Fast-forward several years, and the discovery that our dearest friends are totally devoted to Shakori Hills. For years, like clockwork, every spring and fall they would say, Hey, why don't you guys come to Shakori? until one day I finally had to say, NO, NO WAY, UH UH, I AM NEVER GOING TO SHAKORI. And they let it drop.
Let's examine my reasons, shall we?
1. The Rain. The very rain that kept us away from Shakori eight years ago is apparently a thing every. single. Shakori. Spring Shakori, Fall Shakori...it doesn't matter, it's going to rain while you're there. So yeah. Tent-camping in the rain. Knowingly, willingly, PLANNING TO tent camp in the rain. Not this girl.
2. Tent Camping. Don't get me wrong, I like a good tent. I grew up in tents. My family rarely stayed in hotels. We camped at Disney World, we camped in people's backyards, we camped at campgrounds, we camped for camping's sake and we camped because a campsite was a lot cheaper for a family of six than two hotel rooms. But at almost 40, and with a little extra cash in the budget (not to mention the proliferation of moderately priced hotels in the past thirty years) I'm pretty much gonna choose a bed, whenever possible.
3. Porta-Potties. Seriously. Do I have to even say it? I don't like pooping in public. I don't like using porta-potties. I don't even like sharing a bathroom with the three people I live with. Just, NO.
4. Sensory Overload. Recently, I've noticed I have some sensory issues. One is, and this is real, I swear to you...I can't fall asleep if I have dried sweat on my body. Like, I HAVE to shower before bed if I have done any sweating at all that day. I can't get comfortable, I can't touch the covers of my bed...I know, I am totally admitting that I am bat-shit nuts here. I also have a severe inability to relax if there are chemicals on my skin, like bug spray or sunscreen, and avoid using both of these things whenever possible. And camping = (sweating + need for bug spray + advised use of sunscreen) - any sort of convenient access to showers (see above: Porta-Potties). Further, I am very sensitive to sound and volume lately. Max has recently started sitting in the front seat of my car, which gives him access to the volume control on the radio. He turns it up, I turn it down. He turns it up, I turn it down. And say, "GOD, Max, do you have to SING SO LOUD???" about fourteen times between home and the grocery store. My volume issues have gotten bad lately, to the point where sometimes I have to cover my ears and tell the three people I live with, who, let's face it, are all loud Italians, to STOP TALKING, FOR CHRISSAKE'S!!! So....going to listen to loud, live music all day? Not high on my list.
5. The Joys of Being an Introvert. I generally hate people. Wait, that makes me a misanthrope, not an introvert. Okay, I don't hate people. I like people. I just don't like talking to them. I like being with people I know, I'm terrible at meeting new people, I'm terrible at small talk. My reluctance to chat up every sales clerk and waitress puzzles Adrian and Max, they have never met a stranger and live to entertain. Going to Shakori with our friends is great. Going to Shakori with our friends who know tons of people there and only ever get to see them there and being the extra person they would constantly have to be introducing and drawing attention to, and feeling like a third wheel...it seemed too taxing to me, personally, and an unfair burden to place on our friends, even though they pooh-poohed my concerns when I voiced them.
Okay, I exaggerate. But it's been hella busy around the Iapalucci house this year, with seemingly endless rehearsals for this, that and the other, not to mention the rest of our normal lives of work and homeschool and two growing boys and just, you know, being us, in glorious Technicolor. Adrian had a few court-free days on his schedule and said, look, we're doing something that weekend, as a family, The End. And that something ended up being Shakori.
Camping is a lot of work. We bought a camper several months ago, actually from the friends who always want us to go to Shakori (so there, I had to cross the tent-camping thing off of my list of justifications for never ever going). It needed cleaning out, it needed mattress covers and sheets, lanterns needed batteries, cooking stove needed propane tanks....I spent several days just collecting STUFF, and spending a lot of money on STUFF. Packing stuff, prepping stuff....stuff stuff stuff. Oh, I know, all vacations require packing and planning. I just felt like I needed to put that out there.
