By all accounts, it was a perfect birthday-celebrating weekend.
I packed the car with six sleeping bags and not nearly enough warm clothing and we headed north.
I had several people ask me, "Where are you going camping?"
Pause. "Um, in the mountains?"
They smiled. "Ya, but where?"
We don't make those kinds of plans when it comes to camping. I figured we'd just drive until the sagebrush and cactus turned into scrub pine and juniper and then keep driving until those pretenders turned into real forest, and then we'd pull over and pitch our tent.
Which is what we did. Right on the edge of the Mogollon Rim. David was so proud.
We got there just as the dark was starting to settle in and the stars were making their showy debut.
On this trip we discovered several things:
- an ax is a useful tool to have when you're camping (we did not)
- a working camp stove is also a useful tool to have (again, we did not). Unfortunately, if the camp stove doesn't work, it doesn't even matter that you were smart enough to remember to pack it.
- air mattresses pop when hot lanterns get tipped over on them. And the loud woosh of air leaving the mattress is the sound of your good night's sleep blowing away.
- no matter how hot it is in the valley, there are still places on earth where the temperature drops below 90 degrees. (Way below.) Somehow I always forget this, and we spent most of the trip huddled around the fire together, wishing I had remembered the coats rather than the camp stove.
- the milky way is jaw-droppingly stunning against a dark night sky. It was like someone opened a window to eternity and I thought, "Oh yeah, that's what it's all about."
And now, for my favorite quotes from the weekend. They tell the whole story...
"And now, for a few ghost stories..." [Ethan, after the fire was roaring]
"Have you heard of 'CO'?" [Caleb, on explaining to David why the propane heater should not be on in the tent]
"Does that mean we're going to die?" [Savannah, who, apparently, has heard of CO]
"Don't worry about it," I said, "we're not going to die. And if we do, we'll just all wake up tomorrow in the celestial kingdom." [Me, perhaps over-optimistically (let's be honest) settling the issue]
"We ought to do this more often because we're not very good at it." [Savannah, making a fair point]
"I love this so much." [Ethan, just before sleep in the dark tent]
"I'm actually surprised dinner tasted so good last night. Even though Mom cooked it on the fire." [Ethan, speaking confidentially to Olivia over the morning fire]
"Wow, I'm about as bad as BYU." [Savannah, after she had dropped three football passes in a row]
"You read about a lot of love triangles." [Ethan, regarding Olivia's latest book]
"This isn't a love triangle. It's a love square. You wouldn't understand." [Olivia, who else?]
And finally, we returned home to shower and wash the smoke out of our clothes and prep for Olivia's party. She had her first boy/girl party with food and games and a rousing round of iPod Idol. I overheard one of the boys asking,
"Why do you have Halloween decorations up? It's not even October."
Olivia said, "Ya, my mom doesn't really like September."
And there you have it.