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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Summer vacation 2008, part 3


We wake up this morning around 6:30, as usual. Everyone gets dressed and I bring some clothes in that we had set outside wet, to dry. We gather the dirty clothes together in bags, so we can take them into town to launder today. It is to be an adventure day today, with spontaneous activities instead of planned ones. Well, except for the pony ride. That comes after breakfast.

So we head down to breakfast at our usual 8am. I go for two sausage patties, a scoop of scrambled eggs, two biscuits (one covered with gravy) some OJ and milk. Yummilicious. Then, it's off to the Triangle-Y Ranch for Calliope's pony ride. Whee! Fun! Done.

After the ride, the plan is to head out to the Berryman Trail to see if we can find Heather's old Lakewood stamping grounds, in particular a stretch of creek that she used to stop at during horse overnights, and a general store they used to go to as well when she was a little camper herself. As we were about to leave the ranch, Heather spots Ashley with his camp group, playing in a stream over the hill from the ranch. We park the van and run across the road to hide behind a line of trees and watch him to see if he's having fun. I bring the video camera.

They are playing a game where one of the counselors is apparently a monster called "Crawdad," who like to kidnap children and take them down- or upstream. To quell his hunger for child flesh, they must all band together and beat him silly with pool noodles, while he throatily chants "Crawdad, Crawdad, Crawdad!" Ash is having fun. He's wearing his camouflage jammies for some reason, but he's smiling and having a good time. It makes me happy, but makes me miss him even more. I can't wait to see him again tomorrow. He's gonna be so grown up. Hope he doesn't greet us carrying a cigar and a snifter of brandy: "Hello mother. Good to see you again, father. How've you been?"

So we go for a drive, kinda blindly, through Mark Twain National Forest, looking for a specific but unnamed creek. It's kinda like looking for a needle in a needle stack. A good hour later, the immediate goal becomes getting out of the park and figuring out how to get back to Potosi so we can do our laundry and grab some lunch. By 1:00 or so, we make it back to town and stop at the laundromat to get some clothes in the wash.

Leaving the clothes there to launder, we run to Taco Hell for lunch, hoping it will be better than it is in Illinois. Not really any different. Oh well. Haven't had it in ages, so it was still kinda nice even though it was sucky. So we go back to put our stuff in dryers, then leave it there again & run to Walmart to return a shitty watch Heather got me a couple days ago.

Once we get back to the laundromat, of course only half of it is dry, so we pull out what's done, restart the rest, and run to gas up the van, cuz it's only $3.49 per gallon here. After the gas, we are able to retrieve the rest of the laundry and try one more time for the creek and general store.

We do find a general store that may or may not have been the right one, but Heather talks to the attendant and is told that the creek she's looking for is probably right up the road. She tells Heather as she leaves the store, "I hope you find your memories."

We drive down the gravel road she directs us to, and we find a kickass stream. Brandon, Calliope, Heather & I climb down the bank and hop in up to our ankles. We make our way along with the current and find an honest-to-gosh swimmin' hole, rope swing and all. Calliope has her bathing suit on, but the rest of us give in to the urge and hop in wearing our clothes. Wow. What a memorable experience. I am sooooooo glad we did this today.

Brandon swings out a few times and plops in the stream. Heather and Brandon float on their backs and have a race downstream. Calliope and I chuck rocks into the creek and swim around in the shallower bits. This may not be the right stream, or at least not the right area of the right stream, but it's definitely a fantastic find. It's hard to say how long we stay there, but it's at least an hour.

I feel the urge to take off, so we can get back for dinner, so we take off just as another family is showing up to our "secret swimming hole." Ten minutes after we leave, the rain starts. We get back to our room & unpack the clean clothes in enough time for dinner. I get chicken pot pie and green beans, lots of water again, and celery with peanut butter for dessert. After eating, we manage to beat the storm back to the Arts & Crafts building, where Heather plans to finish her mug. However, they are closed, so we decide to go to a barn dance instead.

The dance is fun. Heather & I do the Electric Slide & three or four other country line dances, the kids join in for the Hokey Pokey and the Chicken Dance, and we finish with the Cha-Cha Slide. When we leave, it's about 8:30 and the storm is in full force. Instead of going right to our room, we grab a couple of games at the front desk and take them to a lounge for all of us to play.

Calliope, Brandon & I play "Lucky Ducks" while Heather runs to the room to get our snacks. Upon her return, Heather, Brandon & I play Boggle for six rounds while Calliope draws a picture. I win. 54 to 43 to 21. Boo-ya!

Finally, back to the room for beddy-bye. And here I am, last one standing, at 11:30 pm, wrapping up this chapter of my blog for you. Done now til Part IV. Talk to you tomorrow.