Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Family Reunion/Camping Trip

I learned that some of my family is reading my blog, so I guess that means I can't gossip about anyone from the family reunion.... Ha, ha! Just kidding!

I had tried to send a picture from my cell phone with the caption, "Live from the family reunion" to this blog, but apparently it didn't go through.

Well, the weekend was really fun, but it seemed to fly by!

It seemed like everything was stacked against us from the start. Chris had wanted to get an early start at work on Thursday night/Friday morning (whichever way you look at it--it's Thursday night for me because I haven't gone to bed yet, but Friday morning for him because he has and is up for the day). He wanted to leave at midnight and I get off work at 11:45pm. But, I had to work an extra hour Thursday. That part didn't bother me much because we had gotten off early so much the week before that I needed to make up for it. But, that meant Chris didn't leave for work until about 2:00am. I had also wanted to go to the store after work, but between working late and Chris needing to get to work, I ended up having to do my shopping in the morning. And of course, I had to run to several different places: Wal-Mart, Dollar General, K-Mart, Sam's, Perfect Peace, Wal-Mart again, etc. Then I had to go pick up the U-Haul trailer we were renting. That turned into a bigger deal than it should have been because the lights weren't working right. So, by the time I got home, Chris pulled in about five minutes behind me. He was muttering about how we weren't going to get out of here until 6:00pm. We had planned to leave early enough to get the girls out of school early. We loaded the truck and the U-Haul, Chris ran a couple of errands, picked up the girls from school (on time), I took a shower, he changed the oil, and we 6:00pm.

The gate at the campground is locked at 10:00pm, so we had four hours to get there. Plus, it would be dark when we had to put up our tent and there had been thunderstorms in the forecast for that area. So, we were racing the clock and the elements. We thought we would be fine because it should only take two and a half to three hours at the most to get there.

Let me just say that I will never again use MapQuest! This is no1t the first time that the directions have been off. I should have known better from the last time. It's been two years since I have been down there and I thought I remembered that we had gotten turned around trying to take people's advice about a shorter way. Well, I thought I knew the way from my aunt's town (Sapulpa) to the lake about 25 minutes away. So, I put in for directions through Sapulpa, which is a little out of the way, but I thought it would be worth it if it put us in familiar territory. When we got off the highway at the Sand Springs/Sapulpa exit, we ran into a one way frontage road going the wrong way. So, Chris got frustrated with me (I was driving) and made me pull over and he got us turned around (remember we had a trailer and can't turn on a dime) and drove the rest of the way in. The directions said to turn onto 151st street. Once we got to that point of the directions, I couldn't find it. We came to a light at highway 33 that had a sign directing us to turn right to get to Heyburn Lake. But, there was another sign saying you could get to Heyburn Lake by going straight. And I wasn't seeing this 151st street. So we kept going. Eventually I saw a sign that said 161st street. So that made me think we had passed it (unless we were getting ready to enter another town). I tried to find another street sign to confirm, but it was too dark. When Chris realized that I was lost (WE were lost), he lost his temper. We decided that we thought we had passed it, but we weren't sure where we were supposed to be going. It then dawned on me that I hadn't written down anyone's phone number to call in case we got lost. My mom was at work until 11pm, so I couldn't call her. My grandparents weren't at home, they were there camping! So, we were really in trouble. And time was passing by quickly. And we could see lightning nearby. My husband happens to be a man that actually asks for directions. He turned us around and at the first gas station, he stopped to ask for directions. Only he wasn't being clear--he was asking for this elusive 151st street and none of them knew what he was talking about. One guy approached and asked if we had gotten the information we needed. When Chris said no, the guy asked if he could help. I piped up and clarified that we were looking for Shepherd's Point on Heyburn Lake. Instead of just giving the directions, the guy wanted to chat. "Oh, I'm camping on the other side of the lake from you. What are y'all going up there for? My dad's up there now and he says there's no more spots to rent...." Finally he tells us to go back up the road about four miles and turn left at the light, then six or seven miles up the road and turn at the wooden "Shepherd's Point" sign. From his directions, I suspected he was talking about highway 33. Chris was loathe to follow his directions because he thought the guy was drunk, but he did and sure enough, we got there. We pulled in at 9:30pm. The gatekeeper knew exactly who we were and said they had been wondering if we would make it.

We pulled in and found our campsite. As we got out, my uncle Billy called out from his tent in the spot next to us, "Robin? Is that you?" I answered that it was. He came over and helped us decide on a flat spot for the tent and loaned us his rake and talked with us for a few minutes. He was tired, so he went back to his tent and went to sleep. We commenced with setting up our tent in the dark with lightning flashing all around. We finally got it up, secured our stuff, and went to bed. I don't think it ended up raining after all.

