When we checked into our hotel last night they'd screwed up our reservation, and had us down as needing a handicapped room. This didn't seem to be that big a deal, and since it was the only room they had left, we took it. We were exhausted. I set up a wake-up call, went out to forage for food, and after dinner we all fell dead asleep.
Morning came, and with it our wake-up call. When we went to bed it had, somewhat naively, never occurred to me that a wake-up call in a handicapped room would involve more than a phone ringing. But it did.
At 8:00 the phone SHRIEKED at a volume that would normally be mistaken for a racing fire truck, or perhaps a nuclear bomb. It went beyond waking us up. We all leaped out of bed, with the kids screaming that it was a fire alarm. As if the noise wasn't enough to wake the deaf, the room lights suddenly began flashing on and off, plunging our dark-adjusted eyes from glare to dark to glare again at a seizure-inducing frequency. I grabbed the phone, still asleep, and screamed "What the hell is going on?". The desk clerk, in polite tones amplified by the phone's megavolume, just said "This is your wake-up call sir". I screamed "Thank you!" and hung up.
The lights stopped, plunging the room back into pitch darkness. There were 10 seconds of silence, interrupted by Craig announcing that he needed to change his underwear.
After breakfast we went over to my FIL's house. As soon as I walked in I was unceremoniously told that I'd been picked to lead everybody's kids on a forest adventure hike (I’d apparently been voted to do this while I was flying here yesterday). They all told me that Mrs. Grumpy was supposed to have told me last night. When I looked at her, she pretended to still be deaf from the wake-up call.
So I was given 9 kids, some granola bars & water, and loaded up the van.
On the way to the trailhead Mrs. Grumpy called to tell me to stop for mosquito repellent. After making several wrong turns (and being run off the road by a tractor) I finally found a store. I bought a bottle, and moved on.
The hike was an adventure of whiny children, trees, and LOTS of mosquitoes. Bug repellent doesn’t work. Anyone who spends any time in the great outdoors knows that “repellent” is a misnomer. In fact, it’s more like firing a flare to announce your presence, daring the bugs to come get you.
And they do.
You walk quickly, and they follow you. You stop to swat them, and more land on you. And the kids thought we were having a portable eclipse because of the way the black bug cloud followed us everywhere.
After we gave up and turned back, I discovered the bottle of repellent had leaked in my shoulder pack. It had partially melted one of my plastic credit cards. Nice to think it was on our skin.
We headed back to the house, and to clean the bug spray off I sent all the kids to the showers. Of course, as soon as they got out they wanted to go swimming. All the other adults had magically disappeared, too (gee, I wonder why).
So I'm trying to direct 10 kids (somehow another had joined us, I have no idea where) in and out of showers, and clothes, and towels. All the while I'm having horrible visions of being seen by a nosy neighbor and spending the rest of my life in pedophile prison.
After a bunch of Happy Meals I dragged the kids, and cousins, and some friends who’d somehow attached themselves to my safari train (we were up to 12 now, WTF?), to the city pool. Where, of course, I’m suddenly the bad guy because (although I just bought them lunch) I won’t pay for them to buy stuff from the vending machines. Even though I think some of the snacks in there had gone out of production during my childhood.
The city pool was a popular spot, although when we got there one of the pools was temporarily closed for a rescue drill. As I watched, 2 lifeguards "rescued" a 3rd guard, who was pretending to be a drowning victim. The drowning victim, however, wasn't particularly realistic, as he kept talking, and they were all giggling over something. When they got closer I realized the victim had developed a woody during the drill, and was trying to cover it with his hat.
The kids ran into the pool. I found a chair, opened my book, popped a Diet Coke, and relaxed. The afternoon went on, with increasingly cloudy skies. Then thunder crackled, and suddenly it began pouring rain.
At home this would have sent everyone scurrying out of the pool to shelter (I still don't understand why people get out of the pool when it's raining- you're already wet for crying out loud!) but here everyone kept merrily swimming. Even as it became a downpour. Even as strong winds began blowing. And then the temperature suddenly began dropping. Into the low 50's.
To the kids in the pool, none of this was a big deal. To a guy (like me) in shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops, it wasn't pleasant. My kids had NO interest in leaving the pool, and I was stuck watching them. And I was cold.
Then the wind began blowing water from the water slide onto me. And when I reached for a towel to cover up, my paperback blew into the pool.
At this point I was waiting for a grizzly bear to come maul me. I figured that would make the day complete.
Fortunately, as the lightning got closer, they closed the pool, giving me an excuse to haul the wild bunch back to base. Where the other adults had returned from a nice day of restaurant hopping. They also wanted to know who some of the 14 kids were that I'd brought home, as 3 of them had never been seen before.
I can only assume they were tossed out of passing UFO's by angry alien parents. "It's 4 light years back to Centauri, and you guys can walk if you don't behave!"
I certainly sympathize.