Independence Day weekend was something of a marathon for me. This, primarily because the wife and thepacked up and headed to Arkansas to visit her relatives on Thursday morning. I had determined to keep busy so as not to miss them as much.
Wednesday night, my grandparents and two of my dad’s sisters came into town, staying at my uncle’s house near Athens. We visited for a good while, and got home at about 11:30; at which time my wife told me that she had an appointment on her way out of town to get the truck serviced at 8:30 Thursday morning. This of course, necessitated her getting packed that night, and leaving not later than 7:45 the next morning to make it to Decatur on time. She finished, and got in bed by 1:30 and was out again by 5:30. I never can understand how she functions on so little sleep.
Thursday night was designated as “camp-out” night at my uncle’s. After work, I stopped by the local sporting goods store, and got a small air-mattress. After going home to load my tent and a few extra sleeping bags, I was off to Christopher’s to feed a very grateful Harley the Cat, then straight to my uncle’s. I had a nice, quick supper of fresh catfish, and headed down to the camp site. I got everything hauled-in and set-up in about half an hour. It was by that time, about 7:30, and darkness would be coming soon. Not soon enough, because it just didn’t seem to want to cool down. Indeed, this would continue to be the case until about 5:30 the next morning.
We had a good time, sitting around the camp fire, and doing the family thing. Stories were exchanged, some of them scary, some of them had their scariness augmented by an unnamed camper leaping out from behind a tent and screaming at an unexpected interval. At one point, I feared our little group would loose cohesion when a certain aunt was terrorized by an unapologetic amphibian croaking in a near-by pond.
At about 10:00, we’d all said good night, and zipped up our tents. I was alone in mine (save my immensely powerful Beretta Neos in caliber .22 LR), but my cousin, David, slept in a hammock between my tent and the others. We were all-assembled, quite a crew; some dozen in number with our youngest being around 10 years of age and my grandfather being precisely that eight-times over.
It was uncomfortable like a camp-out is supposed to be, but not the worst I’ve attended. Even though it was just a bit too hot, the bugs weren’t a-bugging, it wasn’t raining, and the fire was in no way inhospitable. At 11:45, my phone rang and I awoke just in time to catch the voice-mail telling me that Ms. Maggie Elizabeth Bailey had arrived in Seattle not thirty minutes earlier, at 7lbs 14oz! Good news, indeed!
I slept for some time, a bit restlessly at first because I had no pillow and had propped up my head on my lumpy back-pack. Then, I head a bit of commotion about, pulled on my glasses, and looked out of the tent. There, I saw everyone milling about, and my 80-year-old grandfather packing it up for the house. After 80 years, he’d apparently exceeded the lifetime maximum for camp-outs. I didn’t wish to argue, as he’d earned his rest. Speaking a testament to his former days as a drill instructor in the USMC; about half the troops followed him up the hill to the house. They didn’t need any coaxing. For my part, I was curious to know what was going on, but not so curious to be worth putting on my boots to go investigate.
The next morning, I woke up at 7:00, 7:30, and 8:00. By that time I’d gotten comfortable, but I could tell it was warming up fast. At about that time, my uncle Greg was coming out of his tent. When I asked how many made it, I knew the answer before he gave it: “Just us two.”
As we put the kettle on for some rough camp-coffee (again, NOT the worst I’ve had), he told me that the girls (my cousins Kim, Emily, and Lydia) had been troopers and held-out until about 0530. They couldn’t take any more after that. Apparently the cause of the commotion the night before had come at about 0130 when David, Greg, and Kathy were awoken by a pair of foxes playing in the creek-bed just behind my tent. I asked if he was sure it wasn’t just my snoring, and he assured me that it wasn’t. If I heard any foxes, I surely wasn’t bothered by them, but David was a bit moved. By this, I mean he packed his kit and moved it up to the house with all speed. Had we been in darkest Africa, I surely would have been gobbled-up by a lion, and David safe.
Had cousin David awoken me, I would have like to have taken my flash light and chased the little buggers down. He suggested the next morning upon discovering that I had the little Beretta that we could have simply exterminated the fox. I would have done so such thing. I like foxes, and it would have been nice to catch a glimpse of them in their own environment and earning their living. David had gotten a fairly good video of him a week or so before, standing out in the open bold as the face on a clock. In any case, David would be wise in recounting the story to introduce the faintest trace of flair into his narrative. Something along the lines of him chasing off the mutant fox who was in the process of nobbling poor old grand-dad’s leg off and killing poor cousin Emily TO DEATH should suffice.
After coffee, we had a bit of breakfast, then broke camp. It was a fine little adventure, and I’ll probably not see the like for many a year. I let David take a crack with the .22, and I’m here to tell you that CCI “Stingers” are HOT. High velocity .22s come in the 1100 FPS range, and the CCI Stinger is rated at 1640 FPS. 1640 is much too high for tin-can duty, and standard High Velocity rounds do cycle the Beretta’s slide.
Later on Friday, we re-assembled the crew for lunch at my favorite closed-on-Sunday-chicken-sandwich establishment. I swear they put an addictive ingredient in their chicken that makes you crave it fortnightly. After lunch, we headed over to the theater to see Wall-E, which was brilliant.
Friday night, I slept the sleep of the righteous.
Saturday, I got up and drove to Arab, about an hour away for an IDPA match. I did terribly, but it was fun. Saturday night, Greg took us to dinner for his birthday. That doesn’t make any sense unless you know how generous my family all are, then it makes perfect sense.
On Sunday afternoon, I managed to make it to another IDPA match in Manchester, TN, about an hour and a half away. I didn’t do too bad here, but I suspect most of the people I was shooting with are all classified better than MM.
On Monday morning, I made it to work just in time; I needed the rest!