Dads. They are good for many things. Some poor soul has to teach you how to blow a snot rocket, after all. I have serious doubts on whether I would be a nature loving freak if not for my Dad. He is the one that hauled his three children up to the mountains most weekends to go camping in our beat-down Honda Civic. He took us bug-catching in the Congaree Swamp every summer. Have I told you about my obsession with Bugs? He is also the reason I’m incredibly stubborn, but that’s a different post for.. maybe never.
It was inevitable that I would pick up a few things here and there about the Outdoors from Toby, Big T, T-Bone (my favorite), Velcro Toby (long story), my Dad. A little on T-Bone: He is a man of few words. If you ask him a question, you will not get a straight answer.
“Hey Dad, where are we going?” (me)
“This way.” (T-Bone)
The things my Dad taught me are from (astute) observation on my part, and the crafty solutions he came up with in sticky situations we sometimes found ourselves in. None the less, I will never forget the things I was taught by my father on being “in the Wild”. I am absolutely certain they will one day save my life. Or ego. Or sanity. Thus, I’m introducing the Dad Episodes. Yes, this blog has become that serious and involved. (To me.) Let’s be honest. I just have way too many Dad-in-the-woods tales to fit all in one post.
Episode 1: Bring a Tarp.
If you go camping fairly regularly, you probably have experienced a storm coming through at night while in your tent. If you haven’t, I don’t suggest you do it just for the “experience”. It’s terrifying. And wet. The next morning you feel like you could probably survive Mother Nature’s worst if it came down to it.
We had one of those
weekends nights with my Dad when I was 8 years old or so. We didn’t stick around, as you’ll see why. It started off as most camping trips do, my dad asking us to pray that the ‘ole Honda would make it to the mountains and back without breaking down. And lots of anticipation of it actually doing so. Maybe that was just the Herron family. To our surprise, we actually do get there and set up camp. Camping goes as it usually does, with a warm fire and the cool smell of dewy pine needles wafting in from the edge of camp. The night eases in to its natural sounds and we snuggle up to one another in our single (Coleman) tent. Three kids and one Dad. Cut to sometime in the night… the memory gets spotty here for a while… I remember a slow drizzle starting up. It’s so comforting at first, when you’re dry and seemingly protected by a sheer piece of flimsy fabric that makes up a Coleman tent. Then the rain is really starting to come down… T-Bone putting a tarp over all of us now because it’s leaking in the tent… a river running under our sleeping bags, the rain sounding like a water fall now… thunder, lightning, and the wind going full throttle… we’re still dry! We’re under the tarp!! And then.
There’s no more tent.
I can fully and vividly remember all the events now. I SPECIFICALLY remember my brother immediately standing up under the tarp, terrified of Mother Nature’s unleashing on our shelter-less souls, only to release a cascade of water on everything. Us. The sleeping bags. The food. Did I say us? My Dad jumps into action, grabbing Cole and Brenna in his arms, I step on his foot and hold on tight- off we go. To the Car! It’s dry and comfortable and maybe (just maybe!) we will actually survive the end of the world! He shuttles Cole into the backseat of the Honda and turns to put my sister and I in the front seat, when my brother starts coming out into the rain again.
“Cole, Cole, what are you doing? Get back in the car!”
“I gotta get out Dad.”
“Whaddya mean? It’s raining!”
“I can’t Dad, I just can’t.”
“I threw up.”
My brother. Threw up. On the entire backseat. Of our one place to sleep. The four of us shared the two front seats that night, Cole on my Dad’s lap, Brenna on mine. We honked the horn with our little feet ’till we drove out of there the next morning, like a bunch of vomit-smelling, wet rats. You must be thinking, what in the hell was the tarp good for? I’d like to point out that you’re totally right. In this case, it was good fer nuthin’. But maybe next time it will be, or so T-Bone tells me.