Life lesson #2 – Dad is fallible

Man, I love to go camping. One of the joys of fatherhood to me has been teaching the boyos the ways of the backpacker – tread lightly, leave the woods cleaner than when you arrived, and sleep outside as often as possible. We try to make at least 7 outings a year (April through November). I’ve pulled chocks about midnight on one full-moon November night thinking Jake was too cold. And we’ve done the “roughing it” out of the back of the car with the Cub Scouts, who are surprisingly hesitant to go backpacking.

Tonight (I’m blogging from my iPod touch while the boys sleep) was supposed to be our triumphant return to the woods for 2009. Melissa had a supper group of girls coming over, so I called up the DEP, and got the permit for Peg Mill, their favorite spot. Loaded the bags, last night, picked up the kids after work, and stopped for stove fuel on the way to camp.

Thought everything was wired. Last night I’d checked and rechecked all the gear – stove, replaced the filter in the water purifier, made sure we had the match container. I was set.

So, we hike back into the woods, set up shop, and commence to camping with about 45 minutes of effective light left. I got the tents set up, arranged stuff to start supper, hung the bear bag, and life was good.

Until I went to start a fire in the fire ring.

Turns out the match container was in the bag. Just NO MATCHES.

Oh fudge. And I did say fudge.

So I put it to the kids. We had just enough time to pack up and hike back to the car, or, I coils try to start a fire with the magnesium fire starter and a can opener. Against my better judgement, but with the kids enthusiastic, we voted to stay.

First attempt almost worked, but I wasn’t quick enough getting enough tinder on the fire. Second attempt was thwarted when Jake dumped a handful of twigs on the flame, smothering what I’d been slowly working. Third attempt failed because I didn’t have enough twigs handy. Fourth attempt failed – well, probably because it was supposed to.

We had supper of apple sauce and chocolate bars.

As we watched the last of the light fade (new moon is F’n dark), it hit me that I’d been collossaly dumb the couple of times I’d had either twigs or the limited amount of paper or cardboard burning. Instead of trying to light more twigs, I should have started the fracking stove. Or lit the candle lantern. Or done Something instead of trying to light uncooperative twigs.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve got to wonder if I ought not just try to spark the stove tomorrow morning instead of worrying about shaving magnesium with a k-ration can opener.

Man, sometimes I’m dumb. Like collossaly dumb. Hopefully the boys take away that dad is fallible. But that it’s wrong to quit trying.

Ps- the breakfast got cooked – one spark and the stove roared to life. But we did stop for second breakfast with the runners from the church.

LATE ADD: For the record, we survived


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