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Owl Moon

September 23, 2010

Last Saturday, the weather was iffy. AJ’s morning football game was cancelled at halftime, thanks to lightning, and it rained on and off for much of the afternoon. AJ and I spent several hours as amateur meteorologists, watching the skies and the radar reports on the computer. But finally, we decided our camping trip was worth a shot. We loaded our duffle bag, sleeping bags, tents and chairs into the back of the van and set off for the grueling 15 minute drive to our campsite on the other side of the river.

We were among the last to arrive. We cleared the acorns from our site overlooking the marsh and set up our tent. I folded up the back seats of the van just in case we needed sturdier sleeping quarters. And then we joined the group around the campfire. There were 14 9- and 10-year-old boys, 13 fathers…and me. I was fully prepared to make myself scarce from what looked like it might be a boys weekend. But I actually really had a nice time. I knew some of the men from previous events. AJ’s friend C’s dad, a dred-locked metalworker (both industrial and artistic) from Australia, is always interesting to talk to. One of the other dad’s turned out to be the husband of someone in one of my yoga classes. But mostly, they are people that I probably wouldn’t run into in any other social setting. Many were blue collar workers. Many had 4 or more kids. Many talked about working multiple jobs to make ends meet. One vented his frustration with being unable to find work that paid enough to cover childcare for his children. All of them had worked hard to make the time to spend some one-on-one time with their boys. I found it very impressive.

The boys ran around and unearthed geocaching boxes and played football and capture the flag. Two of the men cooked the dinner, which was far better than the average campout. Or maybe it was just because we’d been working up an appetite outside in the cool autumn air. There was Coca Cola chicken, which was chicken breasts cooked in a dutch oven buried in coals in equal parts of ketchup and Coke plus spices for an approximation of barbecue sauce. There was also pot roast, cooked in water and onion soup mix with plenty of carrots, onions and potatoes. This was a far cry from the Dinty Moore stews of camping trips of my youth. The total absence of green vegetables of any kind was, however, true to the camping spirit. This was something I might actually make at home. Everything was steaming hot and warmed us up. Dessert was campfire cobbler made with pie filling (apple and cherry) topped with cake mix and Sprite. Much less disgusting than it sounds, but very, very sweet.

After dinner, we drifted back to our tents. AJ and I read for a few minutes before turning out our flashlights. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of owls — dozens of them of several different species — and the rumble of thunder in the distance. I lay awake for a while listening, and wondering if we’d have to make a run for the car. But despite a little more rain, the storm never materialized. When we woke up before 7, the sun was shining.

We walked out of our tent and saw this in front of us:

We cleaned up our tent and AJ ran out to play while I dismantled the tent and packed our gear back in the car. Then it was time for breakfast — coffee and pancakes — before heading home, up a long dirt road, past the marina entrance, and back over the river.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    September 23, 2010 10:41 am

    I’m glad you all had a good time. It does sound like an interesting group of dads. I don’t think I would have survived that meal, though. Clearly I’d fail at all aspects of camping.

  2. September 23, 2010 11:28 am

    What is “rain” that you speak of? I’m unfamiliar with seeing any of it here. It would simply be impossible to pound a tent stake into the ground.

    I’m impressed that you can hold your own with all the dads. I’d be intimidated I’m afraid to say.

  3. readersguide permalink
    September 23, 2010 5:06 pm

    What a lovely view!

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