Day 1: We can barely fit everything in the car since we decided to bring all of our food and enough clothing to mostly avoid laundry for ten days. We also tote a surprisingly high maintenance monarch caterpillar, a whoopee cushion, and many many books.
The skies darken as we hit Lake George but it only sprinkles a little. The kids and Dan grab slippers and blankets as I unpack them, complaining of cold. It is 70. On a milkweed reconnaissance mission, Dan steps on a yellow jacket nest. A’s two stings are fine, but Dan’s four swell alarmingly, so we make an unplanned family fun trip to North Creek for Benadryl, find milkweed in the parking lot, dance to a local band on the sidewalk, and stop at the river on the way home, where Dan refuses to take the Benadryl.
Dan declares that people shouldn’t run around actin’ like hippies if they don’t practice free love. We both desperately hope that Lynyrd Skynyrd made a whole lot of money from the fake (and egregious) Sweet Home Alabama.
Day 2: It rains. C finds a heavy metal station. We set him to work repairing torn cushions. We realize that we can not see the fireplace from our bed in the Rose Room and consider making a life-size mural of it on the unfinished section of drywall.
Dan suggests that the book I’m reading, The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time, could be redone to good effect as “one sexual liaison at a time.” I note that I’ve never found that to be a good community builder.
Day 4: I try the plunger-and-bucket method of handwashing clothes to ensure we’ll have enough. We go into town so Dan can check his e-mail before hauling dirt to cover the new water line. I’ve finished all but one of my books and am way too tired to follow the discussion of Homo habilis DNA in the last one, so grab a 1971 book about hippie communes off the shelf.
We draft a budget, and Dan decrees that the entertainment line is more important than the savings line, which we drop to zero. Unsatisfied with the toy fairies she brought with her, A draws and cuts out several more and acts out multiple dramas with them. After she’s in bed Dan and I walk down to the brook and watch a yellow moon rise.
Day 5: We drive up to Raquette Lake to trade kids with my parents, check out their newly electrified cabin, and experience the wind at Golden Beach. I muse on the viability of growing bamboo as a building material and Dan says we’d need a guard gorilla. Or panda. Upon our return, C and Dan play Settlers while I take a walk and sit on a patch of thyme, watching the creek go by and the clouds turn pink.
Day 6: I wake up without the headache I’d had for the previous 48 hours but it returns by evening. We hike to Ross Pond. C complains that:
- We’re not going to Hooper Mine and that’s the only hike he will ever want to go on
- He’s required to change out of his pajamas
- Finding his water bottle is not his responsibility
- The trail is too far from the parking lotA moth flew into him
- The trail is too muddy
- There are too many “malarial mosquitoes”
- The woods at home are just as nice and easier to get to.
He eventually seemed to decide that his best strategy was to end things quickly, and ran up ahead. (I was impressed with his stamina but it made me feel very old.) I wore sneakers and learned that my fear that I now own no shoes that fit me well enough for a walk of more than a couple miles was correct (my sandals bit the dust before the trip). So when we got back I performed surgery on another pair to make room for all my toes. My parents drop off A and stop for dinner on their way home.
Day 7: Dan can’t go another minute without e-mail so we head back to North Creek. We stop by the swimming hole when he’s done; kids play, a heron visits, and I find a neat little walking path. We determine that my sinus headache may be altitude-related. I get out a puzzle but no one is willing to work on it with me.
Day 8: The phone rings at 9 a.m. and Dan expects it to be word about a job (the decision date has been pushed back three times already), but alas. We got to Hooper Mine and Thirteenth Lake (yes, C complains anyway)- it’s a beautiful day and Merganser ducks congregate on rocks. The kids bicker in the car and, thinking on the commune book I’ve been reading, it occurs to me that a major reason any lasted as long as they did was because everyone was stoned all the time and thus better able to put up with each other. I consider lifestyle changes. C brainstorms ship names. My favorite is the CKR Metaphor.
Day 9: C asks how to make Molotov cocktails; Dan objects when I begin to explain. I play in the creek with A. Dan and I disagree on whether pyromania is a human instinct. Dinner, a haphazard cleaning of the refrigerator, consists of peanuts in melted chocolate and hard boiled eggs.
Day 10: We pack and clean, finding toothpicks all over C’s room and tiny pictures of A’s everywhere. I appreciate the outhouse because it gives the children no excuse to come inside. I also appreciate the Playaways I got from the library; despite the arguments about the horror of wearing headphones, it may have been the most pleasant family car trip in our history. Home on time for the first laundry to dry before bed!