A letter of apology to the woods of South Hadley

We’re sorry we messed you up last night. Sorry to the hooting owls, the crying coyotes, the croaking toads, and the tall tall pine trees. NOT sorry to the mosquitoes, I mean really, WTF?? But we are sorry for the rude and rowdy laughing, the yelling, the swearing, the near-drowning, the cell phone “incident”, and the thrashing through the woods at all un-godly hours. And those were just the things that my brother Michael did!

Michael: (trying to sleep in his raft on the lake) Mother (bleep)! I’m gettin’ all soaked. It’s sinking!!!

me: Hey! We have a 6-year-old in here that’s still awake! Watch the language.

Michael: Sorry! I’m all (bleeping!) soaked! (BLEEP!)

Jack: I don’t hear any bad words.

(luckily he never heard THAT word before, so he had no clue…)

Yes, I’m describing Jack’s first-ever overnight campout that didn’t take place 3 feet from our front door. We had to drive two cars to get there. Unpack all the gear, load up two giant hand trucks, cart the gear through the woods for a mile and a half. Blow up 3 huge rafts. Load all the gear on the rafts and float it across the lake to the campsite, and THEN set up the tent, gather wood, make fire and try to cook hot dogs, marshmallows and hamburgers (without a grate hahahahaha!).

Jack didn’t have to carry anything, or set anything up, or even fish for himself if he didn’t want to. He got to eat hot dogs and marshmallows to his heart’s content and then crawl into a bug-free tent with his own pillow and blankie, and a few “friends” from home. He totally roughed it!

me: Hey Jack, watch it on those rocks, they’re slippery.

Jack: Prove it.

me: (sigh) I’ll prove it when you slip and fall.

Jack: Prove that you’ll prove it.

That’s his new catch phrase. Now we just laugh. “Lame” has just about overstayed it’s welcome and moved on. “Prove it” has just gotten a foothold and is working it’s way into all of our vocabularies now. It is catchy when a 6-year-old has the same response after everything you say.

After a few beers around the campfire, we heard some lady yelling over to us (from where? we thought we were alone?) to ask if we had lost a cell phone. Mike yelled “What’s the number!?” and she yelled it back to him. He took his phone out and dialed the number. The lady answered. Mike says “You know, I think I did lose my phone, thanks. Can I come over and get it?” He hops into the raft with my nephew Jonathan (this is probably where the raft got damaged) and paddles over to their camp. He gets the phone and they paddle back. I’m now in the tent with Jack and I got to hear them go through all the misc. photos and texts with much hushed laughter and exclamations of “OMG”.

Through it all, Jack slept like a baby. Well a baby subjected to a prison riot, but a baby nonetheless. I drifted in and out of fitful sleep between curses and shouting (me) because I couldn’t sleep over the yelling and beeping (nephew Jonathan still looking at photos on the phone) and the laughing, mosquito swatting, wood chopping and sneaking into my tent (brother John) and of course the boat sinking, “I’m going home” thrashing through the woods for miles without a flashlight after approximately “fill in the blank” number of “tall ones” (brother Mike). Oh, and the whining, my GOD the whining, for hours… (from Mia, the dog, who was just trying to say she was thirsty. Did anyone listen? Nooooo…) Sooooo, yeah. That happened. But it still managed to be fun and Jack had a great time.

Here are some of the photos I took before, during, and after.

The path to the lake.
Fishing with Uncle Michael
And the first fish!
Jack's first boat ride.
More scenery!
Jack and Uncle John catch more fish.
Misty sunrise...
Packing up, time to go.
Cousinzzzz. Jonathan and Jack.
Towing the deflated raft back to shore.

They all said that they only camp at this spot once a year. Now I know why. I’m still dizzy with exhaustion. On our way out of the woods, with the two full hand trucks, and the rest of us carrying bags and backpacks, sweating like SOB’s and covered in mosquito bites, we ran into a woman who was heading down to the lake to do some swimming.

Lady: Hey, did you guys happen to find a cell phone?

We all froze.

Mike: Why yes, actually we did.

Lady: Really, Wow!

Jack: We have it right here!! (he looks around to see which one of has the phone)

Mike: Front right pocket (he juggles the hand truck to avoid spilling the 2 bags of empty beer cans, 3 deflated rafts and a box of doughnuts…

Lady: I can’t believe it! Thank you! … Um … you didn’t happen to look at the pictures…did you?

me: Every last one.

John: We may have added a few of our own.

Lady: (a little nervously) Heh Heh, well thanks.

We went our separate ways and had a good laugh about that, while trying to figure out the odds of finding a lost cell phone in 100 acres of woods.

John: It really was meant to be. There’s no way anyone would ever find that phone, but because Michael messed around with them, that lady got her phone back.

me: Prove it.