When word got around to our friends that Ralph and I were yurt camping at Cape Disappointment there were two reactions. The first was open-faced envy – who doesn’t want a vacation, especially one with your mate / spouse / lover? – and the second was a laugh at just how unappetizing to some the phrase “yurt camping at Cape Disappointment” sounds.
Ralph made the plans for the vacation, including reserving the camping site, arranging childcare (our capable friend Paige), taking time off work, and researching the local area and activities thereof. He also secretly squirreled away money from our household operating expenses the last few months; because although a modest camping trip might seem easily doable to many of our friends it is far less so to us. The combined expenses of babysitting fees, food for all parties, gas, site rental, laundry quarters et cetera have thus far been enough for us to put off, and continue putting off, a getaway of any kind.
We were on the road yesterday by about 2 PM. I was feeling horrible. I knew that being away from the children for four days and three nights would be like diving in for a swim in ice cold water – unpleasant at first but with a little acclimation absolutely exhilarating. On leaving the children I was deliberately casual, saying goodbye as if I were only leaving a few hours. I was trying not to think of three endless nights without being able to hear their breathing or stroke them in their sleep. As we drove out of Aberdeen I sat in the car and somewhat woodenly responded to my husband’s (very cheerful) conversation. I felt worse than not crying; I felt the impending doom of something going wrong, of making a bad choice in timing to leave my children. Please understand it doesn’t matter who I leave them with – no one can love them like I can. It was a tiny, weird little nightmare that I knew my husband did not share. I breathed through it and took my time with it and told myself it was a temporary adjustment period.
And this unreasonable and morose mood passed, just as I thought it would. After a beautiful drive through windswept sea scenery and sharing an audiobook with Ralph I had almost accepted my fate at having my family split up. We checked into our site, unpacked, then headed back to Long Beach for a delicious dinner with ice cold beer. We headed back to the site in the wet and unfamiliar night and on the way we were beset by frogs; tiny reddish-brown creatures that would suddenly form out of the first of the fall leaves on the road and alarmingly bound across the street. At my request Ralph caught me one; it took twice for him to brake, secure the van, jump out, and dive to catch the little creature in the headlights and it reminded me of years and years ago when he’d gone out kicking mushrooms to lift me out of a sad mood, up in Mason Lake during a Thanksgiving with my family. At the campsite we took quarter-operated showers to warm up, shared some wine in the yurt (after Ralph had dispatched a few arachnoid specimens), and watched a date movie. I think it was about 1 AM when I fell asleep, a little uncomfortable in a bed other than mine (packing up a king-size was just not in the cards for a camping trip) but so glad to be with my husband.
And here’s something crazy; when I woke up with Ralph, at 9:30 in the morning, both my children had been awoken, fed, dressed, and taken to school – and I didn’t have to do it.
Getting time with Ralph alone is amazing. I can cook for just two and it takes about five minutes. We can eat together without him having to cut someone’s food and I don’t have to bolt my meal down. I can talk to him without interruptions. I can decide to take a shower or go for a walk and I don’t need to secure a list of to-do items before I go nor worry a child will run into the street or try to drink drain cleaner if I turn away for one minute. I can think and be quiet in my own mind and no one is asking for attention or needs help getting dressed or washing hands. This is perhaps the most amazing aspect of a vacation sans children; being able to choose and complete a task in the quietude of my own thoughts.
I joked yesterday that in these parts a thirty percent chance of rain is like a hundred percent chance of rain (perhaps you’d have to live in the PNw to understand). But today we wake to clear skies and a day with nothing we particularly have to do and nothing we can’t do – as long as we temper our expenses to keep the total trip under a very modest $100. It would have been more but our van busted a CV joint and a good chunk of our “fun” money was spent in necessary vehicular repair.
And so continues our modest but ever-so precious vacation together.