OAKLEY, KS – Some of you may remember that for the past two vacations, a third-party reporter has handled the telling of our family’s story.
Due to severe budget cutbacks, this vacation tale will be told in first person. That woman was bitchy anyway, according to Greg.
Yesterday was the first day of our adventure. Ten hours. That’s how long we spent driving, after arising at 4 a.m. and waking the kids by 4:30. The kids were remarkably well-behaved, just like they’ve been in the past on the first day of vacation. I’m a little nervous admitting that because I’m afraid of being jinxed. Aside from telling Laurel that NO YOU MAY NOT PLAY YOUR DS OUTSIDE THE TRUCK WHILE WE ARE CAMPING and telling Ethan YES YOU MUST PEE RIGHT NOW WHILE WE ARE STOPPED AND NOT WAIT UNTIL WE ARE 50 MILES FROM THE NEAREST RESTROOM, we had a good start.
We finally got to High Plains Camping around 3 p.m. despite a minor snafu in Kansas City, which is the bane of our existence. I mean, who needs 21 different exits for Exit 2? This always happens to us in KC. We can navigate the hell out of St. Louis and, really, any city (except Charleston) but KC gives us fits. Anyway, It didn’t take us long to set up once we made it to our campsite, considering we were staying only one night and hi, this part of Kansas is flat, so we didn’t even bother to unhook. Leveling just isn’t a big issue here. We usually prefer state and federal campgrounds, but this is probably the nicest RV Park we’ve seen. Fortunately, this RV Park made itself easy to find.
I mean, not even OUR family could mess that one up.
Anyway, it really is a fantastic park, and if you ever find yourself driving through Oakley, KS and need a respite, this is the place to be. Clean restrooms, super-friendly staff, and a U-Pick organic garden to boot! Plus it reminds me of that Beastie Boys classic, “High Plains Drifter.” Can’t lose!
As is typical with him, Ethan immediately wanted to GO TO THE PLAYGROUND GO TO THE PLAYGROUND but Greg and I were more interested in sitting in the shade for a few minutes with some beer.
Guess who won out?
Yeah, age has its privileges.
We convinced him to ride his bike (editor’s note: to be fair, that doesn’t take much convincing). But soon enough we relented and took our chairs, a beer, and the kids to the playground.
Seeing as how Greg and I had a couple of beers in us, we decided to try what we would – in a sober state – consider “stunts.”
This is the flexed-arm hang, which confounded me throughout my schooling years and prevented me from ever receiving the Presidential Fitness award:
Take that, Reagan. How you like me now? Let’s see that again:
Next showoff Greg demonstrated his version, which he said was harder. I took photos:
And then I did it too, successfully, but he didn’t didn’t take any photos of ME. Guess he didn’t want any evidence of my matching abilities. Hmph! So you’ll just have to take my word for it.
He also performed a not-quite-but-almost Karate Kid maneuver:
And then a not-quite-but-almost cliffhanger move:
Now for a few words about the yellow giraffe. It seems the giraffe has been recently painted and perhaps was not quite ready for our attentions. I ended up with yellow paint on my hands, which of course was not latex and of course would not be removed with soap and water so I had to take a Scotch Brite pad to my hands. This is why I will never be a hand model. It is also why I never bother with a manic
Despite what I’ve written, the grownups weren’t the only ones having fun and blowing off steam after the long drive. The kids were climbing all over, too.
See the merry-go-round below? You know, that thing that’s all but banned because it’s so ‘dangerous’ now? Well, Greg spun and spun the kids, at Ethan’s urging…
…but then Ethan got sick and had to be carried home.
But fear not, Gentle Reader! He recovered quickly when he was reminded it was time for dinner, so we hustled next door to the Colonial Steakhouse.
See? That’s what I call ‘evidence.’
We had the buffet. We’re not ones for buffets, but look, folks, I grew up in a small town where this steakhouse would have been the bee’s knees, crowded every night with a wait on Saturdays. I know all about this kind of place. I know well the fried chicken, the mashed potatoes, the nearly complete lack of vegetables (other than a salad bar prominently featuring Bac-Os and pickled cherry peppers), the kitschy décor, the items for sale in the makeshift ‘gift shop’ and I am intimately familiar with this device:
Which Laurel immediately creamed…
…while Ethan simultaneously took down his big pre-packaged roll.
Greg had higher hopes for the steakhouse, but it was precisely what I expected and was pure nostalgia for me (hey Anita, remember those peg jump thingies from Miss Kitty’s?).
After dinner we came back to camp and all of us, to the man (especially the man, seeing as how he fell asleep face down on the camper sofa while I got the kids ready for bed) faded out quickly. I’m pretty sure we were all sound asleep by 9 p.m.
And that, friends, is Day One. Our campsite:
Today’s mileage: 621.4