Okay, the camping trip, since you asked:
We could not have asked for better camping companions. The kids got along great, and the grown ups were evenly paced and relaxed, with a similar activity level. Perfect. I would go camping with the Tuppelos any time. It did not hurt that they brought a dozen bottles of red wine. These are totally my people.
It was f**cking freezing. Didn't get above, say, 55 degrees until we were packing up to go home. Withall my spreadsheets and lists and organizational orgasms, I did not prepare for this. I brought a jacket, and I brought a hat, but I did not bring my ski parka, or my gloves, or my fleece pants. I had my close-fitting fleece pullover (which is now soot stained, BTW) and when I had all my layers on I felt all sausaged in, like when you wear three pair of socks, so I was not only still freezing, but I was uncomfortable. I hung in there as long as I could. When the situation isn't ideal, but there's nothing to be done, I can rally for a while. But on the second
day of shivering, I couldn't take it anymore and I took to my sleeping bag, with the shivering dog, and laid there in desperation thinking, I'm never going to be warm again. The Tuppelos are going to think I'm a whiny gasbag and aren't going to want to go camping with me again. I'm a loser. A freezing, icicle of a loser.
On Sunday, in an act of desperation, Rob and I headed in to Santa Cruz while the little girls went to the junior ranger program, and the Tuppelos agreed to take charge. I just needed to be in a car with a heater for a while, y'know? By the time we got to Santa Cruz, it was 80 degrees and sunny, I was peeling off layer after layer, and we turned on the AC. It was such a relief.
We went to Pet Club to see about getting a sweater for the dog. I am not kidding about this. He was freezing, especially since I just got all his hair chopped off. The only thing they had left was a black fleece Harley Davidson doggy sweatshirt, so that 's what we got. Then we found an outdoor store to look for thermal underwear, or a jacket on sale, or anything, really, to keep me warmer, and found nothing. I did find a camping kettle, though, and that made me happy.
By the time we got back to the camp site, I had been normal body temperature for two hours or so and that was all I needed to have a new lease on life. I did not want to ruin my camping trip by being a sniveling bag of ice. Kelly lent me a blanket which I wore around my waist like a bath towel, and it made all the difference. The dog was in his bad-ass Harley sweatshirt, on my lap, sitting by the campfire with the little girls. We played a game where I start a story with a few sentences, and then we all take turns continuing the story. I started with a family of small people who lived deep in the forest in a hollow log, and Abby ran with it and took the small people to Disney Land to eat popcorn because they ran out of nuts and berries. Then I said they were eaten by a bear, and she said they made themselves flat and got pooped out of the bear, and went to a wine bar at the other end of the hollow log. I can never play this game without it degenerating into poop talk.
We also taught the kids the Fish Heads song, and they sang it all weekend. (See video below; totally worth a minute of your time.)
My organizing pretty much paid off, except for the underestimation of the cold, and I felt good about myself. I do have a few concerns, however: The first is camping hygiene. Kelly is very fastidious about her camping hygiene habits and makes sure to take showers and wash her hair and face, and get her kids cleaned up and all that. I, on the other hand, managed to brush my teeth every night, and clean my hands with handi wipes but that was about it. I didn't brush my hair, or take a shower, I didn't pay any attention to Leila's state of cleanliness, except to get her to brush her teeth, and we were all sloppy, smoke-scented messes by the time we left. I started to wonder if Kelly had the camping cleanliness thing totally under control, and I was just a pig. To check up on this, I called my friend who is a serial camper, who knows everything there is to know about this activity, and who I rely on to give me the last word on all things camping. She assured me that all she does when she is out in the wilderness is brush her teeth, and lets everything else go. This made me feel better, but then I remembered that she doesn't flush her toilet or wear underwear, so I had to consider the source, and I'm still flummoxed. I just don't mind being dirty, I guess, and if its wrong, I don't want to be right. Not in weather like that where the water out of the tap is frigid. I'd rather have a dirty face and alternating coats of bug spray and sun screen.
My other concern is the camping crap, otherwise known as gear. I swore when I was staging all the stuff, that I would not buy any more camping stuff. I had it all, I didn't need anything else. Today, dear reader, I went to REI and bought three camping pillows, a stuff sack, another duffle bag, and a pair of wool socks for the kid. When is it too much? I'm totally jealous of the Tuppelo's tent, too. They can stand up in theirs.
So that was camping. We have another trip in two weeks, and I still have an unopened can of baked beans and a full bag of marshmallows, so I'm all set. I should be careful, I may start to be considered outdoorsy which would totally mess with my rep'.