Posted by: secretagent39 | January 25, 2011

When I was a kid…

I love when my stories start out like that.  I just wish I could better describe the story that runs in my head from the memories of those times.  Pulling those bits and pieces together is kind of like trying to make a full-length movie from the chopped/edited pieces on the editing room floor.

Spotty.

Anyway, when I was a kid, we used to go to what we called, “Cobb Mountain in Pine County” for our summer vacations.  As an adult, I’ve found out that it’s not actually called Cobb Mountain in Pine County; it’s Cobb Mountain in LAKE County.  The name of the place we stayed was Pine Grove Camping Resort.  I guess it’s kinda like when you’re little and you call your friends by their first and last name and sometimes you get that a little mixed-up once you’re over 40.  Or so I’ve been told…

The first time we arrived on Cobb Mountain in Pine County, it was dark, really dark, and late by our standards, probably around 8-9PM, and we were tired, cranky, and sick from the smell of eating Cheez-it’s.  Anytime one of us would feel a little car sick my mom would break out the Cheez-it’s.  To this day I can’t stand the smell of someone else eating those things; makes me woozy.  My dad-the-cop, Mr. Drivewithbothfeet, pushed his phallic, all-engine-no-backseat, Oldsmobile Tornado to the limit up that curvy mountain road to the point that all of us felt like we were astronauts without the advantage of full-body seatbelts and the disadvantage of slippery, leather seats.  I’m pretty sure this is how I first learned to surf.

Our friends were already set-up in a cabin and getting ready to go to sleep.  We shared beds with the kids and the adults, well, I don’t really know what happened to them but I think it involved cocktails.  I’m guessing our arrival was an impromptu thing and we didn’t have a cabin yet but they all just said, “Hey, that’s okay.  Just stay with us!”  That’s how it felt to this 9 year old tomboy who was itchin’ for a summer excursion.

The beds had been well used as our neighbor-friends had been flopped into them for a week prior to our arrival.  The sheets were covered in sand/dirt and smelled like musty, swampy-kid. There were two swimming pools, chlorinated and not (creek water!), the “crick” and lots of hills and forest and fields to run in.  Most kids didn’t even bother showering.  They’d simply go swimming in the pool and that was enough to both clean-ya and turn your hair green.  I had a lot of trouble sleeping that first night because, princess and the pea that I am, I just could not get comfortable.  I could feel every grain of sand, every bit of dirt, and a creepy, stinky, night-air moistness on those sheets.  It was the kind of thing that never allowed the bed to get warm as the itchy wool blankets simply held the moisture in.  As soon as the sun went down on the mountain, the shadows creeped with red-eyed critters and the cold, clammy feel of those sheets was almost unbearable.  I slept in fits.

The next day, I was up with the sun and out exploring long before the snore wore off the cocktail-spent parents.  I ran into Stevie, the boy who lived down the street from us, and he was holding a water snake in his hands.  I remember he was showing off how he caught it when it suddenly bit him on his index finger.  It hung there like a viper and he screamed and swung his arm around in an attempt to shake it free.  It would not let go until finally, I hit it with a stick.  Stevie was crying and bleeding a little from the tiny puncture wounds in his finger.  He took off back to the cabin to rudely awaken his cocktail-sodden parents.  I was more worried about the snake and went to check on it.  It had slithered away, shaken but not really hurt, and was hiding under a log.  I felt bad and thought all the other snakes knew I’d hit it with a stick so I’d best watch my feet for the rest of the day.  Even as a kid… I was unnaturally superstitious.

It’s so funny what you remember from when you were a kid.  I don’t remember eating.  As an adult, almost all of my adventures involve some kind of elaborate meal and I remember that quite readily: where I went, what I had, the server, how much I spent, etc…  Memories of eating when I was a kid-not so much but I do remember the barbecues and eating things roasted over an open fire.  As far as breakfast, or any other regular ol’ meal, I don’t remember a danged thing.  I do, however, remember always feeling hungry.  Adventure, the mountain air, and swimming all day will do that to ya.  And here’s another thing: graham crackers.  They were always so good when I was a kid but now?  They taste like cardboard to me.  What’s up with that?

Later that day, I had my first introduction to “The Cold Pool.”  There was a huge, chlorinated, L-shaped swimming pool at this resort.  There was also a “baby pool” which no self-respecting kid would be caught in and where I re-confirmed that poop does indeed float.  The Cold Pool was off to the side and had cold, icy-cold, creek water pumped into it.  It also had water snakes, centipedes, spiders, moss growing on its bottom and sides, and slippery stairs.  *shudders*

Okay, so, the thing to do was to swim in the regular pool, where the water was the temperature of bathwater, then go jump in the cold pool for a refreshing, delightful, and totally jarring experience.  No one told me about the critters.  It was a very scary proposition as you couldn’t see the bottom of the pool and everyone knew it was icy-cold and more of a dare than a swimming experience.

The day my friends and I decided to jump into the Cold Pool was the same day that the boys had been collecting water snakes in buckets all morning. Us girls, on a dare from the boys, pulled ourselves out of the warmth of the bathwater, ran to the Cold Pool, and jumped in. As we were swimming around, feeling the icy-cold creek water in our bones, the boys dumped at least four buckets filled with water snakes into the pool.  Our screaming and squealing could be heard throughout the resort, causing parents and lifeguards to come running to our aid.  We could not get out of that water snake swirling pool fast enough.  The boys stood in the shade of an oak tree, pointing at us and laughing their asses off.  The lifeguards saw them and ran after them.  They scattered to the hills but were eventually caught and banned from the pool for the rest day.  That’s it; one day.

I remember plunging into the pool, coming up for air, and then watching some boy dump something in a bucket into the pool.  I had no idea what it was until, suddenly, I saw squiggly-swimming water snakes headed straight toward me!  I think I drank a gallon of water while screaming and swimming as fast as I could to the edge of the pool.  I was up and out of the water in what seemed like a giant, mermaid, fishtail stroke and turned to watch the mayhem.  There were at least 8-10 head-bobbing girls trying frantically to get out of the snake-infested waters.  To this day… it gives me the creeps and makes me laugh out loud.  It was funny but not.  Sometimes, I have dreams about it and I wake up shivering cold or shivering freaked-out. 

That kind of shit stays with you.

Stories like these make me wonder what the kids of today will remember in the dreams from their childhoods.  Most of the stuff kids do these days is play Nintendo, watch TV, and play more Nintendo.  There’s not much imagination in that and certainly doesn’t make for a good story.  I remember buying a bunch of camping equipment but we could never bring ourselves to actually do it because we had one bed-wetter, one fidgety-fitful-kid, and one autistic-never-know-how-he-would-react kid.  Being stuck in a tent with these kids was never my idea of a “vacation.”  There was no relaxin’ in that situation but I guess that’s just part of it, eh?

So, God bless my parents for braving it, even if it was in cabins and they were juicing it up with the neighbors while we ran all over the mountainside. 

And jumping into pools filled with water snakes…!

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Responses

  1. Love it!


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