Or, "Thing in the Woods-- A Daytrip Saga."
Okay, so my four year old wanted to go to an SCA event, just him and myself, because his brother had gotten to go to Castle Wars with me when -he- was four. There were two options upcoming, and I couldn't decide which-- July Feast, or Thing in the Woods. When my youngest heard we'd be camping for Things in the Woods, that was the one he chose.
So the first thing I did was make my youngest summer weather garb: a couple of Green chitons.
Then I went shopping for our goodies for the weekend, just in case we wouldn't be able to get into feast. Got all of our stuff gathered and started packing the truck.
Since it was a 6 hour drive north, I had the boys get ready for bed at 7 pm on Friday night so my youngest and I could leave at 1:30 Saturday morning.
Well, as I'm giving my youngest his hugs and kisses for the night, I asked him if he was excited about his "Momma and Me" SCA event that we'd be going to in the morning. And my little boy says in a soft slightly sad whisper, "I want my brother to come with us." Well, we have about a 5 minute discussion to confirm that he really feels that way, then I walked into my oldest's room and asked, "Hey! Do you want to come with us to the event tomorrow?" To which, he responded joyfully, "Yes, please!"
So we all lay down to sleep-- me with a new to do list running in my head-- I'll need to get up early and quickly make my oldest's chitons. I'll have him make himself a couple later-- or have him help me make his Daddy's. Then the couple of additional things I'll need to bring to accommodate 3 people (an additional chair, additional feast gear-- not all the much, really-- unless you -don't- have them)....and I'd have to REALLY rearrange the truck, because there was no seating for 3 people the way I currently had it...
So as I'm laying there trying to fall asleep-- I hear children squawking and screaming, and they're not mine. My neighbor was having another one of their pool parties.
The last time I needed to make a long early drive, they were out there until well past 2 am in the morning.
I -tried- to sleep for the next hour and half. But all the shrieking was too much for me. So I figured, if I wasn't going to be going to sleep, I might as well let the dogs out one last time for the night and get the chitons sewn together. The boys got up and watched me make them. That actually made it easier for my oldest. Seeing the process, he realized he COULD do this! He'd seen his brother's finished one and thought it was going to be beyond his ability to do. But actually watching me do it, he realized he already knew all the stitches.
So we all headed back to bed around 9. By then, the neighbor's had thankfully headed in for the night. My oldest was having a bit of tummy issue, so I didn't actually get to sleep until 10:30.
Mark woke me up with a kiss at 1:30 and I hopped in the shower then got dressed. He helped me load up the car so that we'd have enough seating and I filled up the cooler with all the goodies. Then I woke the kids and got them ready around 2:10. And we headed out and on our way at 2:30.
At 3, I passed a bank that announced it was already 80 degrees.
At 3:15, we slowed down to pass a long line of flashing police cars. A woman screamed and cried out. My oldest said he hoped someone hadn't died. My youngest said that maybe she was just hurt. I agreed out loud with both of them-- and refrained from saying her cries were not those of someone hurt-- they were sounds of terrible grief. And it was much, much more likely that someone had not survived whatever had happened.
Most of the drive was dark and uneventful. I love how passing through Montgomery in the wee hours of the day are always so quick. And then we pulled into where we needed to be for the event. And my youngest says, "Momma.... Is... Is it in the WOODS?" as we're surrounded by trees and shade. I laughed and said, "Yes, honey. That's why the event is called, "Thing in the Woods"!"
So we parked and trolled in-- signed up for 3 feast spaces and was told where all the camping was.
This, right there, is where I made my first mistake. It was plain that people had group camping set up. I -should- have driven around the complete circle. If I had, I'd have set up camp not 5 ft from where we parked the first time. As it was, I ended up choosing a site that was WAY too far away from anything.
As we parked, it started to rain. So we sat in the car and waited. Then the weather broke and I got the tent out. We were halfway up when the downpour started.
We finished setting up the tent then walked back over to the troll area in the lighter rain. Sat down and set up Gluckhaus to play with my little boys. The next thing you know, we've got half a dozen people playing it with us (:
Then, one of the coolest things happened! I met my friend Deanna. She's got an awesome merchant site. My youngest got a cool chainmaille hackysack, and my oldest got a neat bracelet.
We met on MySpace about 5 years ago-- very likely through SCA related discussions, so THIS was the first time we'd seen each other in person (:
Then the boys and I made the long walk back to our camp when the rain stopped and had a delicious picnic lunch while I dried out the tent and filled up the air mattress. After lunch, while I rearranged the car, the boys played in the tent with the Schleich Knights set we got them for playing with at SCA events 2 years ago.
Then we made the long walk BACK to the troll covered pavilion. We decided to go see the archery-- but when we got there, no one was shooting-- it was the class on becoming live weapon's marshalls. So we headed over to the fighting field-- by then, it was 1 pm, hot and muggy and only 2 fighters were fighting at the time.
I stopped at a merchant and picked up a cup (I'd only brought 2), 2 forks and a spoon, so that we'd all 3 have complete utensils for feast that night. And not 10 minutes later, my four year old says, "Momma, I want to go home." I said, "Don't you want to go camping?" And he said, "Not anymore, Momma. I want to go home. Please."
At this point, both pair of shoes that I'd brought had had epic fails, our tent and several other things were wet, it was 98 degrees not counting whatever the humidity had it up to, we'd been walking WAY more than we'd planned for and the site was a lot more primitive than I'd been expecting-- meaning getting to the bathroom was a long trip in itself and it was all outside. I'd already realized we were tenting in the wrong spot and it was going to be an unpleasant walking trip in the dark. We were ALL hot. And I'd had just about enough myself.
So we walked up to the other merchant stalls, which is where we got my boys their lovely chainmaille creations, then we made the trip back to our camp area, took it all down, loaded it back in the car...and made the 6 hour drive BACK home!
I will say this: AL 21 S between Birmingham and Montgomery is an AMAZING scenic route! There were so many times I was taking pictures in my mind. But since I was concentrating on getting home before dark, I didn't want to keep stopping the car to take -actual- photographs. I'm thinking the next time we go visit Mark's friend Roger in Tennessee, we'll have to plan to take that road home again, specifically with the goal of stopping for all the fascinating visuals along the way.
It might sound like it was a bad trip, but in reality, other than the discomfort and being absolutely wiped out from 12 hours of driving when I got home, all in all, we had a good time. As a side note for future references, 6 hours one way is too far for a day trip (;
Most of the drive home, the boys played together with all of their goodies (including the knights) and each other. There were epic adventures and stories going on in my backseat for the better part of four hours. I only heard "Are we there yet?" three times on the ride home, and that was all in the last 2 hours of the trip, from my oldest after my youngest had fallen asleep.
What I've decided is
1. that we're not going to try camping anymore between the last week of May and the first day of September anymore. Down here, it's just way too hot, humid and miserable for it.
2. We'll probably try Thing in the Woods again-- knowing better where to set up. Though we might just borrow Mark's Dad's camper, first. And if it's (meaning -ANY- SCA event) a camping event-- and planned to rain-- we're going to cancel. This is the second time raining and camping have not mixed well for me.
3. I know what the THING in Thing in the Woods is. It's water, in various forms: rain. clouds. mud. humidity. sweat. (;
4. The boys and I had a good time on a long road trip and a short event. We enjoyed being with each other. That was what really matters at the end of the day, even if that day didn't end in camping like it was originally planned.