It’s been quiet here for the past two weeks as I took a column/blogging vacation to coincide with my actual vacation. The highlight of our holiday was a four-day trip to Stanhope, PEI, where we hung out with close to 40 of my extended family members. Here’s a random assortment of vacation tidbits:
We camped right next to the beach. Walking on the shore every morning reminded me that there is an inexhaustible amount of beauty in the world.
It rained a couple of times and the campground got soggy, which reminded me there is an inexhaustible supply of mosquitoes in the world.
… after he did this to his younger brother.
I told my children the following lies:
1. It’s not that much farther.
2. It will warm up soon, once the clouds go away.
3. Look, it’s getting brighter. I don’t think it will rain anymore.
Lie #1 occurred on an ill-fated hike up the beach. We were staying about two kilometres down the beach from everyone else, and once we were already on the beach one morning I thought it would be fun to walk down and meet everyone rather than hike back to the campground for the van. It would be an adventure, I thought.
Three out of four kids viewed it that way. But the oldest decided halfway along that he was done. “You have made us walk FOR MILES,” he sobbed. “WE HAVE BEEN GOING ON AND ON FOR HOURS. I AM SO TIRED.”
Lies #2 and #3 happened at Shining Waters, an amusement park near Cavendish. The sky was clear when we started driving and increasingly ominous as we drew near the water park. During one trip up the waterslide tower I saw a lightning fork in the distance and wondered if, perhaps, we should not be doing what we were doing. But the kids had fun, despite the wind and clouds, so we still made a good day of it.
The Cannonbowl waterslide is a ridiculous amount of fun.
Also at Shining Waters, I won a fancy balloon animal for taking part in a magic show and letting a man put a sword “through” my neck. The boys thought this was the greatest thing ever.
They weren’t sure if they wanted to go in the haunted Swamp Shack, so they made me go first to check it out. I walked through a pitch-black house with shrieking noises and random scary jumpy things ALL BY MYSELF. That’s worth at least 50 Dad Points.
At the campground, we got a lecture from a cranky older man because our kids woke him up one morning at 6 a.m. I was sorry that they woke him, but here’s the thing about camping: campgrounds have other people in them. They have people who drink and talk too much at night, they have people with kids who wake up early. And they have crows, a whole murder of crows who communicate in unholy caws starting at 5:30 a.m. Most people who camp realize that every minute that you manage to stay asleep after sunrise is a bonus, right? This is why Rule #2 of my camping guide is “Always bring earplugs.”
My uncle Darrell asserted his family dominance in the game of washer toss.
We bought a box of Froot Loops. We never buy Froot Loops, but I ate a handful one morning and suddenly recalled that Froot Loops are one of the greatest pleasures ever produced in a chemical laboratory.
We attempted to take a picture of all the children, including 10 infants and preschoolers. The results were as hilariously disastrous as you can imagine. It ended when my brother’s 18-month-old son put my cousin’s 11-month old boy in a facelock.
There were a lot of boys, many of them mine. The word “butt” was used freely.
We stopped in Charlottetown on the way back, and I wish that we could have taken Jess from Cora’s Restaurant with us to be our personal server every time we eat out. She was an absolute pro at serving a large family with kids: she brought drinks right away, brought the kids’ food first, and brought the bill while we were still wrapping up so we wouldn’t have that dreaded period where everyone is done and you’re trying not to let your children run amok while you do everything but stand on the table and shout “WE WILL DEPART AND LET THE OTHER DINERS FINISH THEIR MEALS WITHOUT FARTING NOISES, FINALLY, IF YOU WILL ONLY BRING US THE BILL.” Jess spared us all of that. She was magnificent.
We had a wonderful time. And we brought at least four pounds of red sand and spruce needles home with us.