Well, so much for my grand plans for Re-o-ju-blo-po-mo. So much for good intentions, right? Well, my excuse is my parents came into town on their annual summer mystery tour in their RV, and then decided to extend their stay, and then one night I said, hey, I've got nothing going on and Elizabeth just finished school, so even though Rich has to work, why don't we come along with you all next week?
And so we did. My parents have a 32 foot Winnebago, and it has two slideouts, so in some ways it's pretty spacious, but in most other ways it's pretty small. Packing for trips has gotten easier now that they're older - I packed one bag for me, one for them, a miscellaneous bag of toys and shoes and diapers and wipes and any extra stuff, my computer bag (but no wifi anyplace we went), a cooler, a "dry goods" bag (snacks, sippy cups, dog food, etc), Elizabeth's new bike (post to come), Andrew's scooter, and two kid helmets. All in all not bad, though it still took several hours. Luckily the RV is fully outfitted so there was no need to pack towels or sheets.
The RV has a bedroom in the back, with its own TV, so my parents could escape there in the evenings and leave me to deal with the two maniacs. There is a couch that converts to a queen size bed in the front, so the three of us slept there (and when the couch opens up, there is open space underneath, so Skipper felt right at home!). Something happens at 9 pm on camping trips - they just get totally wired and go crazy. Facebook friends know we went tent camping over Memorial Day weekend (post to come) and let's just say sleeping is a huge issue. Stern Words were spoken every night (usually to no avail, until my father exited the bedroom and laid down The Law).
Despite the challenges, I do enjoy going on camping trips with them. Living in the city, I think it's important to get them out in nature as much as possible, and a few days on the Eastern Shore did not disappoint. And the beauty of the RV is that we can spend time in nature and then hustle into air conditioning when we need a break! Elizabeth loves exploring outside, and shocked me the first day by picking up the biggest, ugliest black beetle I've ever seen. She was fascinated.
And at our second campground, she was excited to find a box turtle walking in the woods!
And in great news, Rich was able to compress his work schedule and come meet us for the final night. That meant we had to fold down the dining room table and make that into a bed, too, and Rich got to speak the Stern Words that evening. Whatever he said, it (finally) worked.
The From Left to Write Book Club consists of over 100 bloggers who read books and then write posts inspired by the book (not a review of the book). This month's post was partially inspired by The Unexpected Circumnavigation. As a member of the book club, I was given a free copy of the book, which was essentially a travelogue/diary compilation of blog posts, minimally edited, from a trip across the Pacific Ocean in a 43-foot power boat.
I tend to like books about grand adventures. The best book about someone taking on a trip for which they were not entirely prepared has to be Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. The scene near the beginning when his (totally unprepared, overweight, and out of shape) hiking companion throws half his gear off an overlook because he is too overloaded still makes me giggle.
A couple of years ago I picked up a book called Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 miles, 200 shoes, 2 cats, 1 poodle, a Husband and a Bus with a Will of Its Own by Doreen Orion. I'll admit that the 200 shoes caught my eye, but it's far more than that - a story of a (slightly unprepared) couple touring around the US in an RV. The author also kept a blog of the trip, for friends back home, but then turned that blog into a book by weaving together the stories into a coherent whole, including natural history, local history, and indepth characterizations of the people they met and the places they visited. I passed that book to my mom just after their Western US RV trip, and I've had another friend take a similar trip - it seems like everyone in an RV visits the same places and does the same thing when traveling in the West.
And finally, I have to recommend Vincent Bugliosi's And the Sea Will Tell - yes, the crime author/lawyer who prosecuted the Manson murders and wrote Helter Skelter. I don't usually read true crime, but this book truly captured the remoteness of the Pacific and how things can go terribly, horribly wrong. But more importantly, Bugliosi does a great job of "showing, not telling." It's not a cut and dried recitation of facts that he tells you, he shows you what life was like on a small boat, in an isolated paradise, and why that paradise might not be all that it seemed. Bugliosi wouldn't ever write something like there were sharks in the lagoon. He did the work to figure out what kinds of sharks, and what size they were, and whether they were dangerous to humans (most sharks are not).
edited to add - whoops, I totally forgot Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm. Yes, it's a thrilling (and of course ultimately tragic) read of big storms and big seas, but one scene I've always remembered is the men stocking up on provisions before the big trip. Junger totally captured the joy of living as they whiz through the grocery store, throwing everything and anything into their carts, then peeling off bills from a fat roll to pay. And, of course, he captures the feel of loneliness and isolation at sea and masterfully shows the men's stories.
There are plenty of grand adventure tales out there - hope to read a few more before summer is over. What's your favorite grand adventure story?
National Math Festival
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