Last Day…

I wish I’d brought my USB memory key. Then I could upload pictures for you right now, but as it is you’ll have to wait for me to get back tomorrow afternoon.

Yesterday Sandra and I hiked to the first and second tier of falls in Primrose Cirque (the half-bowl canyon thing that the Aspen Grove Family Camp sits in the base of.) The first falls are visible from camp, and you can grab a 60x spotting scope and get a really good look at them from the comfort of a lawn chair. The 2nd falls are hidden just above them in a little grotto, and are much more magical in appearance.

While looking through the scope I spotted a group of hikers coming down the mountain. We met them later as we hiked, and I told them I’d seen them — pointing out the blue sweat-pants with the white stripe, and the fact that they all had hiking staves. The kid with the sweats was a little spooked, but got over it.

Anyway, we hiked all morning with a couple of other grown-ups, and took lots of pictures which you can’t have because I didn’t want to spend the extra hour last Saturday running to the office to grab my USB key. On the way down we ran into Link’s age-group who were on their way up for a picnic. Fortunately they were not far enough into their hike for Link to beg to come back down with us. That’s happened before, back when I was the counselor with the crowd of 5-6 year-olds, and we ambushed a hapless pair of parents on our way up.

The morning of the hike was hot. By mid-afternoon clouds had rolled in. By evening it was drizzling. I snapped a photo of the cirque shrouded in mist on my way back to the cabin. During the night there was heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and the wondrous sleep I associate with that kind of weather.

This morning there was slush on the porch-rail, and snow only a few hundred feet above us. I went to the same spot where I’d shot the misty mountains, and got a shot of those same mountains dusted with new snow. I’ll post the photos later. The breakfast we had was perfect for the weather, and vice-versa: scrambled eggs with biscuits and gravy. I told the chef (John Thill) that he was going to have a hard time topping this one. The staff will expect this sort of serendipity in the meal planning every week.

Today all the kids are doing indoor games, because it’s cold and wet outside. The new Aspen Lodge here in the center of camp is just what I wish we’d had back when I worked here, and we had very, very FEW places to play with kids indoors on those two or three days during the 10-week summer when it rained hard enough to keep us inside.

This afternoon is supposed to be “Water Frolics,” a set of swimming-pool games. I have every intention of giving those a wide miss if they’re held at all.

–Howard

It’s not really CAMPING, per se

The accomodations here at Aspen Grove are a long, long step removed from the tents, hammocks, and tarpaulins I associate with actual CAMPING. I knew this going in — you could argue quite successfully that it was this foreknowledge that got me here. A week of tents would be unpleasant. This is more like a week in a very clean, but very low-budget hotel.

Oh, and you have to walk through the woods a bit to get to the bathroom.

It’s really quite nice. It’s just a little too civilized, what with the trails everywhere, groomed paths, and cabins all over, for the mature adult in me to feel good about peeing behind a tree. That said, I really had to go last night, and really didn’t want to put on my shoes. There is now a very happy patch of scrub just to the left of the porch of Cabin 13.

Gleek got sick. It’s just a 24-hour flu, but she was wiped out last night and this morning, and is only now coming around. She really wanted to go with her group this morning, but hadn’t the energy to put up a fight when we told her she couldn’t. As she curled up on the couch in Aspen Lodge, one of her final bits of protest before nodding off was “it’s okay to throw up on dirt.”

“Yes, honey, it is. But you’re still not running around outside this morning.”

Last night Link and I played Star Munchkin, and he won before we got far enough into the deck to see the card I did artwork for. Oh well. At least he WON. The Munchkin series is good for playing with kids, because players are allowed to bargain one with another to help each other out of tight spots. So I’d help him kill monsters without claiming more than a token share of the loot, and sure enough, he hit level 10 while I was still at level 2. For a six-year-old with limited reading skills, he’s sharp as a tack. He got attacked by “The Cheese of Evil,” and without reading the card said “My not care. My not have any sidekicks for him to kill.” I had to check the card to make sure that the “bad stuff” TCoE did was limited to sidekicks… sure enough, Link had it right.

Every so often my hackles go up as I realize that this vacation is going to end at some point, and I’m going to have to hit the ground back in the Real World not just running, but running FAST, and in two different races. Then I relax, because it hasn’t happened YET, and there’s not much I can do right now to prepare, other than get plenty of sleep. It’s a mind-game I play on myself. I have to trick me out of being “busy.”

Sandra scheduled us for a pottery class. I rebelled, realizing that she had SCHEDULED something. I don’t want a schedule here. I want uninterrupted unscheduled time for wandering. If I happen to go to the pottery class it’ll be because I wandered in at the right time. NOT because I looked at the schedule. Not not not.

Like I said, it’s a mind game.

–Howard

Slightly less-quick update

Okay, I’ve got about half an hour here. Dinner is in another 30 minutes, Sandra has all the kids at the cabin, and I’m in the business office with a computer, an internet connection, and the keys remapped to Dvorak.

Saturday:
We got checked in, unloaded the van into the cabin, and parked Turbo Schlock in the upper parking lot right next to Emerald Lodge (the dining hall). He’s been relegated to the role of “general purpose locker” for the rest of the week. It’s easier having someplace in the center of camp where you can dump stuff and know it’s secure.

I got out the frisbee golf stuff, set up on the ball field, and positioned myself for some long drives. Sadly, my brand-new 134g Leopard leapt from my hand 45 degrees further right than I wanted it to, and then turned even further right…. off it went, over the edge of the field, across the road… the last I saw of it, the Leopard was making a gentle fade back to the left, but the trees obscured its final resting place. I hunted for it to no avail, and even came back on Sunday and looked for it with a stick and permission to tromple some deep wildflowers and reeds. Still no Leopard.

I’ll be buying another one. Probably heavier (so it’s actually LEGAL). I liked the way it flew. I wish I’d gotten more than the one throw with it.

Sunday:
Church. This was the monthly testimony meeting, and I took the opportunity to get up and say some stuff. I won’t trouble you with what I said — I’ll just say that I had more than a few folks come up and thank me afterwards. We all got pictures taken, had lots of quiet time, and I realized that I’ve got a mild case of altitude sickness. It’s nothing I can’t treat with fluids and rest, and that’s what I did.

I also drew a couple of cool pictures, and got out the markers and colored them. They’ll show up in the Schlock Mercenary Premium Gallery — sorry folks, only the comic strip and this journal crap is free.

Monday:
That’s today. The kids were in their program groups all morning. I did some more drawing down at the arts and crafts center with Sandra, and then I decided to go up the climbing wall. That was hard work. My hands, back, and legs are still feeling it. I wore my small, flexible, cheapo boots because they’re better for climbing, but once I got out onto the cables I was regretting it — the New Rocks with their thick soles would have been much better suited for that. But I doubt I could have successfully scaled the wall with those on.

After lunch I took Kiki and Link to “Aspen Follies,” which is a competitive fair of silly outdoor games. We teamed up with the Petersons, and they decided that I should name our team and come up with the cheer.

Team Name: “Mercenaries”
Team Cheer (done to hip-grind dance-step): “WE’LL DO IT! WE’LL DO IT! WE’LL DO IT… FOR MONEY!!”

I’m not going to recount all the games. Suffice it to say for now that I’m not sure we’re gonna get paid on this gig.

–Howard

Writer, Illustrator, Consumer