Days 2 & 3 - Friday & Saturday
I'll be completely honest, all the days have kind of blended into one another. But I'll put them together the best I can.
Tam only stayed the one night. She had to get back to Brisbane to do all the mom things moms of two teenagers have to do.
Miranda only the one night as well. She's not a camper. Particularly in cold. No, its not cold here. Spring in Brisbane had us at near 30C for most of the week, but we still get a chill in the evening. Miranda, the reluctant-at-best camper survived a cool-ish sort of night, and was happy to get going the next day. She used some excuse about the kids going off with their grandpa somewhere...I'll take it. I was happy they were even there for the night!
Friday day was great. Again, it was swimming, kayaking, lunch, dinner, alcohol (for the moms of course) and just friends being with friends.
You all know how lucky I am to have such beautiful friends. Its also so lucky that across the age groups, all of the kids get along so well, too. The youngest would have been in Year 1 and the eldest in Year 6, with a total of 6 kids. Activities played together ranged from electronic battleship, to swimming, to Max taking everyone out on the kayak (the water was only 2 feet deep), to cards, to starting the fire, to harassing moms for food....
Friday night was the arrival of Becs. She brought her two boys, Barnaby and Digby, who are the epitome of cuteness - those smiles could win over the coldest heart. I think she was meant to be at the campsite around 2pm. Sun started going down at 530pm. I'm sure she got there at 529pm. There was a lot of swearing, an immediate glass of whatever poured, and all hands on deck setting up the tent and hanging with the two boys. Got there in the end, and all was good.
Becs and Me
I will mention here that this is not where the party started. This is where Chantal falls asleep putting the kids to bed. I don't feel too bad when Brooke does the same thing. I would have felt bad if Carol hadn't had someone to stay up with (ever the night owl, she usually texts me after 930pm and she gets replies around 5am) but Becs was there and she's a bit of a late-go-to-bedder herself. I didn't have to feel bad about abandoning my friends to go to sleep.
Grief and Exhaustion
I actually didn't know this was a thing. I did at times find it strange that I wasn't exercising and I wasn't studying yet I was more tired than I had ever been when doing those things. But I was and have been so busy dealing with everything else life has fucked up for us that I didn't really think much else of it.
Being sad, missing someone, feeling heart-broken for yourself and three kids, and trying to get through everyday life while doing all that - its fucking exhausting. I don't recommend it.
Even more tiring, is being heart-broken for the person who died. I know Duncan isn't feeling the pain of loss or longing or sadness, but I feel it for him. My heart hurts when the kids do well in sport, and I know he'll never get to see it again. Or when some dickhead gets served with karma and I so badly want to tell Duncan about it because he'd see the humour in it too, I think of the happy times together than he's missing with me, and my heart hurts. I hurt for the loss that he's suffering too, without physically suffering it.
Its a constant ache. I miss him always. I hate that he's not here. And I hate that the kids don't have him here, and my heart constantly breaks for them.
So when I "put the kids to bed" at 830pm and don't come back out of the camper, please don't take it personally.
The campground offered kids activities today. To be honest, it could have been Friday, I just can't be bothered checking, but regardless, they were structured activities offered over school holidays. Alex and Osc did rock-climbing (or wall climbing) and orienteering. I apologise to Carol and Brooke who got stuck doing those activities with my kids while I was at the river with Max and Goose. When I say those two are the family that aren't blood, it's no exaggeration.
Saturday is also the day Jacki joined us!
To make a long story short, I've known Jacki since kindergarten, and her husband Dave since Grade 7. Their first daughter Paisley is a couple of months younger than Alex and they have Charlee as well, who's four. There aren't words to express how wonderful it is having someone you adore and have known your whole life live 80kms from you in a country that isn't your home country. We don't get to see eachother as much as we like, come on we're both moms, but when we do, its like no time has passed at all.
Jacki joined us Saturday with Paisley and Charlee. They'd all met Carol, Brooke, and Becs at my 40th a year or so back. It was so nice to have her there. So nice in fact, we're going camping again tomorrow (this time with Dave, too!).
Note: I mentioned in Part I that the campground caretaker was a bit creepy; I'm sure it was completely innocent. He drove around in a little buggy and was super friendly. Maybe too friendly?! He saw Goose and started going on about how much he loves cattledogs, that he bred the three that lived at the property (funnily he breeds them but didn't know Goose wasn't purebred?). Nice conversation, until he started to pat her and call her sexy and yummy, and said she could join him and keep him warm at night anytime she wanted. Seriously? WTF? Admittedly, I wasn't too worried about my ears hearing this but all three kids were with me and as soon as he left, they asked what he meant. Ummm, shall we define bestiality, kids?? I quickly had to forge some sort of explanation about how he was just being silly and exaggerative about how much he liked Goose. I hope it was an exaggeration, anyway...
Back to camping.
Saturday was much like Friday - swimming, kayaking, eating, drinking, visiting the camels I mean llamas, getting ice creams, losing a kid but finding them a few minutes later, getting fucked up on antibiotics and alcohol (I emphasise this was not me), quoits, bike riding, you name it, we did it, and me in bed by 830pm.
Good thing too, because it was starting to get cool that night.
Saturday night/Sunday morning
Yes, its frost!!
Holy fuck it got cold! I loved it! I had my jumbo sleeping bag and a 9 year old next to me. Alex had Goose on top of her, and Max loves the cold so didn't notice it (until 4am when he woke up to do a wee and realised he doesn't wear layers and was a bit chilly near that tree).
You could see your breath. Like really see it. Not "can you see your breath?" maybe-ish, but more of a "shit it must be cold because I can see my breath" cold. Disclaimer, this is nothing for Canadians, but please keep in mind that we were camping, there's no central heating, and we could see the frost on the grass. Not a common sight in Queensland. Turns out it was about 5C at 5am in the Nambour region that morning.
I can laugh now because I'm at home and on my third Chantal-sized drink and no one will hate me for laughing but everyone was so cold that night. Carol, I'm sorry you froze. Brooke, I know it wasn't overly pleasant for you. Becs, your night was just a disaster all around but you survived and were rockin' it in those winter boots of yours. The Cutlers were warm. But it was great to see all the kids snuggled up around the fire in their sleeping bags at 7am.
Today was pack up and go day. None of us actually wanted to. If Alex hadn't had futsal championships the next day, I'm pretty sure Carol and I would have stayed another night (and probably would have convinced Brooke too, as well). However, obligation prevailed and we all started packing up.
The Camper Trailer
I'm proud to say that I while I was happy to have Carol on hand for back up but didn't want to harass her for help AGAIN, I was able to take down the camper myself. Well done, me. The cover was a bit hard to zip but we got there in the end and almost got the whole thing hitched up without referencing the guru. In fact, I felt so confident about it all that we are going camping again tomorrow, WITHOUT Carol (wtf is wrong with me?!) but with Dave and Jacki and kids.
The drive home was long and full of school holidays traffic. Back in Kenmore around 330pm I think. And get this - seriously- I was able to reverse-park the trailer myself. No, I'm not lying, not exaggerating, I did it. It took a million attempts, near jack-knifing, and waiting until passers-by went on their merry little ways, but I did it. Proud moment for this Cutler.
Such a fabulous weekend.
I love my kids, my dog, my friends, my camper, my country, and all the people that knew I went camping and asked when the next blog was.
Here it is.
And now, I leave, so I can pack for tomorrow. Western Creek Hideaway, here we come!