Extended swims had already thrown my allergies into crisis mode. With the addition of the historic dust blowing into my face, I was blind from combinations of muddy tears and Olympic class eye boogers. To add to the fun, my nose produced volumes of fluid normally only seen in the economy size beverages of a multiplex cinema. One sharp corner that, once again in the grand tradition of Up the Lake nomenclature, had been referred to as the “turn by the yellow house” for generations, was summarily redubbed based on its proximity to “The Nose Blowing Tree.”
I took a Benadryl to help at the start of the trip and ended up needing another just after defiling the defenseless tree in order to see or breathe at all. Normally the kids are responsible for wandering in an aimless path all over the road, but I took care of that for them in my antihistamine induced haze.
Not counting a few bizarre asides, the occasional panicked bug dance and nearly infinite requests to sit and rest for a while (usually in giant patches of poison ivy) we succeeded in having everyone reach the stand intact and in time for lunch.
Upgrades to that store since our childhood were excessively welcome. The place had developed into a respectable pizzeria and sandwich joint. This allowed us to fuel our families with a proper meal in a comfortable setting before heading back.
Pizza and sandwiches proved to be a marked improvement in nutrition from our younger days when the best we could hope for was sitting up on a near by rock scarfing some candy and soda before trudging back up the hill to the cabins…
Usually vibrating at frequencies only dogs could hear.
Between the medication, the exhaustion, and trying to herd a group of children that outnumbered us by a factor of two away from traffic, my memories of the trip back are a little vague. Although I do know there was a near constant chorus of weak voiced but enthusiastic “Patoots” accompanying the journey homewards.
Amazingly all the kids made it without any extended period of being carried…although I think they dragged me up one of the sunnier and steeper hills. We eventually made it back to the cabin in a rather extended line with my sister and me at either end, fully switching to a style of parenting somewhere between “containment field” and “cattle drive.”
I think we may have followed standard stand walk protocol and all jumped in the lake to rinse off the filth upon returning. Again, it’s a bit of a pink pill induced blur.
The long hours of exertion guaranteed some epic silliness from the kids that evening.
However, there was one extra variable that caught us off guard.
We purchased Mentos at the stand, planning to try the exploding soda fountain experiment that received near constant YouTube viewing and also played a key part in Wreck it Ralph.
Similar to any scientific endeavor Up the Lake, such as insect stasis, or column structural analysis, the experiment was largely built on substitutions.
The store didn’t have the mint Mentos suggested for maximum fizz. Amazingly, the tasty fruit flavors pack made it all the way home without me eating any. At the cabin we learned that the Diet Coke supplies had run low, and we only had the caffeine free variety.
Neither of these were major deviations, especially when compared with the issue of the soda being in a can instead of a bottle.
Kim jury rigged a small funnel/slide delivery system, popped the can a good distance away from anything valuable, and did her best to get the Mentos – which the long, sun baked afternoon walk back had spot welded to their wrapper – into the can.
There was enough of a reaction to carbonate her head a bit as she bent her face close enough to use her handcrafted Mento delivery device, but the results were in no danger of winning a Diamond Play Button.
A “Diamond Play Button” is the YouTube equivalent of an Oscar for the less tech-savvy. Or maybe I should be more specific, “the less tech savvy than me.” I had no idea what it would be either, and didn’t care enough to go beyond a cursory Google search. There may very well be a far better reference for that metaphor, but since it had virtually no effect on the narrative I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time deviating from the natural flow of the story for a meaningless aside, considering we never filmed the occurrence anyway.
Anyway, the experiment was a reasonable success, if a less than spectacular one and we tossed most of the remnants into the fireplace as we got back in to normal evening cabin activities.
During those activities, Morgan climbed his three year old self onto the picnic table outside.
While this may appear as a bit of neglectful parenting to those not fully versed in the ways of Up the Lake…
Or more accurately:
While this may appear as just another element in a long line of neglectful parenting stretching back generations to those not fully versed in the ways of Up the Lake…
It was not.
And neither was the rest of Up the Lake history in all of its insane glory. There was this overarching blanket of safety around Up the Lake, a combination of inherent awesomeness and generational familiarity that allowed children to experience and enjoy far more exploratory freedom than at home while keeping any true medical emergencies to a bare minimum.
Unless horseshoes were involved, but that’s a tale for another day.
Our picnic table was fairly low and spent far more time as a bench or bed than many similarly themed pieces of furniture. I’d often lay on it looking up at the trees or stars depending on the time of day and contemplating elements of life. Thanks to my Italian genetics, I’d also take many impromptu naps on it during those periods.
I was never one for deep contemplation.
Morgan dug into the bag of leftovers from lunch and was wearing a king of the campsite grin while jauntily holding a pizza crust in one hand and a nearly empty can of soda in the other. Since the Coke was caffeine free, none of us considered interrupting what was a dazzling display of cuteness to stop him from finishing off what remained of the beverage.
The implications of having an entire pack of Mentos dissolved into those de-fizzed dregs didn’t occur to us until later that night when we were all a live audience to what may well be the most spectacular sugar rush and crash ever witnessed by mankind.
Morgan broke into his own song, slightly longer than his sister’s performance.
What it had in duration, it lacked in the elements that keeps “Patoots” on the family hit list whenever the gang is together. For the new tune, there was no rhyme, meter…or lyrics.
He strutted around the kitchen, alternately pointing each finger in the air while going *plllllbbbth* - blowing a Bronx Cheer at the same time with each point.
Due to his heritage, it definitely was a Bronx Cheer, not a Raspberry.
There was also some dramatic patoot shaking in time with the pointing and blowing as well.
After over a third of an hour of this magnificent performance, and just before the rest of us convulsed off of our chairs due to hysterics induced lack of oxygen he pointed, *plllllbbbth*ed, and shook his way over to his mother.
Then, in what is destined to live forever among famous farewell lines such as:
Cohan’s “My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you.”
Durante’s “Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”
Any male with a six pack, a pickup and explosives’ “Hey…watch this!”
Morgan said, “I done now.”
Dropped face first onto the couch while still standing,
And fell asleep.