This list of summer memories is a teaser of sorts for our Sisterhood Parkquest camping madness. No idea what we are talking about? You will. All in good time.
Erin: Now, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the highlights from our shared vacations.
Ellen: I want it known that vacation is in air quotes. Big time. Vacation equals luxury to me. But you know what isn’t in air quotes? Fun! Good ol’ fashion family fun.
Erin: Remember George of the Jungle?? His tagline was “every day is a new adventure full of mayhem, mishaps, and monkey business.” George might as well be our mascot, because he is certainly with us in spirit on some of our adventures. Enjoy our memories and “Watch out for that tree!”
1. The Best Laid Plans
Erin: When we travel, my role tends to be Planner. Here’s a little excerpt from Day 1 last year: “12pm—Arrival. Hugs, High Fives, and Organizational Stuff”. Who gets a little mad with power? This girl! Oy!
Ellen: Who the heck writes out “Hugs’!?!
Erin: Anyway, despite such stellar planning, after a solid day of outdoor fun, we wound up with our sizable and famished crew at a closed Pizza Hut. I was in such shock that I had so completely screwed this up (Damn Google foiled me again!) that I was in denial.
“Maybe they are just remodeling.”
The Sisterhood: Raised eyebrows.
Imagine a Pizza Hut with no sign and no power. Sure. They’re just remodeling.
Erin: One of our favorite places to take our crew is Janes Island near Crisfield, MD. We love to kayak through the salt marshes, watch the sun set over the water, and check out the local wildlife. Every memory from Janes Island is a keeper which is good, because there is one small drawback of this seemingly idyllic place—the mosquitoes.
Ellen: They are big, they are blood-thirsty, and they maniacally laugh at herbal repellant. We have been stock piling Deep Woods DEET for this year’s trip like it’s booze and the husbands are giving us a weekend off. Now maybe we can toast some marshmallows without getting eaten alive.
Erin: It’s a testimony to our deep bond that we all bounced back from this one and kept vacationing, not just that day but for years afterward.
Ellen: Our very first outing of our very first day of our very first vacation, I get lost on Gambrill Mountain with a gaggle of kids. I’m not just “Hey, I went left instead of right” lost, I’m “Oh, crap, are we going to make it out before dark?” lost.
Erin: Obviously, it all ended up fine. Ellen always bounces back. She’s our Bear Grylls with infinitely better hair and wardrobe.
4. “No Trace Left Behind” Fail
Erin: We all know that one of the major tenets of communing with nature is to leave it as you found it. Pack it in, pack it out, and all that. Apparently, my Eddie didn’t get the memo. Two years ago, as we were potty-training, Eddie pulled his pants down and did his number 2 business right there on the beach. There was no warning. No time to intervene. But there were witnesses. Oh, yes, there were. Everywhere.
Ellen: My kids brought this one up for a year when dinner conversations were getting a little slow—just for the easy laugh.
5. “It’s All Fun and Games”
Erin: Last year, we ended up in Western Maryland at one of my favorite state parks, Swallow Falls. We had one of those picture perfect days with kids and adults having an absolutely wonderful time jumping off the rocks and playing behind the waterfalls.
Ellen: It was all fun and games until one of the boys slipped on a rock and cut his chin open to the tune of a hospital trip and some stitches. Still a favorite memory though.
Erin: We’re badass like that.
6. “I Knew That Was A Bad Idea”
Erin: This is a direct quote from Ellen’s daughter, Coco (11), who was my canoe mate. You know how you would yell at your kid if she pulled out her cellphone while canoeing on some of the murkiest water ever? Well someone should have yelled at me, because I whipped mine out then promptly lost it in the Pocomoke River. Sniff. Sniff.
Ellen: This quote proves Coco actually listens to me. And extra bonus tact points to my girl for waiting until we were back on shore and for only saying it to her momma.
7. Momma Knows Best
Erin: So you may not have noticed, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. Our trip to Deep Creek Lake was no exception. The weather punked us and ruined our beach day. But we rallied and decided to complete the quest anyway. This was the Murphy’s Law of quests—everything that could go wrong did and spectacularly so.
Ellen: Three different GPS failed us. We Moms finally said, “Screw it, we have been here before,” ditched the technology, and followed the path from memory. In addition to helping us complete the quest, our chutzpah gave us this great photo op. Don’t you wish you had a picture of you with your best buds in a bear trap?
8. American Idol, Here We Come!!
Erin: Coming from such shrinking violets as Ellen and myself, you might find it hard to believe, but our kids are major hambones and total goofballs. When we vacation, in addition to all the outdoorsy adventure type stuff, the kids also LOVE to put on a talent show for us. Not everyone can say they watch pink unicorns dancing on their vacation.
Ellen: Who needs a cabana boy?
9. Snake Charming 101
Erin: During one hike on Gambrill Mountain, we were cruising along on a hike. There was no whining or complaining. It was as perfect a hike as you can dream up with kids until one of the kids nearly stepped on the copperhead snake on our path. I still shudder at this memory, but no kids were lost in the making of it. Oh, the good times!!
Ellen: And now I carry a snake bite kit. From Walmart.
Ellen: We were stuck outside the Pocomoke Nature Canter waiting for a storm to pass.
Erin: Are you seeing a trend?
Ellen: The Nature Center wasn’t open, but we couldn’t start hiking or kayaking yet, so we were kind of in limbo—such a fun place to be with a bunch of kids. Our buddy Vickie turned on some music and started blasting it from her car.
Erin: This song came on and all of the kids started dancing in the parking lot. They can find fun anywhere, and that’s what makes it all worthwhile.
This song should probably be our anthem, and I should have added it to this list for sure.
So, in the end, our memories are more sweet than tart, and, of course, priceless. For the rest of the Parkquest story click here!
By Ellen Williams Erin Dymowski