Friday, October 25, 2013

The Skinny Chicken

I'm not saying with all the forest fires in OR that our air quality was poor this summer, but...if you wanted to go out side you needed one of these.

We spent most of the summer prisoners in our house due to the severe air pollution, it was not safe to go outside. So I was looking forward to the annual family reunion to get out of the house and away from the dense chewy acidic air.

It is only now that I have gotten fairly stable on the 3rd thyroid medication that I can stop and find the humor in the events that unfolded in August as we went to the Russell family reunion.

First we have to go back to July, I was on thyroid medication #2 and my mood was irritable with a healthy dose of paranoia. I was not rowing with both oars, hell I was rowing with a melted spatula and a chopstick. I was also deeply entrenched in the thyroid brain fog business.

That is the stage that was set for the packing of our adventure.

I made my usual lists and crossed stuff as I did it. SO IMPORTANT with the brain fog going on.

Reunion of 2012, we upgraded my old 18 year old tents to a new 6 man tent. Here it is last year on its maiden voyage with us.

When I took down the tents in 2012, I thought I should just toss the old 4 man tent in the trash as it no longer repels water. But I didn't, I stuffed it in the tent bag.

So packing 2013, I opened the tent bag and removed the 4 man tent.

I also discovered we were now short one camping bucket, heck I am an old boy scout, I can improvise and make due without it. Packing was complete and I thought, wow....despite the mental challenges I was undergoing, I was doing okay.




Half way there my sluggish brain woke up enough to remember that 3 small items had escaped the master food list.


Hot cocoa.

and Cheerios.

Which set us up for an on the road scavenger hunt.

All the major roads in Oregon go north and south. Any thing that takes you west/east will take you on an adventure. By the time my brain spoke up we were heading west.

First little store had only Donner Pass supplies and was filled with A LOT of stuffed animals. Not the cute ones, the ones that Bubba has mounted in his huntin'shed. Hansolo's eyes bugged out as she looked around at the elks, bears, cougars and deer and .....

"What is that mama?" she had to ask pointing to it.

"Chupacabra!" I squealed looking at her with crazy eyes, as I grabbed a loaf of bread and hurried to the register.

She bust into giggles and we crossed off the first item.

After hearing of the adventure in the first store, my son joined us when we stopped at the second little store.

WhooHoo! cheerios!

JUR need to use the restroom so we stopped on the way out of the store.

He went in, and came right back out before the door even shut.

"spider" he said quietly.

I leaned and saw nothing, I looked at him over my shoulder. He pointed up.

Holy mother of.....SPIDERS!!!!

There was no roof in there just a giant web filled with spiders. Cackling at the unexpected fun this little scavenger hunt was unearthing, we ran for our lives.

Last store was uneventful and cocoa got crossed off.

Arriving at the campsite, JUR explored and found a friend while I set about setting up the new screen tent we had just purchased for Hansolo since she doesn't do bugs at all. It was a small investment in her comfort and peace of mind. (2012 she stayed in the back of the truck the whole time.)

Right on the side of the packet it said in bold letters: SETS UP IN THREE MINUTES!

It should read..."sets up in three minutes for normal people not having bad thyroid issues"

I managed to put the damn thing up...INSIDE OUT.

Yeah I should have stopped to take pictures, but at that point I was ready to hang my self on a tie down line, which was happily dangling on the inside of the tent.

Begs the question though, who makes a tent that goes up inside out without any issues?!!

The really sad thing wasn't until I jerry-rigged the THIRD tie down line that I finally questioned why they were on the INSIDE of the tent.

I'm pretty sure that is when I stopped and dug out my ativan.

We pulled it down and flipped it over and up it went in less than 3 min.

Big breath, okay I got this, on to the 6 man tent.

I unzipped the bag and reached in and pulled it out, as soon as it was in my hand my brain says, "4 man tent."

Oh no.

Oh, yes.

It was the flipping 4 man tent in the 6 man tent bag. Are you telling me in this blasted brain fog I have thrown away our new 6 man tent??!!

I do not have enough ativan for this!

My boy scout training comes to the surface. Be prepared. I can still salvage this....we will just have to make due with the 4 man tent.

I dump out the tent poles as waves of nausea roll over me. "Oh SHHHHH....oot me now!" These are the bleeping 6 man tent poles!!!

Well now. ...sigh. I mull over my options.

1. drive home and get tent (10 hrs round trip)
2. drive to nearest big city and buy a new tent with money we don't have.
3. kill myself we rough it.

I make sure I am wrapped securely in Corey's arms (so I don't do anything stupid like run into traffic) as I discuss options with my family.

I look to Corey for his take on things. He squeezes me and smiles "Just think, this will make good blog fodder."

I turn to the kids.The wizenheimers repeat back to me what I have been telling them all week: "Your responsible for packing your own stuff, anything you don't pack, you do without."

Ok fine.

