Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Tooth Fairy Does Not Camp

The Tooth Fairy did not come with us on our Fathers & Sons camp to Fisher Creek Campground in Kananskis. That's a good thing, because the fairy would have been shocked to see us eating milk-soaked mini-Oreos from a mug with a spork for breakfast. Maybe the fairy would have revoked the $1 Scott earned from losing his first tooth.

Originally, this camp was supposed to be at Beaver Flats and Katie was supposed to come along. I planned the whole thing months ago. However, the river decided to wipe out most of the roads in Kananaskis and then Katie got sick -- in that order. I was scrambling for an alternative location that wouldn't be swarming with RVs and dogs and heard that Scott's cousins were going to be doing a Fathers & Sons camp the same weekend. I decided we would crash their party. Sadly, Katie was not well enough to come.

She was sad.

I was at Mountain Equipment Coop getting some sporks and energy gels when I got a video call from home. Scott came on the screen and showed me that his wiggly bottom tooth had finally jumped ship. Similar to the mysterious Lego piece that somehow dove from his nostrils, this tooth simply dropped to the floor unassisted. Scott was pretty excited to leave his tooth for the fairy, but we determined that he should leave it under a pillow at home and retrieve his reward upon his return.

He was fine with that plan.

We saw a huge moose cross our path on the way to the campsite, which was the only thing to distract Scott from watching Farzzle videos on the DVD player. Once there, we selected a wonderful spot well back in the trees complete with a firepit and a picnic table. Luke & Hayden were already there, so they jumped in the truck with us and we went out "four-digging", as they say in some parts. Apparently, this has been a bit of a lifelong dream for Luke.

Luke & Hayden had already explored a jeep trail on their bikes but the truck made easy work of the hills and ruts. Luke was pretty shocked at the smooth easiness of it. It got a little more exciting when we pitched down a really steep grade, but there still wasn't anything too dangerous about it -- except maybe that a really big dog was sniffing at Scott's window.

On the other side of the camp we found another dirt road with some big puddles in the ruts. I saw obvious signs of a previous struggle. Broken logs jutted from muddy scars at angles that suggested several vehicles had narrowly escaped from this place. However, the mud was drying and it seemed that we should have an easier time of it. I was a bit apprehensive, but I thought we could make it. Luke agreed.

The dried roadbed was a lie. A facade. Only the top few inches had dried, while nearly a foot of mud lay in wait for us. Our front tires dove downward into the mud but we continued to move forward until our rear tires left the dry earth and we felt the whole vehicle sink downward 6 inches. And then we stopped, unable to move in any direction.

The boys took it well. Scott lamented his early demise, clearly of the the opinion that we would never be able to leave this place again. I appreciated his optimism, and eventually released him and Hayden to go build a bridge in the mud while we tried to free the truck.

We dug around a lot with sticks, but nothing was of any use. After at least half an hour, we capitulated and Luke walked back about 3 minutes to the campground to get help. He arrived a few minutes later leading a big Dodge Ram pickup, flanked by a co-ed phalanx of twenty-somethings in various stages of intoxication.

Apparently, they selected a fairly nervous young man to drive the truck because he was the most recent to arrive and was the most sober. The truck itself had been borrowed from someone else who was not on the camp, and the owner probably hadn't counted on it being driven off-road. Once the boy had gingerly brought the truck in position, I hooked my tow-ccable to both vehicles and we commenced the tug-of-war.

The rest of the rescue squad took up positions at my front bumper, helping to push us out. One poor fellow got a wave of mud up his front as thanks for his efforts. Hayden had taken off his sandals and eventually ended up stepping in 6 inches of mud with his bare feet. He looked like he was wearing a black pair of socks until we cleaned him off at the pump.

At this point it was after 8pm so we retired to our campsite to build a fire and roast all sorts of bizarre experimental dishes. I brought croissant dough to roast in combination with things such as hot dogs, cinnamon sugar, cheese sticks, and marshmallows & chocolate chips. Most of these combinations were lacking in some respect. I think the sheese stick is the most promising combination, although the hot dog could work if you minimized the overlap in your wrapping (the inner layer of dough stays raw when you roast it).

The fireside snacking came to an abrupt end with a sudden downpour and we went to bed. In the morning, Scott entertained himself with some more Farzzle videos while I dozed some more. I was prepared with my own set of headphones in case I was the one to wake up early - staring at the cold ceiling of a tent early in the morning when you can't get back to sleep is honestly the worst part about camping, in my opinion, so it's best to be prepared.

I discovered that I had brought everything we needed for our breakfast except for the box of cereal itself. We had mugs, milk, sporks, but no cereal. I improvised with the next-best thing: Nasty Cookies. I had a bag of mini-Oreos, so I poured a few of those in each mug and we put our sporks to work. Just so you don't judge me too harshly, let me say that we also had juice boxes, an apple and granola bars.

We had to get back to town by noon, but we had enough time for Scott & Hayden to fortify their bridge, rub charcoal all over themselves, and play around on a huge tree that had been cut down.

Then Luke took the wheel to live his 4x4 dream for a few minutes. Sadly, the time was cut short and I was a bit apprehensive about getting stuck again and ruining our schedule, but we will likely do a 4x4 camping trip some time in the future, where we will be prepared with better equipment than just a bunch of sticks. Scott begged to go back out camping as soon as possible. He was really concerned about the bridge they had built.

At home Scott discovered a $1 coin under his pillow. He told me that he wants to get another Lego Ninjago set and that he has been saving up his money. I asked him how much money he has saved. He said "one dollar." I guess he hasn't been saving very long. But he has a mouth full of teeth so he has a lot of earning potential still ahead of him.

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