Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Trip to the Island - Part 1

Time for our 2016 Allen family summer vacation trip.  We were not planning on going on a vacation this year because we are trying to save a much money as possible to put toward our new house.  But on a whim, Lindsey came up with a bright idea to do what people without money do for a vacation: they go camping.  Now I grew up camping with my family but Lindsey did not.  So thats why she suggested it because she didn't know any better.  Because if you've gone camping before, you either love it or hate it.  We tried going once before as a family but we were set up to fail from the beginning.  Zachary was 3, Drew was 1, Lindsey was pregnant and I was in hell.  Our dog had the best time.  We did not.  Lindsey was too scared of Zachary falling in the fire even with the 50 foot fire barrier she put around the fire that no one could get close to.  So we are all froze to death, eating cold, raw hotdogs being eaten alive by mosquitos but the fire looked beautiful through the binoculars.  This was Zachary from that "wonderful" camping trip after given a burnt s'more.

When asked if he likes s'mores, He replied, "thumbs down, mommy."

So this time, our kids were at more appropriate ages and the only reason they would fall into the fire was because they were being idiots and not because I was a neglectful parent.  It had been a while since we've been camping but the most accurate picture of camping we've heard recently is from our favorite comedian, Jim Gaffigan.

Lindsey also made the executive decision to camp somewhere beautiful but within driving distance.  She chose Kelly's Island which is northern Ohio on Lake Erie.  There is a state park on the island with plenty of camping and a beach.  But my favorite was how she presented this vacation to the children.  She surprised them with a "beach vacation."  She conveniently left out that we would be camping and the "beach" was at a state park on Lake Erie.   They are still young enough to  be duped by this play on words.  If she had tried this on teenagers, we would be going on this trip alone.

We packed up the van and took off after work on Friday and made the 2 and a half hour trip up to Marble Head.

We ate at a local pizza shop and after 2.5 hours, people were getting Hangry and tired as we waited for our pizza.  Apparently Nate was not happy that we had to wait for a waitress, place an order, wait for it to cook, and then bring it out to us; you know like what happens at a restaurant.  No, he wanted it be ready to go into his mouth as soon as he sat at the table.  So he ran off and pouted and hid.  We missed the picture of him laying on the ground of the restaurant but we did capture this:

But pizza did finally come and we enjoyed the parmesan pops (fried dough covered in garlic butter and parmesan cheese) most of all.  It was like we had not eaten in 2 weeks because they were gone before the waitress even put them on the table.  After dinner, we debated continuing on to the island but the weather report said there was a storm coming in.  And everyone loves putting up a tent in the rain while 3 children wait in the car complaining about how bored they are.  We had friends staying in their beach house in Marble Head the weekend so after a quick call to them, they invited us over to spend the night.  We had a wonderful time visiting with them, watching the opening ceremonies and going to get ice cream at the Dairy Dock.

We spent the night at their beautiful beach home and prepared ourselves knowing the next night we would be sleeping on the ground in a tent wrapped in a bag.  We also woke up to delicious homemade donuts that Nick bought for us and prepared ourselves for the next meal to be made over the open fire either raw or burnt depending on my cooking skills.

We loaded back up and headed to the Kelly's Island ferry with our van.  The boys really loved loading the van on the ferry and getting out to look over the edge; and Lindsey hated it.  It was a little scary watching the van's tires rock back and forth with the waves not knowing if its going to let loose and go rolling into Lake Erie. 

The boys

Excited about the trip ahead.
We landed on Kelly's Island and headed to the State Park.  Apparently iPhone's Siri doesnt know where the heck she is because she led us straight to the 4-H camp and the middle of nowhere.  Luckily the island is not that big and we were able to find our way back to the water where we followed good ol' fashion street signs to the state park.  Once we found our camp site, we started a fire and set up the tent.  We started making breakfast and the boys helped to supervise.

Cook it faster, Daddy!

We discovered our favorite camping food: Fried potatoes.
They loved the eggs, bacon, and potatoes.
Campfire breakfast was a hit even if it took 2 hours to make.  I knew it would take a while but I was not expecting the potatoes to take as long as they did but boy, were they worth it.  Even the kid who only like noodles, pasta, or mac and cheese, loved them.  

