National Lampoon's Niobrara Vacation
This message is intended for mature audiences only. Due to the length, I have divided this into chapters. I did this all in one weekend, but you may want to pace yourself.
This is a true story. No names have been changed because there are no innocent people to protect (at least not anymore).
Chapter 1--It Sounded Like a Good Idea
Last Friday my family, Tyler, Erin (15), Ben (13) and Andrew, a 13 year old friend of my son left on a short weekend camping trip to the Niobrara river. The journey there was relatively uneventful. The kids were in a good mood; so were we and we laughed a lot. Really--no bad omens at all.
Chapter 2--A Big <expletive> Bus
Saturday morning was the big day when we would all experience the wonderful fun of tubing the Niobrara river. At 10:15 the outfitter's bus picked us up at the campground. Immediately, upon finding our seats, I began to hear the "f word" at the rate of about once every 5 seconds. It was amazing. Now I don't think I'm too prudish, but the people I hang around with have a much broader vocabulary than these people seemed to possess. (That is a sincere compliment to all of you.) At this point I'm thinking this is unfortunate, but it's nothing these kids haven't heard before.
As the bus started down the long gravel road to the drop off point, I happened to glance over at the seat across the aisle from me (where many of the four letter words were coming from). There were a male and female sharing the seat, but the way in which they were sharing the seat was quite interesting. The woman (no lady) was straddling her partner's lap. I am assuming this was because the bus was very crowded and they wanted to make room for others. The bus ride was a little bumpy on my side, but the people across from me must have had a bad seat. They were bumping along at quite an astonishing rate. Our boys had also noticed this strange bumping and were about breaking their necks to see what was going on over there. I swatted them on the back of the head and told them to face the front. (Church rules do apply in unholy areas, right?) I made a mental note to tell Andrew's mother to have a little talk with him.
Chapter 3--Rollin' on the River
Happy to be out of the bus, we made our way down to the river. We all grabbed a tube and started to hook them together when I heard loud protests coming from my minor charges. Okay, I was prepared for this one. They can go down the river without being hooked to us, as long as they stay together and don't get too far ahead.
I quickly realized that I had made a major mistake in judgment. There were lots and lots of people on the river and nearly everyone had 2 simple goals for the weekend:
1) Drink large amounts of alcohol
2) Don't crawl in that sleeping bag alone
The fact that there was a river there was just a coincidence. Actually, I take that back. The river did play a very important role. The river was there because when people are in the water they happen to wear very few clothes. The thing that was amazing, however, was that everyone's bathing suit happened to be of such poor quality that they kept falling down at the slightest provocation. (More T&A than a B movie marathon.)
Less than an hour into the trip, I notice that 5 teenage boys have attached their tubes to our kids'. (Isn't that cute, they've made friends.) Notice I said 5 TEENAGE BOYS. (Eight kids and only one of them is a girl who happens to be on "Hotty alert" 24 hours a day. She's also my daughter.) Even better, these boys who attached themselves were splashing all the drunk naked people in the canoes. Therefore, the drunk naked people wanted revenge for being splashed. But these drunk naked people were really reasonable. They promised not to tip over the entire flotilla of 8 tubes if they could see some boob. (Remember, my daughter is the only girl on the tubes. First time Tyler and I are fighting our way upstream to get back to where the kids are.)
Only 5 more hours to go and we are in the thick of Party Central. The kids quickly found out that it was much better to have us downstream than behind them. The other boys' parents didn't much care what their kids were doing (probably too busy getting drunk and naked themselves). The kids decided to take some side trips up the hills, even after we told them they needed to let us know they were going to stop (Did you want us to yell "Hey mom, we're stopping"?) So, after the third time of fighting our way back upstream I told them to unhook from their friends and float straight back to the campground. Go directly home. Do not pass Go, do not exchange phone numbers or saliva. (Lost my nomination for mother of the year with that one.)
So, we finally arrived back at the campground in one piece. Waited 2 hours to take a shower (Waited in the bar because it had been a long day and I didn't get drunk on the river. A gin and tonic helped melt some of the tension of the day (BONUS--she even had a lime twist). We all settled down to sleep about 11:00 which is the designated quiet time in the campground. The people next to us, however, were not quite ready to settle down for the night. From what I could hear (everything) is that they had accomplished goal number 1 (very drunk), but hadn't quite gotten to goal number 2 yet. To help themselves reach goal #2, they decided to smoke pot. Now remember, I'm not a prude. I don't mind people smoking pot. I just don't think it's wise to tell the entire campground that's what you're doing. Especially after quiet time while playing load music and screaming over the top of it. Finally, at 1:30 Tyler had had enough. He decided to go tell the horny, drunk pot smokers to shut of the music. (Mr. rationale.) He came back all steamed because they called him Ranger Rick. (Truth hurts.) They did quiet down, though. And we shut all the open flaps on the tent just in case they decided not to walk the 1/4 mile to the outhouse to relieve themselves.
Chapter 5--Are We There Yet?
Alright, next morning we're going home! We drove the long way along the river. We didn't meet a single soul, saw absolutely no houses and had no cell phone reception. We did this for about 20 miles and then hit the highway (just in time). Right before Bassett (we'd been on the highway less than 20 miles), the Jeep begins making strange noises and is hot. All of a sudden it just stops (that's good when the car stops, right?) Thankfully, we now have cell phone service and can call AAA. We are also amazed that they have a connection in Bassett, so we are towed to town in less than an hour. Of course no one can look at the jeep on Sunday, so we consider staying overnight in Ainsworth. We are really unsure what the condition of the Jeep is, so we decide maybe we should just try to get home. I asked the man if there was anywhere that we could rent a car. He said everything was closed on Sunday, but he had a car he could rent us.
1989 Lincoln Town Car. Biggest car/yacht every made. Strap on your lifejackets, kids. We're going home. (Good thing too, since halfway home we remembered poor kitty. Tyler would have never recovered from that one.) 250 miles to go--and no air conditioning. (How much is this costing us anyway? We forgot to ask.)
Family vacations are a great educational experience for kids. They get to see and experience all sorts of things. The schools just can not give kids the kind of education we gave our kids this weekend.
We didn't actually ruin the engine in the Jeep. It was just the water pump. I think we need to get a different car anyway.
I'm going to write my travel memoirs some day.....