So I’m back from trip numero uno. We went to Nebraska to do work on a camp there, which was fine.
What was NOT fine was that the crazy-ass counselors there insisted on treating us like we were part of their camp – which we weren’t. Because we are adults and high school kids, we have no interest in your stupid made up prayers to songs like the Superman theme that you make the 3rd through 5th grade campers sing. Our boys are STARVING after slaving out in the woods over stuff you don’t get to, and so maybe you could make it a little easier for them to get larger portions, instead of telling them no and/or looking like we just asked if you would eat your own arm if we asked for more of something. Gah. They were horrible and if one of them would have said anything to me, I would have flipped on him. Because that’s what Jesus would have done, I’m certain of it.
What else was not fine, you might ask? The MOSQUITOES. Holy crap, I have never seen so many mosquitoes in my life. It wasn’t like “Oh – a mosquito. I will swat you and your nearby brethren and fend you off with bug spray.” It was like “OH MY GOD – THEY ARE ALL OVER YOUR BACK!!!” and then you sprayed the other person like their life depended on it. Oh, and if the spray had any less than 25% DEET in it? The mosquitoes were like “This certainly is a delicious flavor this human has added to their delectable skin”. Freaky ass mosquitoes. By the end of three days we had gone through probably 10 bottles of bug spray and yet we were all covered with bites – I wore jeans the whole time and they bit me through my jeans. I had like 12 bites on my face alone, which, coupled with the eyebrow twitch I developed (DEET poisoning, probably) made me look like Woogie from “There’s Something About Mary”.
A goat bit my finger. I got locked in a gas station bathroom. The humidity was such that standing still in the shade, I was still pouring sweat. The food was so bad that I told the cooks that I was vegetarian so that I didn’t have to eat any of the prison-grade meat they were serving. I am so bruised that it looks like I got in a fight. I kind of did - you should see the other guys - they're now MULCH (see below for explanation). HA!!
And yet? SO MUCH FUN!!! The crappy stuff isn’t actually that crappy, because it’s all part of the adventure. And since everyone is going through it, it turns out to be funny. I learned how to not only run, but fix an industrial wood chipper. I turned dead trees into mulch for three days, along with my trusty sidekick Katie – we had earplugs in and so we got to where we could communicate effectively solely with looks. There was a barn there with assorted animals, including a motherless baby goat who needed to be bottle fed. I fed him and he was SO ADORABLE with his little milk mustache – he would run up to you and wag his tail and want you to pet him and pick him up. It was the adult goat who bit me – I was petting it and it was sweetly licking my hand before it chomped down on my finger, breaking the skin and making me yell (in my head) “Aaaaagggghhhhh!! Goat Cooties!” And the guy who ran the camp was so nice and so patient and so appreciative of all the work that we did, so it totally made up for the jackassery of the counselors. Besides Katie and I’s owning of the chipper, the rest of the group used a log splitter to cut logs, mowed a lot of high grass, dug holes, weed whacked, spread mulch on the trails, carved out steps in the side of the mountain down to a little amphitheater and basically pitched in to do whatever would help the rest of the group. My kids are so awesome.
After we left the camp on Thursday morning, we went west to Sparks, NE where we stayed at Dryland Aquatics. Thankfully, there were many less mosquitoes there. We spent Friday tubing down the Niobrara River on these giant tubes that were like having your own individual raft. We went on the six hour float, and 90 minutes in, it started pouring rain. We were prepared to be miserable for four more hours, but luckily the sun came out and we had the best time for the rest of the day.
I guess it’s hard to impart how amazing these trips are. We just have a great time, and for a week, nothing at home seems to matter. The kids leave their cell phones at home and everyone is focused on what we’re doing. People are always saying how great it is that I give up my vacation time to do this, but really? I’m not giving up anything. Not be a cheeseball, but what I get from going is way better than anyone can imagine. You just have to be there.
Next stop? Montana. I leave Sunday morning.