Sep 29, 2011

Shawnee Trip III - Rain Rain go away

It was the very beginning of the trip. We were all standing around the van, trying to get packed. “Uh-oh” said Nimu. “I forgot the foam mattress that I was going to sleep on.”

“It won’t matter,” we consoled her. “It’s not going to rain.” Alas, we spoke too soon.

At the campsite, we set up our tents with the help of Dan. “If it rains, do not touch the sides” Dan warned. “The tent is water proof, but if you touch it, it loses its ability to form bubbles and keep the water out. So if it rains, just huddle together in the middle.”

“Ok” we said, but went on putting bags in the middle to divide the space between us and Melissa. We ignored his advice at our peril, because that night it rained. First in drops, then in torrents. I was beginning to get cold, but at some point, Nimu crawled in, advised me to put on socks, and looked for my socks in the bag when I was too lazy to get up and look myself. I immediately felt a lot warmer. I fell asleep with a smile on my face, this was the first time I was sleeping in a tent in rain (since this was actually just the second time that I was camping ever, it actually doesn’t count for much.) But anyways, I was enjoying being so close to the rain, only inches apart. What I did not know was that I would get even closer to the rain.At about 4 am, I woke up to find that my entire left side was soaking wet. And that included my clothes, the blanket I was sleeping on, and the blanket I was covered in. “Nimu” I shook her. “I am wet, let’s move over.” She was up instantly.

“You are completely wet” she repeated, and we began moving the bags that we had lined up between us and Melissa. We shifted over into the middle, but since the blanket was wet, we had nothing to wrap around us. We debated for a while on whether or not to ask Melissa for her blanket. The matter was further complicated because Melissa was sleeping in the opposite direction - her head was near our feet. But in the end, we were too cold not to ask. Melissa graciously let us borrow her blanket, but still Nimitta and I spent most of the night shivering, and could not fall asleep for a long time.

Towards morning, as it was beginning to grow light, I finally fell asleep. I blissfully dreamt that we were riding a roller coaster, but it kept jerking violently from side to side. I woke up to find that Nimitta was actually trying to shake me awake. “Di, you were snoring!!” said she.

After that, I did not want to risk falling asleep. Besides, I desperately needed to pee. I hadn’t been to pee last night because of the rain. Since it was light outside, Nimu and I decided to get up and go out.

Grant was already up and making a fire. As people gradually trickled in, the only topic of conversation was who stayed dry and who didn’t. Brandon was the luckiest, he slept inside the van and was completely dry. Jason, Dan, Trisha and Kensie also professed to stay dry. Dan had apparently taken his own advice and laid in the center of his tents, not touching the sides. The unlucky ones were me, and Nimu, who had gotten wet, and Sean, Johnny and Dylan, who had gotten the bottoms of their mattresses wet. “Look at my mattress” Sean showed us. It had a wet patch on the bottom. “You call that wet?” asked Grant, and went to fetch his own mattress. It was soaked through and through and was actually dripping with water. Poor Grant had slept in a hammock, and had literally lain in a puddle all night.

The entire morning Nimu and I tried to soak our shoes over the fire. The rest of the day we tried to soak the blankets over the sun. Melissa realized very very late that her entire blanket had soaked, and at last joined us in drying them over a rope.

The next night, Trisha graciously let us borrow her pad (Thank you Trisha). Nimitta strenuously avoided going inside the tent the entire day, because it was not only wet, but also dirty and muddy. Towards evening we finally got it cleaned up and arranged our mattresses. This time we decided to take Dan’s advice, and slept huddled together in the center. To our great amazement, we woke up almost as dry as when we went to sleep.

Our plans of eating a lazy breakfast over the fire were ruined, as it was raining cats and dogs early in the morning. Instead, we hurriedly bundled up our stuff and left the place, clad in voluminous rain ponchos. Thankfully, the rain did not follow us home, and we were able to lay out the wet tents on the university grounds to dry. It was a fantastic trip, but I hope this will be my first and last camping in rain. In fact, when Brandon sent the evaluation form, I realized that most of my responses were regarding rain.

“What did you dislike most about the trip?”


“What did you learn from this trip?”

“Check weather forecast. And then check it again.”

