I left Friday after work to join Mr. P and Little Boy in the wilds of northern central Mass., where they had been living in a yurt on a state campground for the past three days/two nights. It was about a 45 minute drive from my office, but rural central Massachusetts is worlds away from Boston. People are slower, more relaxed, somewhat fatter, and generally better at fishing.
I showed up at the yurt, expecting that three days in the wilderness would have created a “Lord of the Flies” type situation where both Mr. P and Little Boy would be running around in loincloths with sticks, utterly uncivilized without my influence. But Mr. P was calmly tending to the fire so we’d have enough coals to cook on, and Little Boy was tucked in the yurt, partaking of his daily allotted 30 minutes of tablet time. He did look up for a solid minute to let me cover his face in kisses, and he did look happy to see me, but Angry Birds beckoned!
We cooked zucchini, peppers and steak over the fire and relaxed under the towering pine trees. The yurt was pretty amazing, as it removed everything about camping that I’m not too excited about (sleeping on the ground, changing clothes in a tent, lack of space for organization and sanity, fears about getting run over in a tent by drunk rednecks). It even had lights! Little Boy finished all his veggies in order to partake of marshmallows.
I awoke thoroughly rested on Saturday morning at 6am and decided to pull on my running gears and go check out the 4-mile hike that we planned to take Little Boy on. I grabbed the map, which would have been very useful if I knew where we were! There were three campsites marked on the map and I assumed we were at a certain one based on the location of the water. So I started walking in the supposed direction of the trail when I came upon… three men in military fatigues carrying guns! Good morning, I’ll go the other way. I walked around the campground for a solid 30 minutes looking for the entrance to the trail. “2 miles each way” said the sign. I started jogging, fearful that any moment a hunter would blow my head off. It felt very ‘hunger games.’ I discovered that the trail ended at beautiful Lake Dennison, and then I discovered that I was wrong about where we were camping on the map. But it was a nice trail that I knew Little Boy could handle.
So after a breakfast of eggs and berries, Mr. P and I convinced Little Boy to go walking in the woods. Hiking with 3-year olds… not easy! They don’t yet have the world-weariness to understand the joys of tramping through the woods with no purpose. We have to make it into a game. We have to find motivation. So for the first mile, Little Boy and I threw pine cones at Mr. P’s back. It sounds ridiculous but it works: Mr. P keeps walking at a pretty fast clip, and Little Boy and I hurry behind him, tossing pine cones in his general direction. What fun! For the second mile, the main motivator was the half-bag of peanut butter M&Ms in Mr. P’s pocket. When we reached Lake Dennison, the first thing Little Boy demanded was “Em-ems.”
We played around the lake for a bit. Going back after a hike is always easier, because Little Boy is always eager to return to the home/car/yurt. Still, a 4-mile hike is not easy for such little legs! and he suffered a meltdown halfway there. I guess he’s not ready for a 4000-footer for at least another year.
After grabbing a bite for lunch, we headed to the campsite’s lake for an afternoon of frolic. The beach was crowded with locals… I felt somewhat conspicuous, especially when a little girl of age 5 or 6 approached me, demanded I give her one of our water buckets, and asked “Why is he orange???” while pointing at Little Boy, who was industriously constructing an intricate civil engineering wonder:
Why is he orange? I had to remind myself that we were in central Mass., and that her obese parents were lurking 100 feet away in the shade with beer and cigarettes, only giving notice to her and her siblings when someone began screaming. “People are all different colors, aren’t they?” I said nonchalantly. She took the bucket and dumped water directly on one of Little Boy’s sand rooks.
After about three hours of frolic and fishing, we headed back to the yurt and started the fire for dinner. I wow’ed everyone with my fire-roasted corn on the cob. The weather was perfect and everyone was happy. I slept for a solid 10 hours that night, and awoke feeling… even more tired. It was time to go home. We said goodbye to the yurt. Little Boy was very sad. On the way home, we stopped at Wachusett Mountain so Mr. P and I could both take a turn running up the mountain. Life is good!