Recognize the name Allison Jones? She treats us to the Home of the Week column each Saturday in the Courier-Journal. While she usually is making nice talking about lovely homes, I just knew there had to be something different that Allison might want to write about. So, I asked her to blog here on her latest adventure: a camping trip to Cumberland Falls. In true SB Louisville form, I let a guest blogger write about all the things I would never do, in this case: camp.
When I shared with Heidi Potter during a gathering of fascinating people that my oldest son, Bailey, and I were going camping with a group during the hottest weekend on record, she gave me the “you’re crazy” look. I’m totally used to that look, since I get it a lot, but the sad part is that I agreed with her. Heidi thought it would be funny if I documented the weekend. I think she might have done an evil laugh, but I was drinking wine, so the laugh could have been imagined. So, here it is. I have not changed the names of the people involved to protect the innocent because, well, no one fits into that category.
While enjoying an adult evening out in January, a discussion arose between friends about a group camping trip. To clarify, this means a tent, not a hotel without a pool. Let me just stipulate that alcohol may have been a factor in the decision-making process with the exception of my husband, who did not drink but didn’t do anything to stop the insanity. In fact, he later realized that the selected weekend in June was also the NASCAR races at Kentucky Speedway, so he and my youngest son were now out. Of course, he did tell me this with a smile, so I don’t think he was very sad. At this point, I was ready to bail. Let me just explain that my oldest son, Bailey, has Down’s Syndrome, so when I shared with him that we were not going, he gave me the “I have never camped before, so please let’s go” routine. Not able to say no to that, I jumped on the crazy camp train.
Since the weekend was going to be thirty degrees hotter than…hell, I was extremely OCD about packing enough fluids, both kinds I might add: ones that make you dehydrated and then those others meant to help avoid dehydration. Apparently, I wasn’t OCD enough since I only had flip flops to wear and completely forgot about packing some sensible shoes. Deduct one point for me.
Bailey was overly excited about the prospect of a camping experience while I was just hoping we wouldn’t die. Amazingly enough, after three hours in the car we arrived to find a shaded camp area that offered some relief. Then Bailey looked at me with much confusion and said, “I thought we were camping in a house.” Let me clarify that I did tell him a tent, but apparently he was in a state of denial. Deduct another point for me.
Our friend Kay was gracious enough to help us put our tent up. As I compared their tent to ours, it was obvious that theirs was in the estate section and we were the servant quarters. It kind of reminded me of a hobbit hole, but it was shelter any way you look at it.
With tents erected and hot dogs cooking, I felt a little better about our camping experience. Swimming (yes, there was an actual in-ground pool!) provided additional happiness as we and all of our hillbilly friends crammed into the welcoming, cool water of the pool as darkness began to fall.
Later, everyone settled in their tents and I felt pretty proud of forging on until the crickets turned up the volume and our camping neighbors dragged all of their beer bottles past our tents discussing the best ways to stay out of jail. Sleeping would definitely be a challenge. Add earplugs to the things to pack on a camping trip.
I awoke before everyone else to find that I was chilled. Yes, chilled. Oh, and I was stiff, but let’s get back to the chilled part. The temperature at 6:30 am was comfortable and I felt ready to face nature. Plus, in the light of the morning I found the bottoms to my swimsuit that had been lost while changing the night before. I am barely five feet tall on a good day, but this gave me no advantage with the challenge of changing in my toddler-sized tent, especially in the dark. I became aware with each change of clothing that I resembled something between a beached whale and someone doing a really bad impression of the worm.
Breakfast was abundant thanks to the Sautel clan. Scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, fruit and Pop-Tarts were the food that would propel us through the heat, or at least keep us from starving until lunch.
A concern before going on this trip was that coffee is a priority. Thank God for Cindy and her French press. The smell tantalized my nose and the taste was like a party in my mouth. Okay, realistically it was coffee, but it was damn good. I am so grateful that I have friends that are as addicted to caffeine as I am.
We spent the day hiking around the various views of Cumberland Falls and relishing in its beauty… along with observing these three guys in their “custom” built boat while hand fishing. Now, I put custom in quotes because their boat was taking on water, so they were bailing it out and fishing at the same time. That is sheer talent, my friends! I was the only one who thought maybe it was a portable meth lab.
The rest of the day was spent at the pool trying to escape the heat of the day. We talked, laughed and watched our kids really enjoy themselves. And then, it happened. I looked over and an entire family was using baby oil for “sun baking.” I felt like a time machine had transported me back to the 1980s. Aluminum foil for under the chin anyone?
I will say that camping was truly a fun experience contrary to the snickers, evil laughs, or eye rolls that I received prior to going. Bailey and I were so fortunate to have been included with this great group of people that are fun and knowledgeable. In fact, we are in the planning stages of our next camping outing and this time I will pack sensible shoes, ear plugs and maybe bring some baby oil for my new friends.
A BIG thanks to Allison for being so brave and sharing her story with us.