Near the end of Saturday night, I was getting pretty hungry, and since I planned for this with bread and peanut butter, I made myself a sandwich. Turns out that was a mistake.
Terra started the night squeezed in the fold-out bed next to me, which I wasn’t crazy about, but when our blanket and sleeping bag arsenal got really toasty, she moved over to the other couch. Meanwhile, I’d had trouble sleeping, and my stomach was bothering me. I’d sleep a little bit, then wake up. At one point–at its worst–I had to lie flat on my back with my knees up because that was the only comfortable position.
After a few minutes of that, I had to go to the bathroom, and I thought, “Oh, good, this is probably gonna make me feel better and then I’ll get back to sleep.” And I was technically right. The problem was that in the meantime, I got that sick, shaky feeling that I’ve come to learn in my 26 years (and time drinking heavily) is a precursor to puking. And puke I did. And feel better I did, too, but that was immediately followed by a concern that my sickness from Parris Island was repeating, because it started and progressed very similarly. And I thought, “Oh, no, I’m gonna be sick tomorrow, and I’m gonna have to stay in the trailer and not have any fun at camp and everyone’s gonna feel bad and I’m gonna ruin the weekend.” And with the paranoia, I crawled back into bed with Paul, announced to him I threw up like a child going to Mommy and Daddy, and went to sleep.
Fortunately, I was fine after that, aside from a little queasiness early in the morning. I actually got up and did tai chi with Paul like I promised I would. Initially, we went off into a little spot in the woods, but we had Lilly tied out and she does not like when she thinks people leave her. Didn’t matter that Terra was still sleeping in the trailer–once Lilly noticed we were walking away from her, she started barking, so we went back and did tai chi where she could see us.
We made another trip to some gift shops with Terri and Dave. Paul picked up some homemade pies, but since I’d visited most of the stores the day before, I wasn’t too interested in revisiting, so I stayed in the car with Paul and Lilly. Lilly and I also drove Terra crazy because she kept wanting to stick her head out my window, and I kept rolling it down for her. And delighting in beagle ears flying in the breeze.
After that, Paul, Terra, and I wanted to head to Paul’s favorite spot, Beartown Rocks, and to the river, so as we prepared to trek out, I managed to shatter my phone screen.
We spent some time climbing rocks. Paul even got my to climb some, and Lilly even did, too. In fact, Lilly seems to think beagles can easily climb rocks and basically ran up after whoever she could whenever she could.
By the time we were done there, it was actually about the time I wanted to be packing up and heading home, but I hated to go without a visit to the river. So we climbed more rocks there and walked in the river and lied out in the sun until Paul and I started to get hungry, because Terra has no appetite. And we fittingly saw a redtail hawk fly over, which is why they named their camp Redtail in the first place. Terra even has a tattoo of redtail feathers.
When we got back, Terri and Dave pretty much had the trailer packed up, cleaned, and ready to close up for the season, so we helped with the final duties and ate some food so we didn’t have to haul it back, then we were off on the 2 1/2-hour drive home, which was nice. I always say it’s a great sign that Paul and I have managed to travel multiple times now without a single fight.
He actually brought up how much some things have changed since our previous Redtail visit, though, and how Terra’s friendship has been a constant. I mean, right off the bat, we were up there for our first anniversary the last time, and this time, it was some weeks after our fifth. Obviously, we’re all older–went from 20, 21, and 22 to 25, 26, and 27. Terra’s married now, and Paul and I are living together. I was unemployed and got the call from my current employer after we got back from camp. Paul was heading into his senior year of college and is now out and working a few minutes away. I still counted the Craigs as my best friends, and now I speak to a few of them on occasion at best. Terra’s godfather and uncle Danny, who even Paul and I just called Uncle Danny, was alive, despite getting worn out and sick from feeding everyone before he fed himself. One of my fondest memories of that first year at camp was the way Uncle Danny would just grill tons of food and make sure everyone had their fill before he even sat down to eat himself. A few years ago, Uncle Danny died, and his ashes were scattered around different parts of the park and land and a tree was planted in the woods behind the trailer in his honor.
I hadn’t thought about any of this until Paul mentioned it. In a lot of ways, our lives are very different, but in a lot of ways, they’re not. Circumstances have changed–shit, life has changed–and people have come and gone, but the three of us–four if you count Scott, five if you count Terra’s mom, who’s like a second mom to me at this point–have stuck together. It’s not that we never disagree or get on each other’s nerves or make mistakes, it’s just that we’ve always been there for each other. We’ve always been supportive, and we’ve always been positive influences on each other–at least I hope. And I look forward to many more summers at Redtail, including ones where we look back at how far we’ve come. Maybe one day, we’ll be up there with our own kids, telling stories about the shenanigans we got into at camp long ago.
And as Terra’s family always says–especially at Redtail–no one loves us more than us.