Morning is a surly time on the best of occasions, but when morning starts at 5:52, you know we're in for a special level of torture. Here's how I imagined morning on a campout being: crisp morning air, sun rising over the mountains, we're swinging on the porch swing, sipping hot chocolate while taking in the serene, calming beauty.
Here's how the morning really went: Up before the sun, hot chocolate getting dumped on the ground causing a Zack-level eruption, porch swing being used as ammo in a game of Whack-a-Brother, me shushing for an hour so neighbors (and spouses) can hopefully get a little more sleep, being told that my shushing is too loud, finally giving up and ordering Zack inside to watch Toy Story on the portable dvd player. Surrounded by natural beauty and all of God's wonders, and I still, STILL have to resort to plugging one of my kids in. This is an epic camping fail.
Although maybe I'm being too harsh. In all honesty, take out the outdoors part and the hot chocolate part and this is a typical hotel morning. Any morning that I have to deal with the kids at 5:52 a.m. is going to be lousy. Trying to keep kids quiet so other people can sleep is a documented cause of parental insanity. (Trust me, I know.) This problem isn't camping-specific - it's a symptom of traveling with children.
One problem that IS camping-specific, or more accurately, KOA-specific, are the cabin doors. The cabin is solid wood, floors, walls, ceilings, all of it. The doors have a locking mechanism that is vaguely reminiscent of the bars medieval castles used to close their doors to invaders. A handle on the outside pulls a rope that lifts the bar on the other side, allowing the door to be pushed open. Nifty, right? The only problem is that it is the loudest door-opening mechanism ever invented by man. The invention of the doorknob is what catapulted medieval man into the modern era. The wooden bar scrapes and clanks, the handle rattles, the door itself sticks and has to be forced open. We may as well attach a bell to it - no one is coming or going without waking the entire family.
An exchange taking place at, oh, 8:00 or so.
Noah: Are people still sleeping?
Me: Probably. I would be if I could.
Noah: Geez, people sleep for hours!
I don't want to sound completely negative, because overall we had a very nice day, but I have one more complaint: Google Maps. We've all had minor maps-related snafus - being directed to a dead end, going to a business address that no longer exists - a friend recently had to walk through a field to show up at the back door of the address she was looking for. That's the cost of convenience, I say. Well, I say wrong, apparently. Because today Google Maps failed on such a massive scale I wouldn't be surprised if this was a belated April Fool's Joke. From our campground in Green River, Google instructed us to take US-6 westbound, i.e. back toward home. So we did. For 45 minutes. The promised left-hand turn that would take us to Goblin Valley never appeared. And, naturally, neither did our cell service. We turned around and finally got a hold of the camp, asking for directions - we should have been on I-70 westbound. What should have been a 30 minute drive ended up being about two hours, which would make this a Mudgett-scale "shortcut." Fortunately, everyone handled it really well - no one freaked out, although we endured an extra 1.5 hours of "are we there yets" until I threatened to leave Noah on the side of the road and let him walk to Goblin Valley, see how long it takes you then, buddy.
(I was just kidding about that. I wouldn't actually make my kid get out of the car and walk. But it made him stop asking, finally.)
Goblin Valley itself is just too cool for words. I forgot to pack my USB adapter for my camera so authentic pictures are going to have to wait, but here's a picture I found online and I can attest, yup, it looks just like that in real life.
The kids took off running and pretty much didn't stop for an hour. They climbed over and through these crazy rock formations. The sun was shining but there was a cool breeze - it couldn't have been more perfect weather. They slowed down and a couple started to get testy, so we hiked from that far rock wall in the picture back through the goblins to the parking lot for lunch. The kids were done at that point, even though we had only been there about 1.5 hours. We've learned not to push things, though - the extra hour we could have squeezed out of them would have come at a great price in whining. Not worth it. We'll go back tomorrow before we head home, though. Ryan brought his stormtrooper armor in order to take pictures with that alien planet-like background. That's going to be a spectacle. I'm salivating already.
The drive back to the camp was substantially shorter, thank goodness. Ryan stayed behind to take a nap but when it was apparent that no children would be joining him (*shakes her fist in anger*) I took them to a beach. All these years of people talking about Goblin Valley and no one mentioned that there's a beach in Green River? It was awesome! I no longer feel the need to drive to California this summer. The beach was situated at a bend in the river, deep into a canyon - the water was swiftly flowing in the middle but created mild wavelets on the shore. The shore was fine sand and there was no seaweed/decomposing fish smell from the ocean which is nice, but the water was freezing. Didn't stop them, though - the kids jumped right in. We stayed well past the point where Darcey was shivering and blue-lipped because they were having so much fun.
Brad's campfire prowess showed itself tonight when he lit the fire with a single match. We cooked hot dogs for dinner then shared s'mores with a family that used to live in our neighborhood who happened to be here. The kids are looking exhausted at 8:30 p.m. - I'm not far behind them. My fingers are crossed that we all make it through the night without nature calling. Curse that astronaut-stalker for ensuring that we can never wear diapers for convenience. (Ryan thinks that reference was too obscure- tell me if you agree and I'll take it out.)
One last thought for the night.
Zack: I'm so cold. I wish Jesus would come down and give me a coat. And I'd say, "Thank you, Jesus!"
3 gnats orbiting my head at the playground
1 anonymous possible bug that fell out of a tree and hit Ryan on the head
Several more gnats attacking the laptop screen while Ryan and I watched Thursday's Survivor
1 spider on the door to our cabin that Ryan had to chase around in order to stomp on
Things I've Forgotten To Bring:
Cold cereal (Did not forget the milk, bowls, spoon)