What can you do in 3 minutes? Make a 3 minute egg? Play a game of Boggle? Prevent disease and pestilence (or at least an upset stomach)…
Every year our church has a “Fathers and Sons” campout. It’s a great opportunity for dads and their boys to bond. The fathers and sons campout is something that Taylor and Parker look forward to with tremendous anticipation every year. Our last camp out was a great disappointment. You see, we didn’t heed the “smoke signals” that indicated the trip was destined for disaster. By smoke signals, I mean the huge plumes of smoke from the forest fire. The one that was consuming much of the woods at the base of the canyon we were entering to reach our campground. We traveled 15 miles past the mouth of the canyon before we got to the campground. By that time, we couldn’t see or smell the fire or smoke, so we thought we were in the clear. That evening, while playing in the lake with Taylor and Parker, I threw my back out and could not stand up straight. I looked like an 80-year-old man as I hobbled around getting dinner for the boys. About 12:30 AM, the forest rangers came and kicked us all out. Not only that, but we couldn’t go back DOWN the canyon. Instead, we had to go up over the mountain pass and go back home via a circuitous, 3-hour route. As I tried to pack up camp in the dark with a bad back, the boys had two different reactions: Taylor could NOT wake up and Parker went into hysterics, thinking we were all going to die. We did not die. We did not get home until about 4:00 am. We scared the tar out of Christi, who was not expecting someone to enter her home in the wee hours of the morning. But we all survived. Needless to say, Taylor and Parker have been looking forward with great anticipation to the next fathers and sons camp out!
That day finally came this past weekend. The location was the same as last time: Blackhawk Campground near Payson Lakes. Unbelievably beautiful location. This year, I decided to add a facet to the trip. We bought a canoe several years ago for 75 bucks at a yard sale. We haven’t used it since we got our new van, which doesn’t have a trailer hitch, about three years ago. I’ve always been nervous to put the canoe on the roof rack, but this year I decided to give it a try. It worked great! As we were preparing this year, it didn’t even dawn on me until the day before that I now have THREE kids who qualify as sons! So off we went to the fathers and sons camp out: Taylor, Parker, Xander and me. (I must put in here a HUGE thanks to sweet Christianne, who somehow always ends up spending a few extra hours helping to ensure that we have enough food, flashlights, sunscreen, clothes, etc. when we go. I’m sure we would always have the tent with us even if she didn’t help, but we might not have much else!)
(Beware the black cow in the road! There were several in the canyon: Love you, Tiff.)
That night we got there and set up camp, listened to a great devotional, had hot dogs and s’mores cooked on a campfire, looked at the constellations and generally enjoyed each others company. Unfortunately, we had picked a very lumpy patch of ground to pitch our tent, so I woke up about every 15 minutes all night. But it was still a great experience to be there with the boys.
The next morning breakfast was prepared for us☺. Taylor and Parker then played dodge ball with a big group and Xander got to go to town on a piñata. He quite enjoyed it.
That’s when our day really started. Everyone else left to go home, but we set out on an adventure. First we went 10 miles farther up the scenic loop and came to an unbelievable view of Mt. Nebo.
After that we were off for the lake! Our canoe is 16’ long and fairly heavy. As we lift it on or off of the van, I hoist one end while Taylor and Parker lift the other end. Since Parker is quite a bit shorter than Taylor, he has to stand on a step stool to do his part. I’m sure some people wonder how responsible I am as a dad when they see this set up, but hey, it works! After getting the canoe down and loaded, we were in the water by 1:00 pm. We had our fishing gear, life jackets and lunch. Life was good. We spent the next 5 HOURS on the lake! It was so fun. First of all, the boys took turns getting out of the canoe and swimming in the lake. Xander was a bit nervous at first, but eventually enjoyed it. Then we ate lunch (thank you, Christi, for having it all prepared for us).
After lunch, we got out the fishing equipment. I am not a fisherman. I’ve never had any success with it. Other than two deep-sea-fishing trips, I’ve probably caught less than five fish in my whole life. So when I go fishing, I don’t expect to catch anything. I don’t really enjoy the sport. But my boys love it, and I love my boys, so when the opportunity is there, we fish. They have caught fish before, but it’s always been with someone else-never with me. Taylor once had one on his line, but it got away before it got to us. Are you getting the picture here? It took close to an hour to get all three boys squared away with hooks in the water. Then it was constant maintenance to keep everyone untangled, bait on their hooks, etc. At one point I was working on Taylor’s line. I hear Xander behind me say, with his cute little stutter, “I…I…I…I...I think I caught a fish!” “Ok Xander,” I condescendingly replied. “Hold on a minute and I’ll help you.” It was probably at least 7 minutes later that I finished working on Taylor’s line and turned to Xander. As we started to reel in his line, I sheepishly realized that he DID have a fish. He caught a brook trout and was about as excited as could be. It turned out to be a great day. All 3 boys caught a fish, and Taylor’s was a decent sized rainbow. My favorite line of the day was Xander. He looked down at his fish, and in the sweetest little voice said, "I'm gonna cook you little fishy." When we got home I learned that you don’t get much meat if you try to filet a 9-inch brook trout! Next time I’ll fry the whole thing and go from there☺.
After fishing, we joined some kids jumping off a platform into the lake. It was probably 8-10 feet up, and the boys loved it. Well, Taylor and Parker loved it. Xander thought I was trying to kill him when I had someone drop him in (with his life jacket on and me to catch him!). Parker even did a flip. I had fun too, although I must say I don’t look quite as good as my boys☹.
So why 3 minutes? Well, you see, I really am conscientious about sunscreen. I applied it twice that day to all four of us. But we were out too long in the canoe. Especially for Parker. He got a pretty bad sunburn on his arms.
Poor fair-skinned, redhead! Actually, all three of the non-asians on the boat got burnt. When we put on the sunscreen, we were all standing up. Our shorts came below our knees. But when we sat down in the canoe, our shorts pulled up and left about 5 inches of unsunscreened skin exposed. Yikes! Not good. So…if I had taken an extra 3 minutes to sunscreen Parker one extra time, he wouldn’t have been so burnt. The sunburn likely contributed to his car-sickness on the way home. And if we would have arrived home 3 minutes earlier, he wouldn’t have lost his lunch all over the inside of the van! Oh well, as long as they keep wanting to spend time with me, I’ll clean up a bit of bile when necessary.☺
PS. By the time we got home, the boys were beat. Xander was completely conked out. We brought him in the house and he promptly fell asleep on the living room floor. I wanted a picture with all three boys and their fish. If you double click on the picture, you can see just how unhappy Xander was with me at that moment!