After four decades hanging around this great, tiny state, I’ve covered a lot of terrain.
I’ve walked every street in Fairfax. I’ve been through the ILC factory in Dover (the guys that make spacesuits). I’ve been on the widow’s walk at Granogue and worked construction on Wilmington’s East Side. I’ve had crabs at Sambos, and Samburgers at the late and not-so-great Sam’s in Newark (were “beer subs” an urban legend?) Used to go to Up the Creek. Flipped burgers at Comeros in Dewey. I’ve flown in a C-130 out of Wilmington and been in a C-5 Galaxy at Dover AFB. I’ve eaten bear and ostrich at the Leipsic Fire Hall, and summited Iron Hill (Ok, that one’s not true).[i]
Yet…inexplicably, somehow I managed to go 43 years as a Diamond-stater without stepping foot in Lums Pond State Park.
- 12:00 noon – We’re in luck! A beautiful sunny day – the second one since August 2010.
- 12:30 pm – Drive to Flower Market to pick up son. No sign of him at pre-arranged spot. Wife is not answering phone. Great. Traffic is backing up behind me. Fantastic. No problem. I’ll just drive around the block a few times. Really, no problem.
- 1:00 pm – Driving to Lums Pond – here we come! Gear check with 9-year-old son reveals he has not packed a toothbrush. Or any clothes other than those he is wearing. Or really much in the way of what you would call “shoes.” This does not bode well for his Eagle Scout prospects.
- 1:20 pm – Aha! So this is where Aqua Sol restaurant is! Whaddya know – it’s right across from Lums Pond. Been hearing commercials about that place on WDEL. Hmmm. Perhaps an adult expedition later this evening?
- 1:22 pm – Speaking of Lums Pond, who knew this place has four entrances? I certainly am now well acquainted with that fact because it took us four tries and about five miles before we find the right place.
- 1:23 pm – If memory serves, “no, you want the primitive campground,” were the exact words of the nice park ranger at gate # 3. “Primitive campground?”
- Afternoon – setting up camp, tug-of-war, kickball, swamp mucking, hikes through tick and poison-ivy infested fields and preparation for tonight’s Iron Chef cookoff!
- 9:00 pm – Great fun around the campfire. Beautiful night. All is right in the world. Turns out my son knows a few not-so-bawdy campfire songs. Good job boy!
- 10:00 pm – Lights out.
- 10:30 pm – What is that noise? That is not a dog. Or a fox. That sure sounds like a Chupacabra, or what I imagine one of those things would sound like.
- 10:37 pm – Nice. The new air mattress I picked up at Walmart (hey, I’ve got a bad hip) appears to have a gaping hole in it. Great quality. My son is now rolling on top of me.
- 10: 50 pm – It is raining. Because it always rains on the one night in five years I sleep outside in a leaky tent.
- 11:49 pm – It is flippin freezing!
- 12:21 am – Another equipment malfunction. The zipper on my sleeping bag is broken which makes it basically unusable with a big-old-opening on the side. Must have been all the wear and tear from my previous two uses. It is still freezing. Seriously, I am cold. Would it be wrong to get in the car? WWBGD? (What would Bear Grylls do?)
- 1:43 am – What is that howling? Has anybody checked these woods?
- 2:00 am – “Hey Dad, I need to go to the bathroom.” Frankly, so do I. But it is freezing out there – this is May for cripes sake what is the deal here? Ok, we’re going out. Pray that beast in the woods has moved on.
- 6:00 am – “Morning.” Anyhow, I’m up. The cheery morning people are buzzing around smiling chatting up, etc. I grab another bleary-eyed parent and head for the car. B-line to Dunkin Donuts. $75 dollars later and we have enough coffee and donuts to supply the Tenth Mountain Division. It will barely be enough.