This post contains exercise, outdoor activity and children.
I laid in bed. Melatonin kicked in, forcing my tired eyes to close. Gibbs would have to solve the rest of this murder without his go to Junior Netflix Agent’s assistance. My eyes closed for what would be a nice restful period of sleep, off to dream of beer and tacos.
An hour passed before the high-pitched screech of Satan awoke me. Although, it was not Beelzebub who woke me from my slumber. It turned out to be a bright-eyed little spawn of me, shrieking in delight at seeing daddy after a night of being away at grandma’s. Hands and knees found their way to sensitive areas on my body as he clambered up me and simultaneously crushed any chances of a future brother.
I tried to mask the get away from me look on my face with a giant smile and hello for my littlest. He found me. Once baby finds me, he attaches himself securely to my hip for the rest of the day. In the distance, screams of toddlers fighting over the rights to play with a toy reverberated off the walls before finding their way to my brain in the form of a headache.
Sleep was not going to happen today.
“Everybody get dressed!” I hollered from the bed. As jackets found their way on wiggly arms and shoes on even wigglier feet, we set off for an adventure. The first stop, Target, held all the necessary items to head out into the wild.
A fine woven wrap thingy I always saw a friend talking about. I wanted to wrap the baby securely to my persons, not that I needed to. Little man was born with little thighs of steel he pinched into my side fat and secured himself with. But, to be safe, I decided to wrap him to me also.
A family of five also makes getting a picture together somewhat difficult. With three small children and their grabbing hands, we hadn’t take a family photo in forever because, well, we couldn’t fit everyone in the frame. Here is my guilty admission. We are now the proud owners of a selfie stick.
With baby wrap and selfie stick in possession, we grabbed a few other things, because you can’t go to Target and not get stuff you didn’t go there for. A few DVDs made their way to the cart. A book I saw on the morning news that I swore up and down I needed and would get started on immediately. Some candy. You know, important stuff.
Packed up and prepared, we made our way out to the wild wilderness, located conveniently next to a giant casino.
The Underwood Family Hiking Experience.
As I tore the woven baby wrap from box, I decided instructions weren’t needed. Turns out it is, as I did it from the instructions I made up in my mind, a lot like saran-wrap. So there I saran-wrapped a flailing and confused baby to my body, hoping this stretchy wrap worked like a trap making his thrashing only secure him tighter to my body.
And off we went up the slope, led by two toddlers with cabin fever, a dad running on an hour of sleep with a baby awkwardly tied to him and a Momma bringing up the rear rolling her eyes like a teenager being forced to hang with her family instead of going to the mall with Kristine.
As we found our way on the trail, there were two distinct markers, a red one and a blue one. In my mind red means danger. Perfect!
“We’re going this way honey!” I said enthusiastically, setting off on the red marked trail. Twenty minutes later we were navigating the side of a steep cliff with three-year old guides who found a ton of enjoyment in randomly tossing rocks off the side of the beaten path, I can only assume in hopes of starting a massive landslide. But, we made our way up the hill with smiles on our faces and fresh air in our lungs. The great outdoors, on a beautiful day I might add. The kids were loving it, as we got to difficult parts of the trail, little hands would find their way up to be held as the tiny three-year old guides encouraged us that we were doing a good job and reminding us, “We’re okay. It’s ALL good.”
The baby had grabbed a leaf and twig from a random branch and clung to my chest, content to eat nature’s wild bounty.
As we hit the summit, the view became worth the trip up. Bright faces stared out from the elevation at the beautiful sites. Off in the distance trees interspersed with what looked like a quarry, the giant casino and other random buildings. The wild outdoors. Look, son, a fuck! At Target I had picked up some granola for our outdoor adventure. We happily munched the snack and rehydrated from our juice bottles. It was a gorgeous day and the hike turned out to be really fun. Even Momma, who had been all eye rolls at the beginning, enjoyed herself on the way up and at the top.
As we made our way down, the trail split again. While climbing up the side of a cliff with toddlers determined to have us plummet to our deaths was fun, I figured the blue trail would bring us down a less steep side of the hill, making it easier for us to relax and leisurely stroll.
I giggled to myself, thinking of The Matrix. Hee-hee, took both the red and blue, Morpheus. I choose to take both! HAH!
This is when hiking really fucking went south and I don’t mean that logistically. An hour of zig zagging through the woods, up and down steep trails, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. In my mind, I wondered what actors would play my family after they found our bodies. Would we die of starvation, surviving a few days on Gatorade and granola or would wild animals eat us? Would there be a scene where one of us was sacrificed to feed the stronger of the group or would we die at the hands of deranged wilder-folk? I wasn’t sure, but hoped they cast someone dashingly handsome and fearless in my role.
Unbeknownst to me, the blue trail was not, in fact, the easier trail. It turned out the blue trail actually belonged to a longer trail than the red one called The Narragansett Trail. Online it specifically warns you to avoid the blue trail, lest you get lost in the middle of nowhere.
Our guides seemed content to be left for dead. As Momma and I mushed them along, the tired troopers continued to ask to be picked up. When their requests were denied, they simply laid down on the trail, glaring at me with a your move, old man look in their eyes. The only child wanting to navigate the trails happened to be the baby, whose abilities include crawling and eating things found on the ground.
With toddler tactical gear strapped to my body we began to backtrack to the red trail. An hour down the blue trail meant another hour of zig zagging the hill to get back. I recalled the time before the baby, when dad had the bright idea to take two boys who just learned to walk through a corn maze. That experience ended with me carrying children through the maze and vowing to burn down the next corn maze I saw. I now understood why my wife began the excursion rolling her eyes. She most likely was on her phone getting search parties on call so we wouldn’t die in the middle of nowhere and become a box office smash.
As we made our way back I wanted to shout, “Who had this great idea?” but remembered it was my idea. Occasionally I would mumble to my exhausted family, “Before we took the blue trail it was such a lovely hike, right? Now we know for next time. The wilderness is beautiful!”
I could feel their glares and eye rolls like daggers. It was really nice before the blue trail though.
I don’t think there will be a next time.
We found our way back to the red trail and to other hikers who seemed to know better than to ever touch the blue trail. As we descended towards our parked car, the toddler
tactical gear guides became alive. An hour and a half of being carried had really perked them up. Racing to the car, they raised their hands like Rocky shouting, “We did it, yay!”
With it being only the beginning of spring, I am impressed my family got all our wilderness activity out-of-the-way in one day. Three hours of thinking you will be the plot to the next Blair Witch movie can really unite a family in their hatred of whoever had the great idea to take random trails in the middle of the woods.
As I weakly reminded everyone we had fun before the blue trail, we made our way away from Lantern Hill and towards the comforts of civilization. We learned many important lessons, like don’t throw woven baby gear instructions to the side, don’t trust plans made by dad, and check to see if the blue and red markers are actually a part of the same trail.
It was a lot of fun before that blue trail though.