Camping like it is the 4th of July


Apparently, there’s nothing like colonialism to make a person want to fry up fish, get eaten by gnats and play with small amounts of explosives.  Anecdotally, I’ve heard that the 4th of July is to LGBT folks as Super Bowl Sunday is to women.   With the beer flowing and the Patriotism running rampant, I can see how the 4th of July might include a little gay-bashing.  Independence Day has never been my favorite holiday.   Truthfully I don’t really like holidays at all, but I did get a bit excited about the boys hanging out with their cousins, the visit with my family, the opportunity to get away from the looming dissertation even if just for a weekend, and the chance to do all this where it wasn’t 100 degrees was an added bonus. 


The camp site was beautiful.  Nestled between a canal and the Uintah River, the spot was mostly shaded by pines and aspen.  My sister had driven up there mid-last week to pitch a tent and psych other campers into thinking the spot was already taken.  It was sort of the camping equivalent of butting in line, but it worked.  My sister brought her camp trailer complete with running water and a flushable toilet that I willingly pitched in $10 so I could use. 


On the drive I realized what city children my boys were.  First when Riley saw a herd of cows and remarked, “What’s beef called again?  When it’s alive?” 


This was followed up about 15 minutes later by Casey seeing a horse and remarking, “Giraffe.  See it giraffe.”  I realized my kids had seen giraffes at the zoo more often than they’d seen horses. 


Riley played, got dirty, got bitten by mosquitoes, went fishing, caught fish, choke down the fish (a rainbow trout) and pretended to like it though he admitted it wasn’t as good as blue gill (his first catch.)  He got to bond with his Grandpa and with his 13 year old cousin J.  J’s mentorship was so cute, and resulted in such great conversations to overhear such as the following:


Riley and J. lit a lantern around 9:30 PM to go find a willow branch to make into a s’mores tong. 

J. “Come on Riley, lets go find a willow.  We might be awhile, I don’t even know what a willow looks like.

Riley, “Should we bring the axe?”


Later that night, Riley was trying to fall asleep in his tent with J. but was too worried that the fire would start a terrible forest fire if he fell asleep instead of watched it as it went out.
J.  “Riley its okay.  Just go to sleep.  The fire is almost out anyway.”

Riley “Should we just go put some water on it?  I’d feel better.”

J. “Don’t worry, Riley, I’ve been doing this for YEARS.”



Casey didn’t so much love the camping.  He realized early on that camping was really just a series of “no nos.”  Walking to the canal brought the cautionary “Danger.”  Heading to the river brought a similar response.  Pulling the dogs tail was also not allowed.  Getting in the way of horseshoes and goofy golf was off limits.  Playing with the door to the camper got him yelled at by his Auntie.  Don’t get too close to the fire.  Don’t get too far away from camp.  Don’t play behind the vehicles.  Don’t play with the bow and arrow.  Don’t touch the axe.  Was there anything he could do?   Saturday afternoon Casey found play dough in the camper and tentatively asked if he could open it.  I said “of course” to which he replied, “Oh thank God.” 


Anyway, Kim, Casey and I slipped away Saturday night to drive to town for a hot shower and a bed at my parents’.  We let Riley stay a second night and we returned Sunday to retrieve him.  He was dirty and exhausted but loved every second of it.


Casey, however, kept chanting, “Casey go home.”


Sunday, just before we all left to scatter to our various homes, my Dad said to the travelers, “Drive safe.  There are going to be a lot of tired hung-over assholes on that road.”


My brother replied, “I know.  I’m one of them.”





6 Responses to “Camping like it is the 4th of July”

  1. Eric Says:

    Now, these are the Ruth stories I remember – I laughed all the way through, and when I howled at the “Oh, Thank God”, one of my student employees stuck her head in to see what was up.

    I’m sure that it won’t be long before Casey starts trying to emulate his big brother in these things.

    I just accused Other Half of being an uber-city boy this weekend, too. We spent half of the weekend in Milwaukee, where we caught two nights of fireworks on the lake shore (Lake Mich.) and then came back to Madison on Saturday for a wedding. I had him help me harvest mulberries off of a tree in the yard (they’re a pain in the neck – hold out a big old sheet, use a long stick to knock berries off the tree, stain the sheet, knock off bits of tree and insects, and end up with about a quart of berries each time you do that process. But they’re soooo good.)

    After we were done, he had to go directly in, stain stick two little spots on his t-shirt and immediately take a shower.

    Why do opposites attract, I wonder? That should only work in the physics of magnetism.

  2. Carrie Says:

    Excellent post (and I can confirm every word of it is true)

  3. Judith Says:

    I love this story and the pics!

    I admire Casey for speaking up, “po, po, po” (por favor)…

    I too detest camping…


  4. Keri Says:

    So very funny. I swear, your family could be a Tom Sawyer book. Or a “cops” episode.
    Keep the stories coming!

  5. Doug Says:

    pink shoes

  6. Flem Says:

    Beer + Fireworks +New Hampshire X 4th of July = Brand new episodes of “Trauma Center”

    Now Thanksgiving on the other hand: Turkey & Fixings + rooting against the Dallas Cowboys (family tradition) = Best Holiday Ever!

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