I couldn't sleep. There were these people across the road from us that were up half the night being loud. They weren't rowdy, obnoxious people. I suspect that they just slept through the heat of the day and stayed up visiting and partying half the night. And there were two golden labs that were running around loose that kept barking at those people half the night. We thought they belonged to the people a little ways down and weren't sure why they weren't chained. They kept running around the campsite. My uncle said they chewed up his spatula. I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and the dogs came towards me, barking and growling. I took up a fight stance and shined my flashlight in their eyes and said in a loud, gruff voice, "Get on out of here!" They took off. I went back to the tent and slept off and on. I was awakened in the wee hours by something running over my feet. The dogs were running circles around our tent and had run across the corner where my feet were. Chris ran them off and brought all our shoes inside because they had been sniffing at the girls' shoes and if my uncle's spatula was any indication, they wouldn't be safe outside.

I had planned to go to the store once we got there on Friday night, but since we arrived so late, I couldn't have made it back before the gate was locked. We hadn't wanted to transport food stuffs, so we decided to buy it when we got there. Well, as a result, we had nothing for breakfast until I went to the store. My uncle Billy said we should go over and eat with the rest of the family (most of them, for the 21 years they have been using this campground, have been camping at the other end, on the other side of the pavilion that we use for the reunion from where we were). I said I had to go to the store, but tried to get Chris and the girls to go over there, but they wouldn't. Me and little Billy went to the Wal-Mart in Sapulpa and Chris and the girls set up the rest of our campsite.

I called my mother on my way out at 8am, figuring they would be well on their way as she and my brother had been planning to leave at 7am. She said that my brother hadn't come to get her yet, but was on his way. It took us so long at the store, between Billy having to go to the bathroom and Chris calling to tell me he needed more supplies, that we didn't get back to camp until after 10:00am. We made some sandwiches to tide us over until the family lunch. Mom and Bub got there and I went up to the pavilion to say hi. Also, we took a card and birthday gift over to my grandpa--he turned 82 last week and I was bad and didn't get over to see him. I couldn't think if a good gift for him so I bought him one of my favorite books: Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith. We visited with them for a little while, then went back to our camp. Not long after, we went up the hill to the pavilion to join the rest of the family. We visited, the kids played, we ate, then the auction started. Every year family members bring homemade crafts to be auctioned off to raise money for the next year's reunion--it covers the cost of the pavilion, the food, the toys for the kids, etc. In the middle of that, it started to rain. Chris and Billy went back to our camp to secure anything that couldn't get wet and they stayed there and took a nap. The wind picked up suddenly and nearly blew everything away. I had noticed a steadily building headache, but had ignored it. It kept going and became a full-blown migraine. Worst one I have had in years. I wanted to stay so bad, but I kept feeling more and more sick. I stayed through the cake walk and then we said good-bye and I took the girls back to camp. I was so sick at that point, I wasn't even sure I could walk that far (and it wasn't far). We laid down in the tent (it had stayed dry inside) and I rested. By dark, I tried to get up and around for a while, but I was still feeling horrible. Chris made dinner, but I didn't eat it because I felt so bad. My uncle Billy blamed it on us not going and eating breakfast when he told us to. I blame it on a combination of being tired, the stress of the day before, having no caffeine all day (i was trying to drink water and juices), and the heat.

The dogs had been picked up by the county that day--the people down the way weren't their owners after all. Their owners had dumped them off several weeks prior and left them. At least I didn't have their barking or running me over to keep me awake. The people across the street kept me awake briefly, but not for long. The next day the headache was mostly gone. I kept having flashes of pain, but nothing major.

It's become a tradition for the family members that have camped out to get together Sunday morning and combine food for a big breakfast. We brought our bacon, eggs, & hashbrowns, but my uncle Billy made us take them back because they had enough. Uncle Billy and my great-uncle Richard cooked up a big huge breakfast and we had a good time eating and visiting. A lot of the family was leaving that day because the forecast called for more rain and everyone else that had been in tents hadn't been as lucky as we were and had gotten wet. So, after breakfast, they went back to their camps to pack up. We went to Wal-Mart to get a few more supplies (our lantern wasn't working, so we had little more than flashlight light after sunset). When we got back, Arrena and Kimmy played in the pavilion with their cousins. Billy swam in our blow-up pool, while Chris put the new lantern together and we started lunch. When we got lunch done, I drove to the other end of the campground to invite others to eat with us. My Aunt Janie was the only one who came down, so we had cheddar brats and watermelon and chips. She taught the girls to play the card game "books" and she sat and chatted with me for a couple of hours. She decided to go back to camp to see if she could help--she said they were making tacos for dinner and we should come over.

