I’m not even sure where to begin with this blog. This has been one of the most amazing summers I have ever had and ended on such a great note. On Brian’s birthday I was contacted by Camp Kesem Maine because they were looking for a nurse and I had came highly recommended by the camp advisor from Camp Kesem Washington University that I had done the week prior. Since I had no plans last week I said sure why not and so the regional coordinator booked my flight to Maine and back. I really had no idea where I was going, where camp was or who was picking me up from the airport. This is probably one of the most spontaneous things I have ever done. I am normally a planner and want to know every single detail ahead of time.
I landed in Bangor Maine and Sunny came and picked me up. We chatted in the car like we had known each other all our lives. She reminded me so much of a former resident (Dr. Addante) that I pretty much liked her immediately. She would spend the first two days at our camp and then move onto two more camps she was director for. This was University of Maine’s first ever camp. I met the other nurse Moppy pretty much right away. She had just finished seven weeks of boys camp somewhere in New England. She was older than me which was a real blessing not to be the oldest person at camp like the previous one. This camp was held at Camp Jordan which was sponsored by the YMCA and money donated by Steven King. It turned out I was in Steven Kings home town. Before I had Emily, I read all of his stuff and was wishing I had stayed an extra day because one can drive by his house, see the place where the accident in Pet Cemetery was filmed as well as the weird water tower from It. I was excited to see this in the Dining Hall.
It was a great week. There were only fourteen campers and only one had medicine. This meant Nurse Red could play all week with the kids and have a great time and I did. There were a few kids that walked in with huge attitudes. It was apparent that they did not want to be there and they were determined to have a horrible time. However this group of young people are amazing.
Their energy from the minute the parents left was mind blowing. Our very first game we played was one person stands in the middle of the circle and says something about themselves. I of course sad my favorite color is orange. So everyone that agreed runs into the circle and then finds an empty spot, leaving a new person in the middle. It was a good way to get to know a little about each other and I think it was a game changer. By breakfast the next morning all the campers were smiling and having a great time. I went to arts and crafts and made this. The caterpillars name is Carl and he’s the Camp Kesem mascot. The rest of the kids were making decorations for their cabins. I had a good time.
The rest of the week was a lot of fun but just like the last camp my favorite was messy games. The administration team let the kids cover them in paint and then all the counselors did as well. After that it was pretty much a free for all with slapping paint on each other. Everyone was great sports and it was so much fun!
My husband likes to tease me that I am trying to pick up a boyfriend. Actually I am scouting for son in law material. I just want to say every single one of the counselors and admin team are daughter in law and son in law material. To be a counselor for camp Kesem, one has to interview and then it is weekly meetings the entire school year. It is all volunteer so these kids are passionate and dedicated to both the cause and the camp. It’s just difficult to even put into words. All of them amazed me all week with how selfless and giving they were. There is no way I want to miss either camp next year and am planning on being back. I guess it will be another “summer of vacations” according to my husband.
Mole Moral ~ Life begins where your comfort zone ends!
Sometime back in April my good friend Laura told me about a job website called indeed. So I downloaded it to my phone and starting looking at what types of jobs were available in the area. I hadn’t looked anywhere outside of the hospital I worked at in almost thirty years. This is foreshadowing so pay attention. Within the first week a job popped up with Washington University looking for a volunteer camp nurse in August. The camp was called Camp Kesem and it is for kids whose parents have or had cancer. It would be held in Burbon Missouri.
After doing a little internet research, I felt called to apply for the position. However the last time I did a resume was in 1998 when I applied for the school nurse position at Abiding Savior Lutheran School. That was before I even owned a computer so it would have been typed on my electric typewriter. So I called upon my friend Liz to help me out. I filled in the blanks on this resume template and Liz worked her magic. After I finished reading it, I said to myself even I would hire me.
After submitting my resume, I heard back within an hour or two and as long as I passed the background check, camp was game on. It gave me something new to look forward to over the summer.
Camp is run by volunteer college students. The camp also only uses Nicknames
. I got to pick mine so being the original weirdo I am, I came up with nurse Red. (At least it wasn’t rachrn34, my other go to name.) This makes being able to blog even better because my readers will not know anyone’s real names. So Beaker is the kid in charge. I haven’t asked him where he got his name from. I assumed it was from the Muppets but after our conversation yesterday, I probably just dated myself again.
It took me two days to finally figure out who beaker reminds me of. Brad from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He’s the one who worked at the burger joint. Now that movie is a cult classic in my house. Do you think Beaker had even heard of it? Heck no. He had to google it. I told him he should watch it at some point in his life. Beaker is an awesome young man and it’s been a great week and he’s doing an amazing job.
Mole moral ~ There comes a point in ones life when you might feel irrelevant or out of date. I’m fighting this until the day I go and meet Jesus.
