Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Vacation 2013 - Day 2

Our second day of vacation happens to fall on Father's Day. For this reason we had planned that we would not be on the road, but would stay in Charleston and do fun family things. As Kim says, we get to do whatever I want to do.

I was awoken by Aurora and Athena saying "Happy Fathers Day!" in unison, which they had apparently planned the night before. The camp was holding a Father's Day Pancake breakfast so when we all got up and reasonably ready we headed off to breakfast. The breakfast was frozen sausage patties cooked on a griddle and pancakes from a box mix. The kids readily noticed the difference between this breakfast and one we where likely to make from home with real sausage and pancakes from scratch. Nonetheless we where all happy to have a hot cooked breakfast that did not include any cleaning up from our part.
After breakfast we took showers, brushed out teeth, and took care of all the other morning business before heading out.

Our first order of business was finding a place to paddle on some water. We discovered that the park we are staying in has kayak and paddle-boat rentals. We took out a one hour rental on a single kayak for Aurora and two double kayaks. Athena paddled with me while Arianna rode with Kim. The lake provided a barely adequate kayaking experience. The water is a mud brown and did not look very appealing. On our trip we kayaked next to dogs having balls thrown in the water by their owners to retrieve and RC sail boats that where participating in a local RC sail boat race. With little shade on the water and a river that didn't match the Wakulla River we are used to enjoying we found ourselves back on shore ten minutes earlier than necessary. After driving around the grounds a little we headed back to camp for lunch.

At camp we discussed our next destination. The park has a climbing wall that Aurora was very interested in and a water park that Athena was wanting to visit. With Arianna as the tie-breaker she kept switching from wanting to go to the water park to not having an opinion. Kim and I both concluded that the climbing wall would probably leave Arianna out and that the water park would be best for making sure everyone was able to participate. With Aurora making her objections well known we went to the water park.

We knew that after 3:00 the tickets where about half priced and we had a little under an hour before we could get the discount so we headed over to a fishing and crabbing dock listed on the park map.

As a teenager docks where always a favourite place to hangout when camping. I clearly remember my brothers and sister spending hours on the docks of the various campgrounds we visit. At the dock we could watch people fish, be surprised by jumping fish, see boats pass by, meet strangers, and generally just relax and talk away from the eyes of our parents. I have always enjoyed the company that a dock has to offer. At this dock I quickly found my serenity. A man was using chicken to catch crabs in a trap. A few other people had brought their fishing poles and the kids enjoyed watching the people cast their lines out and reel them back in. I found a place by the water to enjoy the scenery of the marshes and swamps that filled the far expanse of the water system.

Kim, as it turns out, just found herself getting hot and uncomfortable, so we only ended up at the dock for about thirty minutes. We purchased water park tickets at the campground HQ as they where cheaper purchased there by registered guests, giving us a slight additional discount.

At the park Athena and Aurora buddied up, Arianna and I buddied up, and Kim was given a rare chance to relax doing whatever she wanted alone. The two big sisters quickly found the two water slides and started making their rounds going up the steps, down the chutes, and then back up for more fun. Arianna and I drifted from the pool, to the kiddie water playground and back. Eventually I was able to coax Arianna in to trying the water slides with the promise of smores at night. Her confidence waxed and waned as we made our way up the steps, but she found the courage to finally go down with me. At the bottom she was giddy with excitement at the thrill of riding a tube down a water slide. I thought she would definitely make another go of it, but she was content at first and guided me back to the pool area.

Next I got her to take the lazy river with me. She did not let it be so lazy for me. She demanded we go this way, or that way, and laughed as the waterfalls and water sprays doused us as we passed through. One go through the lazy river and she was done. It wasn't long before she guided me back to the slides where we tried both the original open-air white slide and the enclosed green slide. We kept switching back and forth and then Kim got my phone to snap a picture of us coming down. As we reached the end, instead of grabbing Arianna and making sure she was secure with me I raised a hand in the air for a pose. While it did make for a nice picture that Kim caught very well, it also left us vulnerable as I lost my balance when we hit the water and our raft flipped, leaving Arianna in the water.

One very nice thing about this water parked is that they are fully staffed with attentive life guards. Before I had a chance the life guard at the bottom pulled Arianna out of the pool. The experience shook her up very good and she was done with the slides. So Arianna and I found ourselves back in the pool for a while. A little while later Aurora and Athena where having a hard time agreeing about what to do so Kim took Athena and left Aurora to her own will.

About an hour before closing Arianna got her nerve back up for the slides where we spent almost the rest of the time. Arianna had which slides we would do down in advanced, with a plan on which slide we where going to do now, and what the next three slides we where going to do already scheduled. This gave her great fun, and a few times she went down with Aurora and let me take some solo trips.

At the end even Aurora agreed that this was a better idea than a climbing wall. If nothing else, the cool water made us feel like the otherwise hot day was actually cool. It wasn't until we where back at camp and our bodies had time to readjust that we came back to realizing the heat the day was providing.

Afterwards we found a local Bi-Lo. Aurora and I went in and purchased goods for making smores and I even treated everyone with a drink. A Coca-Cola for Kim and I to share, a Mountain Dew for Aurora, a Dr. Pepper for Athena, and a lemonade Gatorade for Arianna. This was the first time we had anything but water since leaving our house.

For dinner I cooked chicken breasts, new potatoes, and corn. Aurora cut up the potatoes and wrapped them in tin foil. Athena and Arianna shucked the corn and Kim wrapped it up in tin foil. I started the fire, which took me longer than usual, and cooked it all over the grill. The corn turned out the best of all. It was very sweet and juicy. We all ate our fill and had some left over.

Our second night camping proved to be a little on the warm side and it took a while before the night brought the cool air necessary to make us comfortable. Even with our tent being in a wooded area shaded from sunlight, it was no escape from the muggy summer swamp air.

All-in-all a very good Father's Day even though we where far away from home with little leeway for where to go and what to do.