Monday, July 04, 2005

The First 2 Nights I Dwelt in a Tent

As mentioned, I have been camping like crazy this past week. So much has been going on that I'm not sure how I'm going to blog it effectively. We'll start with Girls Camp High Adventure (GCHA), and move on to the Adirondacks trip. And fill it in with car trouble and more fun and excitement!
GCHA was Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. I am the 4th Camp Leader. At regular camp (in a few weeks) I will have 23 girls. But for high adventure I only had 10, and 3 other leaders to help. (When we get to regular camp I am on a 1:23 ratio however!) We took the girls up to Harpers Ferry, WV for a 15 mile bike ride, campout, and 8 mile canoe trip. The girls were fantastic. I was shocked to find out that these girls had managed to make it to their 4th year and had never slept in a tent. I found myself saying, "Back when I was your age..." way too many times on the trip. But suffice it to say, back when I was their age (15) we camped in tents and cooked over fires for most meals. These girls were getting their first and only experience at that at GCHA. But there were fantastic. There was almost no complaining, beyond the initial shock of throwing their foil dinners into the coals and ashes. "It goes where?!" And I made the girls set up their own tents, which they did perfectly.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I've skipped all the good parts. First, the bike ride. 15 miles. I haven't been on a bike in, um, probably 15 years easily. But thankfully it was nearly all flat. My knees held up for the most part, and the girls did great. After all, camp is all about the girls, right? Taylor, a sweetheart of a girl who brought multiple books for a one night trip, and wore a pink underarmor shirt (I have dubbed her mini-me. how could i not love a blond haired girl who asked me for a list of my favorite books and wants to work for an NGO in Eastern Europe when she grows up?), was our one causalty. She took a little trip over her handlebars, and pulled a great deal of skin off her knee. So I got to brush of my EMT skills and play para-doctor in the woods. I didn't have the heart to tell her at the time, (but she found out later at the ER), but she pulled off so much skin in the accident that I was looking at her knee cap. But this fantastic little trooper got back on her bike and finished the last 5 miles of the trip without crying or complaining. I was so amazed!
We got the girls back to the so-called campground and found ourselves in for a big surprise. It wasn't what most people would call a campground by any stretch of the imagination. A sideyard on a main road adjacent to the train tracks would be a much more accurate description. This little tiny side yard, complete with brand new port-a-potty, had a fire ring, but that would be the extent of its "campy-ness." We set up camp, and then discovered the train. We could see the tracks. They were no more than 50 feet away from our tents. And then we got to see the train(s)- at 7:30, 10:30, 2:30 a.m., 5:30, etc. I think one of my favorite parts of camp was watching the girls run towards the train pumping their arms up and down like kids do to make truck drivers honk. I don't think they realized that the trains always honk when entering a station. Station? Did I just say station? Oh yes, I did! This wasn't just a train crossing! This was a transfer station for the trains! So the trains don't just pass us by, they stop and stay awhile. And then change cars and make the loudest BANG sound I have ever heard in the process. (ask me how many times i heard that noise!) Now guess how many West Virginian rednecks will pull up to a train crossing where there is a 30 car train sitting across the road, and honk at it as if that will make it move!? And now many times a night they will do that?!
Needless to say, I got about 2 hours of sleep that night. But it was a fun adventure that the girls will likely never forget. And like I said, its all about the girls.
The next day we broke camp (I did nothing- I made the girls do everything for me) and then went canoeing down the Potomac. The water level was so low that we could see the bottom the entire time I think. I also discovered that I am possibly the worst canoer ever. And as usual, I got sunburned, in spite of copious amounts of sunblock. And my blond hair is practically white. Thankfully the day was for the most part unadventurous on the river.
On the way home, I had 2 girls in my car to deliver back to their mothers. (both girls well tanned and burned and sore as well) I think we drove over 100 miles when my car starting acting funny. Just a block from my apartment I started to smell something burning and saw the smoke coming from the engine. My car (the big blue beast) has been at the mechanics ever since. My family has been kind enough to lend me their Camry in the meantime. All of this caused a huge damper on my weekend plans. I was worried about money and transportation obviously. Car troubles are one of my biggest stresses in life, and I never do handle them well. I am far too dependent on my car. I feel useless without it. My original estimate on the car was $800+, hence the freaking out. (The car is only worth $2000 if that.) But thanks to junkyard parts, its being repaired for $400 instead. What a blessing!
The upcoming weekend plans were to go camping in the Adirondacks with some friends. But with no car, and a considerably tighter budget than usual now, I wasn't sure if I should go. BUt after talking to some friends, and working things out, I chose to go. And I am so glad I did. Read the blog above for the details on that!

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