Red Solo Cup on a Wet Dog

Anticipation
We all piled into the Yukon, anxious to head to the lake to join my sister’s family for a weekend of camping, kayaking and dirt biking on this beautiful spring Mother’s Day weekend in Missouri. Loaded with coolers of drinks, sleeping bags, snacks and dirt biking gear, parents Dan and Jackie joined teenager Maggie and Golden Retriever Rowdy, ready for fun in the sun.

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“Oh my, it smells like wet dog in here,” said Dan as he buckled his seat belt and scanned over his shoulder to back the Yukon out of the driveway.

“It sure does!” Agreed Jackie turning to give the hyper excited Golden Retriever a grin.

Are We There Yet? Are We??
The subject of the always welcome attention, Rowdy, glanced from owner to owner, his floppy ears blowing back in the wind from the rolled down window. His actions seemed to say, “Where are we going? Where are we going? Are we there yet? Are we? Are we?” Huh?”

In a mere 20 minutes we reached the campground and found the other half of the crew already riding dirt bikes in the light drizzle of a spring rain. Vicki, Kurt and five of their six kids greeted us with muddy but happy faces.

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Mack, my sisters Yellow Lab, came bounding up to us as we pulled in. Soaked from head to toe but loving every minute of it, Mack wagged his tail like a windshield wiper on high, back and forth sending small spays of water here, there and everywhere.

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Mud, Mud and More Mud
The kids were determined to enjoy this rare opportunity to be turned loose on dirt bikes to play amongst the trees and even though the weather refused to cooperate they rode in the rain anyway, slipping, sliding, mud flying here and there. With the wet Missouri clay dirt soaking in more and more rain soon the dirt bike tires were caked with sticky gooey mud, clogging up everything from gears and chains to brakes and clutches.

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The boys, Ryan, 17 and Tommy, 15, channeled all their youthful energy into a dirt clot fight happily logging clumps of mud back and forth at each other while the girls, Ally and Beth, both 19 took their turn on the dirt bikes. Mom Vicki stood close by monitoring the innocent playfulness.

“Bombs Away”
“Bombs away!” yelled Ryan as he playfully tossed a clod Tommy’s way. Unfortunately, about then, Vicki, unaware of the incoming weaponry, turned her head to check on 10 year old Jay who was trying to drop rocks off the nearby benches into a small bucket far below. With her head turned the wrong direction Vicki had no idea what was about to happen next.

It’s Just a Flesh Wound
“AWWWWWWWW” she cried out as the perfectly launched dirt clod landed smartly on the left side of her head, instantly revealing a silver dollar sized knot covered in crimson colored red.

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“Honey are you ok?” yelled concerned hubby Kurt.

“What was that?” asked a dazed and confused mother Vicki.

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Kurt rushed to her side to examine the damage. The deep red showed dramatically against her medium blonde hair. “You got hit in the head with a dirt clod and I think it had a rock in it. Your head is bleeding! Are you ok?” he asked.

“I guess so” she replied rather unconvincingly. As I watched from my perch on the reclining lawn chair so my broken foot could be elevated I could literally see the stars circling her poor head just like in a Peanuts cartoon. I was pretty sure she wasn’t really as ok as she pretended to be.

As Vicki came and sat down by the camper to evaluate her status, the kids came in to rally around her. Poor Ryan, the guilty party, had certainly not injured Vicki on purpose and had no idea the dirt clod contained a rock, felt extremely remorseful, seemingly sheepish.

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Like most healthy and yet slightly dysfunctional red-blooded American families, soon everyone was teasing each other about the recent mishap.

“Gosh Ryan, way to go, injure Vicki on Mother’s Day!” I chimed in but added a mischievous wink directed at him so he knew I was just teasing!

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He grinned back at me. This kid felt bad but he also has a wicked sense of humor and that’s why I think he’s cool.

Wet Dog: Ummm Help ME!
About this point in the action, Rowdy walked back into the middle of the family mêlée completely soaked with rain, his normally pretty fur coat feathered but this time caked in dark tar like mud with his snout stuck in a red Solo cup. He entered the scene with perfect timing and his ever playful deep brown eyes looking up at us like “Ummm, excuse me, could someone help me with this? I have no idea how this cup got stuck on my snout but I can’t get it off!” The words to the song by Toby Keith suddenly started playing in my ears, “red solo cup, come fill me up, let’s have a party.”

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The entire Vandy bunch, 5 teenagers and two parents, and our little family of three erupted in hysterical laughter.

Families that Play Together Stay Together
Don’t let it be said that you can’t have fun when life doesn’t go according to plan. We had planned a nice sunny weekend of camping perfection, all the way down to picnic lunches on the trails, dirt biking through meadows of green grass and s’mores over a campfire under a starry night sky. What we got was overcast, dreary weekend of steady rain caking the clay dirt all around us until even walking was hazardous to your heath. Of the 4 dirt bikes only one was still working by the time the two day weekend was over and Kurt’s repair shop was dealing with flat tires, bent rims, broken starters, bent handle bars, broken hand brakes and more. Vicki most likely sustained a very slight concussion, Jay had a cut on his foot, Tommy ended up covered in an impressive case of road rash from the nightly game of Ghosts in the Graveyard, Ryan’s thumb was jammed and Jackie’s broken foot fit right in. However, it was the wet dogs, Mack and Rowdy who showed us that no matter what you can always have fun with a plain old red solo cup!

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The weekend was full of good life lessons:
1. Don’t throw a dirt clod at mom on Mother’s Day; it’s not cool if she starts bleeding from a head injury!
2. Hot dogs and burgers taste better over a campfire
3. If you eat all the marshmallows before campfire time you can’t make s’mores!
4. If you are going to go up a muddy hill on a dirt bike you have to make a commitment to it. Go, and go strong or don’t go at all!
5. Garbage bags around casts on broken bones work to keep the wind, rain and dirt off even if they aren’t very stylish.
6. Sometimes you have to go help rescue your sister, just grin and go do it.
7. Girls like to play in the dirt too.
8. Head wounds bleed-a lot!
9. Ball caps can cover camping hair, bandages and Neosporin
10. Learning to put oil on the chain of your dirt bike helps it run better
11. Always bring a spare pair of jeans and clean underwear when you go camping
12. Laugher is always the best medicine.

For ever more the smell of a wet dog will always conjure up memories of this sweet family camping trip, a perfect case study in Murphy’s Law whatever can go wrong will go wrong. The question is are you going to have fun anyway? We certainly did.

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

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