Everybody Has a Story: Mishaps piled up on nightmare vacation

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I stumbled out of the tent trailer this last July to join my husband for our morning coffee. As he poured me a cup from the old pot, I was taken back to the trip when we first purchased it. The disaster vacation that every family has at least once.

We packed the trunk of the Honda Civic with camping essentials and my husband and I, our two sons and my brother piled into the car and off we went.

When we reached Mt. Angel, we purchased a small foam cooler, ice and food. I stuck my nose in the bag on my lap and smelled the freshly ground coffee. “Oh no,” I said, “We don’t have a coffee pot.”

My husband told me we could stop at a store up the road and buy one. Just then I saw a yard sale on the side of the road. “Stop here,” I yelled from the back seat, “see if they have a coffee pot for sale.”

I could sense my husband silently rolling his eyes at me, but he pulled over and climbed out. In a few minutes, he came back smiling with a vintage drip pot. It was perfect. A good omen, I thought. This is going to be a great trip!

We arrived at Silver Falls and everything was nice enough. Weather was great, waterfalls were beautiful and everyone was happy. But then the mishaps began.

While hiking in the heat, we stopped along the trail and headed to the creek to cool off. The boys were skipping rocks and I decided to join in. I skipped one. Two skips. I can do better than that, I thought. I took aim to skip another one and hit my nine-year old-son in the side of the head.

He dropped like a rock. Mortified, I ran to him, but he was already getting up, a bit wobbly, with his dad’s help. “Wow,” he said, “I heard bells.” I spent the next few days apologizing.

The bad luck didn’t stop there. My brother was stung by a bee, and his arm swelled like a balloon. The swelling slowly went down, replaced by unbearable itching. On about the third day, our youngest was playing on a fort that had a pole to slide down. “Mom and Dad, watch this,” he said — a phrase that to this day has an ominous effect on both of us. He jumped out, missed the pole and landed flat on his belly, knocking the wind out of him.

On we went to the next campground, Cape Lookout, appropriately named, as you will learn. We set up camp and the boys took off to the showers while I stayed behind.

I got bored right away and it was getting cold, so I decided I would surprise everyone with a fire. I needing to chop kindling and hadn’t used a hatchet before, but how hard could it be? I fetched the little hatchet and grabbed a small log. Holding it upright (are you wincing yet?), I took a swipe.

Yep, missed the log, got my thumb. To this day, everyone shudders and turns away when I have a sharp object in my hands. I think they’d be happy if I used little rubber-handled safety scissors, too.

In disbelief that I had done something so stupid, I ran into one of the tents, grabbed a clean T-shirt out of a suitcase, wrapped my thumb tight and ran to find the showers — only I didn’t know where they were. I ran and ran and finally found them. Not wanting to go in, I asked a young boy to please go in and ask for Lief: “Tell him his wife cut herself and needs to go to the hospital!”

One crazy ride to Tillamook General Hospital, a thorough medical interrogation and six stitches later, we arrived back at camp determined that the rest of the trip would be uneventful.

The next day was overcast and we spent the day on the beach. My thumb was starting to throb, but it was still manageable. Normally, I wouldn’t think to sit on the beach without sunscreen, since my fair skin can burn in minutes. But you couldn‘t even see the sun, so I reasoned I was safe. Well, I woke up the next morning, sunburned and worse: my lips were also burned and swollen, a nice new experience.

I crawled out of the tent and dragged myself over to the picnic table, my thumb throbbing like mad. My husband handed me a cup of hot coffee and I tried to take a sip which was not a brilliant move with my newly scorched lips. Tears spilled from my eyes and in the most pathetic voice, I said, “I want to go home now.”

But my lips were so swollen and burned that it came out, “I bant to go hobe now.”

And home we went, cutting our vacation one day short. Twenty-one years later, we still take the coffee pot with us when we go camping. No other trip has had as many mishaps as that one. Whenever I see that pot, I always remember the trip from, well, you can fill in that blank.

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