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We went camping a couple of weeks ago.  In tents.  Not in any of the new-fangled campers.  No, my husband the Eagle Scout says that’s not camping.  It’s not camping unless you are using a rock as a pillow and spend all night listening to every crack of a branch and wondering if you shut the bear locker before you laid down, or whether your life is now in imminent danger due to a hungry black bear.

Yes, my friends, THIS is camping.

On day two, we decide to go on a beautiful hike we’ve taken previously to a place called Tannery Falls.  We have to drive to get to the actual trail though.  So, we pack the girls into the van, and off we go.

We don’t get far before we realize the main road we need to take has been completely washed out due to heavy spring rains.  This should’ve been our warning.  We should’ve turned back then.

Stupidly, we stopped and asked someone local if there was another way around to the falls.  He gave us some back wood, back road way in, which included a direction that sounded like, “You’re going to come to this little dirt road, like a logging road.  It’s not maintained, and no one ever uses it, but you’ll be fine.”

I recall saying something to hubby along the lines of, “What makes him so sure that the non-maintained road is fine, when the well maintained road he was standing on was mostly gone?”

So, forty-five minutes later, after two wrong turns, and travelling down a road of death that very well could’ve led us to John Wayne Gacy, we finally find Tannery Falls.  Blessed be, because I was about to call it quits.

We had not seen a house or a human form for twenty minutes.

Nevertheless, when we unloaded the kids and the hiking backpack, hubby insisted I lock up the car.  I guess bears must only use the door handles to access the car.

When I had turned off the ignition, I had put the keys on the middle console, since I had no pockets in my shorts, and helped pull the kids out of the car.  When he asked me to lock the car, I reached into the car, grabbed the keys off the console, and hit the lock button.  And then hit it again.  And again.  Why wasn’t my damn key fob working?  It had been acting weird recently.  My batteries must’ve finally kicked the bucket.

I reached in the van and manually locked the doors, and shut my door, making sure to check the handle for a safe, secure lock.  You never can be too sure with those bears.  I threw the keys at Paul and said, “Here, hold on to these, I don’t have pockets.”

He stared at them in horror.  “You’re kidding.  Tell me, please, that you’re kidding.”

“What?  What’s your problem?”

“Nichole, these are the keys for MY car!”  Which was at home three hours away, might I add.

“What the Christ are your keys doing in MY car?!”

He was beyond listening to me.  He was just muttering, “Oh my God, oh my God,” and making frantic circles around the car, checking every door.

“Oh yeah, there’s my keys!” I said, looking in the window, and seeing my keys snuggled in the cup holder.  “I must’ve grabbed the wrong set!”

He glared at me.

“Hi, keys!” I shouted, waving at my keys.

My phone was about two minutes from dead, as was his.  And a fat lot of good they did us anyway, we had ZERO reception.  The houses we had passed twenty minutes ago had antenna on top to try to grab whatever good for nothing signal there was at the top of this God forsaken mountain, in these God forsaken woods.

“We’ll just call someone,” I joked.  It had taken us forty-five minutes to drive into the middle of nowhere on a logging road that looked more like an ATV trail, with holes big enough to swallow a bus.

We were all going to die here.

Bear Grylls would be so disappointed with us.

“HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET BACK IN THE VAN, NICHOLE?!” he screamed.  Clearly, panic was setting in.

“Please, let’s not let this ruin our hike.  We’ll just go for our hike….and….and we’ll figure it out when we get back.”

“FIGURE WHAT OUT?!  I DON’T HAVE ANY TOOLS ON ME!  NOTHING!”

Stay calm and carry on is not his motto.

So we went for our hike.  I tried to enjoy myself, but mostly I was trying to lift my husband’s mood.  And stay behind him in our single file line so that he couldn’t bash my head in with a rock while my back was turned.

We made it down to the falls and they were gorgeous!  Just as I remembered them!

2013-07-16 11.15.30 You can virtually rock jump your way out to the base of the fall.  It’s simply gorgeous.  I only wish I hadn’t forgotten my good camera at home.

I tried to lighten the mood by snapping shots of Paul and Allie, enjoying the falls, but what I got what this.

2013-07-16 11.15.06 My husband’s face is classic in this.  It says, “I will kill you as soon as you put the evidence maker down, and leave your skeleton for someone to find in the spring run off.”

Paige on the other hand, thought it was fantastic that we were going to have to Mission Impossible our way back into the van.

2013-07-16 11.15.01 She obviously doesn’t have the same vision in her head as I do of us clawing and scratching at the windows in a desperate attempt to survive.

I got one final shot of my husband looking normal while yelling encouraging things at him, like, “I love you!  You look fabulous!  Who are you wearing?”  My attempt at humor may have also been a survival mechanism.

2013-07-16 11.13.46

Yes, Paige is hiking in a skirt.  Nothing we said could change her mind.

We made it back to the car, about fifteen minutes after this picture was taken and tried to think of a couple of innovative ways to get in the car.  Nothing even came close to working.  Damn you Toyota Sienna and your safety features.  They obviously don’t have hiking tragedies like this in Japan.

In the end, he picked up a rock, hung his head, like a beaten dog, gently tossed the rock in his hands, and said, “Girls, please go stand by your mother.”

Paige was cheering like a rabid Justin Beiber fan, and Allie was crying something about, “Please don’t break MY window!”  Glad she’s keeping things in perspective.

We decided the back rear window was the safest to break.  It wouldn’t leave glass shards on anyone’s seat, and it wasn’t imperative to safe driving.  So, through the window the rock went, with a sickening shatter.

We fed Paige through the window like a pencil and told her to touch nothing till she got to a door.  She popped the locks and we were in!  Blessed be to Jesus, we were in!

We all hopped into the van, and Paul mentioned, as I backed out of our parking spot, happy that no starvation or thirst was involved at any time, “Hey, stop up here on the road and pop the trunk.  There’s some great wood I want to load in the trunk to take back for the campfire.”

“Good news!” I yelled.  “I don’t have to pop the trunk!  You can slide it in, courtesy of our new escape hatch!”

“I’m going to keep that damn rock,” he muttered.  “And label it, ‘Nichole’s folly.'”

“I’m going to label it, ‘Best Day Ever!'”

He was not amused.  Or impressed.

We all made it back to camp, alive and in good spirits.  Well, except for Paul.  He has lost his sense of adventure in his old age.

I will be happy to never see Tannery Falls again.

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