First Published in the Tri-Town Transcript on Jul. 16, 2015
It’s the week before our summer vacation, or what I call, prep week. You know, the week you need before vacation to properly over-prepare and hyper-stress the family. This way any vacation, anywhere at all, will be relaxing by comparison. You can ignore prep week, but then you’ll spend 85 percent of your vacation in the local Walmart trying to cobble together s’mores from a center aisle display set up for the influx of camping families who will stampede through like so many rabid bears leaving behind only one chocolate bar and some sliced white bread that perhaps you could pass off as a graham cracker if you let it sit out overnight to harden. Or . . .you can prep in a frenzied and strung out way and cut the Walmart trips down to a mere 60 percent and have a wine spritzer at 11:30 a.m. Why? Because you’re frenzied and strung out, and now additionally you are in the woods being eaten by bugs, but, you are on vacation!
Ok, it’s not really that bad. Prepping 24 chicken breasts in meal-specific, marinade bags? Easy peasy . . . if you don’t mind your kitchen looking like a slaughter house. Which I don’t. I embrace the raw poultry, salmonella splatter across every single kitchen surface. Because, truly, a vacation from dinner decisions is a vacation indeed.
Regular Readers may recall that our family camp is in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. The region, so vast and densely wooded that it was the recent hideout of the escaped convicts who eluded authorities earlier this summer. The news reported that they were likely hiding out in a seasonal camp. But our camp is on the shores of northern Lake George and it was hard to imagine why escaped convicts would hide near a giant body of fresh, drinkable, water. So we weren’t too worried.
Thankfully they were caught and I could return my attention to a less ominous topic: prep week laundry. Starting off with clean clothes is the key to a good vacation for reasons that escape me the moment I am there and covered in sunscreen, bug spray and sweat while still amazingly relaxed. When I was little I remember laughing at my mother about this. All I needed was a bathing suit and a t-shirt! It’s not like I ever wore clean outfits to the bonfire or pretty dresses into the woods. Didn’t then. Don’t now. My daughter’s laugh at me, history repeats itself, and none of us can stop the madness. Prep week also includes some thought to packing the Giant Sparkle. When I haul all the things we’ve ever owned outside and set them next to our road weary minivan, it’s obvious to both my husband and me that something, mayhap many things, should be left behind. His approach is systematic – a puzzle to be thoughtfully solved. My approach is to not care one fig how it all fits, just shove it in, slam the door and let the girls crawl in through the sunroof.
This is where things can get a little tense.
I might, at this point, volunteer myself as the sacrificial item that can remain behind. I’ll stay home. By myself. With my washing machine and air conditioning and daily shower.
But no. We will bend the laws of Newtonian and quantum physics. The Giant Sparkle will be uncomfortable, children will be hit in the head by paddles, Blue Ears will be treated as if he’s a chihuahua instead of the size of a pony, and the smell of slowly thawing chicken will be available to anyone who bumps the cooler. But. It. Will. All. Fit.
Tomorrow is the last day of prep week. Tomorrow is when the center may not hold at Casa Baird. But if it does, then this time next week I’ll be drinking my spritzer, smelling like a locker room, being eaten by bugs . . . and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.