4th of July is a time honored tradition in the U.S. of A. complete with grilled meat, corn on the cob, apple pie, sparklers, and of course fireworks! 4th of July around "Camp Crandell" includes time at our trailer in Apple Valley. Its 3-4 days of camping, swimming, boating and just plain fun in the sun; this year had all of the above including triple digit heat and a few stressful situations.
I must mention that our trailer is approximately 35 years old so therefore there are things that have been replaced, needs tossed or fixed frequently. Being that the trailer is 35 years old you probably guessed that there is no air conditioning in it, only fans and those are a must have. We have had to tear out the original fridge and replace it with a small fridge, like the ones you might find in dorms only slightly taller. We’ve had to throw away seat cushions and bed coverings because the fabric would literally disintegrate in your hands upon touching it. The foam inside said cushions had also fallen apart when our dog found a tear and thought it would be a grand idea to dig into it with his claws. That was a sight to see when we came back from swimming; yellow foam everywhere and Boomer looking at us with big eyes of “I’m sorry” and his tail between his legs. We never use the hot water or the stove because of the trailers age, my husband is just simply too nervous to turn on the propane tanks. This doesn’t bother us since the camp ground has a bathhouse and we have a grill. Two summers ago when I took my girlfriends up to the trailer for a girl’s weekend we discovered, the smelly way, that the hose from the toilet to the blue catch underneath the trailer had a hole in it. That of course needed fixed ASAP. Finally we found a hose and connection for our aged trailer and it seemed to hold up quite well during last year’s girl’s weekend, I hope it does again this weekend when the girls come up. So you can imagine that every year we come up to open the trailer for a few weeks in the summer something else has either broken or is in need of finding its final resting place in the dumpster.
When we arrived at our lot everything looked normal except the antenna that was on the top of the trailer had come crashing down in the recent storms that swept through Central Ohio; no biggie since, A.) We don’t watch TV at any point during our weekends and, b.) No TV is antenna ready these days. We all hop out of van, the kids run for their toys they remembered from last year and George and I start to clear out the trailer of storage items. We started tossing old grates, blankets and and rusty wobbly table. For the most part clean-up was easy since we pretty much put everything in its place when we winterized the trailer at the end of last summer.
Since the trailer was exceptionally hot with the triple digit temps turning on the fans was a must. George went to the back of the trailer and started pulling out the retractable cord to plug into the electrical post. As George started walking closer to the post with the plug the sinking thought that the cord wasn’t going to make it came to fruition when the cord was yanked from his hand only 5 feet from the post. Only because the kids were in ear shot did my husband refrained from curse words but a tiny burst of anger slipped when he kicked the ground and yelled “Ugh!” Ok, we had been at the trailer all of 20 minutes the first problem had arose. This was not the weekend to just shrug our shoulders and say “Oh well” to the situation at hand, we had to have fans! I had to run to the local dollar store for some items so on my way out I stopped at the office and explained our situation to the camp grounds manager. She “mmmm-ed” and “ohhhhh-ed” and apologized profusely and she said she would come up with a solution; either she would have us moved or find someone within the grounds with and extension cord.
Once I arrived back at the trailer I started unloading everything I had bought at the store. Items included such necessities as charcoal, lunch meat and some munchies. But my bags also contained some fun things for the kids. I had gotten bubbles, a little chair for Mary since Sam already had one and an $8 kiddie pool for all our cooling needs. While I was unloading the van the camp ground manger pulled up in her golf cart brandishing an extension cord, praise God! We thanked her and felt relief sweep over us as we walked back to plug in the electric. Relief quickly switched to disbelief when we still had no power after plugging in. We scratch our heads, ran around switching the plug to other outlets and trying to find a fuse box for the trailer, all to no avail. Other trailers were using the same electric post and we could hear air conditioners running and radios’ playing so we knew it wasn’t the post. We also figured that not once in 35 years of anyone opening the trailer had the power now worked, so we pretty much ruled out any issue with the trailers electrical. The final conclusion brought us to the thought that the extension cord didn’t work. We of course we huffed and rolled our eyes and knew we had to get one because of the high temps and me needing the trailer the next weekend for the girls trip.
Once I brought out the kiddie pool the kids were ecstatic. They wanted their suits on and now. George said that he would grab one of the hoses in the back of the trailer (usually used to bring water into the trailer) to hook up the spigot to fill the small pool. I was inside changing the kids and hear a loud slam of a door on the back of the trailer and ran around to see what the matter was. He just glared at me and proceeded to tell me that our two hoses had been stolen right out of the back of our trailer while it was in storage. Really? We had no hose to hook to the trailer so water could run the toilet, not a good thing since we have two small children with small bladders. We knew the lock was broke on the storage door but never would have thought someone would just walk through the storage area taking personal belongings. At that point all I could do was shrug my shoulders and say “Oh well, what do you do? I guess we trek it down to the bathhouse.” I stepped back into the trailer to get my own suit on so I could take the kids down to the beach. As I started pulling out my belongings from my overnight bag I realized my swim suit was nowhere to be found. Not in a side pocket, not balled up in a corner, nowhere! I just threw my hands up and walked out to announce I had no suit. My husband chuckled in disbelief and asked “You forgot your suit?” I calmly tried to explain to him that I had placed the suit w/my cover up on the bed fully intending to pack it up but that it somehow didn’t make it into my bag. He reminded me that he was the older one in the relationship and that my memory should be better than his. I then reminded him that I have to pack clothes, food and misc. items for 4 people and that sometimes things get forgotten and that if he thinks he could do a better job at remembering everything than next time he can pack for everyone. As you can tell tempers were getting a bit flared and the heat wasn’t helping.
