You’d be amazed how much you can fit into a 2000 Honda Accord.To help you visualize, here are some things that were jammed into my car for our recent camping trip: large cooler, cot, 4 backpacks, 2 kid camping chairs, one grill grate, 1 kite, 1 ball, 3 fishing poles, a large sack of food, 1 blanket, 1 sleeping bag and pillow, queen sized air mattress, container of dog food, three dogs, three children, and me. The list doesn’t even cover the sundry odds and ends.
It was our first camping trip and we met Ms. Voice (my sis.. “voice” b/c she’s a music teacher), her boyfriend and my nephew at Lake Ouachita State Park in Arkansas. They brought the tents and other assorted camping gear, which is good, b/c I couldn’t stuff anything else into my car without having to tie a child or dog to the roof.
Day1) We’re off! errr…. sort of. The trip took an hour and a half longer than it should have due to road construction in Arkansas and a 40 mile stretch where we crawled along at a zipping pace of 5-10 mph. It was dark when we got there. At least the rain had mostly stopped. Zeke totally freaked out at the idea of sleeping outside, despite the tent. I had dragged him into Godknowswhere and he wanted no part of it. His flipping out kept Marble from settling down. Not to mention, the sight of Ms. Voice makes her think she’s suddenly allowed on the bed. Why? Long story short, the very first time Marble and Ms. Voice met involved Marble leaping onto the bed, which she had never ever done, and proceeding to lick her awake. This is the same dog that growls at most new people or at least keeps a wary eye on them. She loved Ms. Voice from the start. Unfortunately dogs and air mattresses are a leak waiting to happen. So, I decided to take Marble to the car and crack open the windows. Seeing as it was in the low 40’s and she has enough fur that she’s comfortable when it’s 30 outside, I didn’t worry. Sure enough, she approved of being car guard. She had a job and a cozy “bed” all to herself. Zeke hid IN my sleeping bag until he passed out and Millie laid calmly on the blanket on the ground wondering what all the fuss was about.
Day 2) Although the morning and nights were cold, the day warmed up nicely. After seeing that I had not dragged them into a pit of evil things, Zeke proceeded to drag whomever held his leash in an attempt to see and smell everything at once (He escaped his leash a total of perhaps 3x. He’s almost as hard to round up as the chickens.). He played with the lake water, nearly ate a fishing hook, and got to romp through woods (on leash). His opinion of his location greatly improved by nightfall. Millie tried not to let the constant leash attachment interfere with her need to keep me within tripping distance at all times. She got stepped on probably half a dozen times because she’d park herself under our feet. Marble ran alongside while I biked and due to good behavior, earned a brief leash-less time when we were fishing. Although, she did attempt to steal the bait (cheap hot dogs). Demonstrating that she is indeed well behaved, she gave it back without eating any of it when I told her to. Since Zeke understood I was not trying to abandon him in the wilderness, I tried to invite Marble into the tent, but she insisted on being car guard. Needless to say, my car acquired a distinct dog smell combined with the mildew from the water that came in when I washed the car….joy.
Day 3) We adventured off on a 3.5mi hike outside the park. I let both Millie and Marble off-leash, as the trail was rather narrow and both come reliably when called. Millie trod along, enjoying the adventure for awhile, but toward the end I imagine she was wondering why the walk was taking so damn long. I was interrupting her nap schedule. Indeed, afterward, she refused to budge from the car for a solid thirty minutes, just in case I had any plans to make her hike anywhere else. Marble demonstrated her Lassie heritage by “herding” us along the trail. She’d run up toward the front and then every so often come back to check on the people at the back. The only downside was that she didn’t quite understand she should pass on the OUTSIDE rather than the inside of the trail. So, she occasionally gave me heart palpitations when she disrupted Miss Drama’s balance in an area near a steep incline. I solved this by walking in front of Miss Drama, as Marble never walked behind me. I guess she figured I could keep the stragglers in line.She did the same thing with Ms. Voice when she, her boyfriend, and the boys went on a 4mi hike later in the afternoon. While on the hike, she also demonstrated that she could leap off bridges in a single bound, and scale hills with deft ease. I do believe she had the time of her life. Zeke did too, but on leash, as the whole “come” thing doesn’t penetrate his ADD well. In addition, Marble protected us from the pet lion far away on the neighboring peninsula and suspicious looking sticks. Millie made sure everyone knew when I had wandered father than three feet from the campsite. Zeke gave everyone’s upper body a workout with his leash pulling. So they all had a great time.
Day 4) Sad farewells were said. Tents taken came down, and cars were loaded up. Sadly, I forgot my camera and my phone died early on day 2. Ms. Voice took some pictures though, so all is not lost.
As the kids had as much, if not more fun than the dogs, I judge the trip a success and hope to report on other such adventures in the future!