Due to the unplanned flat tire adventure the night before, I discovered we were only thirty minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park. Now I had wanted to visit it four years ago on our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary but it wasn’t anywhere near Death Valley or the Grand Canyon. So I talked the other three into taking a side trip. Little did I know that it was thirty minutes the wrong direction and then forty-five minutes across the park and then another forty-five back and then back thirty minutes. I guess I really shouldn’t plan vacations. But I was very excited to see it.
We stopped in and talked to the park ranger. He told us to see the cactus area but if there were bees swarming to jump out and take a couple of pictures and leave. Luckily, they were not, so we were able to walk around. They had just finished blooming. They were kind of sad looking though.
Somehow we managed to end up on the other side of the park and totally missed the biggest tree in the park. When we asked the ranger at the other end she acted like we were insane and had never heard of such a thing. Apparently it is not marked or anything. The prettiest part of the park had this
Of course the day I show up the bees decide to move to a new hive. This is the story of my life. However this is where most of the trees were located so we took a few pictures and then we headed to Salvation Mountain.
It was then time for the six hour detour to see the four corners. Now Emily seems to have forgotten she ever said she wanted to see it but she did. I did some reading about the four corners before we arrived including yelp reviews. The biggest thing that stuck out was the lack of bathrooms. So I made sure we stopped at the gas station before it. When we arrived they did have the type of bathrooms that national parks have. So then Brian was like see they have bathrooms. Someone opened a door and the wind blew the smell our way and it was a hundred times worse than the nastiest nursing home. A short while later I watched a mom and daughter open the doors to all four of them and then head out behind a tent.
I also knew from reading this was nothing but a tourist trap but I didn’t mind. There were native american’s selling hand made crafts. I wish I would have bought the one painting I just loved. If it was flat and would have fit in this one frame, I would have. You have to stand in line to take your picture standing on the four corners. There is a sign that says “limit three pictures per family”. Apparently, no one knows how to read anymore. One family took about twenty while we stood in the blazing sun in 100 degree weather just so mama mole could say she saw it and have our picture taken. I stood in New Mexico because of Shiprock New Mexico. When Brian saw the sign for it, he said “Shelprock New Mexico, home of the Big Red.”
The rest of the trip was spent driving. We made it into Texas before calling it a night. There was a really bad thunderstorm and Micheal was getting nervous about a tornado. Emily texted me and asked if we would have one. I said no and she relayed it to Micheal and he said very quietly “Schleprock”.
Mole Moral ~ Embrace your nickname if you have one. It makes life so much more fun.
The next morning we got up and were headed towards Salvation Mountain. We were taking the southern route back home since Emily and I took the northern route two years ago when she moved to California.
We were driving along in the desert for miles. Emily and I were in one car and Micheal and Brian in the other. They were ahead of us by about thirty minutes because we stopped to eat at In and Out burger.
We had come upon the Salton Sea and I was reading up on it and sharing with Emily. It was created by irrigation canals from the Colorado river in the early nineteen hundreds. It was a recreational area in the fifties and then due to pollution and increasing saltiness it started dying off. It is now almost a wasteland and smells from the amount of dead fish that wash up to the shore. It was very interesting, and Emily had just texted Micheal that she was getting nervous about the desert when this happened.
We were driving along when we heard banging in the wheel well. We were like what was that? I said to Emily, you have a tire pressure light so if it doesn’t come on you know we are good. The words were barely out of my mouth when the tire pressure light came on. Luckily we were at a place in the road that had a huge place to pull off. It would be easy to change the tire. And then I had to make the fatal phone call to Brian to tell him we had a flat. Micheal swears he has no idea what Brian said after he hung up with me. I am sure it involved cursing. They had just gone through border patrol (we were super close to the real border) so coming back they were asked what they were doing. It was at this point I jumped out of the car and said I’m going to check out the Salton Sea. It looked super close. Please keep in mind I have never seen The Hills Have Eyes but the other three had. So Emilys anxiety is through the roof. She is texting me every two minutes to make sure I was ok. It was 107 degrees this day and I barely even sweated walking the one mile round trip. I didn’t get super close because it started smelling like mud and death.
By the time I walked back Brian and Micheal arrived and were changing the tire. It was around five in the evening so we had to attempt to find a tire place that was open. The first place I called did not have the tire and then the fun began. I could not keep straight what two towns we were between and Emily was ready to shoot me. I finally called AAA to see if they could locate a place when Emily found one. Of course it was thirty minutes back the way we had just came but they said they would stay open past six as long as we weren’t too much later than that. We arrived at five minutes until six and there were at least three families there that were still being helped. By the time they finished looking at our tire, putting a plug in it for free, airing up the spare (it had lost a lot of air on the ride over), and putting it back on it was after seven. I made the decision to stay where we were and go eat and have a couple of drinks and turn in early. We went to a restaurant that had just opened and their service and food were ok. However I had two gin and tonics and wasn’t feeling anything. The next day would be another adventure.
Mole Moral ~ Smart people do not watch scary movies!