Monday, September 1, 2008

Vacation - Part II

Alright, where did we leave off? Oh yeah, in "bed". Reason number 462,747 to love backpacking - sleeping on the rock-hard ground. Ok, enough on that subject. Needless to say, I hurt in the AM.

I got much better in the morning making hot water. It turns out that you have to pressurize the gas can a little bit more to get a hotter flame. Oatmeal for breakfast for all of us except for Crab-Girl, who doesn't like oatmeal. Luckily we brought some Honeycomb(tm) (subtle product placement) along.

Now, for those who are faint of heart (or don't like discussion of poo), you should skip this paragraph. After breakfast, we all decided that we had to use the bathroom, but did not want to use the pit toilet. Crab Kids kept running right by the pit toilet, refusing to enter it. So, after a family vote, we decide to walk 1.5 miles to the nice toilet, then walk 1.5 miles back before actually starting the all day hike. While walking the 3 miles, we discussed how to design a good pit toilet (Leslie Science Center has a great, poo-ready pit-toilet with a composing poo-poo bin! Or so Crab Girl informs me.) So, what will people do for a clean toilet with running water? Oh, I know, walk a really, really, long way!

After unloading, and walking said 3 miles, we started the day. We walked to a shipwreck, well, not to the ship wreck, but to a bluff overlooking the shipwreck. Along the way, we saw many mini-bears, a few giant millipedes and a mess-o-snakes. Then, at the shipwreck, we saw about 450 million birds.

Here is the point in the story in which the brand new camera stops working. Suck.

Then we walked to a gigantic sand dune, which was somewhat like a bluff. We walked and walked and walked some more, and then seemed to loose the trail. So, we had to make a choice of going down the bluff (at around about a 75 degree angle) or turning around and walking back. Well, Crab Mama was all for going back, since there was danger involved in falling gradually (or quickly...) down the bluff. I was all for jumping, but I am a chicken sh*t, so my vote didn't really count for much. Crablets voted for running off the edge. They won! So, we sat on our a**es and scooted down the 1000 foot drop to the beach. I had so much sand up my pants that... well, you get the general idea. I have to admit that I was still a chicken sh*t and went down last, supposedly to make sure that the kids were getting down OK. Here is a picture of the slope with the kids half way down. Oh, wait, no camera.

Walking down the beach, we saw some crazy crap. There were millions and millions of shells on the beach. At one point, the entire beach was made up of little shells. Something like 1 foot deep by 15 feet from the water for 10s of feet. Huge number of shells. Absolutely crazy. Here is a picture. Oh wait, no pictures.

Crab-boy basically falls apart here. Pretty much stops walking and things just go to pot. So, we take a break. I carry him for a while, which makes him perk up. Then, after a few more miles of hiking we make it back to camp.

Dinner tonight - noodles! More boiling water. This time the noodles are pretty thick, so, even with my pump action pressure build up and turning the knob 10 times (max recommended: 3), we still got to wait for about 45 minutes for the noodles to soften up. At one point Crab-boy takes a noodle, sticks in his mouth and instantly says "it's done!", even though it took him about 5 minutes to finish chewing the thing. Needless to say, everyone was hungry and willing to kill the "chef" for some food.

It was around this time that we learned the true destructive nature of the "micro-bears". Even though we had (laughingly) hung our food from a tree in a sack, a chipmunk somehow climbed into the sack, and ate a bit of our food. We have no idea how. Maybe we didn't pull the drawstring on the sack? Who knows. But the d*mn thing got into the sack (while hanging from the tree), ate food and somehow got back OUT of the sack (while hanging from the tree). WTF?

Now, keep in mind that Crab-Mama had carefully considered everyone's eating habits and caloric needs when packing, so having a chipmunk eat away at some food is bad news for someone. Also, it should be noted that the chipmunk did not properly eat the food - i.e. maybe munch on a single pita with a little peanut butter slathered on it, no, no, he (or she) took a little nibble out of everything that we had left. If we were back in civilization (i.e. some place with clean toilets and pizza), we would have pitched the food on the idea that we could get some horrible disease from the little rodent (wasn't the plague spread by chipmunks???) But, these were extenuating circumstances - I was hungry. So, I took all of the food and just striped away the parts that the chipmunk chewed on. I am not proud of this moment, being an American, willing to throw away "tainted" food for the good of our family (even though I was brought up to not waste food - what would the starving children in Africa think?)

After dinner, washing the dishes, and cleaning up a bit, we sat around wondering what to do. I suggested that we go down to the beach and look at stars. So, we did. Except that the sun hadn't set yet. You would think, being a physicist and all, that I would know how long it takes the sun to go down and the stars to come out and such. Well, time has a way of slowing down when you have two kids running around proclaiming how boring it is to sit on the beach and look at a dark blue sky that has no stars in it. After about an hour with only seeing one star (I think it was actually Jupiter or Mars), more stars started to pop out. Slowly. I mean really slowly. Like, every 2-3 minutes, you could see one or two more stars. So, 15 more minutes of "I'm bored", and we gave up. Oh well. We have vowed to go outside at home and look up more. When it is dark. Maybe we will see shining objects in the sky. Well, this is Michigan, so we will probably just get rain in our eyes.

Bed time! This time, my left side hurt all night and my right side was fine, while the last night, it was exactly the opposite. Who can figure this camping crap out?

We wake up, eat some breakfast, break camp, and haul all of our stuff back to the boat launch. We were told that we should show up as the boat is getting there (about 11:30), since they may spontaneously decide to not stay for the day and just leave the island. So, we make sure we are there (bonus - we get to unload in the nice bathrooms again! Although after eating noodles, oatmeal, and chipmunk-chewed-on pita bread for a few days, there isn't much to unload....) Since the boat didn't leave immediately, we had 4.5 hours to kill. It turns out that the boat people give tours of the island. So, we see a group forming and quickly butt in to go on a tour (via truck - no walking!)

We go around to all the cool places on the island that we had not gone to before (the one-room school house, a couple of farms, the graveyard, the lake in the middle of the island, etc.) The tour killed about 2 hours and educated us greatly. One problem - the tour actually cost money. Oops. We didn't actually have any money. The tour guy got out of the truck at the end and said something like "ok, you can all pay me now." At which point Crab-Mama and I looked at each other and sh*t our pants. Luckily there was nothing to sh*t. We talked it over with the guy and he says that we can just pay when we get back to the mainland. Whew.

After that, we played cards for a while and waited for the boat to leave.

Once we got back to Leland, we got ice cream and took off, stopping in some town on the way home to grab a pizza to stop the hunger pains. Arrive home at 11:00 PM, unload the car and go to bed. Home sweet home!

1 comment:

drumgeek said...

You mentioned the school up there, so I have a little story problem just like on the Physics GRE (based on a true story):

I had a good friend who graduated valedictorian from Beaver Island High. Beaver Island near Charlevoix. She also was at the bottom of the class. Charlevoix has 412 tourists in it and the parking is terrible- must be biker week. How many students where in her class?

Turn you computer upside down when you think you know the answer.


(OK, well the E is backwards, but the computer people don't make a backward or an upside down E. How do they expect people to live like this?)