Sunday, September 25, 2011

Summer's last hurrah?

What is it about a holiday weekend that compels us to leave behind our comfy homes, with all the accessories we could ever need, drive in traffic for hours, and then live in a vehicle the size of a refrigerator box in the middle of nowhere for four days?

It was Labor Day weekend and that meant we had to participate in the last-day-of-summer ritual of leaving town, despite the price of gas, the lack of money, and the blazing heat. So we packed up "everything" we thought we'd need for four days in the wilderness, including four grandchildren and their parents.

Two hours later we arrived at the Gold Country Campground, where we were directed to a slot the size of our home driveway in the RV section of the park. There, under an even hotter sun than we'd left behind, we set up shop. Which meant we closed up all the windows and turned on the air conditioner.

To cope with the heat, we headed for the water park, where the grandkids were sprayed with giant sprinklers and doused with tipsy buckets of cold water while we watched them scream. Then we hit the pool, which was filled with glacial runoff and billions of kids who think cannonballing -- repeatedly -- is the best way to enter freezing water.

By the time I got used to the arctic pool water, it was time to move on to the next activity: miniature golf. Exhausted from the "fun," I opted to hike back to the RV -- a half-mile straight uphill -- and tried to take a nap surrounded by

miniature dogs who kept yapping about their territorial rights.

The bikes we'd brought were useless, because what goes downhill must come uphill and there was no way I could pedal that thing up a mini Mount Everest. Instead, I took full advantage of the folding chairs, placing them in the slivers of shade between RVs, and watched the heat waves bounce off the pavement.

When nature's furnace finally died down and most of the bugs had made their marks and left, we barbecued hamburgers (but forgot the ketchup), drank wine (until we ran out), and listened to conversations from RVers parked only steps away ("Frank! The alarm bell's going off!").

I'd hoped to spend some of the time away from home distractions working on my book, but I found it harder to concentrate in the forested surroundings than in my own family room, where I have access to TV, the phone, three hungry cats, and the sound of neighbors' lawn mowers.

There's something about being under a bunch of trees that's disconcerting to a suburbanite like me. It's too quiet (aside from the yapping dogs), there's too much fresh air (I miss the smell of cat litter in the morning), and it's just too relaxing. I must have a touch of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, because I need to be doing something -- in fact, doing 10 things -- while I "relax." (Oh, look, a squirrel!)

Next year I'll just park the RV in my own driveway, set up my deck chair on the front lawn, and turn on the sprinklers. And when I get tired of the great outdoors, I'll go to the mall.

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