So first thing’s first. This post is long. I debated not posting it at all, or separating it into two posts, but then I was like “FUCK IT” because (1) I’m and grown up, and (2) this is my blog, so (3) I can do whatever I want here. Anyway. This post is long. But it’s Friday, so you have like, three days to read it. Or not. But if not, just know you’re missing out on a great story. Or at the very least, a great opportunity to make lots of fun of me. If that doesn’t entice you to stick around and read this, I truly, truly don’t know what will. Maybe cupcakes? JK because no. They’re all mine.
Nothing more patriotic than those Ol’ Glory sunglasses. Or hikes. Or selfies.
Last Sunday we took a family-ish hike in Shenandoah National Forest. I say “family-ish” because RJ was working and couldn’t come and because Briseis was playing her butt off in a soccer tournament all of Memorial Day weekend and no time for anything but that. So yeah. Family-ish. Hike. Shenandoah. It was a semi-impromptu trip that was more of a back-up plan than a main plan, to be used only if nothing else better came along. And with dreaming up a Memorial Day weekend camping trip about 8 months too late, spending all of our savings that we’d set aside for a beach trip on unexpected car expenses, and a neighborhood pool that was supposed to open the 23rd but is closed indefinitely thanks to stupid underground drainage leaks, it turns out that nothing else better came along. So off to Shenandoah we went.
The kids were pretty psyched about the trip going into it. They spent the whole week talking about how we were all going to “go for a hike” even though they had (and still have) no real concept of what a hike is. We tried explaining that the “just walking” we did that was “taking for long” and “forever” was the hike, but they were unimpressed by that answer. Luckily, they were impressed by the actual hike, even though they would tell you they weren’t if you asked them. The entire day was really a comedy of errors, another “I couldn’t make this up if I tried” kind of day, starting with Madden’s insistence to wear this outfit on our hike in 80+ degree weather. It consisted of his “exercise shorts” (which you can’t see (obvs)), a pajama shirt, a “cape” (my pink “exercise shirt), and his “winter hat.” Don’t worry (or perhaps worry even more), every item of clothing you see in that photo below came off prior to the hike starting.
Okay. Here’s the thing. For like, two entire days beforehand, Shannon spent a whole grip of time researching different kid-friendly trails that Madden and Emma would be able to handle in terms of terrain and time. We settled on a 2-ish mile trail that led down to some falls and looped back around to the starting point. We knew the length of the trail was on the longer side for two little ones, but we mentally prepped for this from the jump and figured that we’d stave off tantrums and complaints by (1) starting early, and (2) taking mini breaks every 1/4 mile or so. I have full faith that this plan would’ve worked flawlessly had the chain of events I’m about to detail not happened.
Sunday morning. 8:00 am. The four of us hit the road. Emma serenades (I use that term very loosely) us with the same six songs – in English and white-kid-toddler-Spanish – for a solid 45 minutes of our 90 minute trip.
9:32 am. Drive into the Park. Head toward the visitor center to pee. Pee. Take a photo of nature because (1) obligatory, and (2) Instagram. Ferry the kids back to the car. Buckle ’em in. Meet Shannon at the back of the car to look at the map to see where we needed to go. Put whatever’s in my hands on roof of car. Study map.
“Oh, SHIT,” Shannon says. “We came in the wrong entrance. The trail we picked is all the way near the other entrance.”
“NBD. Let’s just drive to that.”
“…it’s at the complete opposite end of the Park.”
“IT’S 80 FUCKING MILES AWAY, KELSEY.”
In my head: “OMG you have to be kidding me, how did you fuck that up? YOU SAID YOU KNEW WHERE WE WERE GOING! YOU SAID YOU KNEW FOR SURE WHICH ENTRANCE WE WENT IN!” Out loud: “Meh. Don’t worry about it. We can still drive there!”
Yay! Fun! (UGH.)
We both knew the kids wouldn’t last another 90 minutes in the car so we decide to find a new trail. Problem is, there’s no cell data where we’re at so we aren’t able to properly research how kid-friendly any of the other trails are. We cast aside our dreams of showing the kids something cool (like waterfalls) and start using trail distance as our only discriminating criterion. We settle on a trail that’s only 1.3 miles from start to finish. It’s another 10 miles from where we’re at, which is still the visitor center, which is 5 miles into the park from the gate. Back in the car I realize I don’t have enough gas to make it to the start of the trail and back out of the park. Turn around. Head back the way we came to get gas at the gas station just outside the entrance gate to the park.
Pull up to the pump. Turn off the car. Pop open the door to the gas lid door thingy. Reach for my phone, which lives inside a case that also houses my license, my military ID and my main credit/debit card.
“Where’s my phone?” I ask out loud but mostly to myself.
“Want me to call it?”
“Well do you?”