We left home Friday, right around lunchtime. I could give you the play-by-play of Friday afternoon, but it was pretty uneventful. We borrowed my dad's pickup truck for the trip, as we don't currently own a vehicle that can tow a trailer, and even with it being a vehicle that belongs to my parents (who, I'm sorry, just have the worst luck with cars) and even with the two kids stuffed into the jump seats for four hours...the trip was fine. Setting up camp was fine. We popped up the camper, we rigged up a front porch of sorts, we settled right in. By late afternoon, the sun was behind the trees, there was a nice breeze, the music from the stages across the camping area from us was an acceptable volume....it was a good time. I relaxed. We walked up to food court area, heard a little music, watched a little glass-blowing, ate some really effing good samosas, and wandered back towards our campers.
Okay, then it started raining.
It was a nice rain, a gentle rain, a rain accompanied by a very refreshing breeze. The kind of rain you enjoy, when you're sitting under a pop-up tent, sipping a glass of wine, chatting with your best friend who you really haven't seen much of lately because LIFE.
Then it started raining harder.
Then it started hailing.
One mad dash later, and somehow I found myself in our camper with several children, most of whom belonged to me. We sat out the storm until it slowed to a gentle patter again, and then, for some reason I just can't seem to remember, I decided to go outside.
Our camper has a step. Adrian had purchased a rubber mat for the step, because we had noticed previously that the step tended to be a little slippery. We forgot to put the rubber mat on the step.
Folks, I landed HARD. I mean, my right leg went out from under me and my left leg bent under me, and I went down right on my own foot, which happened to be on the metal edge of the step. In the time it took me to unbend my leg and extend it out in front of me, my foot had ballooned up to about three times its normal size, and I am not even exaggerating. It was that fast.
What followed was an excruciating hour of having a lot of strangers come and talk to me, and look at me, and ask me questions, and offer assistance, and generally be solicitous and kind. Being the center of attention, especially that sort of attention, is about the worst thing I can think of. And my foot really hurt, too. And then, to compound the agony.....ultimately, inevitably....yes, I was THAT GIRL, the one who gets taken out of the music festival in an ambulance, in the middle of the night.
(Disclosure: I agreed to the ambulance, rather than have Adrian drive me, because they said they would start pain meds in the ambulance. They did not start pain meds in the ambulance. Also, Adrian could not ride in the ambulance, so he had to drive to the hospital, anyway.)
I was at the ER for about five hours. Five hours, during which I wore a thin, soaking wet cotton dress (it was raining, remember??), and huddled under a pile of those paper-towel-like hospital blankets. Five hours, during which I had to pee so badly that I had to submit to the indignity of a bedpan, as they would not allow me to try to walk to the bathroom. Five hours, during which I was given Percocet, which gives me horrible nightmares, so I kept dozing in and out and jerking awake, totally disoriented. Five hours, in the middle of a Friday night, in the UNC-Chapel Hill Hospital ER (please imagine the sorts of interesting and exciting folks who frequent the ER on a weekend night, they were aalllllll there). Five hours, during which I was taken to have x-rays not once, but twice, as they were dissatisfied that the first set didn't show any breaks or fractures. The second set didn't show any breaks or fractures, either, by the way.
So there's that. Not broken. Which is a big deal, because the last time one of us went out of town, HE CAME HOME WITH A BROKEN ARM. That required surgery. That he is still doing physical therapy for. (But that also meant we've met our deductible for the year, so YAY, my little ER adventure shouldn't break the bank.)
I was finally discharged, with a boot and set of shiny crutches, and we limped our way back to Shakori, where our brave kids had put themselves to bed (and endless thanks to our friends for looking out for them!) We crawled in after them, and got about 3 hours of sleep, before sunshine and music and traffic noise (we were camped by the entrance) roused us again.
