Packing for camping is a hassle.  UNpacking is just…well apparently it’s impossible b/c there are still two tents and some other crap in my trunk.  I DID manage to unpack the clothes and do 20 loads of smoky laundry yesterday.  I still haven’t found my contact lens solution.  But I brought back the same number of kids that I left with and didn’t pick up a stray baby, so it’s a wash.

We went camping with Brent and Andi last weekend in Ohiopyle.  They have this big whitewater rafting trip scheduled every year, but I’m askeered of water so I don’t go.  We decided to do it for the camping this year.  And, of course, the nomming of Hazel‘s feet.  Everyone says “Oh Hazel is so photogenic!” but the truth is, she’s really that cute.  And sweet natured.  And, apparently, part monkey.  good luck with that, Andi!  Brent, my brother, could scale most anything well before he could walk.  Luckily the athletic gene was not in my DNA.  Sure, we gain weight by looking at a cookie (please, like we ever just LOOK at a cookie), but we don’t scare our mommies.

We stayed at Scarlett Knob Campground (snicker), which was a mixed bag.  Really nice sites, not too close to your neighbors.  However, there was no bathhouse and the porta-potties were not distributed in a generous fashion.  If I have to walk a quarter of a mile to the john, a) it needs to be emptied frequently enough that I don’t fear actually sitting on the waste of my companions and b) I shouldn’t ever even HEAR other campers.  the sites were nicely spaced, but if there’s no flush toilet, I want wilderness.  I’d totally go back, though.  We hear tell that there are “family” sites that have earlier quiet hours.  Which might have been nice…

First, here’s our site:

I got a second Hobitat 4 for us from REI, so that I could recreate The Shire:

But in the 3 years since I got my first one, they’ve redesigned them and I kind of hate the new one.  I may return it.  Cute co-ordinating tents be damned.

Now, I didn’t get photos, and I’m sad about that, but the site next to ours provided entertainment.  When we first arrived, we noticed that there were bongos.  Big ol’ professional drumming circle bongos.  We didn’t get there until about 5:30 /quick aside–on the way in, we stopped in Hancock, MD at Weaver’s Family Restaurant.  It has the best pie in the world.  Fabulous fries.  Grilled cheese as good as the hospital’s and I’ve said I’d almost have another baby to get one of those.  AND while we were there, there was some sort of high drama hostage situation going down across town.  Steve thought–great pie, waitresses from the 50s, crime drama– maybe we were in an episode of Twin PeaksSo delicious that we stopped again going home.  Seriously, if you have to go on 70W to 68W, stop.  Eat. Come for the pie, stay because you’re being held hostage./ and the Bob Marley was wailing.  Andi said that earlier it had been Rage Against the Machine, but that a “sweet, funny, smoky smell” had wafted through the trees and then the reggae came on.  Over the weekend, I found that most campsites were playing Bob Marley.  The whiter the folk, the more likely it seemed that they’d be playing Legend.  Always Marley, Always Legend.  No Peter Tosh, no Jimmy Cliff.  Now, the fact that I knew all the words and the order of the songs suggests I’m not one to judge, but still…it’s funny is all.  White boys love them some angry black men.  On records, of course.  And preferably dead since before they were born.  ANYway, we figured we’d get some right-up-until-the-midnight-quiet-hours drumming.  But no.  Just the occasional pitterpat on the drum, jingle of the tambourine.  And a HUGE ass pallet fire.  They had a bonfire that tickled the tree tops.  Which is always good if everyone is stoned and/or drunk.

That was Friday night, though.  Now SATURDAY night, THEN they can party.  Still not so much drumming.  But the drinking and the fire-making.  Oh yes.  The fire was so big it scared the kids. And the guys were so drunk someone had to call the management.  Did I say “guys?”  I meant “guy.”  He was the blonde one that didn’t wear a shirt all day and liked to put on the hat with the fake dreads attached.  Shocking, I know.  Around 2 am, he staggered, lost, into our campsite, announcing that he was “so F*CKED UP!”  he told us that many, many times.  Which really, showed a remarkable self-awareness for someone who was so very, very drunk.  The manager came and very gently guided him home and tried to tell him that “We don’t have a lot of rules here, but our #1 rule is, don’t bother other people.”  To which our Marleyfan replied, “Well MY #1 rule is to HAVE FUN! Woo!”  Which yeah, of course.  Dan, our sitemate who, amusingly, teaches anger management, was quite eager to smash the guy’s head in.  The really odd thing, though, is that there were about 20 people at that site.  Some had kids.  Why did not one person say “Jim, I think you need to calm down.  C’mere”?  Every little t’ing is not going to be all right if you let your drunken idiot friends rampage around at 2 am.  I will get up, stand up, stand up for my right to a decent night’s sleep.  It would satisfy my soul if you would stop trying to stir it up…Okay, I’ll stop.

There was a nice meadow nearby that the kids enjoyed.  Ben zoomed down a hill on his scooter:

Lily gamboled about

And they stood close together without bickering for about 30 seconds.

As I said, we didn’t go on the rafting trip, so Steve and I took the kids into Ohiopyle and visited the Natural Waterslide and Cucumber Falls.  The waterslide is a spot where there’s a narrow river rushing through the rocks.  Here’s Ben’s reaction to being thrown downstream against stone:

The water level was low, though, so it was more of a waterscootch for most of the way.  Julianna could really only slide for a short section and then had to just scootch or get up and walk:

See those rocks?  They’re crazy slippery.  I aged at least 5 years watching my kids skitter along, allllmost falling and cracking their heads.  It was treacherous.  I cannot believe there wasn’t an ambulance just sitting in the parking lot.  Surely there’s about a death a day.  Nice place to buy the farm, though:

Once my nerves were totally shot, we moved across the road to Cucumber Falls, which used to have a better name:

This, of course, led to calls of “Park your kiester!” all the way down to the falls.  Pretty, but again less dramatic because there hadn’t been enough rain:

Lily and I climbed up behind the falls.  It was almost like getting a shower:

After playing in the falls, we went back to camp to rest and eat and then we went into the town of Ohiopyle to score some ice cream.  It was the day of the Over the Falls Festival, and we got to watch kayakers going over the big falls.  It was very cool and I was very glad I was not trapped in a wee capsizing boat going over a waterfall:

I spent the afternoon feeling like a big ol’ suburban slacker schlump.  Everyone in the town was perfectly toned and athletic.  I really want to be that Xtreme sports chick, but I don’t want to actually have to learn any of this stuff.  I prefer the Athena method–spring fully formed from the brow of Zeus, ready for action.  Learing?  practicing?  Meh.  that’s for mortals.

Back to camp for yummy campfire chili (thanks, Andi!) and a night of getting up to pee every hour and listening to the ravings of drunks.

Oh, and babies.

Rebecca:

And the very yummy Hazel:

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