We took the kids down to the swimming beach because they had been clamoring to swim in the lake. We didn't stay there long. After that, Chris and the kids gathered firewood because the girls wanted to roast marshmallows later. They built up a fire in the fire pit and then we went over to the other side of the campsite.

I guess they all changed their minds about having tacos. My great-uncle Gary and great-aunt Bessie were leaving, and Aunt Janie, me, Chris, my cousin Angie, her husband Ronnie, and my cousin Tammy's husband Randy played honeymoon rummy. I had never played before. It's kind of like Phase 10, only harder. When it got dark, we put up a light and kept playing. We were cutting it close because Angie and Ronnie weren't camping and had to be out before the gate was locked at 10pm. Ronnie won and I came in second! Not too bad for my first time playing. They were laughing at Chris because he misunderstood the directions for the last hand and there was no way he could recover. The kids played with their cousins and entertained cousin Tammy and my great-aunt Ruthann. Billy had them all thinking he was so cute, despite his hitting his sisters, refusing to sit in Tammy's lap, and the lovely moment when he bent over and put his butt in Kimmy's face and farted loudly. Everyone laughed and I hung my head. Where did I go wrong?

It was nearly 10pm when we got back to our camp and we were hungry, so we threw on some burgers and reheated some of the brats from lunch. My aunt Janie and cousin Jimmy came over and ate with us. Billy fell asleep in his chair. The girls finally got to roast their marshmallows and made s'mores. They were so thrilled. I couldn't get Billy to wake up, so the girls made one for him and we put it away. Then we all headed to bed. Incidentally, it didn't rain again.

My aunt Janie and cousin Jimmy came over again in the morning for breakfast. She said that she felt like she was constantly bumming food off of us, but we didn't care--we had plenty! They packed up and her daughter (my cousin Jennifer) and her husband came and picked up their stuff and they left. We packed in our camp, said our good-byes to those that remained and headed out, finding the better route in and out of there, instead of the long way!

All in all, we had a blast. I was glad to get back home though, if for no other reason than that it's nice to get out of the shower and not immediately get my feet dirty again. And the bathrooms out there were HORRENDOUS! I don't expect much from campground bathrooms, but this was ridiculous. Where we camped was between the two bathrooms. There was one between us and the pavilion and that's the one we all usually use. When we got there, one of the two toilets in the ladies bathroom either hadn't been flushed or wouldn't flush. I flushed it and it mostly went down. When I tried to flush the rest, it wouldn't flush again. So, everyone used the remaining toilet. Then it clogged up and flooded, with excrement and toilet paper all over the floor, clear to the door. So that bathroom was unusable. The other one was much nicer at first, but the following day after we started using it, someone got nasty and smeared "stuff" on the wall in one stall and in the other there was something all over the front of the toilet. I suspect it was just mud, but I wasn't going to find out. At least this year the grass had been mowed. One year, the grass was so high, the kids could barely play. The family plans to inundate the Army Corps of Engineers with angry letters and are also thinking about finding a different location for the next reunion. That's sad because they have been out there for 21 years and it's part of grandpa's childhood--he told Chris he helped clear some of the trees out there.

From what I heard, there were more from my grandpa's descendants there than from any other family. I think we all suspected that this might be pawpaw's last year. Who knows, he might hang on. But, he has Parkinson's and I see such a decline in him. I sat there at the auction, watching him with tears in my eyes. He doesn't look at all like the big strong man I remember. I can't stand the thought of losing him. But, I know I will see him again and that he will be free from pain and happy with his Lord. He is likely looking forward to his home-going and seeing his sister and others again.

I almost thought about suggesting we stay out there one more day since we are on vacation and the girls had an inservice day. But, I knew they were ready to go and we needed to get things done this week. The weather hadn't been unbearable--in the low 90s (until it rained and the wind sprang up). As long as we sat still, the breeze off the lake was nice, and we stayed comfortable. It was when we moved around that we got hot and sweaty. We got back on Monday, and Tuesday here was hot from start to finish, but Wednesday, the weather changed to autumn in a flash. The temps dropped to the 50's and 60's. It felt great, but boy, was it a shock! Now this is the weather I would like to camp in! I might have to gather my little brood up for another camping trip in a couple of weekends! Right now, they are just happy to have their TV back! I pointed out that they survived three days without it and they barely touched their box of toys. They found ways to entertain themselves. Chris has been talking about getting a camper. I am perfectly fine in a tent--I actually kind of enjoy it--but the one reason I would agree to a camper is for the bathroom. They want it so they can have air conditioning and TV. I am afraid that we would never leave the camper! But, I would be happy to have a working toilet and a clean shower! We'll see what happens.

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