Monday, September 19, 2011

Redneck Weekend

Here today to kick off our week of guest posting travel-a-thon is one of my best friends and favorite people ever, Brittany.  Brittany is an engineer, an artist, and a future rock star with a voice that you wouldn't believe.  She is also one of the funniest people I know (yeah, one of those super-humans).  I think you'll agree after hearing about her recent "redneck" adventure in the outdoors.

Ok it wasn’t really, but they kept calling it that…

A few weeks ago, I went to visit my boyfriend James’ family in upstate NY.  His grandmother kept insisting “we have to give you a real redneck weekend!”  Fine by me, but I’m from North Carolina, where redneck has a slightly different meaning, one that is nothing close to the awesome things I saw in Dolgeville, NY (I think that’s where I was…).

Let me back up just a tad, though.  I’m not an outdoor girl.  I don’t mean to give you the impression that I am somehow high maintenance ( I’m not, really).  My head is in the right place (on top of my shoulders).  But the problem is that mother nature and my body are just incompatible.  Examples?  Oh, there are plenty.  For one, I’m the only college student I know who got pneumonia, the flu, and mono while tenting for the epic Duke-UNC basketball game.  Oh, and then there was the time when I lived in Tanzania for two months after school.  (I hope you are laughing.  I didn’t even tell you all the other stupid ailments I got during college that would make you say: hold the phone Britt, you think that’s a good idea for YOU?)  On my way out the door, my grandfather said to me “Don’t sit down on any toilets over there and get knocked up Britt.”  Um, thanks gramps… What? Awkward.  Anyway, I spent almost the whole time in the bathroom, and came back with a parasite that stuck around for so long that I named it Peter, and C diff (a potentially deadly disease contracted by the immune suppressed – those receiving chemotherapy treatment, elderly people, or HIV/AIDS patients – and me).  I also can’t breathe (generally).

But the thing about me is that I’m not a quitter.  Mother nature be damned – I will keep trying to make myself be able to do all those outdoorsy things that my body just hates.  And this redneck weekend was the ultimate challenge – so much potential for adventure (or disaster).

We left North Carolina on a Friday, and after 13 hours in the car, we finally made it up to Utica, NY, and  headed for a nearby diner for breakfast with James’ family.  My favorite meal of the day.  There were only 7 people there including the staff, but James’ parents knew people there.  Now, while there’s something cute about a small town where you know pretty much everyone, I still kind of like the fact that if I go to my neighborhood diner (what neighborhood diner?) – I mean the diner in the next town over – and eat so many pecan pancakes that I split my pants, no one will know my name.  (Note that pants splitting has never happened at a diner, but has happened to me at work at a team building event where we did curling.  WTF is curling you ask?  A great way to split your pants in front of a bunch of your engineer customers.  One day, my karma’s gonna turn around, I swear.)

My other flaw in addition to my body hating me (as if there’s only 2) is that I’m long winded.  I’m sorry, I’ll get to the good stuff.  Fastforward to going to the grandparents’ house.  They live on the most amazing, secluded wonderland ever.  Ok, there may be other places like it, but none that I’ve been to.  And certainly none that anyone I knew owned.  They bought these hundreds of acres of land 30+ years ago for pocket change – literally pocket change.  Then they self-made everything on there – including this lake.

We slept there Friday night, and on Saturday morning, after eating a delicious cinnamon bun, I decided there’d be no better place to go for a run than here.  Nearly paradise.  I turned on my Lady Gaga playlist and started out OK, but quickly remembered that in high elevation, I suck at running. (A week later, my lungs are still hurting.)  Then add in scary thought #1: they have bears up there in NY, don’t they?  And Lady Gaga was not going to save me.   So I quickened my pace, tried to enjoy the view.  Enter scary thought #2: they have guns/hunting gear here, don’t they?  And when they see something moving across the lake, they shoot at it.  For sport, for target practice, for hunt, for whatever the reason people shoot guns in the woods. I hadn’t told everyone that I was leaving and I could kind of look like an animal darting around the lakeside shrubbery…  I was really hoping this run was not going to be my last.  Turns out my fears were not even that out-there – not even two minutes after I got back, someone shot at something across the lake and James’ grandfather came out and asked “did you see if Brittany is back?” This outdoor thing may not be for me. 

Later on in the day, James volunteered to take the tractor over to the farm to take care of some farm problem over there.  Did I want to go along?  Of course.  Did I ignore all the red flags that my past experiences with anything nature-y should have brought up?  Absolutely. Sure enough, on bump number three, I hit my foot on the tractor and started bleeding, and then, even worse, I saw the most ridiculously huge spider RIGHT THERE on the tractor.  It was the kind of spider that if you stepped on it, 3 million baby spiders would rush out and eat your foot (or maybe that is just how I imagined it).  Brittany: 0; Mother Nature: 2.

Once we were done on the tractor, James asked if I would like to go around the lake and see the sights on the 4-wheeler.  Definitely.  I took my bleeding foot, but this time decided to pack for the ride better.  He brought a beer, and I brought my paper cup full of wine.  Stupid.  Me.  Paper cups?  4-wheelers?  Over the river and through the woods?  Wine?  Yeah my paper cup lasted long enough for me to have about two sips.  His beer made it though.  It was laughable how I lost it, too.  A big tree branch came at me and literally just ripped it from my hand despite the death grip I had on it.  Brittany: 0; Mother Nature: 3.

A little later, we went on a canoe fishing trip on the lake.  Sure to flip the canoe, I didn’t bring anything with me but my camera.  It was a risk, but well worth it. No canoe failures.  Brittany: 1; Mother Nature: 3.

In the evening, when it was just James and his grandparents and me sitting around a fire (they do that in the woods), I made a joke about telling ghost stories by the fire and making s’mores.  No we didn’t have any s’mores, but they did tell me some ghost stories.  Did I tell you that I could not see the nearest neighbor? That they own several hundred acres? That it’s the type of place where no one will hear you scream?  So James’ grandmother proceeded to tell me  terrifying ghost stories about  the actual house they live in today – the one I’d be spending the night in – that I had just spend the night in on Friday – that I had just been feeling my way through in the pitch black darkness (because I could not find any of the light switches).  Awesome.  Thanks.  I woke up so many times that night thinking I was hearing things that I refused to open my eyes so as not to see the scary ghost people until daylight.  As far as I can tell, none of the ghosts cursed me in my sleep (I think), or took my left pinky finger in exchange for me invading their protected ghost lair, but I did lose almost a whole night’s sleep Brittany: 1; Mother Nature: 4.

After Saturday, I stuck to the things I was better at, like taking pictures and eating.  But let me not give you the impression that all was well – the day after I got back from this redneck weekend, after my amazing tractor and 4-wheeler rides, I promptly threw my back out and could not move for several hours.  Like I said, healthy 24 year old – but I have a degenerative back problem too – from all that hard labor and sports stuff I didn’t do when I was growing up.  God only knows what 25 has in store for me in a few weeks.  I’ll probably get the flu on my birthday.  Nothing that my positive optimistic attitude can’t fix, right?

Well, at least my brave encounter with Mother Nature left me with these memories of the most beautiful "redneck" place I have ever seen…

Oh, and a new friend, Chippy, who welcomed me into the wilderness with open arms and a hearty appetite for my love.  I’ll let you know when I come down with the rodent flu.


1 comment:

Ashley said...

Oooooh your pictures are so beautiful! And knowing you makes this all the funnier :) Thank you for making me laugh (this time, and all the other times)!