In the car on the way back from the ER, Adrian offered to pack up and get us home as soon as he'd gotten a few hours of sleep. I decided I would be just as uncomfortable no matter what we did and where we were, and said that we should just stay and enjoy the festival as much as possible. Yes, I am making it a matter of public record that *I* made the decision to stay.
I spent most of Saturday sitting in the shade of our front porch tent, with my foot stuck in a tub of ice, re-reading The Night Circus. I took a few naps, trying to shake the narcotic hangover. My kid brought me more samosas. It was breezy, there was good music playing at a comfortable volume, I was lost in a good book...I actually can't complain too much about the day, except for the pain in my foot, and the fact that I couldn't really manage to get around to experience any of the festival. Max and Milo were having a big time, covered in mud and running wild like a couple of real Lost Boys, with a gang of equally dirty and wild kids...I was happy for them, it was lovely to witness. Max in particular just seemed so much muchier, like he'd found his Wonderland.
At some point during a nap, Adrian bumbled into the camper and said, Oh, hey, guess what, I just took a sip of a beer that had a bee in it.
Yeah. So HE spent the rest of the weekend with a swollen upper lip, which I'm sorry to say I found more than mildly amusing.
On Saturday evening, I agreed to hobble over to our friend's tent/front porch. We sent the kids off with a wagon full of water bottles and jugs, to refill at the well. I was just contemplating a glass of wine, when it started to sprinkle.
Did I say sprinkle? I'm sorry. What I meant was, IT STARTED TO RAIN LIKE GOD HIMSELF WAS TAKING A SILKWOOD SHOWER, and I'm pretty sure the mesmerizing swirl of fall leaves that came racing down the campground toward us was actually A BABY EFFING TORNADO.
I tried, ridiculously, to hop up and hang onto the edge of the canopy tent, to keep it from blowing away, saying (heh. Screaming.) "Go find the kids!! Go find the kids!! They're going to be so scared!!" I managed to hobble over to our camper and get inside, once I was sure at least one capable adult is departing for the well....
Okay, it was not that dramatic. Well, yes. It was. But it was over very quickly. I started to feel a little silly, sitting in my camper alone, and so I thought I would hop on the good foot and start putting the campsite to rights.....only to discover that the front porch tent had partially blown down and was blocking the door.
Please. Take a minute and picture me with my face pressed up against the screen door saying "Help......help...I'm stuck in my camper...."
Adrian and the kids finally arrived back at the campsite. (For the record, when I asked, "Max, Milo, oh my gosh, were you SO SCARED when it started to rain like that???" Milo said, "Huh. Nah." and Max said "I just told them, 'C'mon, mateys, bail out the ship and keep pumping, we've got to fill these water jugs!'" So yeah. I'm picturing them swept off in a BABY EFFING TORNADO, and they're merrily pumping water, pretending to be pirates.)
I was just really all done, at that point. I made no apologies, I made one last trip to the Porta-Potties (yes, please, I definitely advise using a Porta-Potty on crutches), I picked up my book, and I got in the bed, manifesting that my foot would be all better the next day.
It wasn't. We packed up, although it was a pretty leisurely endeavor, and I did a whole lot more sitting and pointing than packing. Max was off living the Lost Boy Life (TM) so we couldn't leave anyway, I'm pretty sure. We were definitely leaving by noon. Which means 2pm. We finally pulled out, and made our way across the muddy, bumpy, muddy, very muddy parking area. The kind of muddy that makes you say, Gee, I'm glad we borrowed this 4-wheel drive truck. Except when you finally make it out of the very muddy and bumpy parking area, and you can't get the truck out of 4-wheel drive. And you're contemplating driving home at 30mph.
