The Campout

This post doesn’t involve as much running, although I did some intervals and a three miler during the week. Now, apparently when I say “intervals”, people get the impression that I am fast.

Back before college, I used to drive a diesel VW Rabbit (this was before most diesel cars had turbo). It was a feat to go more than 45 mph, but on the rare occasion when I wanted to pass somebody on the highway, I had to plan a half hour ahead. Ok, there’s a downhill coming up. I would roll up the windows to reduce drag and stomp on the gas as hard as possible. With a loud bang, the exhaust would belch a great black cloud and gradually the speedometer would notch up… one mph… two mph… As the car gained speed, I checked oncoming traffic and the cars behind me, calculating the time and speed necessary to make my move, praying that a big bug wouldn’t hit my windshield and slow my momentum. The time came and I made my move into the next lane. Inevitably, some fancy Yugo or Gremlin would come up behind me, honking for me to get out of their way. Too bad! I’m committed now! Slowly, I passed the target car giving the driver a smug nod while inside I was sweating bullets as the life-and-death game of chicken with the oncoming semi played out. “Come on, baby. You can do it!” I coaxed. The truck approached, not even slowing. Doesn’t he see me?! I looked at the car next to me, “Slow down!” I screamed, waving my hand. At his mercy, I narrowly passed before the semi roared by the other way. And then we would come to the bottom of the hill heading back up where I would begin to accumulate a long line of irate drivers behind me.

That’s me running intervals. Of course there was the time my gas pedal got stuck on Interstate 10 driving to U of A. That was a little stretch of terror I’ll never forget. But that’s never happened to me on a run (unless you count G.I. issues).

Now that we’re clear on that, I did do some fun outdoor hiking and camping over the weekend. My younger son, Carson, is a Cub Scout. So he, me and my older son, Parker, left Friday for a three day campout at nearby Lake Pleasant with his pack.

campsiteWe left after school and got there early to find a good spot – close to the water spigot and upwind of the restrooms. Carson and I slept in the larger tent. Parker slept in the little orange pup tent. He could barely stretch out in it, but he likes having his own place and I’m pretty sure he had snacks stashed in there as late at night I could hear the rustling of a chip bag and the whooshing of what I now believe was a battery operated Cappuccino machine.

Behind us, you can see part of a wall where the side of the hill was cut away. Digging and chipping away at that hill was the favorite pastime at the campout. The cubs were all over it like ants on a cookie and I soon found myself singing the dwarf song from Snow White.

“We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in our mine the whole day through.
To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we like to do.
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho…”

One boy said, “I’m digging for diamonds!” I suspect Minecraft was an influence.

At one point, they all got excited as someone said they saw a clown hiding in the bushes. This was a false alarm but stuck in the back of their heads for a while.

On Saturday, we went with the den on a hike up a nearby hill. It was steep and full of cacti and loose rocks. Some boys struggled. One slipped and scraped his leg. Others needed a boost. Finally, we crested the top feeling satisfied and accomplished. “We’re the kings of the world!” we shouted, then looked down to see a smashed beer can. Bummer. Great view from up there, though.

View from the top. Lake Pleasant in the distance.

The boys and I visited the Nature Center, then hiked a bit more and played by the lake skipping stones.

“Watch me skip this one!” Carson hollered, stumbling to the water’s edge with a boulder the size of his head. Parker and I were bent over looking at shells.

“Wait!” we yelled. Too late. Lake water in the mouth.

selfieWe had a blast, laughing and giggling as we pulled barbed stickers out of our shoes. At day’s end, we had walked or hiked over six miles and enjoyed sitting by the campfire that night.

The way they lit it was clever. A wire was threaded through a roll of toilet paper and ran from a tree branch to the fire pit. Then the toilet paper was suspended near the top. All lights were extinguished and near the tree you could hear the “flick, flick, flick” of someone trying to ignite a lighter. With a flash, the fluid saturated roll caught fire and all eyes went to the tree branches above. “Ohhh!” said the crowd of 75. The roll sat there dripping fireballs as a guy with kitchen tongs tried to nudge it along, dancing all the while to avoid catching his shoes on fire. Finally, it sailed down the wire as the “tongs guy” swatted at his now burning leg hair.

Whoosh! went the firewood which had obviously been heavily doused with something flammable and we all scooted back a few inches.

Bobcat ceremonies, skits and cheers ensued followed by flaming marshmallows on sticks. It was a grand old time with chocolate-mouthed kids running about and parents comparing camping gear. “It’s a water purifier and a coffee grinder. See here?”

One of the leaders decided to have some fun and had his wife bring up a clown costume. As the boys were all hopped up on S’mores and hot chocolate, he climbed the hill in the dark and had his wife tease the cubs about hearing something. Their eyes grew wide, intrigued but not willing to admit it. Then the clown stood up, turned a flashlight on himself and laughed maniacally. At first they were spooked, but then they picked up sticks and rocks and challenged the clown to show himself again. “Ok… who wants s’more S’mores?!”

I led a little service the next morning and then the place cleared out like a classroom at recess time. Packing up and then unloading at home is never fun but we’ve gotten pretty good at it and I looked forward to a shower and a big cup of coffee.

I’ve finally found a coffee mug that’s just the right size.

Tonight is non-turbo intervals and I’ll try to get in my regular run schedule this week. Another speedy friend has asked to run trails with me so we’ll see how that goes this weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving and cool runnings to you my friends!



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