5. Allison’s campground program – Soon after we arrived at Iron Creek campground Allison Yocum spotted a list of things to do in the area posted on a campground bulletin board. An item of particular interest was a Saturday night ranger program at the amphitheater. There was no time listed. It was decided that we needed to go experience this camping tradition, so while Jim, Dennis and I made dinner Allison went to find out what time. She saw the host, but didn’t ask him, so we went with the assumption it was at 8. In order to make the 8 p.m. show we had to hurry through dinner, wolfing down our burgers, corn and salad in about 10 minutes. The boys set off on their bikes and the adults followed with road cokes in hand.
About half way there we encountered the campground host who gave us a curious look when we asked about the show and said that there hadn’t been a show for many years. We walked over to the amphitheater to find it overgrown and dilapidated. We felt like that last seen in Planet of the Apes when Charlton Heston finds the beach with the half-buried Statue of Liberty. In spite of this, we did find a good place nearby to take our first DeNocum group photo.
Adding insult to injury, quite literally, on the way back to the campsite we thought for sure there would be a short cut between the campground loops. So Allison, Jim, Will and I tried to find it. (Dennis bowed out due to his shoe choice and hankering for Doritos.) We quickly discovered that if there had been a path it was over grown and now required that we scale trees and scrubs. We did make it back before Dennis, but just barely.
4. Prius’ car lock – As we were sitting around the campfire on our first night with the Faleys listening to Cooper ease ever so slowly into his slumber, the guy across repeatedly opened and closed his Prius. Each time it would lock and set-off the horn and head lights. This would have been fine if it had been once or twice, but it was at least 15-20 times, some only seconds apart. When they left the next morning we thought we were free of it, only to have another Prius move into the adjacent site and pull the same stunt the next night. When we were finally fed up with it Tom thought he would retaliate by locking his Suburban and setting off his horn and lights. Only he forgot that it turns on his reverse lights for about 30 seconds. We all turned to see Jen standing in the tent door holding a crying child perfectly illuminated in the reverse lights. It was a pretty funny scene. Oops, so much for payback.
3. The mountain is out – This is a phrase used around Seattle to talk about Mt. Rainier on a beautiful day. After our experience last summer trying to get a photo of Rainier, we were really hoping for a nice day to go to Paradise. We didn’t even get out of the campground before we realized that the mountain was out. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and Rainier’s snow-white glaciers were brilliant against the bright blue sky. We arrived in Paradise (elevation 5400 feet) to find that our cold spring had left snow still around most of the trails near the visitor’s center. Although the boys thought walking in the slush was fun, hiking with wet feet didn’t sound appealing to the adults.
2. Squirmin – On our first night sitting around the campfire, Allison noticed the tree above her head was moving, even though there wasn’t a breath of wind. She thought there was a critter in the tree and almost jumped out of her chair to move away. Of course Jim and Dennis couldn’t leave this alone; first pointing out that it was just the heat from the fire moving the branches. Then they decided to name the critter, a squirmin – a cross between a squirrel and a vermin. That night Allison had a dream that the squirmin was in Nugget (their motorhome) closet. The funniest part of the dream was that she wasn’t surprised to see it in there. Now anytime we see a tree moving for no reason it is obviously due to squirmin activity.
1. DeNocum and Falike camping – Camping with good friends is great fun. Our kids get along well and it is fun to spend the time together. Jen was such a good sport with everything that was thrown at her, Cooper not sleeping well, no showers and having to trek to the potty. I don’t think Tom stopped smiling the whole weekend, even after he stepped on his glasses and had a dead battery. Allison was a great sport with all of the teasing about the squirmin and campground program; it was fun to relax by the river and just chat. I have never known anyone but Dennis to go on a hike with a bag of Doritos and not offer any to his fellow hikers; he is also the only one I know that can eat an entire bag and not gain a pound. We hope this is only the first of many camping summers with friends and trust future trips will yield even more Top 15 memories.