Bubba went on his first youth retreat this weekend. Well, kind of. He's been on countless youth retreats, but he was always a pre-camper. This was his first time as an actual youth.
We tagged along as sponsors. Not because we don't trust Bubba or the youth leaders...we do. But they asked, and we accepted because we know what it's like to try to find people to agree to hang out with 120 teens all weekend. Especially when all you have to offer in return is little sleep, Christian rap music, marginal camp food, and the very real possibility that you will have to either plunge a toilet or clean up vomit.
For some reason we enjoy those kinds of weekends every once in a while.
Our little church community usually retreats to a small camp about an hour away from our city. It's far enough away that you feel like you've left real life behind, but not so far that you spend all weekend driving.
When the buses pulled up to the camp, Bubba was experiencing it for the "first" time.
"This is so cool!"
"It's a lot nicer than I thought it would be!"
"There's a basketball court, too?!"
"There are no counselors?!"
It was cute. I asked him if he remembered being at the camp on (many) retreats before, and he didn't. That's a relief. We didn't ruin his excitement for youth group by exposing him at too early an age.
Because of the distance from home, I decided to pull double duty on Saturday. The plan was for me to spend about 3 1/2 hours taking the girls back and forth to town so they could play in their basketball game. According to the schedule we would only miss one small group session and free time. It seemed like a solid plan.
My little trip to town also gave me the chance to stop at Walmart and pick up coffee creamer and sweetener. It was my little way of contributing to the retreat even from a distance.
Because the schedule? It also said that lights out wasn't until midnight.
This is truth: The only way to keep adults awake and happy until midnight is drinkable coffee. Hence the creamer and sweetener.
Our little trip to town almost went off without a hitch.
We were this close.
On the way back, about 10 miles from camp, I got a flat. It was real flat. Fuh-lat.
And, when you are about 10 miles from the middle of nowhere, there is no 3G. Not one little bar.
No wonder there are no houses out there.
I called Honey's brother (because he is obligated by family ties to help in these times of crisis) and he gave me the number to the camp. I was able to get a call through to their land line and they gave Honey a message.
In the 20 minutes or so it took for Honey to find us, there was a moment when I considered changing the flat myself. That moment lasted about 7 seconds.
I'm glad the thought was fleeting, because when Honey got there we couldn't get the spare lowered from under the car. In a moment of desperation, we even pulled out the owner's manual and followed the directions in there, but it wouldn't budge. Honey is pretty good with all things cars and we were both getting very frustrated with the whole thing.
About the time we were ready to lock it up and leave it until we could have it towed, a little old man with a heavy Spanish accent drove up in his humble work truck. Honey explained the problem. And all of a sudden, this man's truck transformed into Mary Poppins's magic carpet bag.
He had one of everything in that truck. First he tried putting air in the flat tire with his air compressor. But once it was filled it started bubbling up in weird places and Honey was afraid it was going to blow up.
Then they tried all kinds of jacks, wooden blocks, random metal rods, wire cutters, and wrenches to get that dumb spare down and none of it worked.
Then the old man said, "I got a torch."
Honey responded, "What?"
"I got a torch."
And Honey proceeded to cut the spare out from under the not-even-been-a-week-since-we-paid-it-off suburban with a cutting torch.
I'm not even kidding.
After that it all went very fast. The actual changing the tire part took about 5 minutes, because, you know, he had an air compressor in the back of his truck.
Pictured here are Honey and our Good Samaritan airing up the spare before we loaded up and headed back to camp.
Not pictured is Honey telling me that it is not a good idea to try "to just make it the last 10 miles" if the tire pressure warning light is flashing.
To my credit, I did slow down to 55 mph hoping that it would help the tire pressure situation enough to get us back.
(And I may or may not have turned the seat warmer and radio off on the slight chance that it might also help the tire pressure situation. Just doing my part.)
Cars are not my spiritual gift. I know this about myself, it's one of the reasons I married Honey.
Five hours after leaving camp, we finally made it back...just in time for dinner. Which according to the boys is the most important part anyway.
The adults successfully stayed up until midnight, and I like to think my bringing the creamer and sweetener had a little something to do with that.
Sunday we drove home in 60 mph winds and the worst dust storm I've ever seen. As we drove by our little flat tire spot, I snapped a picture.