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The great camping adventure

Sitting in a yurt with sweat pouring down my face and sugar ants parading across my feet was not exactly the peaceful, relaxing weekend I had planned with Mother Nature.

The scenic “shortcut” that I had taken along Potato Creek to High Falls had only added an hour and a half to the journey.

I stepped out of the car into the South Georgia sauna and dog paddled my way through the humidity to the yurt, opened the flaps and both doors and begged a breeze to enter.

The fastest way to get morning to come is to sleep. So, I slipped into a pair of shorty pajamas — the closest I could get to sleeping in nothing – and tried to go to sleep.

Lying there sweating, itching and watching the ceiling fan try to cut its way through the hot, heavy, humid air, I thought of my grandson’s motto — If it ain’t an adventure, it ain’t worth doin’. This was an adventure.

Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, my thoughts drifted back to my first campout adventure. Mama reluctantly agreed for “me and Julia Faye” to camp out in our backyard. “But you’ll have to be brave little girls,” she said. “You’ll have to stay out there all night.”

I didn’t know why Mama was saying all that stuff. She’d said I wasn’t afraid of the ol’ devil himself, so why would she think I’d be afraid of sleeping out in the backyard.

Our tent was “pitched” over an old wooden table that we turned upside down. We draped a sheet over the four upturned legs and put down feather pillows to sleep on.

We built a fire and cooked hotdogs and then crawled inside our tent to tell ghost stories about Blood Bones and other mean, scary things. After a while, we got sleepy. Julia Faye put her head at one end and I put mine at the other.

In the stillness and the quiet, we could hear the night sounds. But the croaking of the frogs that sounded so merry through the screen window of my bedroom then sounded rather menacing. The ol’ hoot owl made a dark, scary noise, the crickets and katydids jeered and the ol’ hound dogs howled.

Before long, the two brave little girls were clinging together and slept most of the hot, summer night stuck together with sweat. But that was all right. We were blood brothers.

Back then, really good friends would cut their thumbs with a Tuf-Nut knife and press the bleeding thumbs together and become blood brothers and be friends forever.

The air cooled in the early morning hours and we woke to a bright sunrise and the singing of birds.

That remembrance lulled me to sleep on that hot, miserable Georgia summer night.

And just as the wee hours of the morning had brought cooling and comfort when I was brave little girl, they also did to the High Falls yurt.

The state park offered much in the form of outdoor entertainment – magnificent hiking trails, a beautiful lake for boating and fishing, swimming and putt-putt golf and, thankfully, a cool afternoon breeze.

Nearby, there were several mom and pop eateries, country markets and roadside stands. All in all, it was a fun place to be.

The next night, Mother Nature was kind.

A soft shower of rain and a gentle breeze “air conditioned” the great outdoors.

Miles away from Tommy Edison’s invention, thousands upon thousands of stars twinkled in the night sky. It was an amazing thing. My thoughts drifted back again.

When I was knee high to a grasshopper, as my granny would say, my blood brothers and I would go out in the pasture, lie in the grass and watch the stars “come up.”

Usually, at full darkness, the realization of how small we were in the big, dark world would cause us to jump up and run home to our mamas.

It had been decades since I’d gazed at the stars from the vantage point of pasture grass.

There was a sudden longing so I grabbed a blanket, went out into the darkness and spread the blanket on the hillside above the lake.

And right there right by myself, I gazed up at the stars.

What an amazing sight and what an awesome feeling to realize again how small I am in God’s great, vast universe.

It was a lonely feeling, too, being left only with memories of the blood brothers who were once there with me … If only I could have run home to Mama.