Let's just say : Score One for G.
Day 6 of vanlessness pinnacled with the news that we could pick up the van. Shnayfemme called Schnaydude to come get Schnayboy to take home, so that she could squeeze the rest of us into her sedan to go get said van. No one likes a vanless ~L~. She gets awfully squirrelly.
Anyway, while waiting for Schnaydude we took the kidlets for a little walk. Typically, by the time we got all the littles ready for the walk and started down the road to the Harry Potter Woods, Schnaydude was pulling up. Schnayboy convinced Schnaydude to join us so off we went. We entered the woods, had fun, then decided to go down this path. Then that one, and "hey what's down here?" The last time *I* had been on these paths we had C-family with us and it hadn't been cut back yet. Today was clear sailing and it was awesome. Our five minute walk was turning into a fifteen minute one, but we had until 6 PM to get the van so we were golden.
We ended up in a beautiful open gorge with a large fallen cedar crossing a rock bed stream. "I have GOT to go on that bridge!" I said, and with just that much provocation, Schnaydude (wearing Schnayboy on his shoulders) did a jig right on across. The rest of us followed, on and under, in whatever fashion seemed best to us at the time. My &@$# acrophobia nabbed me so I made nice cover of helping the baby on the low road over.
This is where the adults' good sense departed. Completely. Utterly. We decided to continue on into the uncharted, unbeaten woods rather than return to the path--with 4 kids, only one of whom was over 4. We meandered for a while, but soon the vegetation became much denser and as the forest closed in around us, the kids' imaginations took hold and they started scaring each other with stories. The toddlers, carried up and above the fern line, didn't much care until came the wailing of the ones who couldn't see anything at all but brush.
Schnaydude (Schnaydude the Tank to his coworkers) took point, stomping through the ferns and trying to find a path we just knew had to be thereand kept spouting encouraging, uplifting phrases for the increasingly more agitated children like "you think this is scary? you should have been in the jungle of Panama, trying to get through the brush with all the fire ants...."
"SCHNAYDUDE!!" Schnayfemme would bark, reminding the military veteran of his audience. That was the dance for the next hour as we crossed, oh, roughly a quarter of a mile of terrain. I would collapse in laughter at the ridiculousness of it all, because somewhere in the grownups' minds you would think it would be ok to turn back to the path. I think we were all mired in "WE STARTED THIS WE'RE GONNA FINISH IT."
Finally we broke the tree line, after a nasty last fight with blackberry vines. Poor G, who incidentally started all this, had been wearing shorts and flip flops. I was wearing shorts and birks, while the boys at least had on pants and sandals. Most of us were bleeding and battered, but we were FREEEEEEEEEEEEE. Cue the soaring victory music: It was a movie moment as we hauled ourselves into the back yard of a house I had never seen. As G stalked up the slope ranting about how "I am never doing that again!" Schnaydude asked, "Isn't this your neighborhood?"
"Uh, no, but that house is awesome!"
"Well, just avoid the guy with the shotgun sitting on the back porch, " Schnaydudey quipped artfully. Haha, right? N collapsed into a shrieking hysterical bundle on the ground, wailing in fear.
"Schnaydude!!!!" came the bark.
"Aw, it's ok Boy, you ain't in the South anymore!" More laughter from me as we headed up the slope into these people's back yard. We knew they were definitely home; cars in the yard, TV running. The house was in the center of what has to be a 15 acre wooded spread, complete with an apple orchard. It was a homestead though, a self built house. It would be perfect for my family. I was in awe. But I was also trespassing. The homeowners chose to ignore us, and we chose to beat it out down the driveway.
G instantly recognized where we were. "I know that apple tree!" shouted the 6 year old, "I have been here with Daddy!" The other grownups visibly doubted, and I admit to a certain wonder.... we were very far away from home, apple trees are apple trees and I know P-Daddy would not do what we had just done. We continued out the driveway when G saw the entrance to a service road, blocked by a small ledge of gravel. "This is it! I know I can get us home! I know it! I know THAT apple tree, I know this path and I slid down this slide, I know that house now from this side, I KNOW WHERE WE ARE!" G was dancing in intense conviction, and she knew she was going to have to prove her case. But Mom was on her side. She clearly knew where she was, so she was not very understanding when the adults wanted to continue out the driveway, which led us quite in the opposite direction.
"We just want to see what street we're on, honey," I tried to explain. Schnayfemme was the only one who made it to the end of the longest driveway in the history of the Western world, to find out it was 110th street. I did believe G, so I was weary of carrying toddler and encouraging N, who kept dropping and begging to be carried. G flat refused to go any further because she knew we were going in the wrong direction, so we had a clear hiking mutiny on the French front. Eventually, intel in hand, we headed down the path she knew.
It was just as beautiful in there as all the other paths in our Harry Potter woods. We could hear horses whinnying somewhere close, though we couldn't see them. Within 5 minutes we came upon........a beautiful, open gorge with a large, fallen cedar crossing a rock bed stream.
OHHHHHHH the dancing, the wiggling and the "I DID ITs!" that commenced. I have to tell you though, it was music to my ears. G got to truly lead, it was a good moment for her and she and I were both proud of her.
And no, we didn't get to go get the van.