The emperor had new clothes...we can have the new tent version. I had to chuckle at the absurdity of everything.

Big sigh, breath, just breath.

I go to set up the camp stove and WHAM. Find myself body slammed to the pavement by a rogue root.


As I sit up and check my injures. Wow, okay universe what am I missing here? What lesson am I not getting here? If one more door slams in my face, the only memory my kids will take from this camping trip will be the one of me committing seppuku with the marshmallow skewers.

As I walk off the numb knees and shoulder I find a banana slug.

Oh Joy!

A nice big fat one. Hello my old friend! I am so glad to see you again!!

I call the kids over to introduce them to banana slugs. I haven't seen one is so long I was afraid they had gone exstinct. Eighteen years was the last sighting, while camping with my farm kids. I am very excited to share this old friend with my kids.

The slug was like a breath of fresh air in my soul and I set my mental turmoil aside and focused on making memories with my family. (Or maybe the ativan finally kicked in?)

Our first night in the invisible tent was amusing, and a bit chilly. When I woke up JUR in the morning and pulled back his sleeping bag I found him coated in Crunch n' Munch. Good job mama, candy coat your boy so the bears will eat him first.

Note to self....perfect spot for some moonlight skinny dipping in 2014!!

I am not the most social person, but I very much enjoy observing the Russell clan. I am content to just stay on the edges and bask in the light they emit. There is just something about them that sets them apart and makes them shine. I am way too shy to talk to them, and this reunion I was really afraid to talk to anyone with my mental health so off. Though I did speak to one member I had not spoken to before and from the surprised look on his face I gathered he thought I was mute all these years. I must learn to more social!

We don't live close to any of the Russell clan. So I'm afraid my kids don't see them except once or max 2 x's a year. Which is sad. Sadder still is we live near my family and see them even less.

This is Corey reading Mom's obituary.

This reunion had a low attendance. Which amplified the recent loss of Grandpa, Mom, and Uncle C. I really needed to see EVERYONE. To hear them and touch them. To know that even though some no longer walk with us, we all walk on.

My kids wanted to play in the beach sand again so at this point I returned to the lake. And amused myself taking Once-ler pictures.

While at the lake, we were awarded the skinny chicken (yes an actual skinny rubber chicken) for the tent fiasco. Corey had to get up and tell the tale. He refused the chicken, which is a shame because me and the kids would have loved that thing to pieces! Rubber poultry? That's my kind of nincompoopery!

That night the kids and I wasted no time getting a fire going so we could burn up stuff.

Don't you mean cook stuff? 

Nope. Burn up stuff.

We love to burn up gummy worms. To watch them bubble in agony then puff up and wiggle and boil into a gummy goo.

Why yes, Corey is the only sane on in the family, why do you ask?

Hansolo by the way slept in the back of the truck, she was having none of this sleeping in an invisible tent stuff. Coward!

The kids have inherited my pyro tendencies. This year JUR actually tasted a marshmallow.

Hansolo and a fresh killed mallowman. I love her redneck "I juzt kilt thiz har mallow" smile.

We also like to torch entire packages of SNAKES. Set them on hot coals and watch them go!

Oh yes we do!!

Don't try this at home kids....try it while camping!!

After a few chilly night in the screen tent it was time to pack up and leave.

The tail gate wouldn't close and I about ripped it off with my bare hands. A family member came to our rescue and helped us. Which I will be forever grateful for his kind assistance, and prevention of my rage/panic/tantrum induced chugging of what ever ativan I had left. Thank you thank you thank you.

Corey looks good driving my truck doesn't he? He's a good dad and sport for camping with mini-pyros and a psycho.

Why am I sun burned? Remember I said we were one camping bucket short? When without it, the distribution of stuff was disrupted and even though I packed it I never did find it. Sing it with me...thyroid issues are so much fun, so much fun!

Worn out puddy-tat.

Camping with all my issues was challenging. It took a lot of focus for me to function. I hope my family came away with some good memories. I am looking forward to 2014 and returning to the same camp ground for a do-over. Though...I do think we should try to win the skinny chicken again, I want to play with that thing!

The remainder of the trip was uneventful until we got home.

I went to return the 6 man tent to the bag, only to discover it was no where to be found in the garage. Did I THROW AWAY OUR BRAND NEW TENT?


I beat myself up for days for trashing something we needed and would not be able to replace.

Almost a week later I found the 6 man tent in the living room under the card table. I sat like a lunatic cradling it and bawling my eyes out. This summer was a mess of thyroid issues and being held hostage by dense forest fire smoke. Summer of 2013 a waste, save for three crazy albeit funny days in August at the reunion.

So let this be a lesson to you. Check my thyroid labs BEFORE you follow me on any road trips.


  1. Now that's a road trip! In the grand tradition of "family vacations" ala National Lampoon.

    1. Want to come with us next year? You will love it!! I promise!