Sep 28, 2011

Shawnee Trip II - Marvelous Melissa

From the beginning, I should have known that Melissa was not exactly your average college student.

“What year are you in?” somebody had asked at the pre-trip meeting.
“I don’t exactly know” said Melissa. “It’s my fifth year in college but I changed major so many times, I only got one year of my current major done, so maybe I am a sophomore or a junior, I don’t know....”

On the day of the trip, everyone seemed to fall asleep after the first hour of the excitement of starting out. I nudged Melissa. “You and I are the only persons awake here!” “Yea, that’s what I was thinking” replied Melissa. She was very soft spoken, I had to lean in to hear her. We began talking.

“This is my first camping trip” said Melissa.

“Are you excited?” I asked.

“Umm hmm. But my mam was so concerned. She has been praying for me. My entire family, my daddy, my granny, they all been praying for me” said she.

“Wow!” I was amazed at so much love.

“My mamee told me, Melisa, if you see a bear, don’t talk to a bear. And I was like, what maamy, I aint gonna talk to no bear…


“You know this song?” Melissa asked in the middle of a conversation.

I did not. It was a very soulful song that talked about love and pain. “I like this song” said Melissa. “The songs these days, so many songs just talk about things like clothes you know, like I wanna wear this, and I wanna ride this car. I don’t understand that you know.” I could not agree more. True, that, Melissa. I don’t like no songs either unless they talk about emotions.


At the campsite, Melissa peered in excitedly inside the tent. “Woooow this is just like in a movie” she said. Her excitement was infectious, and continued all the way through the trip.

“Who put those rocks here?” she asked at the first sight of the rocks.
“Who put the rocks? Nobody..they are here naturally” replied Brandon.
“But they are all so neatly stacked” Melissa still refused to believe him.
“Yes, they are formed by thousands of years of natural wear and tear” I tried to help out “Who would put them here anyways?”
“I don’t know, maybe somebody put them here for a movie or something...”

We walked deeper and deeper into the forest, where we were surrounded by huge yellowing trees, dwarfed by the spectacular rocks. Every few minutes Melissa stopped to express her amazement. “Wow, this is so cool, we could be anywhere, we could be in the middle of Lord of the rings or something.”


Melissa was climbing the highest rocks, and dropping down the most dangerous precipices, and leading everyone. “Look at Melissa, she is the one who has never been camping, and now she is the one leading everyone” said Trisha.
“You go Melissa” yelled Trisha.
“YEAH” Melissa yelled back, and promptly dropped on her hands and knees to crawl into the lowest crevice. When everyone else came out crawling on their hands and knees, Melissa was the only person to come out with knees unscathed.

Melissa at a restaurant. “Hey girl, pass me the salt please.”
A pause.
“I call everyone girl....” she explained
“Why? Is it because you don’t know their names?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s a part of the reason, but also, its so cool, it’s like I’m treating everyone the same, loving everyone the same, hey gurl...”

“The fire is taking in oxygen and throwing out carbon dioxide” Grant was telling Melissa. “Oh wow!” Melissa turned to me. “This is the closest I’ve ever been to a fire. My mamma says Melissa, you don't go near no fire, and I say ok mamma, and I never went near no fire!”

“Hi!” Johnny aunt waved at us cordially. Johnny’s uncle and aunt had come to say hello.
“Wow!!” said Melissa. “It’s great that his folks came to visit him. My folks, they would never go near no wood!”

“I am so glad I am here. I feel like I am such a cool person just for being here. I am having the time of my life. I am camping, YEAH!” said, who else but, Melissa.

Fireside conversation. “We swallow nine spiders ever year” said Trisha.
“Oh wait, I thought that was one your lifetime” Brandon objected.
“Well, I know I swallow a lot more spiders than that, you can tell from all the spider bites on my lips" replied Trisha.
“Watchu let a spider bite you for , girl?” said, obviously, Melissa.

On the ride back home, I am perfectly sure that the trip would not be half as fun without Melissa. The girls seemed to feel the same.
“Thank you Melissa for coming on this trip with us” said Trisha.

Thank you Melissa, you made the trip so awesome!!

Sep 22, 2011

Shawnee Trip I - Much Ado about Nothing

Sewa walks into a room where Dan is chatting another person. Soon, other people walk in.