I made a decision that we needed to step away from the trailer and that he should go on his annual hike to the waterfall that is somewhere deep in some woods that I would never go in and that I would take the kids to my mom and dad’s so I could run to Wal-Mart for an extension cord and a swims suit. He agreed with this plan and before we separated for a few hours I rushed to put our bed sheets on and clean up a few areas of the trailer, inside and out. Of course going to my mom and dad’s is never as easy as just dropping kids off, there always has to be an explanation as to why I’m going somewhere so I explained all of what had happened and that Wal-Mart in town was the best bet to find my needs. So after 45 minutes of explaining the situation I was off to Wal-Mart for my much sought after items. Of course you can imagine the bathing suit section of Wal-Mart was picked over and there was nothing cute left on their hangers, if there ever was. I tried my best to find something that fit and didn’t make me look too stupid. I was half successful; top good, bottom, bad. I headed off to the sporting goods section to find the extension cord. I ended up asking the sales clerk for help finding it and the whole reason I couldn’t find it was because they didn’t have any. Really? I asked the clerk where I could possibly find one and he said to try Tractor Supply Company down the street. I walked into TSC just before they close at 8pm and they of course don’t have an extension cord but they have an electrical tester so I got that to figure out where the power discrepancy was. Upon my return I pick up the kids from my parents so they can do sparklers with us at the trailer before bed which at the same time George and I test the power sources. Everything lit up so we continued to scratch our heads as George opened the trailer door to discover we have power! Really?
Well that’s fixed now back to the task of unloading the last two small bags from the van. One contained more sparklers and a fan and the other was my beach bag. As I reached in my beach bag to grab a dry pull-up for Mary, low and behold there was my bathing suit. Really? Of course George and I got a good laugh out of it and of course I decided that taking back that hideous bathing suit back to Wal-Mart was priority one upon our return to the city.
So with the kids happy with sparklers and us happy with power it was time to relax. Since the temps were so high still even at night we decided that the kids should sleep at my parents’ house. They would be much more comfortable and that would leave time for George and I to have some alone time around a campfire. The nine o’clock hour approached and it was time to give kisses and hugs to daddy and strap them into their car seats to head back to my parents. Once the kids were tucked in with some milk and a story I thanked my mom for having them stay and headed back to the trailer. Since George had gone on his hike through the woods to a waterfall he needed a shower. He grabbed his towel and his bag of toiletries and headed to the bathhouse. I sat down for probably the first time since I arrived and I enjoyed an ice cold beer. George was gone all but 5 minutes still wearing his stinky shorts and clutching his bathroom accessories. I said “That was a quick shower!” he replied “Yeah, no hot water”. Really? I was kind of confused because a quick cold shower in the heat to rinse off the hike sounded better than no shower at all, but it was his stomach that made the decision for him.
We piled back into the van and drove to the front of Apple Valley where there is a local pub that offers decent pub food. The parking lot was full as we expected for the holiday week(end) but what we didn’t expect was to be told the kitchen closed at 10pm, it was 10:05 when we sat down. Really? The next best thing out in the middle of nowhere was the Domino’s pizza down from the pub. We shrugged our shoulders once again and ordered a pizza. 45 minutes after we had left for the pub we had returned to the trailer to start a much deserved relaxing campfire. Since the mega storm had blew through just a week prior my dad had a lot of tree limbs down and he so graciously cut them up for us to use as firewood. George emptied the wood from the back of the van to get the fire rolling. Here around “Camp Crandell” we sort of cheat when making our fires, we start out by lighting some charcoal to get the wood good and hot so we don’t have to work too hard to keep the fire going. So that was our first step, light the charcoal and once that’s good and hot we pile on the wood and some boxes and/or paper. The paper and the boxes got the fire roaring so we added our wood which we discovered was too young and therefore would not burn…at all! Really? We gave up as quickly as we started and decided to just enjoy the cooler night that started to finally arrive out of the ridiculously hot day. George actually ended up falling asleep in his camp chair and I read my book via a book light. Next I knew it was 1am, wow, I had to go to sleep. Since the hoses were stolen George and I trucked it down to the bathhouse hopefully one last time before morning. I thought to myself before my head hit the pillow “Tomorrow WILL be a better day!”
