My wife and I were sitting around the other night playing a game of Scrabble. Scrabble, has it has been for many years, is our love language. We take it very seriously and our games can sometimes become tense. Scrabble has almost caused us to divorce thrice. This was not one of the occasions when one of our games was a blood match. This was a casual, relaxing game on a Tuesday night. As my wife placed her second triple word score down on the board, she remarked: “We should take Lemuel on vacation this year.”
Sheila was right, it had been a number of years since the family had been on vacation, and the last time we went on a vacation with our son Lemuel, he was still quite young. Oh, sure, there had been the occasional weekend in Gatlinburg, but no weeklong getaways like a proper vacation. We wondered about where we should go. The beach came to mind, but it would be so crowded. Lemuel is now well into his moody, teenage years, where all he wants to do is yell at me and listen to “Quadrophenia” in his room alone.
My wife has always wanted us to rent an RV and go camping, she brought the idea up and I thought it sounded like a good plan. We even packed a separate tent so Lemuel could have some space of his own if he wished—though my eyes did flash of all the local newspapers being covered with the headline “Beloved Local Grimace Impersonator Forces Child to Sleep in Tent.” Then I would have to tweet “Fake News,” wind up getting elected President, therefore ruining my five-year plan.
I left the rental of the RV up to Sheila, she got us one that wasn’t too big, but not too small. I’ll be the first to admit the thought of attempting to navigate a massive RV around the roads and into a campground filled me with a terror I hadn’t felt since I last watched “Return to OZ.” We all loaded up into the RV on a bright, hot morning and took off for the campground in North Carolina. Lemuel was mostly quiet during the ride. My wife and I sang along to whatever came on the radio as we drove along. It was Satellite radio so we kept it on the ‘40s channel. I think Lemuel grew tired of hearing us yell “Pennsylvania 6-5000!” again and again.
We made it to the campground, got checked in, and I got all the things that needed to be hooked up on the RV hooked up. I took a shower after we got settled, as I had an odd desire to be the first one to shower on our mobile vacation spot. After a brisk shower, I joined my family outside the RV to grill up dinner. It was getting to be dusk, it was beautiful outside and the fresh air was most stimulating.
What I didn’t see, or even think about, was that taking my shower washed off all the mosquito repellant spray that I had applied early. In my haste to grill meat in nature, I didn’t stop to re-apply any. As I was caught in the majesty of nature, the joy of my family, and the low key resentment coming from my son—I didn’t notice that I was becoming a party platter for mosquitos.
The next morning I woke and was covered in bites, I was itching and twitching as if I was about to transform into The Wolf Man. I thought of how it must have been for them the night prior. “He’s pasty, he’s warm, he’s big—it’s Thanksgiving.” Sheila helped me apply many a bottle of lotion and soothing ointments to the bites, and the rest of the trip was mostly incident free. Lemuel even put down his Nintendo and enjoyed family time with us—something that is becoming increasingly rare these days. Overall, it wasn’t the worst vacation, nor the best. But it was an experience I doubt any of us will forget. See you next week.