We were finally on our way toward camp.
["Camp" by the way, is a plot of land roughly about 10 acres on the Alabama Mississippi state line. To get there we traveled from a paved road, to a dirt road, to a sand road, and finally to a grass road. It is bordered on the east side by a creek and the south side by a pond. This may or may not help, but think of a baseball field. The entrance would be at home plate. The first base line is bordered by pine trees and bushes. These trees and bushes bleed into right field. Second base is somewhat open along with most of the infield except the pitcher's mound. The pitcher's mound was a clump of pine trees. The pond would be in center field. Third base is where we set up the fire and the kitchen. The creek runs the foul line down the third base line. There are pine trees, oak trees, bushes, sand palmettos, and several other unknown to me trees and bushes.]
The lot is in a back section of a incomplete neighborhood, possibly incomplete on purpose. The section we are allowed to use as a camp site is secured by a gate. I guess you could say it is a gated camping community. :) The gatekeeper is a very nice lady living on the south side of the gate. She does not mind us using the lot about 400 yards from her house (even when she showed up last year to scold us after we ran through a dozen or so rounds of shotgun shells into the creek).
I was still yielding calls from some of the guys. The last call was to ask if I could pick up some ice. The guys had just left the grocery store and had forgotten. While purchasing the ice I thought I would appease the girls by buying them a bottle of water (plus they had asked for it).
We arrived at the gate to find the gatekeeper holding the gate open. (she must have a sixth sense). We took the sandy road from the gate until we reached the grass road back to the camp site. Most everyone else had arrived. The first order of business upon arrival is to unload your supplies. The others had gotten a head start. We saw a few tables set up with camp stoves, a tent pulled out of its stuff sack, some tiki lamps on the ground with the lamp oil sitting beside them, the food box, and we could see the creek and the pond. We had about an hour and a half of daylight left to get unpacked and set up. The evening weather was perfect: no humidity, a cool breeze, sweet smells of jasmine and honeysuckle. The sun was beaming through the gaps in the trees, providing perfect evening shadows. I can't explain it, but my favorite part of the day is the last two hours before dark. It was about 65 degrees with the low headed for 58.
The girls bailed out of the truck and were just sort of running around in circles. I don't think they knew what to look at first. The guys greeted us and asked if we needed any help. I asked if they would help with the firewood. Once the firewood was unloaded, the rest was passed out among my crew as they ran by the truck. KJ took her sleeping bag and back pack, Squirt took her backpack and bottle of water. I grabbed the tent and searched for the best spot to set up our nylon hotel.
Squirt asked, "What are you looking for Uncle Kipp?"
I know the girls are having fun when they call me "Uncle Kipp". When we hang out with my brothers' kids (Lord Knobhead) his kids of course call me Uncle Kipp. Typically when we are hanging with the cousins we are on some sort of vacation; so we are always having fun. I take it as a compliment when my own kids call me Unlce Kipp instead of Dad during these times of bliss.
I told her I was looking for some good soft ground without any ants, sticks, rocks, or lumps to put up our tent. This is free information for any of you that do not camp regularly. There are several factors to consider when setting up your tent.
Is it bumpy, is it wet or dry, are there ants near, are there rocks or roots, does it appear to be a flash flood drainage area? Do there appear to be any holes where living creatures my live?
Are there limbs nearby that may scratch the side of the tent making for what one may think is a lost crazy ax murderer wondering through the woods when the occupant is awakened by such noise. What is above the proposed area? Are there dead limbs in the tree that may fall if the wind picks up that could impale the occupant?
What is the proximity to the campfire? Sure the tent is fire retardant but why press the occupants luck.
4) The facilities
How close will the tent to the popular tree or bush? Being upwind from the privy is most desirable.
Getting your tent set up before daylight runs out is probably the most important factor in successful camping. You just do not want to try to set up a tent in the dark...dang near impossible.
Another important consideration get the tent up and ready to occupy in case of rain. Putting up a tent in the rain is impossible.
I got the tent set up and zipped up to keep any bug, critter or otherwise uninvited guest out of the tent. With a thumbs up sign I got "Good job Uncle Kipp." from Squirt.
I walked over to Mr. Fillers and let him know the girls were a last minute addition. I also let him know not to cook them a hamburger, we had feed them before coming out here.
"Dude, we have plenty. They can one if they want one."
"OK thanks, but they ate some spaghetti before we left so maybe they can split one later if there is any left over."
The girls were playing Frisbee and kickball with the only other kid brought on the camping trip, Matt. They were all laughing, screaming and running around in sweet abandon. Mostly acting the ways kids ought to act outside. They were happy. This is when Squirt announces she has to pee.
Reality has a way of smacking me in the face. This time it was emphasizing how I had not prepared everything. In all my years of camping I had not been responsible for taking care of a female that needed to pee. All the co-ed youth canoe trips I had been on, I had not paid any attention to the girls using the bathroom. I figured they just held it or peed in the creek while we were swimming. I am sure they ever even mentioned it. Unlike the guys, where there is usually grand announcements made about having to go talk to a man about a horse, or having to shake the dew off the lily pad or having to pee like a Russian race horse, or, well I might better hold off on the others...