Party in The Mud

Being ridiculous seems like a fairly odd thing to put on your bucketlist, but then I guess you could call this entire Bucketlist thing pretty odd, so maybe it fits.

Here is how it started, I am a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, an employee and this is all pretty serious stuff. I mean look at it this way, I have children to raise, a marriage to maintain and friends and family who need me, I have a job to do and a household to run. I have bills to pay, errands to run, book reports to review and toilets to clean. It is hard to fit “being ridiculous” into an already packed day. Once you get all this responsibility in life it is kind of hard to just turn it off like a light switch and “be truly silly” just for the sake of being silly. It dawned on me one day that while my life was full of smiles and laughter, it might be missing pure silliness just for the sake of being silly. My solution was to put it on my bucketlist and give myself permission to be nutty.

This summer has been busy beyond busy in my family. We have so much going on that I manage to get through each day and then pass out at night of exhaustion only to get up and start over again. Now, don’t get me wrong. A lot of what we have going on is really good stuff, but still, when your life is as packed as mine is right now just getting the chance to relax needs heavy duty scheduling. In a normal summer our family spends several weekends at the lake boating and camping and several weekends up in the mountains camping and playing on our dirt bikes. This summer it has been a struggle to make this happen. That is why I insisted this past weekend we stop the madness and go to the mountains. “summer is almost over” I told my husband, “if we don’t go now we won’t get it done all summer, and that is just not right!”

Thankfully, he agreed, and we shook hands on it. Not really, but we decided it was a plan.

So much for plans. Friday was nuts for both of us at work. Dan had planned to pick up Maggie and her friend around noon and head up to our favorite mountain hide-away with the camper. He’d get camp set up and Sam and I would come up after work and a much-needed stop at the grocery store. Good plan. Unfortunately, this was not to be.

Dan and the girls made it as far as Morrison, which for those of you who know Colorado is about 2 miles up the mountains, when his truck started protesting. His normally heavy-duty multi-ton truck could barely go 10 miles per hour and it quickly became apparent to Dan that he had serious vehicle towing problems. He pulled over and gave the tired truck time to cool off. They tried again. And again. And again. Finally, several hours into this grand adventure he turned around and hoped that if he was headed downhill gravity would be on his side and he could go faster than 10 miles per hour. It worked for about 4 miles. Then he hit the flatlands and once again found himself crawling along as rush hour traffic roared past him 75 miles per hour.

Dan called in the reserves and summoned Sam to come pick up the girls while he took the camper back to storage and dropped his injured truck off at the repair shop. Finally, 5 hours after it all began, Dan walked in the door at home tired, and discouraged.

Looking at each other we decided we would not take defeat. We would rally Plan B. Maybe, we could borrow a truck long enough to get the camper up there? No luck, no trucks available with the right hitch. Not to be defeated, we scrambled to Plan C. Tent camping! Yes, we would resort to tent camping, whatever it took to get this adventurous family to the mountains. At this point, even the dog was getting depressed.

Without a camper we faced a few obstacles. Number one, being the lack therein, of a restroom. Dan rallied with Plan D. “We could camp at the base of Red Cone Mountain,” he announced. “Remember, it has a small campground with port-a-potties.” Yes! That was the solution we needed! A port-a potty! Dan disappeared to do some fast Internet research, only to come back a few minutes later with a beat down look on his face. “We can’t camp there. They still have Webster and Red Cone Pass closed due to a 30-foot wall of snow at the summit. They have so much run-off that the stream by the campground is dangerously high.”

Translation. We couldn’t take one clueless Golden Retriever and two adventurous 11 year olds camping by a “stream” that is now a raging river of with 32-degree water.

Plan E, back to our regular campsite far back in the mountains, we would simply have to do some serious backcountry camping in this desperate situation. That meant camping in a tent, peeing in the bushes and eating over the campfire. We looked at each other, gauging the strength in each other’s eyes and made one final pact, yes, we would do it!

After so many plan changes even we were confused. What gear would we need, where were the tents, did we still have the lantern, where was the grill, and more raced through our tired, but not defeated brains. We rearranged, unloaded and reloaded late into the night before calling it a day.

The next morning we finished up and finally rolled out of town at 10:30 am. You must realize that mere mortals would have given up long before this, but our little pack is one determined, if not sickly stubborn group, and we refused to succumb to defeat.

Two hours later we arrived and unloaded our gear. It was about then that we realized the folly of our ways. We had the necessary can of baked beans but no can opener, we had cereal but no milk or bowls to put it in, we had coffee filters but no coffee pot, we had graham crackers but no marshmallows or chocolate for smores. Looking fate squarely in the eye we said damn to it all! We will eat hot dogs on a stick and pop tarts for breakfast. We could have hamburger buns with peanut butter for lunch and feast on potato chips. Remember here troops-we are roughing it!

Along about now I made a mental shift, as a good friend puts it. I decided that no matter what we were going to have a good time. All we needed was a good attitude!

Once we unloaded all the haphazard camping gear we unloaded the toys, the three dirt bikes and the Ranger. Next we loaded up a few non-nutritious snacks and headed out to discover the trails. All it took was about 3 minutes on the gorgeous trails to put my mind back at ease. I could feel the tension roll off my shoulders. The mountains have had so much snowfall and rain this year that they were green everywhere you looked. Snow capped mountains in the distance framed luscious green valleys filled with wildflowers as far as you could see. Yes, in spite of all of our challenges, this trip was worth it. It felt good to be out here in God’s heaven.

Peace filled my heart; I felt relaxed and suddenly rejuvenated, not rushed and tired like usual. Just then we rounded the bend on the trail and my eyes lit up like a Christmas tree at the sight before my eyes. Before me on the trail lay a huge mud puddle, as wide and deep and muddy as the Mighty Mississippi. Well, not quite that wide, but it was big. Casting a glance at the little girls beside me I asked the loaded question “do you want to go around the puddle or right through it?” I innocently asked. “THROUGH IT!” they squealed with delight. “Ok, you asked for it” I answered as I backed us up about 8 feet (we had to get a good running start) and promptly gunned the Ranger full force. We went from 1 to 90 in just seconds (well maybe 0 to 15) and hit the water with full force of our enthusiasm. The girls were screaming with delight and I gritted my teeth in anticipation of the wall of mud soon to hit me.

We created a huge wall of muddy water, it washed over the top of the Ranger, it created a brown wall as it washed over the windshield, and it seeped into the glove box and washed over our feet. The entire vehicle was suspended in time, coated with mud like a chocolate sundae! As we emerged on the other side I glanced over at the girls and saw their delighted faces suspended in time. They had huge grins spread across their face, ear to ear. They looked at me with disbelief. They could not believe the mother, commonly referred to around here, as “the fun sucker” would plow through a huge mud puddle like that!

I laughed until I cried muddy tears, but I looked at them and asked one simple question “want to do that again?”

I have never felt so silly, nor have I ever been so dirty, but I am telling you it was the most fun I have had in a long time. The girls and I couldn’t get enough, we raced through mud puddle after mud puddle and when it was over, we did it again. It was very good for my soul to let go and just be ridiculous again. I highly recommend you give it a try.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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