Sunday, July 12, 2015

Arm Wrestling With Mother Nature

"Some old-fashioned things like 
fresh air and sunshine 
are hard to beat"
~Laura Ingalls Wilder 

We had planned and plotted the long weekend get away for months: The Cousin Camp -n- Float Trip. Mother Nature thought differently. We, however, refused to be beaten! 

Packing the camper was extremely difficult because all it did (or should I say does this summer) is rain. Rain. Rain. Rain. When Wednesday came it was quickly decided that setting up camp in the torrential rain just wasn't going to be any fun. Instead we kicked it at home, trading BBQ and a campfire for an Imo's pizza and our own bed. Thursday morning I starting stuffing gear into the camper in my not-so-usual organized fashion. It was a day that was predicted to have a bit more rain...we gambled with evil Mother Nature and headed southwest to a popular Missouri state park. The entire day was georgous! King Ralph and I biked around the park for over an hour under a canopy of blue skies. The river; however, did not hide the ugliness that Mother Nature has cursed upon it. The river was swelled to the brim thanks to the relentless summer storms. We had hopes that the water levels would drop, along with the swift current, in time for our cousin float trip and the few visible rocky beach banks would multiple or widen.  

Then it started. The rain. Again!  Five hours of rain over night on Thursday into Friday. The rain beat long and hard on the camper, which I likened to a baby that cries all night. You know the kind of irritation that you must embrace, but cannot ignore. We took a short drive into town to find a Redbox (which turns out was a blue Redbox...still trying to figure out that color pallet) to rent a movie for rain alternative fun. Then we woke on Friday to mini ponds surrounding our campsite and a river that had risen higher and was clearly unsafe for water fun. The river was closed for business. It was swift, but quiet.

Saturday, the day of our planned cousin float still had hope and the makings for family fun. 

Friday King Ralph and M went zip lining.

I enjoyed reading outside , as the day was georgous. By evening Princess A, her Prince Charming, D and the dog joined us. We grilled burgers, sipped bourbon   limeaide slushies and made a roaring fire.  Then we slumbered with our hopes high that old man river would drop.  

Saturday, we woke to partly sunny skies and a phone call that the river had rose seven feet over night...no floating, the river was ordered to have yet another quiet day. The cousins began arriving, pitching tents in nearby campsites, unloading coolers and yard games.  That is when the alternative cousin plan went into full swing.  Princess A and my niece purchased prizes at the nearby dollar store and the "Family Olympics" were born.  We stood unified in a family circle, hats were removed while D and I sang the National Anthem.  We sang loud and proud, no cares if surrounding campers thought we were nuts.  We had events like corn hole, croquet and bocce ball. 
We played in pairs, but with an odd number the dog got a spot on the team...and was teamed up with me. 
 Once the dog forfitted her spot, I was assigned to select a teammate from the losing team when my round came into play. How I came to get my croquet mate felt like a version of Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First." I just quit trying to understand, instead I gave it my all and was the real loser of the "Family Olympics." There was medal preparations...some raised hands in a show of champions, while other sipped a drink from their mini golden chalices.
We broke for lunch, bike rides, beer and booze, a quick dip in the shallow somewhat-still portion of the river, 

before the patriarchs of the cousindom took to being the grill masters, while the matriarchs prepared side dishes. It was a good ole' tailgate buffet! 
Some cousin engaged in deep conversations, some of us played Yahtzee (where I reined the winner--a loser no more). There was desserts of watermelon and s'mores. There was music and some break out dances. There were men smoking cigars around a campfire...even cigar smoking lessons to the young cigar virgins. Quiet hour struck and cousins scattered to tents, park motel, and to a nearby homestead. 

We woke on Sunday, prepared a morning feast, sang a somewhat on key Happy Birthday to one cousin, hugged good-bye with hopes for a float trip one day and a guarantee that the "Family Olympics" will happen again!