“I left it on top of the car when we were looking for a new trail at the visitor center. FUCK.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. FUCK. fuckFuckFUCKmylifeisover. Whatever. Oh well. Let’s just get gas and go back to the visitor center and if we can’t find it then I guess I’ll go get a new one when we get home.” (Because I’m rich and have a lot of money to waste on buying a new phone when my other one was (is? (it hasn’t been proven totally lost yet…right?) totally fine.)
I was surprisingly calm about everything that was happening, which was shocking even to me. I guess I just know by now that this type of shit is just my luck. I NEVER EVER take my phone out of the car “just because” like that, and I NEVER EVER set it anywhere except for like, four designated places, the top of the car not being (and never having been) one of them.
Gas pumped. Pull up to the main entrance gate. The same person who let us on 20 minutes ago is still there. Luckily she remembers us and doesn’t ask for ID, which she’s supposed to do when I flash my military National Parks pass. Gun it (but not really (because: cyclists (LOTS of ’em))) for the visitor center.
Back at the visitor center. 1,000% more people are there now than 20 minutes ago, which inexplicably but also naturally seems like it doesn’t bode well for the fate of my phone. We park in the same spot. I look around the parking spot and underneath every nearby car. People give me the stank eye. Shannon walks out to the middle of the main road on her phone, calling mine and listening for basically nothing since my phone is on vibrate (like always) and good luck hearing that in the middle of a fucking road directly in front of a heavily populated parking lot that is extra heavily populated with extra loud motorcycles. No dice.
The kids start screaming from the car. I chalk it up to them wanting to get the damn show on the road. They’re crying now.
“THERE’S A WASP IN THE CAR, MOMMY!”
The kids are basically trapped because Madden can’t undo the buckles of his carseat himself and even if he could the stupid child safety locks mean that the backdoors don’t open from the inside. Ever.
Emma’s unbuckled and out of her booster seat and frantically trying to help Madden unbuckle himself while also trying to open the door while also yelling while Madden is crying.
After stepping on a hornet hive on my 8th birthday and being stung approximately 1,384,489 times on the surface of my skin and in my mouth and throat, I don’t do things that go “bzzzzz” and sting. The kids are still screaming. I’m torn between saving myself from my irrational-but-not-really fear of stinging things, and saving my children from my childhood fate of perma (mentally) scarring wasp/bee/hornet stings.
Nearly paralyzed by fear-slash-not knowing what to do, I look like I’m doing a weird pee-pee dance around my car. I instinctively start pressing my car FOB on my keychain, accidentally repeatedly locking the doors instead of unlocking them.
The kids are (obvs) still crying. I’m yelling (reassuring phrases (to the kids (duh))). People are staring. Shannon is still on her phone in the middle of the fucking road, making a phantom phone call to my phantom phone, completely oblivious to what’s going on (which is that the universe is in the middle of attacking my entire life on the day before my birthday by first trying to exterminate my children by way of killer wasps). Happy fucking birthday. My life sucks.
I finally get the doors unlocked and yank the kids out of the car, dropping an entire container of snacks that spill out all over the ground in the process. The wasp, which at some point was joined by his asshole brethren and magically multiplied into three, flew away. Shannon comes back over. We hold our hands up and shrug our shoulders at each other. I use her phone to call my credit card company. Then the four of us head inside the visitor center to report my phone, IDs and credit card – so, basically my entire life – as lost.
Back in the car. The kids are irritated, sweaty and restless. I’m hungry. It’s hot. Five more miles and we’ll be at our trail. Not the original trail we’d picked but the “it’ll do” trail we settled on right before I drove out of the visitor center parking an hour ago with my phone on the car.
At the trail. There’s one parking spot left at the very end of the teeny parking lot. JK. That’s not a parking spot, just extra room between two cars but not so much extra room that my car can fit there. FML. Put the car in reverse and start backing up right as another SUV pulls into the trail head parking lot. Jesus Christ. Day = still sucking.
Wait for other car to reverse. Navigate an 87-point turn and finally turn my car around. Start creeping toward the single makeshift parking spot available. SUV that pulled in behind me as I was reversing ganks it. DICK. Whip my car into the actual smallest space left and turn that final strip of concrete into a parking spot. No matter that me parking there completely blocks the start of the trail from view from any angle or position. Glare at every occupant in the other SUV, even the baby. IDGAF.
Pop the trunk. Set the kids inside. Give them food. Watch Emma play with RJ’s old Army binoculars. Slather everyone in bug repellent and sunscreen, because we’re the only people on the planet who went hiking in basically our swimsuits (or shorts/spandex and tanks) instead of boots, cargo pants, a turtleneck and multi-purpose khaki vest boasting 137 zippers and compartments. Rush the kids to finish eating because for some reason I’m in an extreme hurry to get this crap over with so I can go spend a bunch of money that I don’t have on a new phone. Hit the trail.
