My dad and I took a nature walk for about a mile up the trail to scope things out. He said, "It's easy, Sue. Look at the trail book... It says it's an easy trail." I looked from my dad to my mom, and then back to my dad.
I was hoping that my dad wouldn't have to eat his words. If they had bothered to ask me, I would have told them that the trail didn't look as well-groomed as it appeared in the book... How old is that trail book, anyway?
We squeezed through the trees where we had parked, and our first "easy" encounter was a huge rut in the road where water erosion from heavy rains had affected the trail. My dad wasn't that concerned about it, but of course, my mom insisted on using nearby boulders to fill the hole.
I think my dad let her do it just to placate her. In case you haven't figured this out yet, my mom is a big ol' ball of S-T-R-E-S-S. My dad's pretty cool under pressure--he's not one to stress-out, so he cuts her some slack sometimes just to calm her down.
The trail was full of big rocks, trees, and ruts. I really didn't give a crap, but my mom finally said, "Let me out of here," and decided to walk in front of the Supervan instead of riding in it. I think my dad preferred this too so he wouldn't have to listen to her whining and singing her rendition of "Jesus Loves Me, Yes I Know..."
Now, usually, I'm one to side with my dad. He's the logical one, not basing decisions on emotion. But I had to admit, this trail was not exactly what I would consider "easy." Take a look at these rocks:
If I hadn't been castrated years ago, my family jewels would have been rendered useless anyway after traveling down this trail.
After each section of potential hazards, my mom would run ahead and scope out the next section.
Then we faced a dilemma--keep going or turn around:
On one side of the trail was a HUGE rock jutting out of the ground and on the other side was the trunk of a fallen tree. There was no way to manuever between this two objects, and straddling the rock was impossible because it would scrape the underbelly of the Supervan. My mom was shaking her head and having a conversation with herself-- I couldn't make out anything intelligible. She was definitely having one of her stress-attacks. I looked at my dad and his eyes were narrowed as he stared at the trail; he was a supercomputer--calculating angles, measurements, odds of success, etc.--I know that look.
My dad was thinking, "Hell, yeah."
And my mom was thinking, "God, no."
We all sat around for a few minutes and my dad used some therapy techniques, trying to help my mom through her stressful anxiety. After much deliberation, my dad acquiesced, and my mom breathed a huge sigh of relief. My dad told her to go take a picture of the reason why we were turning around. I think he was expecting her to take a picture of the rock and tree trunk, but here is a photo of the REAL reason we turned around:
So my dad turned back toward the main road (not an easy feat on that trail), and my mom refused to get back into the Supervan--she insisted on walking the whole way back!
Now that my mom got her way by turning back, she was now able to channel her inner stress toward something else: Bears.
She read online last week that it's a good idea to sing when you are hiking in bear country to alert the bears that you are there--they don't like to be sneaked up on--so I heard her singing out to the bears, warning them that we were coming through. Don't quit your day job, Mom.
Finally, we arrived back at the entrance to the trail and I could detect a skip in my mom's step.
My dad pulled into a parking lot and fired up the new air compressor. After filling only two of the tires, the air compressor pooped out again! Sheesh-- what the heck??? This is the same thing that happened last time we went out off-roading. Luckily, there were some guys in a cool jeep with an air compressor, and they let my dad use it to fill our other two tires. To show our appreciation, I let them scratch my belly.
This is only one example of the contributions I make to the road trip.
As we started to pull out of the parking lot, my dad said, "Look over there," and we pulled into an area that was a solid granite slab. My dad asked my mom if she wanted to camp there overnight. "Yes!" she said, happy to already be where we would camp instead of another day of trail exploration. Here are a few pics:
After spending a quiet afternoon on the granite slab, I ate a big dinner and soon fell asleep watching Fox News. Life is grand.