I have forgotten to mention that since George’s night to go to school is Wednesday night and the 4th of July was Wednesday night he was told that he had to attended class on Friday night instead. Really? That was a total vacation killer for him. George didn’t get to spend much time with us on Friday before he had to head back into Columbus but he got to play with the kids at the trailer for a bit before we embarked on a boat ride with grandma and grandpa. The day went well; hot, but well. Mom forgot to take some meat out of the freezer to cook for dinner so dad decided to take us all to dinner down the street in Howard, a place called “Grillers”. After dinner we headed back to grandma and grandpas for some playtime and baths. The sun and the waves had taken it out on all of us so bed time came early for the kids. After they were down I started an assignment from George’s Access class to help him get caught up. Of course mom doesn’t have Access on her computer so I had to download the free trial version from Microsoft which took forever! Finally by 11pm I had everything downloaded and of course ready for me to start. Really?
Morning arrived at 9am for this mommy, praise God! George had text me that he wouldn’t be there until at least noon and we were all not up for being out on the boat in the heat (temps were to reach 102 that day) on the busiest day of the year for Apple Valley Lake. Apple Valley property owners get together every year to shoot off fireworks for the residents and their guests so the gatherings start early. On 4th of July Saturday’s the lake is generally choppy with waves from jet skis and speed boats pulling tubers and water skiers so this also gave us a reason to opt out of a boat ride. Once George returned we were all in the mood for a break from our tasks; me from the Access headache I was getting and the kids from cartoons. We suited up and went to the beach which lasted about one hour. It was so hot that when you got out of the water the breeze on your wet skin couldn’t keep you cool, you had to stay in the water. Mary convinced daddy to take her over to the playground and Sam followed them as well. George came back to the picnic area where I was packing up our things and announced it was time to go because Mary was dozing in the swing. If the kids were going to stay up for the fireworks they both had to nap and it actually for once was not a problem for either of them. George took the nap time as an opportunity to take another hike while I stayed at my parents’ house to try and figure out the Access homework.
After the kids napped we took them back to the trailer so they could play and we could grill. It was so hot that the kids got into the kiddie pool with their clothes on and Sam dumped a bottle of water on his head, over and over again. Later, mom came over to sit with us at the trailer; dad said it was too hot so he stayed behind. She even stayed for the fireworks which we could hardly see because of huge trees, we picked the wrong location to view them. Really? We went through all that trouble to nap the kids and keep them up for something they could barely see.
We knew the general store in front of Apple Valley closed at 11pm and George and I wanted some munchies, beer and charcoal for our fire. We raced the kids back to my parents’ house for their cool bedtime, raced to the general and got there with 8 minutes to spare. Grabbed our loot and headed back to the trailer. We pull our van onto our lot, open our doors to hear our trailer neighbors blaring Aaron Neville’s “I don’t know much, but I know I love you”. Really? I despise Aaron Neville’s voice and who ever told that man he could sing was tone deaf. Luckily the music was turned down to a normal decibel and better music was heard from that point forward. When George returned that day he returned with firewood from our local grocer which is always perfectly seasoned. We went to start our fire and discovered in our haste to get to the general store and back we forgot charcoal. Really? We are seasoned professionals at starting fires how is it that we were having such a hard time actually out camping? So we doused the contents of the fire ring with lighter fluid and struck a match. With a whoosh the flames went up and the wood went in. After several minutes we discovered the package of wood that he bought was wet. It wouldn’t keep a flame and it hissed with the sounds of wetness. Really? Night number two we can’t get a fire started. I tried and tried and tried until I finally grew hot, angry and tired. I slumped into my chair in defeat and picked up my book as George nodded off.
Sunday morning came at 9am for this mommy again which was fantastic since I again stayed up until 1am again reading. George drove over to my parents’ house to the get the kids so they could play at the trailer, eat breakfast and get suited up for another day on the boat and in the water. Sunday was much more pleasant of a day at 85 degrees then the last few days at 100-102. Even with the high temps we were lucky enough to dodge the rainstorms that seemed to linger in the area. We packed up the van with our items that we brought with us for the weekend and locked up the trailer and headed off for the marina to start our outing.
After a full day on the boat and in the water we packed up the kids and headed home. Upon entrance into the city I started to miss Apple Valley’s slow pace and the ease of which the city does not offer. I felt as though being back in the city was not where I needed to be any more, somehow I feel as if I became a little bit more of a country girl this weekend then I had been in the past. The stop lights at every block, the viciousness of the drivers and the smell of hot asphalt and gas fumes made my stomach churn. I used to say “Home Sweet Home” when we walked in the door, but this time I longed to be back in Apple Valley. Yes, I am sure the feeling had to do with all the fun we had despite our trials and it being the perfect place to take refuge from the horrendous heat, but I also know there was a lot more to this longing to be back then ever before. Maybe I’ll become a country girl one day after all…and like it! Really?