Walk three steps before having to chide Madden to “STOP TOUCHING ALL OF THE LEAVES!” Meanwhile, Emma stops to look at every flower. She picks only the best ones and adds them to an ever-growing bouquet. Madden tries to “get die” (kill) all of the bugs by literally stomping on them. More chiding to “LEAVE THE NATURE ALONE, SON!”
Make it 30 more minutes before the kids start complaining. Genuinely shocked that they lasted so long. Turn around and head back to the car. Emma wants ice cream. Madden wants to not leave and protests by sitting down in the middle of the trail and pouting. Keep walking. Emma keeps stopping to pick all of the wildflowers. Madden eventually follows suit.
Finally back at the car. Finally back in the car. Start heading home. Madden’s passed out within minutes. Emma keeps asking for ice cream. Put the windows down. Tell her I can’t hear her because the wind is too loud. Oops. She pretends to nap so she doesn’t have to nap “for real” when we get home. Whatever. It’s quiet. I’ll take it.
1:45 pm. Back home – six hours later. Shannon makes a round of daiquiris. I start booking an appointment at the Apple store to get a new phone later in the afternoon.
Furiously typing away at keyboard while ignoring strange looks from Shannon.
“FIND MY iPHONE!”
“FIND MY iPHONE! The app! I can use the “find my iPhone” app to track my phone and see if it’s even in the forest, and if it is, where exactly it’s at. If it hasn’t been run over by another car or eaten by deer.”
BOOM. MAGIC! There it is. OMGhowisitstillthere?! Immediately begin to feel all of the feelings. 😁🎉💥💃🎩🙌🙅😭
Call RJ at work.
“You need to come home right now. We have to go back to the forest. No time to explain. Text me when you’re on your way.” Click.
Continue sipping daiquiris. Zoom all the way in on the “Find my iPhone” map. No road-name detail. Pull up Google Maps. Zoom in. Zoom out. Zoom back in. Squint a bunch. Locate EXACTLY where my phone is, which, naturally, is on the side of the road that hugs THE PRECIPICE OF THE PLANET .
RJ’s home. Yay.
Microwave some leftover pizza. Throw it on “the Mickey plate.” Hop in the car.
“Why is Shannon driving your car?”
“Because I technically don’t have a license right now.” OBVIOUSLY.
Unstoppable laughter that’s equal parts pity and equal parts whatever is opposite of pity from RJ.
90 (more) minutes and (another) half a tank of gas later we’re back at Shenandoah. Pull up to the Ranger booth at the gate. Flash free military pass which requires military ID to be shown with it. Get asked for ID.
“You see, what had happened was…”
Proceed to tell the Park Ranger “the story” while waving around distance calculations on old envelopes and the iPad, which has the map of where my phone may or may not be. Not sure if she all-the-way-believes us. Who cares? She lets us in.
1.48 miles into the park is where my phone should be. Drive exactly 1.48 miles in at approximately 3 MPH because if we drove any faster that would somehow make the laws of distance and the chances of my phone being where the iPad said it was change for the worse. Drive past the 1.48 mile mark to the first pull-off we see. Track back – on foot – to the 1.48 mile mark, trying (1) to not get hit by oncoming traffic, and (2) to not fall off the edge of the earth. Weird that they don’t have sidewalks (or wide shoulders) lining the roadways in National Parks. #poorplanning (JK (kind of (but not really)).)
So yeah. It’s hard to see but that photo up there is a spoiler alert: I found my phone (!! (check my right hand (your left)))! AND ALL MY CARDS – both IDs and my credit card, which I’d already cancelled by that point but whatever. At least I don’t have to go through the hassle of getting a new license and a new military ID. And at least I didn’t have to spend a bunch of doll hairs (toddler speak for “dollars” (duh)) on a new phone. And at least my phone wasn’t hurt at all. No scratches or cracks, and it works just fine.
It’s a solid 5 days later and I still seriously can’t believe that I found my phone and all my cards, that my phone was totally fine, and mostly I can’t believe that my phone stayed put on the top of my car for OVER THREE MILES before falling off. Like, wut? And second-mostly I can’t believe that the EXACT distance from our house to the spot I lost my phone is 66.6 miles. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
Truly, truly a trip to (from? (to and from (and back again))) hell.
Okay. Story time’s over. Here’s a fun selfie-ish. We tried for a group selfie at the end of our first trip o’ the day to Shenandoah (when we still had the kids with us). This is the best we (I) could do. Whatever. Madden looks like an angel (BECAUSE HE IS), so it works. And really, I’m just glad that whole mess of a day is gone forever. But also, LOL a little (okay, a lottle) bit at that day, right?!