Dorothy Was Right: Sometimes You’ll Find What You’re Looking for in Your Own Backyard

Posted: April 21, 2015 in Family and Children
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 If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with. ~Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

This beast belongs to us:

Our RV parked in a KOA camp site.

Our RV parked in a KOA camp site.

It’s an RV, a genuine, bonafide Recreational Vehicle. I like to call it, “That there, Clark, is an RV,” in honor of Cousin Eddie in my favorite Christmas movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It could also be called a “Retirement Vehicle,” because you know when most people think of RV’s, they picture little white haired Florences and Harolds zipping across the country, living the good life at 37 miles per hour.

This however, is our RV, and we are mid-thirty-somethings with small to medium sized children, not exactly the expected demographic for RV-ers. But no matter, we love our beast. She is huge and lumbering, and required us to dismantle an entire ceiling in Luke’s shop building just to be able to park her inside, but she is our ticket to fun and adventure, and also a great black hole that we stand over and throw money into gleefully, because we apparently don’t have enough of those in life, you think?

She took her first trip of 2015 this past weekend, and like any great adventure, Murphy’s Law was in full play. With an RV, the sentiment is that Whatever Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong, and it will cost more money than you expected to fix it. To begin with, we reserved ourselves a camping site at the KOA that is located five miles from our house. Yes, we spent the whole weekend paying money to stay in the same town where we live. I dare say, our own backyard, practically.

I know, right?

But it was our first trip this year, and we hadn’t taken her out since September of 2014 due to unforeseen life events involving, let’s just say, the bizarre and heartbreaking effects of having children with a person to whom you can no longer speak to, much less look at. (Luke, not me). Maybe that will be a story for after the court date, or maybe never. We’ll see. Suffice it to say, we didn’t really want to camp without all our kids being able to go.

But glorious circumstances conspired in our favor, and there we were, parking our house on wheels in a sunny little campsite, greeted as we opened the door by a trio of concierge ducks, like we were checking in at Nature’s hotel. Instead of a tip, we gave them bread chunks, and they must have approved because they all three rested in the shade of my VW Jetta while we set up camp (jacks down, slide out, plug in – that’s pretty much it. I still remember the days of tenting so this . . . is a miracle).

Ducks looking for handouts

Luke bribes the concierge for better service during our stay.

Our campsite greeting committee

Our campsite greeting committee

The first clue something was off: shortly after plugging in to the site’s electric hook up, the power blew. After trying various tricks (plug in to the other outlet! Turn the breaker off!) it became clear that We Have a Problem Here, Folks.

No power.

The other slight disappointment were the signs posted reading “No Ground Fires.” Pretty much the whole point of having an RV was so that we could go build fires outdoors for the sole purpose of toasting marshmallows and mushing them between layers of graham crackers and melty chocolate. But no matter, we can roll with it. We’re camping! Just as there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no complaining in camping.

We’re here to have fun. Damn it, have some fun! That’s an order.

It became clear that we would not have power for the weekend. We have a generator that we could run a little to run the air conditioner, the microwave, etc. for a few minutes, but otherwise, we made the best of it.

At night, for the first time in forever, we opened all the windows and let the air keep us cool. In the morning, we were treated to the excited and very loud announcement from the landing geese at the campground pond that THEY ARE HERE!! Apparently, they needed to take off and land six or seven times making this announcement in case some ducks three counties over didn’t hear that the geese had landed. Still, it was nice enough weather in the morning for the kids to all go fishing at the pond with Luke while I made a giant stack of pancakes.

The Torrential rain (Yes, it needs caps . . . it was Torrential!) didn’t arrive until about 10am or so, just after everyone finished breakfast. Even then, the kids spent more time than I would have guessed playing in the rain, and dirt, and mud. They were sent with a towel and bottle of 3-in-1 to the facility showers before being allowed to set foot upon the pristine camper. (Disclaimer: Not really pristine. The previous owners had dogs, I’m sure of the small fluffy variety, who seemed to like marking their territory, which apparently ran the length of the carpeted living area and was designed to release in a “time release” fashion. This, despite Luke and myself scrubbing every square inch of said carpet last year with “guaranteed to work” carpet cleaner).

Lucky for all of us, the Torrential rain didn’t last too long. By mid afternoon, we glimpsed the first patch of blue sky to break through the clouds, and before long, the sky was a deep blue, the sun was out, and it was chilly but beautiful. The kids loved the campground’s playground, a relic from the 1970’s, before playgrounds needed to be layered in bubble wrap. This playground boasted swings with no braces, a bizarre spinning contraption that three kids could dangle from and fling themselves around to get dizzy and fall to the ground, and the piece de resistance: see saws.

The kids love the see saw as much as I used to!

The kids love the see saw as much as I used to!

Good, old fashioned wood see saws, with a tire underneath to make the landing just a little less jarring than hitting concrete. The kids spent the better half of two days trying to make each other fly at the top, or suddenly jumping off at the bottom, leaving the other person to crash land in a very undignified manner. Jake shouted,” Oh, my balls!” on too many occasions to count. I got a little carried away when see sawing with my nine-year-old, Sophie, and flew her so hard at the top that she launched halfway across the board and bravely informed me after, “It’s okay, Mom, I think I’ll still be able to have kids…”

The day turned to evening with little threat of the rain from earlier. The sky was blue, the sunset was photogenic, and I bravely attempted grilled burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob and buttered potatoes on the grill in tin foil. It was a feast I was more than a little proud of, as the kids whipped corn cobs out of the pan so fast even the ducks were impressed.

And we even bypassed the “no fire pit” law as we hijacked the outdoor camp grill of a nearby tent site for our s’mores. That night, again, we slept with the windows open, and the cold air kept us burrowed down in the blankets until a round of rain and wind woke us up the next morning. It went away fast, and we were left with more sun and blue sky.

I think there’s a reason Murphy’s Law exists. Things go wrong all the time. Basically, anytime something occurs you weren’t expecting, it means it went wrong. In my experience, this is pretty much all day, every day. The whole point of life is to have fun despite this. Our camping trip was a last minute idea. It didn’t go as we expected it to.

And we had a blast.

I asked my nine-year-old what her favorite part of the weekend was, and she replied, “The whole weekend.”

Sure, I got unnaturally enraged when Luke decided to walk through the entire camper with his muddy sneakers on, but I chose not to kill him! Sure we are now out somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 to replace our fried switching box and add in a special camper surge protector for good measure! During one of the times we plugged power in, the DVD player started smoking like I had poured liquid nitrogen over it, but the next day that sucker still worked!

The point is, we spent the weekend together, laughing, bickering, playing, and relaxing. We met new people. We ate good food. We hugged our kids, and chased ducks.

And on Sunday evening, after we tucked the camper back into her bunker in the shop (narrowly missing a huge wind/rain/hail storm), we drove home as the sun shone through the last of the rain and revealed a giant double rainbow over the Arkansas River (I know, you can’t really see the two here, but I promise, they were there):

Our weekend ended with a double rainbow.

Our weekend ended with a double rainbow.

In life there’s always going to be things going wrong. But in the middle of that, there’s adventures to be had anyway, and all the amazing little moments that make life awesome. And if you look, you’ll usually notice those things are not all that far from your own backyard.

So what do you do when Murphy’s Law hits? Laugh, cry, throw dishes? What kind of adventures do you enjoy most: the big globe trotting travels, the close to home ones, or both? Leave me some comments!

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