Part of building the a frame now is it will hopefully contribute to making it easier to visit our spot in the future. It is situated only an hour away, yet the preparation we take each week to go there for a night or two feels big. I thought I would take this week to share a bit of what we do to get there on the days that we plan on spending the night or the weekend.
Every time we go, we tell ourselves, “This time, we will be packed and ready by Thursday night to leave right after work on Friday. If I don’t vocalize it, I think it, but somehow, we are never ready when Friday afternoon rolls around. We might have some general food plans worked out and a pile of clothes half-packed, but it never fails that Friday looks like this:
5:00 am: The alarm goes off as it does each weekday. I always hit the snooze just in case, but we are typically vertical after about four minutes. Mittens is slow to stir, but Tux is first out of bed and ready for breakfast. Perriee feeds the kitties and I wake up the ducks by letting them out into their run for the day with fresh water and food. Luckily, it is almost always dark so they don’t give me too much fuss about wanting out in the yard. That equals less guilt for me too.
5:20 am: Perriee leaves for work to clock-in by 5:30 (incredible, huh?). I finish getting myself together and am gone by about 6:00. I am at work by 6:30, brewing my pot of coffee and getting the day going.
2:00 pm: Perriee is done with work around 2:00 and is usually home by 2:15 or so. She comes home and might jump in the shower and start changing out duck pools and fluffing their house bedding and enclosure for the weekend. We have our neighbor look after them when we are gone, but we don’t expect him to spend too much time cleaning up after them so we leave them as fresh as possible when we leave. They have two kiddie pools and a deep “indoor pool” which is just a big tote with a ramp. We also leave them with fresh drinking water for the rest of the night.
3:00 pm: I leave work for the day and get home around 3:15 if i don’t have to stop for cash to pay the neighbor with. We clean litter pans and vacuum all of the duck straw that collects at the back door. Suddenly, I start to feel like I could lay down and fall right asleep. This is when my regrets of not planning more before Friday start to kick in. I will start by scooping the duck food into containers. That is mindless and it smells good. I scoop their dry food into containers and then their duck salad with apple cider vinegar into other ones. We try to make it super easy, to the point that someone just needs to open the lid and dump it in.
4:00 pm: My anxiety will get the best of me and I will say at least once, “Are you sure you want to leave today? I don’t know if I will be able to get it together in time to leave before dark.” Perriee will respond, “Whatever you want, Love, just let me know.” I will keep looking at everything, maybe make a couple of rounds around the house, feeling lost, then I will eventually get some clothes and towels and wash cloths packed and hope I don’t forget anything essential. I toss our hers and hers occlusal guards in my black farm bag, along with phone chargers and the biolite camp light as well as my Lowes card, debit card, and drivers license.
I go into the kitchen and open the refrigerator and another wave of anxiety rushes over me. I think, “What are we going to eat all weekend?” in a slight panic. Some weeks it is easier than others, but I always have to reign it in and get my mind right to pack the food. Perriee will bring the cooler up and I pack a dry bag of goodies, then the cooler, then grab the Dutch oven.
We grab the batteries to the power tools, of which we do make sure to charge ahead of time, and gather the extras: screws,brown paper for fire starters, that “thing” we no longer need in the city that might work out in the tip,and If Perriee got any good pallets from work, we will toss those into the car as well. It really just depends on how much room we have. We make sure our work boots are by the back door or outside so they don’t get forgotten.
Twelve hours after waking up…
5:00 pm: When we are about packed, one of us sends a text to the neighbor that we are about to leave and Perriee brings the ducks’ overnight bag over. Depending on whether or not they are home, we will leave the duckies out or put them in their run. When we put them up before bedtime, it often takes two people and some meal-worms to herd them inside. They are quick and stubborn and will make you work for it. We make sure the cats have enough food and water and head out.
5:40 pm: We get off of the exit and stop at Lowes and the grocery store. I would say we go to both of them more often than not. It is always a pleasure to go to both of those places. I will say this again, but they are some of the friendliest folks in the country. I am convinced.
6:40 pm: Back on the road.
7:10 pm: Finally, we pull up the driveway. We go slowly since it is a choppy ascent. This driveway has never been right! We have even had it repaired since we acquired the property.
We park at the top of the driveway by the house and the barn and usually find Matt close by working on something. We chat for a bit, then start hauling our stuff down to the tipi. We each take a load, always a bit too heavy to carry, and make our way back. We walk past the house then to either the Tipi Trail or through the open pasture of grass, down the back trail. On our second trip up to the car, we grab the water containers and stop in the house to fill up for the next couple of days.
8:00 pm: Once we get everything down there, we (might) start a fire in the tipi and set up the bed. We put out our rug on top of our pallets, uncover the mattress and pull out the bedding. If we are lucky, we find a mouse nest to photograph for our upcoming coffee table book. We inevitably at least encounter one of the artists who will jump out of the stove, or down from the smoke flaps. At this point we open the beer or wine and decide on cooking or snacking for dinner. This is the point that I start to come down. I can breathe again and let the peace overtake me in time for bed.
10:30 pm: We brush our teeth and pull out the mouth guards, then we crawl into the most comfortable bed and drift off to sleep. The last time we were there, Perriee told me she wanted to come, if only for the sleep. It is so comfortable in that bed. Even if the coyotes wake us up or if we hear a mouse nibbling on something in the middle of the night, we will wake up feeling rested in the morning.
List the things that make your day worth living. I keep hearing things about making a gratitude list everyday and how it makes your attitude better. We found some little chalk boards at one of the Walmart’s we went to while we were shopping in Georgia, so we have been writing down four things every day when we are home to try to stay centered and optimistic. I will not lie and claim it has changed my life, but it at least changes a couple of minutes. I need it. You might too.