Tricia: Hi, I am Tricia.

Everyone introduces themselves.

Tricia: Ok, let me try to remember. Dan, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia. Dan, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia. Dan, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia.

Melissa, Dylan, and John walk in.

Tricia: Ok, let’s get started again. John, Dan, Dylan, Melissa, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia. John, Dan, Dylan, Melissa, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia. And I’m sure I am going to forget it all by the weekend.

Kensie: I hope you are not gonna be like this all weekend.

Grant: Let’s get started, I am Grant, one of the GA’s.

Tricia: Ok, Grant, John, Dan, Dylan, Melissa, Sean, Sewa, Kensie, Tricia….

Grant: Please introduce yourself. State your name, major, what year you are, and whether you like your toilet paper rolled off the top or the bottom.

Dylan starts, to general laughter: I’m Dylan, and I like it to roll off the top. The bottom is so weird, you have to reach under, and stuff…

Dan: Dan, I like it on the top as well.

John: John, top.

Tricia: I am Tricia, and I just like it to roll whichever way it’s easier.

Many people: Which direction does it roll? Up or down?

Tricia: Umm, umm…

Many people: Yea that’s the top.

Tricia: Ok, the top, yeah.

Kensie: I’m Kensie, and I like it from the top as well.

Sewa: I’m Sewa and I’m the only person who likes it from the bottom.

Dylan: We don’t know that yet, we haven’t finished going around.

Sewa: True.

Sean: I’m Sean, and I like it from the top.

Sewa: (Yes, I am still the only person who likes it from the bottom.)

Melissa: Melissa, I like it from the bottom.

Sewa: (Yay, finally!) Hi five!

Grant: I am Grant, and I like it on the bottom as well. If it’s on the top, it just rolls on and on…

Sewa: (Did I just remember everyone’s toilet paper preferences and forget their majors? Yes I did.)

Brandon: I’m Brandon, I like it from the top.

Jason: I am Jason, and I don’t have any preferences. As long as it rolls, I mean, it’s better than oak leaves or tree bark or something.

We laugh.

Jason: And if you ever have to use tree bark, remember; go with the grain, not against the grain. With the grain, not against the grain. Snow works great too.

Brandon: Yea, it’s cold and really wakes you up in the morning.

Grant: Now that that’s done, we should get back to the instructions. Remember to bring everything you need, remember your medications; we will have some of the things but not everything….

Tricia: Will you have a first aid kit?

Grant: Yes.

Tricia: Great, coz I am accident prone.

Grant: You are wearing a helmet.

Kensie: And knee pads as well.

Grant: About clothes, don’t pack your entire closet, don’t bring 5 pants and 6 tops. One long pant, one pair of shorts, that’s it.

Sewa: Boohoo L

Grant: But if you want to pack a nice shirt for dinner, that’s ok.

Sewa: (Great, you nearly had me depressed!)

Grant: Bring your toiletries, but again, not the entire bathroom. There won’t be a shower. Yes, we will stink, but we will all stink together.

Jason: You can bring baby wipes instead.

Dylan: Will we have a campfire?

Grant: Yes, we will have a campfire but not a bonfire. And about the tents, remember, no purple tents.

Sewa: (Huh?)

Grant: Girls in pink, boys in blue, no purple tents.

Sewa: (Hmmm)

Grant: You can bring your foam pads; you can bring your blankets, but don’t bring your huge air beds. The air goes out through the night and everyone kind of falls into the center, and you will wake up cuddling with a person of the same sex. And believe me, that is NOT what you want.

Brandon: Yeah, we want to make close friends here, but not that close.

Grant: We will be stopping for lunch on the way.

Tricia: If I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, will people have them?

Everyone: Wow!!!!

Tricia: Grape or Strawberry?

Kensie: Grape

Unidentified Person 1: Strawberry

Unidentified Person 2: Strawberry

Kensie: Grape

Unidentified Person 3: Strawberry

Unidentified Person 4: Strawberry

Kensie: Grape

Tricia: Ok, Ok, if I make half a dozen of each, will people share?

John: You are just too kind.

Sewa: (O Tricia, we are so lucky to have you!)

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