I bugged the hubster long and hard enough that he finally decided we should go camping overnight at the New River Campground, sandwiched between Sparta, NC, and Independence, VA. I didn’t even mind (well, not too much) that we didn’t leave until early afternoon on Memorial Day. It ended up being an absolutely idyllic trip, full of peace and beauty, and I give God all the glory. I thank Him for the joy and love we experienced on this little jaunt.
But there were some things we learned along the way. . .
10. That you probably need to check the tent pack that you haven’t opened since 1776 before you assume that the tent in it is really the two-man tent you needed rather than a three-room mansion of a tent THAT YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO SET UP. (Oh, and it would help to bring a hammer to drive in the stakes so that you don’t have to scramble through the mess in your Ford Explorer to find ANYTHING that will pound them into the ground once you realize your moosehide shoe won’t work.)
9. That you probably should ask the kids where they hid the sleeping bags before you leave home so that you don’t have to sleep on the Smurf sleeping bags your hubster used in his childhood. (Trust me–the dreams of little blue people will make you WISH you could eat the mushroom houses in Smurfland and take a trip somewhere else.)
8. That fishing takes patience. NOTE: This virtue is not in evidence when you move farther down the river with every cast–EVEN when your wife tells you that she is seeing big’uns jump way up the river where she is. (It might help to remember that your wife was right when she pushed for this camping trip which was such a blessing, so she’s probably right about the fish, too. . .Just sayin’. . .)
7. That it’s a good idea to pack a cooler when you go camping so that you can keep the fish you may (or may not) catch or AT LEAST store the leftover pizza from supper. (It may also be wise to listen to your wife who advocated for a medium pizza based on the fact that you ordered the same large supreme pizza last year at this time and ended up throwing part of that one away, too. It did, however, help keep the fire going. See item #6 below.)
6. That it probably wouldn’t hurt to get some better kindling or lighter fluid or something other than an old sock you found in the archaic tent bag to use to start the nightly campfire. (Yes, the sock ended up working or at least we THINK it worked–it may have been all of the trash that I picked up from the Explorer floorboard. Oh, and by the way, metal cans may not be the best thing to throw on your fire.)
5. That men are born with an inherent need to stir up a fire. The hubster’s chair is empty not only because he was taking my picture, but also because he stood up and poked around in the fire pit most of the night. Scientists will probably discover one day that men are born with a gene that pushes them to control fire, which would explain their love of grilling as well. And meanwhile, women are possessors of a gene that says, “Cool. Have at it, guys.”
4. That you should never take a picture of a fish you caught. That way, you can exaggerate its HUMONGOUSNESS with every new version of your fish tale (tail). (Also remember not to try to unfasten old lures from tree branches where previous anglers got them stuck. If those expensive lures are still there, it’s probably because the owner couldn’t get them out, so what makes you think you can? Not that we TRIED it or anything like that, but we know SOME of you folks–again, not us–may be foolish enough to attempt this.)
3. That no camper should leave home without their handy, dandy golf club. These will soon be all the rage for greenhorn campers who need to hammer stakes without a hammer, for folks (er–men–see item #5 above) who need an object with which to poke at the campfire all night or for paranoid campers who need a weapon inside their tent (names have been omitted to protect the paranoid although they’ll just ASSUME you’re talking about them anyway because they’re PARANOID, for goodness sakes!). Believe me, the golf club is a MUST in these situations. Every camper should have one. (Soon to be marketed by Acme on the Tent Shopping Network as the ultimate camping must-have.)
2. That you should not count on catching enough fish to fry up for lunch and will therefore need a backup plan. Such a plan might include a 30-minute drive from the campground to Shatley Springs in Crumpler, NC, where the home-cooked food is scrumpdillyicious and served all-you-can-eat, family-style at your table. Fried chicken and country ham, Good enough to make you cram, Every piece into your jaw, But save up room for corn and slaw; Gravy so good you’ll slap your granny, And biscuits with butter in every cranny; Mashed taters, spicy cabbage and pinto beans, So delicious you’ll know what ecstasy means; Fried apples and cobbler with vanilla ice cream, Everything so good it’ll make you scream. So head on over to Shatley Springs, and be prepared for the joy it brings! (Okay, forgive me; I got carried away thinking about Grandpa Jones on “Hee Haw” when he was asked, “Hey, Grandpaw! What’s fer supper?”)
1. That even a trip to the county DUMP would be full of joy when you are with the one you love. (And that you don’t even mind when he borrows your toothbrush because he forgot his. And that you are touched that he encourages you to read your Christian book and seek the Lord in the beauty of nature while he fishes–ahem, mind you, he’s only FISHING to stay out of your WAY. 😉 And that you will never get tired of the way he dissolves into hysterical laughter when you say something funny such as imitating the loud squawk of the irritating bird that woke you up at the crack of dawn and must’ve spent the money his parents gave him for singing lessons on worm-flavored Margaritas at the local bird cantina. And that you think it’s amazing how you both think the same weird things at the exact same time. And that you realize that harmony and true companionship are to be treasured.)
**We stayed at the New River Campground, 6286 US Highway 21 N, Sparta, NC 28675 (336) 372-8793. (And no, they didn’t pay me to write this blog; they don’t even know about it!)