Sunday, October 17, 2004

Camping trip to Dawson

We left for the cabin on Saturday around 5:30 or so. I took an alternate route, mentioned in the PATC instruction packet I was sent, and it ended up taking on a winding multi-state odyssey. We finally arrived at the cabin in rural Pennsylvania around 9:30 Friday night. By rural I mean no cell phone reception ten miles to the nearest intersection rural. Strictly the boonies.

Brad's congenial friend Ed came along as well as Brad and Ethan. Ed doesn't have any kids, so I have no idea why he came along. Maybe some kind of masochistic inclination. We finally got the kids to bed around ten, and then Brad and I stayed up until about three AM arguing politics. This was about as worthwhile as if we had argued about whether coke or Pepsi was the ultimate cola beverage, but it did remind me of those bygone days when I would do things like stay up drinking too much beer until three AM in the morning. Unfortunately, in those bygone days I did not have any kids and would usually sleep in until about noon or so. The kids were up at six thirty. Ed, god bless him, got up with the children and entertained them for an hour and a half or so, but we were up by eight. Ugh. That was about all I could say. Ugh.

The weather was cold and rainy. Luckily the rain was intermittent, and you would get some sunshine in between the spitting rain. We took a walk in the woods and I fended off my children's request for transportation assistance (please, daddy, carry me, I'm tired, whine whine, blah blah blah). Other than that we mostly hung out around the cabin, sitting around the campfire roasting weenies and marshmallows.

The cabin was really nice. Unlike most PATC cabins, this wasn't directly connected to some major trail system, but we weren't doing any major hiking anyway so it made no difference. It was called Dawson, and it had a wood stove, and two rooms and a small washroom. There was an outhouse, and a big field in front of the cabin with a nice view of the local mountains of the Bucannon State forest.

Brad, Ed, and Ethan took off around lunchtime, so I took Anna and PJ to Bedford, PA where I found a McDonalds with a play area and let then play for a l-o-n-g time. Then we headed back to the cabin. I was sort of nervous about being alone in the cabin with the two kids because they can be rather high maintenance, but I shouldn't have worried. They were awesome. We cooked dinner (more wieners) and then played the card game war until about nine when the kids went to sleep with no trouble at all. That gets me to now, with the kids sleeping, a warm fire going in the woodstove, some cool live music coming in on an NPR station out of Berkeley Springs. I am here typing this onto my palm pilot with the portable keyboard thinking to myself how important it is to get away to do this sort of thing.

Somewhere in Pennsylvania, on a cold October night, surrounded by brilliant orange maple leaves, my pooch Patra is curled up in a knot next to the hot wood stove and making occasional groaning noises while the radio plays softly and the wind blows against the clapboard walls and it is just really nice to be here.


As I wrote the last paragraph I was feeling pretty good. Unfortunately, around eleven o’clock, after I had gone to bed, PJ woke up with night terrors. He gets this when he goes to sleep very tired. Basically, he starts crying and yelling without actually waking up. So what you need to do is pick him up and wait for him to wake up and stop yelling at your head at the top of his lungs. Then he’s fine and he goes back to sleep. He doesn’t remember any of this.

About an hour after that, Anna woke up and started throwing up. She threw up on the sleeping bag, on her mattress, on the floor. So there I was in this dark cabin with no running water, and no light except for this tiny flashlight hanging from a tiny rope attached to the ceiling. I’m wondering how I’m going to clean all this up, and how sick Anna was. I eventually got it all cleaned up. Anna didn’t remember this either. Both children got up early, and probably wondered why dad was so grumpy. So my peaceful easy feeling that I was just writing about was short lived. Despite this though, it was a great time and I look forward to going camping again. I really am not sure exactly why.

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