You can’t keep us indoors with their mom once again away. I let the kids vote (probably a mistake) on an hour drive or three with our resulting sights set on an overnight among the trees overlooking Boise. At least we won’t end up stuck in big mountain snow. Or will we?
Good thing for the sign near the Foothills Learning Center¹ letting us know the Eighth Street extension up to the ridge is closed for a few more weeks. We quickly reroute to Rocky Canyon Road, path of the recent Robie Creek Race,² for the slower crawl along the bumpy ridge.
“Is this where we got stuck?” Hunter asks, referring to a previous winter mishap.³
“Not quite,” I answer. “That’s up just a bit farther.” Their childhoods are already punctuated by memories of being stuck.
Their mom is away for a record two-and-a-half weeks. That’s a lot of pizza, beer and campfires for the rest of us! The kids voted for a short drive so we’re just here on the ridge above town at a wide-open spot under large trees we’re calling “Hunter’s” since he’s been clamoring to come here again after he and I camped here off motorcycles last year.¹
I wonder if it’s really camping or just camp-food the kids like. Any excuse to get them out here is good for me, good for them, I think. There are advantages to being townies, kids raised in the city (education and more entertainment options than sex and alcohol) but there’s an important hardiness and self-reliance that comes from country life. Out here we don’t whine about slivers or wait for someone else to help us.
“That’s where I snowboard,”¹ Hunter says to Brenna, nodding at the mountaintop equipment visible from our campsite.
“No it isn’t,” Brenna answers in typical fashion.
“It is,” Hunter insists.
“There’s no snow,” Brenna states as if talking to idiots (the same way she often talks to us, her parents).
Brenna spent part of the day customizing some of her Littlest Pet Shop characters. She shows me black accents she’s added to one.
“It’s ‘Black Widow’” she explains. It even has a black microfiber screen wipe fashioned into an optional cape.
“That’s not Black Widow,” Hunter condescends. “Black Widow is a superhero.”
“It’s okay if she also calls hers ‘Black Widow’,” I suggest in mediation.
“How ‘bout ‘Bat Widow’,” Hunter proposes.
“Oh, I like that,” Brenna says. “Bat Widow.” And in a moment Bat Widow is flying widely around the campground.
“Can we go to bed now?” Brenna asks for about the third time. Which is funny because every time we set out to camp she seems to ask, excitedly, “can we stay up late?” and I answer, “of course, we’re camping.” Camping has no rules.
Now her and Hunter both seem ready for sleep as we all sit quietly watching flames consume branches the kids have dragged from all around the campsite periphery.
Hunter asked to sleep in the back of the Jeep which I realized was a good thing when I assessed the space in the smaller tent we brought. I’ve started the fire and Brenna’s toy characters are starting to make their usual ruckus this morning so I expect he’ll be awake soon, searching for food.
Like last time,¹ eastern vistas are shrouded in haze. I’m curious why.
“There’s some big branches over there,” I say, pointing for Hunter. I have an idea fire building will make a good start to his day.
“Can I use the axe?” Hunter asks.
“Sure.” I’m just here to watch.
A subtle change in wind direction brings our morning entertainment raining down on us.
“Can we drive through the snow?” Hunter requests.
“No,” Brenna squeals.
I had already planned to so I say, “sure.”
It’s a patch only about three Jeeps long. I stop in the middle and frame a picture so you can’t see how small the patch is. “I’ll say we went through a ton of snow,” I joke with Hunter.
The joke’s on me when the tires dig in and no amount of back-and-forth, fast and slow, or turning the wheel, gets us going again. The wheels fling mud and snow high above the jeep. Stupid. The kids get another memory of being stuck.
Numb feet (in flip-flops) and hands are the price of digging out the wheels with the little, folding shovel while Hunter collects rocks and branches to place in our path. It’s enough to spin clear of the snow.
I guess we should have listened to Brenna.
Since the main road is clear of snow, I opt to return by the faster Bogus Basin road.
Fire lessons, getting un-stuck lessons and time gazing together into a fire — that’s good church.
“Can I wash the Jeep,” Brenna asks as we pull into our neighborhood.
“I want to surprise momma.”
“That’s a great idea,” I say. “She’ll love that.”
I spray clumps of mud from the wheel wells and running boards then hand the hose over to Brenna to scrub and wipe. Time to transform back to townies.