Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Shatner is, was and ever shall be Kirk to me. I need my hero." - Robert, Free Enterprise


A gator, swimming in what appears to be lime-flavored Gatorade®. Note: I did NOT spit on this alligator.

To recap: I’ve been camping with The Boy. The Boy kept waking me up because I was (he says, but has no proof) snoring. I must say it was actually a cunning plan on my part to ward off the hordes of vicious raccoons that had surrounded our tent and demanded that we give them Cheetos® or they would do something unspecified (but horrible) with their evil little opposable thumbs. They also threatened to use mind-control technology on us to make us drop tasty things if we did not relent and give them the crunch-styrofoamish goodness that are Cheetos™. My snoring must have been answer enough.

We went hiking, if walking on an asphalt path for a half-mile around a lake is your idea of hiking. We walked back to our camp, and I cooked up some macaroni and cheese for The Boy and some hot dogs for myself. When getting the hot dogs off of the grill, I needed an extra hand, so I asked The Boy to come and take the dogs over to the table. He managed to drop two of the three dogs into the dirt. The evil raccoons with their mind control technology win this one.

We ate. I raided our supply of lunchmeat since apparently sleep-deprivation makes me hungry. The Boy then walked over to the playground right next to our camping area, and I slowly drifted in and out of slumber on my lawn chair, while reading a P.J. O’Rourke book. I think this was one of the reasons that The Mrs. didn’t send Pugsley with me, since he could have made it to Montana during one of my brief bouts of narcolepsy.

A slight digression: when I say “The Boy then walked over to the playground,” I actually mean that “The Boy then used an assortment of strange steps and odd gaits that make me think of Monty Python’s skit about the Ministry of Silly Walks to somehow get himself over to the playground.”

In a bid not to be named “Father of the Year” for taking The Boy camping and spending the trip sleeping on a lawn chair, I grabbed The Boy and headed to another part of the park, where a cryptic legend on the park map indicated, “Here be gators.”

We got there, and there was a gator, swimming contentedly under a fishing pier. As I looked down, I saw him directly under us, and, for whatever reason I had the strangest urge to spit on him. I looked around, saw dozens of other people, and decided that would be rather rude, gauche, and somewhat childish.

The Boy and I watched as the gator lazily floated around the dock. Occasionally, a person would spit on it. I saw adults (at least in size) older than me horking loogies at the ‘gator. This bothered me until I remembered that alligators are cold blooded, and these people were probably attempting to share their mammalian heat with the ‘gator by, umm, spitting on it.

Okay, that sounds bogus to me, too.

Anyhow, we ended up back at the camp site where a game of dodge-ball was developing. At first it was kids versus kids, and that was fairly amusing to watch. The Boy seemed to be a better target than thrower, but I figured by the time The Boy was an actual The Boy Scout, he would gleefully toss a rubber ball into the noggin of an unsuspecting first grader.

At some point, it was Dads (three of us) versus kids. This led to the (rather) surreal ending of one game where a hulking blonde parent was faced off against a nine-year-old girl. The parent was, well, me.

How do you end a game like that? I couldn’t throw the ball at 90 mph at her, because it looks like I want to win too bad. Also, I throw like a nine-year-old girl, so I can’t throw a ball at 90 mph. Conversely, I can’t throw the game. It’s just not right. Eventually, the scene became longer than the end of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly where the camera kept focusing on Clint Eastwood’s bulging vein. I think the little girl was Lee Van Cleef.

Eventually I threw a rock at her, hit her in the shoulder, and then threw a blazing dodge-ball into her forehead.

Okay, I’m joking. I caught the ball she threw at me.

I then avoided further moral uncertainty. I drove to the observatory to buy tickets.

Did I mention our campground had an observatory sponsored by the Houston Museum of Natural History? Well, sorry I skipped that. I got tickets (very hard to come by, actually, since there were oodles of other nerds in line).

We told ghost stories around a campfire. We got into a weird conversation where The Boy defended Canadians because he found out that William Shatner was Canadian.

His quote: “William Shatner was a good actor in Star Trek.” That’s my boy.

The Boy then told the third ghost story of the night, blatantly plagiarized the immediately preceding story and recast it with a slightly different ending in the way only a seven-year-old can do and get away with. The Boy was hilarious, and the Scouts and Parents applauded him.

We then went off to the observatory. The slide presentation was about Saturn, since that was where the big, 36” optical telescope was pointed. The Boy and I wandered about the amateur astronomers (I think there’s a video called, “Astronomers Gone Wild” where each amateur astronomer shows naked stars) and they took turns showing off their nebulae. It’s always an uncomfortable conversation when a father has to tell his son about the nebulae and the pulsars.

Oh, did I mention then we went back to our tent, and every time I started to initialize my raccoon deterrent system (snoring) The Boy emitted a high-pitched keening squawk.

Camping is fine. I’m thinking next year I’m going to bring some duct tape, though. Why? No particular reason . . .
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Blogger Jeffro said...

I’m thinking next year I’m going to bring some duct tape, though. Why? No particular reason . . .

Works for me! Camping with gators? Not so much.

9:51 PM  
Blogger John said...

They're slow when it's cold, as long as they're not covered with hot spit.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Jeffro said...

Rattlers aren't that fast, either. Even when they have "other" bodily fluids dropped on them.

However, I'd still rather deal with a snake than a gator. Maybe it's just me, heh.

9:41 PM  
Blogger John said...

One of my old instructors had a similar story, but he wasn't looking down and managed to "warm" the critter before he noticed.

A 1911 on a snake? My Pop just used a Ruger .22 - claimed that the snakes were fast enough that they could see the bullet and would strike at it and decapitate themselves.

10:31 PM  

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