Goin’ to the Lodge

Posted by Danny

Hell is not hot.  It is cold.  It is not below us; it is southwest of Raleigh.  It is in Concord, NC.  It is…The Great Wolf Lodge.

I am in a wonderful program run through the YMCA, the Y Princess Program.  It is a father child program that is similar to scouting; however, the father and child are required to participate in all activities together.  We have ten fathers and their daughters and we camp, participate in service projects, and earn patches for our tribal vests.  Each person in the tribe chooses an Indian name.  Mine is Screamin’ Hambone.  Michelle is T. Bird

We are supposed to camp each year to earn a patch.  My fellow fathers decided they did not want to camp this year, probably because last year we camped in the middle of a swamp in Halifax County.  The bathroom, where you slept,  and where you ate, were one in the same.  So someone suggested we go to The Great Wolf Lodge.  It is an indoor water part north of Charlotte.

This is what we do without wives.

It started innocently enough.  We met for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel near the airport.  A nice creamer and syrup pyramid.  We arrived at The Lodge at 1 and I’ve been one big chill bump ever since.  Someone told me it would be warm in the water park.  That person is a liar.  They say the water is heated.   That is a lie.  It’s a bit warmer than lake water in February in Montreal, but I suspect that is only because of the volume of pee from the 13,800 children floating around me in the giant wave pool.

It’s like a swimming flash mob.

There are people here wearing bathing suits that show me things that I don’t want nor need to see.  One woman was wearing the same size bikini as Michelle.  And yet she was the same size as Ethel Merman.  She leaned over and I saw everything from the waist up.  I mean EVERYTHING.  She caught my eye.  I sort of shrugged my shoulders as if to say, “It happens…”  I quickly dove under water which only made me colder – but it seemed my only option at the time.

There is a really neat slide called The Canyon.  You walk up 84 (I counted them) stairs and get on a large raft (sits four).  The 24 second ride is tremendous.  Want to ride again?  No problem.  It’s only 84 steps away.  For some reason I did not feel a need to jog this afternoon.

I did see a really interesting tattoo of The Mona Lisa surrounded by a burning bush.  And the calf it was painted on looked like Popeye’s.

I’m not a nut about crowds.  I am not a nut about standing in line – especially with my shirt off while I’m dripping wet and the air temp is 62 degrees.  I did not like other people’s rafts rubbing up against my body in line.  It made me uncomfortable.  I do not like buffets – too many people breathing on my food.  This is like  a big Golden Corral of water rides. 

They do provide towels and they’re clean.  They use so much bleach that it’s sort of like drying off with a hairbrush.  My friend said the towels have a dual purpose:  they dry you off and act as an exfoliator. 

I act as if I was miserable the entire time and that’s not exactly true.  There are some good points about The Lodge.  It’s reasonably priced and there is a lot to do.  Plus, it’s not far from Raleigh and they serve beer at the pool (I imagine if you drank enough, you’d warm up quite well).  I love this group of guys as I have in all three of my Y Princess tribes.  It’s worth the trip for that.  Michelle had a blast – we were actually the last ones to leave today.  But the best thing about this weekend?  I got to be a big chill bump for thirty hours with one of my favorite people on this earth.  Man, I love that child!

Someone to Call

Tonight we’re at the Great Wolf Lodge. (Read my next post for an explanation).  We took the trip with seven other dads and their 8-year-old daughters.  We shared a room with a buddy of mine and at about 9:30, his daughter said she wanted to call her mom.  We’ve always done the same on any father/daughter trip or campout for the past ten years.  They began a nice conversation and Michelle immediately came over to me and asked if she could call Uncle Jesse.  I don’t think she was specifically missing Lisa, she did not tear up.  She just wanted someone back home to be interested in what she was doing.  She wanted someone back home to say, “I miss you.  I love you.”

These situations are unavoidable.  Other kids get to call their moms and shouldn’t have to sneak around us to do so.  Our waitress today asked the table of 8 fathers and their daughters where our wives were – it was an innocent question.  I don’t want people to tip toe around us or to flinch when the “M” word is spoken.  We have to learn to live in a world where 95% of kids who are 8 have mothers who are alive and well – and thank God for that.

But it is times like these that I see the small ways that the loss of a mother becomes taxing on a child.  It’s also  times like these that I am so thankful for Jesse.  We’re really blessed to have him right now.  It doesn’t matter what he says to her at 10 pm on a Saturday night; she’s got someone to call.

And I’ve learned a valuable lesson too:  think of the things that my kids may miss out on, even the small stuff, and figure out a way to compensate.  It’s not that hard if I would just be alert and think it through in advance.  I’m a pretty intuitive dude.  I can figure this out.

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