Now that summer is over, I thought back to the days when my son was quite young and I tried to make our summers fun. In the following he had fun--but not so much did I!
I have always joked that my idea of camping out was to stay at the Holiday Inn but, as a single parent of a rambunctious boy, I had to make adjustments in my attitude. Therefore I tried to make our “camping” experience as easy on me as possible yet fun for my son Jaime.
When Jaime was ten years old, one of our favorite weekend destinations was Garner State Park in the Texas Hill Country. However, our last trip to Garner did not quite fit the bill, especially for me.
We left early on a Saturday morning from our home in Crystal City, Texas, arriving before noon. We parked our Chevy Vega between enormous RVs and campers along the Frio River, literally all of us lined up on the river bank among large shady trees. We always tried to get there early enough to get a good, safe spot.
Paddle boating, hiking, miniature golf and swimming were Jaime’s favorite pastimes at the park. I skipped on the swimming but joined him in the other endeavors. At one end or bend of the river was a shallow area with stepping stones that led to a small island, a popular destination for the curious as well as sun worshippers. We enjoyed walking over the stones to the little island, exploring it often.
On this last trip to the park, we crossed as usual to the small island. I noticed that the stones seemed to be more slippery than usual. However, no one else, including Jaime, seemed to notice. Once on the other side, after walking across very carefully, we began exploring the island, finding it crowded with other tourists. Jaime wanted to go back and swim in the area in front of our car. Walking quickly ahead of me over the stones, he reached the other side and proceeded toward the car. Other people came and went across the stones, too.
As I stepped on the first stone, I found it to be exceptionally slippery. Losing my footing, I slipped and fell into the water. I was fully dressed in jeans, shirt, and canvas shoes. Terribly embarrassed I got up with as much dignity as possible. However, at a glance, I noticed that no one seemed to pay the least bit of attention to me, which let me hope that no one had seen me fall.
Taking another step, I slipped and fell again. As I picked myself up, I decided it might be easier to just wade across in the shallow water. But the stepping stones created a little waterfall and as I stepped into the rushing water, I lost my balance and fell yet again! Now I was beginning to panic. There didn’t seem to be any way I could take a step without falling. I momentarily thought about crawling across but that would be too undignified and ridiculous. If I had had my swimsuit on, I could have waded or even crawled into deeper water and swam across. But fully dressed I didn’t want to do that.
Finally, standing precipitously on the third stone, I decided that I was just going to have to walk across. Everyone else was doing it without any problems and some were even running across. So with great determination, I cautiously stepped toward the fourth stone, slipping and falling again. As I got up, I decided that maybe my shoes were to blame. Kicking them off, I picked them up and started to proceed barefoot. I took one step, slipped and fell. I was now in the middle of the stepping stones and there was no turning back.
With people rushing past me in both directions and others sitting along the bank, everyone seemed too busy to see me, so I continued on my way. With each step I slipped, fell into the water, and got up. And so it went interminably—step, slip, fall, splash—until finally I made it to the bank and clambered up it, soaking wet. No one gave the appearance of having seen me or of noticing anything different about me. Grateful for that much, I walked back to the car with as much grace and dignity as I could muster, got some dry clothes and went to a restroom to change.
Jaime had been waiting impatiently for me and was ready to swim. I watched him swim and go on the paddle boat but I was not about to partake of any water sports. We spent the night in the back of the Vega with the hatchback up—my concession to “camping out”. I was more than ready to go to a Holiday Inn!
The next morning as we walked along the bank in front of rows of RVs and campers and people milling about, I began to forget my slip-n-splash nightmare. Suddenly, behind me I heard a woman whisper, “Look! It’s that crazy woman!”
And that is why that was our last trip to Garner State Park!