I guess this is going to be a once a week type of thing.
We went on vacation - took a boat ride out to South Manatou Island, where we hiked and camped for two days and came back on the third day. Now, I love (i.e., hate) camping. But Mama Crab loves (i.e., loves) backpacking and camping, so we went along.
One of the glorious parts of camping and hiking is the shopping at REI that comes before the camping and hiking. Really, that is what it is all about - the lightest tent and sleeping bag and stove and ... But, I am a huge wet blanket and don't want to get anything new. I am like a relentless two-year-old in my complaining about not buying new things. I think that Mama Crab wants to kill me. Seriously, if she could get the Sierra Design 4.9 lbs 3-person tent and all she had to do was axe me, she would. We got out of REI only spending something like $100, which is pretty good. All it took was a few tears on my part. I am not ashamed to cry if it will save us money! Of course, Crab-Ma probably looks on it as a victory too ("If I tell him I want a tent, a backpack, a new stove, ... and only get a backpack, he will think he won - and I get to see him cry like a baby!!!")
Anyways, we pack all of our crap in our backpacks and head to the great white north (ok, less hot north). A four-hour car ride up through Traverse City and into Sleeping Bear National Park brought us to sand, sand and more sand. I mean, a mountain of sand. We went up to the top of the mountain and dug down something like 2-2.5 feet and it was still sand! Then we convinced crab-girl to climb into said hole and bury her! Well, it was really only up to her thighs, so she wasn't really buried. Lots of laughs. Lots of running down the sand jumping and rolling and such. Crab boy kept running up the hill, then turning around and basically face-planting himself on the way down. He loved that sand.
Then on to Leland, through a little berge called Glenn Arbor, where there was gas for sale for $4.09 a gallon. There is no way in hell that I am paying $4.09 a gallon when it is $3.75 in Ann Arbor. So, I blow by the place. Take note of this. Important mistake. We then drive another 20 miles to Leland. At which point the gas guage is below (well below) the empty line. And, guess what, THE gas station on Leland is closed. Nice. It is open 8:30-5:30 M-F. WTF? When is the last time you saw a gas station that was not open on the weekend. Well, for me, it was last Sunday. So, we park the car and start looking for hotels on foot. Now, I am not normally a dumb-a** (well, often less than twice a day), but that day really took the cake. If you are in the middle of no-wheres-ville, MI, and you see a gas station, and you are on empty, get some gas. They have you by the balls. Pay them to let go. Enough of the gas story, let's move on.
First hotel we go to has a price sheet out in the front lobby. $95 off season rate, $185 in season rate. It clearly says Labor Day is the end of the season, and this is (clearly) before labor day. So, it is quite obvious (even to a UM professor) what the cost is going to be. But, I have to ask anyways, thinking maybe the person would take pity on us and give us a break. "Uh, do you have any rooms for the night?" "Yup." "Uh.... about how much would it be?" Stare. "$185" Ouch. "Wow. Ok. Uh...." Stare. "I guess I could give it to you for $165 if that would help." (It is 6:00 in the evening and no one else is coming through the door, so maybe $20 would swing the deal.) "Uh.... I think that we are going to go look around a bit. We might be back." "Yup."
Next we stop by the Riverfront Inn, which is a Posh Establishment. They take one look at the kids and basically, in so many words, tell us "we don't want your kind here." Leaving the fine place, we see a minivan full of people who must be at least 90 years old unfolding themselves and heading towards the front door. Ahhh, now it makes sense. Old Crabs and Young Crabs don't mix. Of course, it could have been my t-shirt that said something like "F*ck old people". I am not sure which.
Let's try the third hotel (actually, I think that we were in motel land....) The Leland Inn. We walk in and the office was closed (remember, 6:00 on a Sunday night), with a sign that said, "See Bar Tender for Rooms". So, I walked into the bar, pointed at the Bar Tender and said "You're the man!" And he said "I'm the man!" (Keep in mind that this guy is probably 21 years old, and probably appreciates my t-shirt, which says something like "I wish I was young again!") He walks into the office, where I ask him how much, and he says something like, "Uh, I think that it is not the in season anymore, so let's see..." I didn't correct him. "How about, hmmm... $99?" "Ok!" He takes my credit card, writes the info down, gives me a key, and we're done. The room is pretty cool - they have a king size bed, and two wall-mount beds that fold down (Murphy beds - but not quite the same) - one on the top and one on the bottom. Of course, the Crab-kids start arguing about who is going to get the top bunk. Flip a coin. Crab-boy (which is a relief, since if it wasn't him, there would be a fair bit of pouting and crap). We have dinner in the restaurant, which is completely empty, except for the people eating with their mouths open two tables away. Nice. Oh well. Bed time.
Next morning, we get up, eat a crappy breakfast, get some gas ($4.11 per gallon - Mother F*ckers! But, screw them, I only got 4 gallons! Ha!), dump our stuff at the boat, park the car, walk back to the boat, get on the boat, and take off. The vacation is officially underway!
We were told that the boat could be cold. We have been on boat-rides before, and we were expecting cold. So Crab-Mama packed gloves and mittens and snow pants and crap, but then boat ended up going something like 10 knots, which everyone in the crab family can run faster than that. So, not cold. Take off the hats, parkas, etc, and start baking in the sun. ("But it COULD have been cold!") We get to the island, and undertake the orientation, which is basically a little description of the camp sites, where to find water, a stern warning ("Don't sh*t in the camp grounds!"), and a lecture about how chipmunks (a.k.a., micro-bears) can get into your food and eat everything, so hang stuff from a tree. Mama-Crab and I laugh. No one else does.
BTW, word of the trip - "micro-bear". If you want to kill yourself as a parent, make-up a stupid word and tell it to your kids. They will repeat it over and over and over and over and over again. Kids get sick of nothing (except whatever you are interested in doing...), especially when you start pulling your hair out. They think that sh*t is hilarious and will just say it over and over some more. (When I started this blog, Crab-Girl leans over my shoulder and says "make sure to say something about the micro-bears!")
We hike for about 1.5 miles to our campsite, each carrying 10%-20% of our body weight on our backs (there is a formula here, you know!) Set up camp, and go to the beach. The crab-kids instantly notice that there are two other kids in the water, and want to go play with them. We try to convince them that this is a family vacation and that we should stick together. Needless to say, that lasted about 30 seconds, and then they are off down the beach to play with the strangers. I am left sitting alone on a beach. About 15 minutes later, I realize that no one is coming back, so I pack up all of the crap that we have to go to the beach, and go find the kids and Crab-Mama. They play with the other kids for about 30 more minute and we go back to camp.
Now, when you are an experienced backpacker, you can probably boil a pot of water for dinner in a few minutes. I am not an experienced backpacker. About 30 minutes later, I get the water starting to produce bubbles from the bottom of the pot. About 30 minutes after that, the noodles are to the point that the little crabs can chew them without breaking their jaws. Then I have to make the cheese sauce, and then the boiling water for the dehydrated peas. I think I expended more effort making dinner than the calories I ingested. Which, I think, is the point of backpacking. We crawl into our tents (Did I mention that we have two tents? Yeah, Mama-Crab definitely does not approve of two tents - especially when they weight 11 lbs and 8 lbs respectively. Why do we have two heavy tents? Because I am a cheap-a**-b*stard!) and go to sleep.
Here ends the tail of vacation, day one. Join us tomorrow to learn more about starvation, micro-bears, snakes and walking torture. I am going to bed.
2 weeks ago