We eventually arrived at a wide enough space in the road where we could pull off, AND reconnected with our long lost 4G network, and were able to figure out the issue. At this point, we had just about reached we-have-to-laugh-or-we're-going-to-freak-our-children-out-with-our-hysterical-sobbing status, and got back on the road joking about how we were never leaving home again. My favorite part was when Adrian said, Man, I'm glad we don't have to drive home at 30mph, we never would have made it home before dark, and we don't have lights on the camper.
Me: "We don't have lights on the camper???"
Adrian: "Well, I mean, WE DO....but Dad's hookup isn't working. Or something."
Me: "Oh. I didn't know."
And then......the tire blew out on the camper.
At this point, we were on I-40. Of course we were. Sitting on the side of the road, with a camper, and two kids in a jump seat, with cars whizzing by at 70mph. Adrian hops out, and does some stuff, I don't know.
Adrian: "Well, here's the thing. I have the spare, and the wrench worked for getting the spare out, but it doesn't seem to be the right wrench for getting the shredded tire off the camper."
Me: "I'm calling AAA."
I call AAA. She says, "Are you in a safe location?" I say, "NO! We're on the side of I-40, with two small children. It's very UNSAFE." I pass her off to Adrian, who hangs up pretty quickly.
Me: "How long until they can get here?"
Adrian: "They're not coming."
Me: "I'm sorry, what?"
Adrian: "She said we don't have RV coverage, so she couldn't help me."
Me: "Did she offer to sell you RV coverage?"
Me: "So you mean to tell me that AAA is just going to leave us here on the side of the road, AFTER I EXPLAINED TO HER THAT WE ARE IN AN UNSAFE LOCATION WITH TWO CHILDREN????"
Me: "I see. I hate you, AAA."
Adrian finally decides that the only thing to do is unhitch the camper, drive back 12 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart, purchase a new wrench, and return to change the tire. Okay, let's do that.
Then he couldn't get the camper unhitched. "Here, hon, just jump up and down on the bumper of the truck to loosen it, and I'll lift up on the camper."
"Um, Adrian? I'm in an EFFING BOOT. I can't just jump up and down on the bumper."
Okay, so he finally got it unhitched, and we set out for the nearest Wal-Mart, according to Google Maps. It's in Dunn, NC, and Adrian says, yeah, I remember where that is, we're good, no worries.
We get to the big red dot on the Google Map. Adrian says, Yep, this is where I remember.
THE WAL-MART WAS GONE.
Boarded up. Painted over. Deserted. Abandoned.
Now, while I ordinarily would have been somewhat gleeful at the sight of failed Wal-Mart, in this particular moment I was quite the opposite (see what I did there, Adrian?). Luck was finally on our side, though, as it appeared that the Garden Center portion of this abandoned Wal-Mart had been taken over by a tractor supply store, and Adrian was able to purchase what we needed there.
Back to the interstate, Ben Stone, and back to our abandoned camper. It's seriously full twilight at this point, so Adrian pulled up behind it so he could use the headlights of the truck, and I snapped my one and only photo of Our Shakori Adventure: Fall 2014:
|My Rubber-Booted Hero!|
I'm now eight days post-injury, and my foot is NOT healing as I would like, dammit. When I heard it wasn't broken, I really thought it would be pretty much back to normal by Monday or Tuesday...and it's just not. I can't really get any shoe on other than a pair of yoga sandals. I'm thinking maybe I should have followed the doctor's recommendation that I stay off of it for a few days...but come on, that's not realistic.
So, yeah. We keep joking about it, but seriously. I'm never leaving home again. All that work, all that drama, all the discomfort, all the lingering fall-out.....I'm going to stay here in my little house on the lake for the foreseeable future. Send in the hairdresser once in a while, would you?
Except....despite all of it....we actually had a pretty good time. I'd even consider going back in the Spring. Setting up our campsite, making it a little home away from home, being totally disconnected from the phone and computer for a couple of days, watching my kids run wild and love every minute of it....there is a joy and a peace in it that outweigh my laundry list of woes.