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Monday, August 4, 2008

Summer vacation 2008, part 1

Leave Peoria and head to Belleville to visit with Heather's parents. Get some work done on the van while we're there (since like the ONLY mechanic we trust lives there. -- FOSTER'S AUTOMOTIVE -- They do GREAT work.)
Have dinner with her folks that evening at Hometown Buffet in Fairview Heights. Tolerable food, as usual. Heather & the kids are in bed that night by 8:30. Brandon & I stay up shooting the breeze another hour.

Get up at 4am after a crappy sleepless night. Bed sucks, pillow sucks, hot as hell in that room of the house, cat hair in the air, ACHOO! Get the family in the van & leave around 5am for Missouri. Stop at 6:00 for breakfast at the Waffle House- YUM. We try to get breakfast there at least every other time we come down here.
Back on the road. Arrive at Trout Lodge in Potosi, MO around 9:00. We can't check in yet, so we pre-register and head to the Country Store to schedule our events. First event: Summit Cilmb & Rappel. Brandon & I begin gearing up at 10:00. Brandon goes first. Here are the details:
1. Climb 15 feet up a telephone pole to an attached log. Walk up the log, which is inclined, about 25 feet log with a rise of maybe an additional 5 feet, to another pole.
2. Hook into a new safety line, off the belay, and cross 20 feet to the next pole, walking across two WOBBLY cables (20 feet up, remember). It's called "Tired Two Legs."
3. Hook into a new safety line and cross about 10 feet on two parallel 2x6's, edge up.
4. Hook into a belay line & climb the next telephone pole an additional 10 feet up to cross a vertical rope 'X' that's about 20 feet long. The top rope & bottom rope cross in the center, where the top becomes the bottom & vice versa.
5. Off belay, on new safety line. Climb into the center of a rope web & rappel down thru the center from 30 feet.
Brandon does great. I... cheat, kinda. On "Tired Two Legs," I just decide to leap off the pole and see how far my body weight and momentum can carry me before I have to use my legs. I make it 3/4 of the way, then finish strong.
For step 4, I begin climbing out on the rope with my eyes closed, then about 4 feet out decide to go for the leap again. I pull myself along with the top rope until I can use both ropes again comfortably. Screw that stupid 'X'.
After that, lunch. Fried chicken, roast beef, mac n cheese, mashed taters, green beans, LOTS OF WATER.
Then we all go tie-dye some tee shirts together. Lots of fun and we all did a different pattern. After that, it's time to take Ashley to register for his overnight camp at YMCA Camp Lakewood. We get him to his cabin to meet his three counselors- Schizo, Violet and Mischief. I make up Ashley's bed and we get him all settled & give hugs & kisses & take off back to Trout Lodge.
Brandon, Heather, Calliope & I make a run to WalMart for supplies & then come back, register for new events at the Country Store. After that, we come back to the lodge & get checked in to our room, where we unpack. Soon after comes dinner. Yum. I love the food here. I have baked pollack filets with curry rice and taters au gratin with iced tea.
The four of us hop in a canoe after dinner & row across the lake to campfire, where we sing songs along with a guitar-toting Aussie camp counselor. On the last ditty, "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)," I whip out my Jew Harp and twang along. Lots of grins round the fire.
Back to the room, where Heather & Calliope shower. Brandon & I head out for a moonlight hike at 9pm, for an hour. When we get back, a quick snack of trail mix, plus a shower, then... BED! Finally! What a fantastic day, though.

More to come.