Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Upstretched Arms

There is only one place where the Joshua Tree grows, and I got to spend Thanksgiving there! We took a camping trip to the majestic Mojave. There were two Moms, two Dads, two boys, two girls, two dogs, two turkeys, and one shitload of peanut oil. It was a great trip, a perfect getaway into the surreal beauty of the desert.

The dads and kids and one of the dogs drove up in the RV on Wednesday afternoon to set up camp. Autumn and I were to drive up after our work days. She and I had been bustling in the days prior to get everything prepped and ready. We knew the guys would be busy setting up when they arrived and that the kids would be off their rockers, so we prepared an easy dinner for them, we told them that they’d just need to boil water for pasta – I made a batch of turkey/spinach meatballs and Autumn made a delicious sauce. We had packed the RV with groceries, everyone’s clothes, toiletries, etc. They just had to get dressed, get in, and get on the road. I was not specific enough about the get them dressed part. My children wore flip flops. Camping. Looking forward to the hiking and the rock climbing. And the guys misunderstood the cooking directions, where we had said: “boil water”, they thought we meant: “get disgusting gas station bagel bites”. .
There was a big rain storm on Wednesday night, which made our drive out there pretty hairy. We knew the guys would be worried about us, and they were. They were so worried that they drank themselves unconscious and would have slept right through our triumphant arrival if not for the wrath of the 55 pound puppy upon their sleeping heads. Good dog!
But it was smooth sailing from daybreak on Thursday morning. Not another drop of rain, and the desert was all asparkle. We started that day with our ration of bacon and coffee, and enjoyed a wonderful, leisurely Thanksgiving around camp. The kids had mountains to hike, cacti to poke, dogs to walk, bikes to ride, dominos to stack, snacks to consume, questions to ask, and joy for which to jump.

Meanwhile, we so-called adults were focused on Preparing The Meal.
Trying to keep the children from contracting salmonella

.And from falling into or knocking over The Vat of Boiling Oil in which the turkeys were submerged


We did pretty well for a meal cooked entirely outdoors!

It was amazingly delicious.

Although my kids somehow managed to get by with borrowing shoes that the normal people had brought,

Autumn and I bravely made a trek into town on Friday morning to purchase appropriate footwear, along with a few other items we wanted. We went to the godforsaken Wal-Mart, forgetting that it was Black Friday and the freaks would be out in full force. I knew we were in trouble when I ran into an old woman the parking lot wearing a denim jacket embroidered in rainbow thread to read “The Posse”. It was a bizarre start to a wonderful adventure day; which we spent in the park exploring the trails and stunning fun rocks.

That night we roasted weenies for chili dogs, made s’mores, and sat by the fire until we had burned everything combustible. There was a radio station playing favorites from the 70s, and we made a game of naming the artist first. When in doubt, we each had our “go to” band to shout out as a good guess, like “Credence”, or “America”, or “Wang Chung” (I wish I was joking). We also played a rousing rendition of the name game. Can anyone tell me what is so damn funny about that game? When the fire grew dark, we were enraptured by the stars, it was a gorgeous night.

On our last day, Bill and Moki headed home with the truck filled with dirty laundry and dishes, fryer muck, empty coolers, and anything else we didn’t need to have rolling around in the RV. The rest of us went back into the park for more exploring. Our boys learned how much easier it is to climb up rocks than down them.

I aged at least a decade watching them learn this. The acoustics in that place make it so you can speak quite normally and be heard way up on the rocks. To my shrill, helpful advice about the best way to descend, my boy repeatedly responded: “Mommy, you’re stressing me out!” So, we’re even.

Does this look say "Thank God I'm alive" or "I told you to calm down, woman."

Maybe a little of both.

The best thing about an awesome trip like that is that everyone almost always survives.


The Stiletto Mom said...

Fried turkey....yummmmmm....we do one every year for Christmas. I agree, keeping the boiling oil from turning over is always the scariest part!!!

How fun to go camping over Thanksgiving and the pics are gorgeous!

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Aw, I love this Jacquie! Love Joshua Tree and love the kids' high fashion. And their "joy for which to jump."

Where's a photo of glamorous you, though?


Pickles and Dimes said...

I am so jealous! Your camping trips always seem so divine. And that meal - awesome!

Me, You, or Ellie said...

What a great turkey day, Jacquie. It looks like this trip might become a tradition, AND it looks like you had the whole damn park to yourselves.

(Remind me to show you my photos of my last Joshua Tree trip. They are very different than these...)


Kathi D said...

Joshua Tree seems other-worldly to me. In a good way!

I can't believe what an excellent meal you cooked up out in the middle of nowhere!

Anonymous said...

Great picture of the jumping child!

Anonymous said...

Damn, you guys have TV movie-like fun ALL the time while we just sit huddled in our frozen homes.

Anonymous said...

I would have had to be medicated if my kids were anywhere near those rocks. You did a good job not screaming 'Please don't DIE!'

Yay you!

And deep fried turkey? That is a new one to me...