We left the hospital again Friday night and drove home to begin packing to go camping. Now those of you who don’t know me, have no idea what a love of camping I’ve always felt. For years I would hike out to the woods to spend a week on some deserted trail, enjoying the sounds, smells, and feel of nature as a way to refresh my soul.
Chris and I enjoyed some car camping in the early years of our relationship, as well. These are the times I will always remember fondly. So when we had our little baby, we were so excited to take her with us to the woods for many outdoor adventures. But we only got one true camping trip in before she was diagnosed.
That first summer we were trying so hard just to keep her alive that we didn’t even have time to think about leisure. And then before we knew it, she’d hit end stage and required dialysis each night. We just figured this was one of those sacrifices of parenthood that you never see coming.
But we never stopped looking forward to the day that Kajsa would receive a transplant and be free of the machine. Who would have ever thought that hauling 9 meds and a feeding pump out to the woods would feel like the ultimate freedom? But we now do.
So off we went Saturday morning to pick Maya up in Prescott and meet two other families who’d decided to join in on the adventure. And an adventure it was. Shaun and Chrissy had apparently looked online to find a campsite for us all. Is this a crazy digital time or what? I mean, looking online for camping spots. It seems sort of ironic to me. But hey, if you can, why not?
After much running around to various stores to buy supplies and such, we were on our way. We drove through Prescott and Jerome then down to the Verde Valley, where we cut off onto a dirt road for another hour or so. And from what I’ve gathered, we took a wrong turn somewhere along the way and ended up at some campground other than the one they’d originally been looking for. The one we found was much more party central than I ever would have chosen, but a couple of the cars were hovering around a quarter tank of gas, and all of us were rather sick of bumping along the road. So we decided to stay. We located the last campsite in the whole place and set up our tents.
Chris and Shaun wanted to take their fishing poles out for a trial, so several of us followed along. Going down the hill, I slipped in the mud and had decided to simply wade out into the water with my pants on to wash them off. The boys, Ash & Alec, had already wandered into the water. And as I was handing Chrissy my watch to hold, one of the boys lost his footing and tried to climb up the other, as the current began carrying the two children away.
It must have only been a matter of 2-3 seconds before Chrissy and I were both in the water racing for the kids. Chrissy had Ash out of the water quickly. And while I grabbed Alec in short order, I couldn’t keep us both out of the water and find footing myself. So I held him up as I repeatedly pushed myself up from the bottom to gasp for air and holler “help!” I could see Chris racing down the beach toward us, and then feel him take Alec from me. Once unburdened, I was able to float to rest until I flopped my way over to the side.
So Chrissy and I stood on the beach crying for a few minutes until we regained some semblance of composure. I have now committed myself to taking some swimming classes at the Y, as soon as possible. I am far too out of practice.
The boys were very well behaved for about 30 whole minutes, and Alec even approached me later to thank me for saving him. My response was that I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but not to make me. Yes, I meant it – and no, I never want to have to do that again.
After this beach (mis)adventure, I was a bit spent, and wandered back to our campsite. And while the scenery was quite lovely, it was Labor Day, and there were a ton of people there – all, apparently, hell bent upon having a raging party. The biggest partiers of the lot were our neighbors, who, thanks to the evils of satellite radio, were able to blare particularly putrescent music ALL NIGHT LONG. So much for refreshment of the soul.
By around 1:00 am I was completely frustrated with the ambience of the place and swore I was going to rip the wires out of the drunkards truck if they didn’t let at least one song finish before changing to the next station. But, fortunately, Chris kept a level head, and calmed me down whenever I got too worked up.
Morning eventually came, and with it sweet silence. At least, that is, until our neighbors had slept off the inevitable hangovers. Our camp got up, made breakfast, and headed out for the day…
Now we’d heard that there were hot springs within walking distance, so we headed out to find them. And of course, we took the wrong path. The gentle, hour long stroll turned into a several hour trudge that included scaling cliff faces, wading though rapids, and traversing ankle turning rock fields.
But we eventually did find the hot springs. And they were absolutely worth the hike. Nestled above the river were a series of pools built into the cliff ranging in temperature from around 99 to 115. Kajsa got to take a dip, and thought it was truly delightful. Even Maya joined in the fun, leaving the “I’m so bored” look behind as she splashed and lounged along with the rest of us.
Before I knew it, the other families were ready to leave, so I gathered up our belongings and headed across the river to join them. But, they were already down the path, so we struck out on our own. While soaking, I’d spoken with a woman who spent every weekend there. She’d told me the true way to get back to the campsite.
We had a leisurely half hour stroll back to the campsite, arriving a while before the other families. So I took advantage of that time to lie down for a while, as my -haven’t-stepped-foot-outside-the-hospital-pale-as-a-boiled-egg-self- was pretty sunburned.
We had enough time to have one last swim before it was time to pack up our camp and head back. The drive home was perfectly lovely. We enjoyed a peaceful trip back to Camp Verde and then worked to try to keep each other awake for the duration of the journey. (Hiking, swimming, and sun can take it out of you, you know.)
Returning home, we had just enough energy to unpack the food, meds, and wet clothing before falling into our beds.
Despite being about 180 degrees from what I had anticipated, we ended up having a very nice time. I look forward to our next foray back into the woods.