I’m considering not taking vacations anymore. Too stressful.

 

I have to go back to work for at least a week before my stress levels fall enough for the stress of work to start getting to me again. Then I start needing a vacation, because the last vacation was too stressful. If Joseph Heller hadn’t already written it, I’d hit the best seller list with my own Catch-22.

 

Let’s start at the beginning, when we decided to vacation at a place called Turkey Run State Park. It was the vacation that ended up being a turkey.

 

A few days earlier, as I cleaned my glasses, a temple fell off. The temples are the parts that hang over your ears. Remove one, then try to wear your glasses. Yeah.

 

Whenever it’s time for new glasses I try to get the same frames, because the only thing worse than wearing glasses is wearing new glasses. And every time, that particular frame is no longer available. Every time. It’s like some kind of sick joke within the frame making business.

 

But this time, the optometrist office didn’t tell me the frames weren’t available. They told me the frame manufacturer wasn’t available. They’d been bought out. The optometrist was going to try and find some spare parts, which was fine except I was about to drive three and a half hours away.

 

Here comes the repeating theme of this story, which is that things kept working out even as my stress levels rose. During my last eye exam, my eyesight had hardly changed at all. I slipped the old glasses into the new case, and there they waited for a catastrophe just like this one.

 

It reminds me of the line from Apollo 13, which went something like, “I think we’ve had our glitch for the mission.” They didn’t stop to consider there might be more than one glitch.

 

We managed to fit all our camping gear, and the dog, into my beloved 2006 Ford Focus. I probably wouldn’t have used the term “beloved” before, but I really did love that car.

 

Guess I’m telegraphing the ending.

 

Wait--I have to sleep outside with you? What did I do?

 

 

Let’s go back to the dog, Bae (It’s short for Baewulf, and yes, I know it’s misspelled—don’t tell him). Bae had started his fall shed. He must have been exhausted, growing so much fur. We would open a window, and a tornado of hair would blast past us. It looked like a cloud of smoke, pouring from the car. No wonder he sleeps so much.

 

Meanwhile, Emily got a sore throat the same night we put a deposit down on a campsite. By the next morning she had a cold so bad I’m still not sure it wasn’t the flu. I bought a case of Kleenex and a barrel of Nyquil, and she laid on the couch and didn’t complain, because she’s not me. We were still going on vacation, she declared, because our deposit was non-refundable.

 

We’ll just eat the cost, I told her. Your health is more important.

 

She swept aside a two-foot drift of dog fur and gave me a glare that actually made me retreat into the next room. “I’ll pack the car,” I told her. She really hates wasting money.

 

The strange thing about this whole story is that we had a wonderful time, whenever we weren’t miserable. We’ve compromised on our camping style: She gave up the two-man pup tent and hard ground, and I gave up the giant camper with a generator and satellite TV. The important thing is the inflatable air mattress. We had a nice site, a roaring fire, and S’mores. We had some great hiking trails that traversed rivers, suspension bridges, and canyons. Yes, there are canyons in Indiana.

 

We had leash laws.

 

This was one of the less scenic areas!

 

 

See, in a state park there are rules, and one is that you keep your pets on a leash. The lady with the dog on the trail either wasn’t holding the leash tightly enough, or was letting her dog roam, and drag the leash behind it. It saw our dog, Bae. It wanted Bae.

 

It wanted Bae for dinner.

 

I found myself quite literally in the middle of a dogfight. To our dog’s credit, he went on the defensive. However, Emily was there. When there might be a danger to Emily, “defensive” becomes a snarling, clawing, biting, 90-pound whirlwind of kick-ass. There’s no reason I can think of why my attempts to drag him away didn’t result in major blood loss.

 

Which brings us back to our “all’s well that ends well” theme. No injuries. The lady dragged her dog away and apologized profusely, and once Emily knew Bae was unharmed she restrained herself from going after the lady.

 

There was also no injury half an hour later when a much friendlier dog came running after Bae, wanting only to make friends but not realizing our dog had just been traumatized.

 

Leashes, people. It’s a thing.

 

We lasted about a day and a half. Emily was still sick, the dog was stressed, and that was it. We decided we’d come back the next week and spend a few more days there, because Turkey Run State Park was really a wonderful place.

 

All we needed was transportation.

 

Next: The “Trip” Back

 

S'Mores, people.

 

 

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