After breakfast, we headed for the beach.  The boys loved playing in the sand and water if you could get past the first 10 feet of pure seaweed and algae that came in with the waves.  After that 10 feet then the water was pretty clear and didn't feel like you were wading through a kale salad.  

You can see the warm, inviting waters of the salad soup.

But once past the greenery, it was pretty nice and shallow.  Good for wrestling.

The boys had a great time playing in Lake Erie not realizing its not the ocean.  But eventually they wanted to try kayaking, so we rented 3 kayaks from the beach and tried our luck at "boating."  Now how it broke down was Zachary and Drew in a  kayak by themselves, Nate and I and then Lindsey by herself.  I don't quite remember how she pulled that off but I knew one thing: it wasn't going to last.  We headed off toward the open water of Lake Erie with the peaceful serenity of a lazy Saturday with gentle waves careening off our kayaks and just as I was beginning to enjoy this peaceful moment that only comes from getting away from it all, I was gently reminded that I had brought my children because the peace was shattered by screams and cries of arguments and fighting as the 2 older kids started doing circles in their kayaks and blaming each other for their lack of direction and forward momentum.  And just about the same time, my 6 year old started yelling at me because I was not rowing in the direction he wanted to go, which was back to the beach and off the stupid kayak.  But I informed him we rented these for an hour not 5 minutes and we were going to stay out on the water and enjoy some family time, to which he replied, "MOMMY, Daddy is not listening to me.  And I am so frustrated with him.  I want to switch boats!"  Which was ok with me for 2 reasons: 1) his 6 year old rowing skills were pretty lack luster and I was tired of carrying him and 2) every time I would lay back to rest and enjoy the sun, he would jab me in the crotch with his oar calling it the "weiner wake up call."  Eventually, Lindsey took Drew into her boat and Zachary went on his own.  We stayed out a little while longer until I was done being yelled out for an entire hour by the 6 year old and headed in.

They were really good at circles!

Before he realized we were going to be out here an hour, and before I realized what he would do with that oar besides rowing.

After kayaking, and glad to be back at shore.

After kayaking, we headed back to camp and took showers to wash off the gillyweed.  We next went into the small strip thats on Kelly's Island and played some putt putt golf.  Now putt putt is a pretty tame activity with not a lot of injuries, you would think.  But give 3 metal golf clubs to 3 unruly children and you never know.  So knowing this, I warned them all to watch their clubs and not to swing them around to hit each other or others.  They are golf clubs not swords.  You have to have those conversations with boys because they don't know any better.  Anything long and 2 handed will always turn into a sword/light saber.  We I forgot to tell them to watch out for their surroundings.  To my credit, I felt I didn't have to.  Well, we played the windmill hole, where you hit your ball under the  spinning windmill blades.  And my genius 8 year old does not walk on the outside of the flower planters but between them and the windmill, proceeding to get hit in the head by the spinning windmill blade.  I mean seriously?  You chose to walk through the 2 feet path next to spinning blades and not the 20 feet on the other side where everyone else was walking?  Well like a good father, I took a picture of the now crying child as mom comforted him to document the stupidity.  

After a good cry, we continued on our putt putt journey and could all have a good laugh at how bad mommy was at putt putt.

Drew also had an amazing shot between 3 spinning "Star of Davids," he was able to get his ball stuck perfectly under one of them while spinning.  

At least this was one spinning thing that didn't hit him in the head.

Putt Putt boys
After putt putt, we returned to camp and cooked some burgers and hot dogs over the open fire and enjoyed a nice relaxing evening after a long busy day.  We also made s'mores cones by adding marshmallow and chocolate to ice-cream cones, wrapping them in foil and dropping them in the fire.  Well, we only burned 4 of the 9 we tried to make, so we will call it a success.

Relaxing around the fire.

Enjoying s'more's cones.  The first 2 of 5 that didn't burn.
Exhausted, we all fell asleep at 9:30 that night including Lindsey and I.  We had plans of putting the kids down and spending some time around the fire with each other but after such a busy day, we both fell asleep with the boys and didn't wake until morning.  But thats excluding the time Nate slapped me in the face in his sleep and Drew elbowed Lindsey in the eye while he slept.  Kids are awesome!

More to come,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

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