to be eating unless you have to, if you know what I mean. 

As the sun went down, the wind picked up even more and it started raining. I think we hit the hay around 8:00pm, which was a good thing because at about 3:00 am, we both woke up to the howling wind and rain pelting our nylon abode. The wind was going pretty good and one side began to bow inwards, causing us enough concern that we stood and put our backs to it to make sure the poles didn't snap from the pressure. It was about that time that my wife decided that 'nature was calling (you might see where this is going). The restrooms were a couple hundred feet away, but she said she wasn't going out in that, so she decided to put a bucket we had brought to good use. I told her to just go outside, but she was having none of it. She did her business and put the lid on the bucket but, as you can make out from the picture above....we were on a slight slope. 

Guess where she put the bucket.

Guess what happened to the bucket and the lid when the wind gusted against that wall.

Guess who was madder than a hornet when he found himself standing in warm.....liquid.

'Nuff said.

Anyway, we cleaned up using some beach towels, put them in a garbage bag and decided to head for the car to ride out the storm. When we got in the car, the decision was made just to go home, get some sleep, wash the towels, and come back with some Clorox wipes.

When we returned, later that morning, I was expecting the worse. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised as the tent still stood and everything inside was safe and dry. After some cleanup I found that the bowing wall had slipped a stake, which is why it blew so badly in the wind. Unfortunately, our neighbors didn't fare near as well. Their tent had totally collapsed.

The rest of Saturday was beautiful, but still windy. We gave up on the emergency food and had lunch (and, later, dinner) at the little restaurant at the campground entrance. 
It was relaxing just sitting by the tent and basking in the sun. We had the radio on, then went into the tent to play cards. Even with a queen sized air mattress, we still had room to sit on camp chairs with a makeshift table between us. 

Later on we trekked over a small bridge to an area that I'm still not sure of its looked pretty cool, though, so some exploration was in order. 

Saturday night was much calmer.....but cold. After a great sunset, we got a fire going and hung out for a bit before turning in. 

I think it dipped into the upper 40s (cold for us Floridians) and some snuggling was in order (as if an excuse was needed :) ).

We packed things up on Sunday morning and headed home. Even though we had some trials it was, overall, a good time and we'll definitely be going back. The only thing is, though, we're not sure what we'll be calling it.....

Glamping? Glamorous Camping. No....not really, even though we weren't "roughing" it.

Cramping? Crappy Camping. Nah, it was still fun.

Gramping? Grumpy Camping. O.k. maybe a little bit, sure....

Maybe we'll just stick with plain, ole, camping.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oh, The Humanity!

This morning, like just about every other morning, I was shopping at Sam's Club. I lend a hand at my wife and her sister's business, which entails....ironically enough....picking up supplies. It's ironic because I, pretty much, hate shopping. If I could, I'd order everything online and have it delivered. No muss, no fuss. It's almost to the point where I hate going out in public because people just seem to be either rude or oblivious to their surroundings.  Anyway, their business being as small as it is, there's not much (i.e. any) room to store things, which necessitates having to go to Sam's almost every morning.

Things usually aren't that bad because I get up early with my wife, take her to work, then hop on over to shop before the unwashed (i.e. rude) masses start arriving. This morning I had a few more errands to run and was later than usual (though still early for most folks), but figured I could grab the things I needed, hit the self check out, and be out before 10 am.

It was not meant to be, at least this morning. I grabbed my supplies and headed to the self check-out, only to be told that they were down.

All of them....and I knew what that meant.

Standing In Line (Ugh!)

I sighed a bit and headed over to one of the two cashiers on duty. Well, that is, behind the long line of people at one of the two cashiers on duty. Being a "business member" has it's privileges, but not so much when everyone else seems to be a "business member", as well. The place was pretty busy but, again, I was running late so it was my own fault.

As I stood in line, I started getting a bit frustrated. Couldn't they open more registers? Of course, having been a one time employee of Sam's Club (8133, Florence KY., thank you) I knew the answer...."More For Less" (at least when paying people to be there at certain times goes). I gave another, internal sigh and leaned against my cart, looking at the people in front of me. Over in the other line, I noticed a lady with a baby ( a HUGE baby...very fat and very cute) slung across her chest in a harness. She was pretty small, but her cart was loaded like she was feeding a huge family....which she might have been, who knows. Behind her was an elderly couple and I noticed he had one of those baseball caps that designated he was a Veteran of something, I couldn't quite make it out. What his cap said wasn't important...what was important, though, was what he did.

I guess he noticed her struggling, or something, and I could see him motion to her to let him help her. She smiled and stepped back, focusing on wrangling her baby while he stacked her entire cart up on the conveyor belt to be checked out....smiling all the while. It wasn't one of those "I'm Helping So You'll Get Out Of Line Quicker" type of moves either. More like "I'm Helping Because I Can See You Need It".

It was strange, but it felt like all the frustration I had at being held up in line just drained out of me. I got this goofy smile on my face as I watched and, maybe I'm just getting sentimental in my old age, but it made me feel good just to witness. I usually have a pretty cynical view of people, these days, but seeing things like this goes a long way in restoring my faith in humanity and my fellow man. It's almost like it was meant to happen.

Maybe it was.

Maybe I just needed to see this today.

Who knows, maybe I just need to keep a more optimistic eye on my surroundings. If it means seeing more acts of kindness like this, it just might be worth it.

Since I haven't posted any music in a while, I'll leave you with a fitting song by the great Glen Campbell..... Try A Little Kindness

Have a great week.

Monday, January 5, 2015

It Was 47 Years Ago, Today.....

Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play....

O.k, maybe not...

Anyway, on this day, 47 years ago, I came into this world a bouncing bundle of huge cranium, fat cheeks, and small feet. 

My feet and cheeks have proportioned themselves, though I still sport the big cranium.

Being only ten days after Christmas, my birthday has never been a big 'to-do' in my life. When I was a kid, I'd get a cake and a few presents, not much fanfare. I guess my parents started feeling a little guilty as I grew into a teen, because my mom (every year, without fail) would ask if I wanted a party. Which, for the record, I never did.

As I matured (somewhat) into adulthood, it became a time to gather with friends, eat, celebrate hanging in there another year, and stuff like that.

These days, it's about spending it with my wife. We've been together about six years and they've been six of the best in my life. Coming from a guy who, at 40 years old, was resigned to living a bachelor's life for the rest of his days, that's a pretty amazing statement. 

Not that I ever had anything against marriage, I just didn't think it was for me. I didn't think I was giving enough when, come to find out, I'm way more giving than I gave myself credit for. Now, before I blow my horn too loudly, I'll admit....I need some a bit of work. O.k, lots of work.

I'm getting there, though. 

The evening was spent having a relaxing dinner with some of my new, extended, family then back home for my only, official, birthday request. 

I wanted my wife to make me an out of the box Devil's Food cake. 

Which she did. And it was deeelicious!

Oh, those squiggly marks on the right side? I was told they were bats.


"She may not look like much, kid..."

My gifts from the wife were presented, thusly....

It's great to have found someone who doesn't mind indulging my whimsical side.

I thought this post was going to be more about reflecting on my past 47 years but, the more I think about it, the more I'm just going to wish for another 47 just like the past six.

Blows out the candles....

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