In case you missed Part I of my camping saga, you can read it here.
Last Saturday, after completing our hike up Mt. Cutler in Maine, MJ and I were on top of the world.
We were sore and our muscles ached, but we were proud. For the first time in a long time we felt victorious. Like conquering heroes. And the best part was we completely reconnected and plugged back in—to each other. We ate a delicious lunch at a cool little dive place on the way back to camp, and spent most of the meal smiling and just grinning at each other across the table like newlyweds.
I was deliriously happy. And the only thing that could make me happier was the thought of a refreshing swim in gorgeous, spring-fed Granger Pond.
MJ and I changed into our bathing suits, grabbed some towels and hopped in the car to get to the lake. Yup, that’s right. We needed the car because the road to the lake is INCREDIBLY steep. We found that out the first night when we ignored recommendations and walked to the lake. At first it was cool because it was a full moon and there’s some kind of mineral in the gravel road that sparkles. The end result was us feeling like we were walking on a diamond-encrusted road in the moonlight. But eventually we started to wonder if we were on the right road.
Then, all of a sudden, the lake just opens up in front of you and it’s stunningly gorgeous. The walk back up that hill? Not nearly as much fun.
So anyways, we drive our car down to the lake and I’m so excited. I’m hot, sweaty, tired and oh-so-ready for a cool dip in a Maine pond. I took off my shirt, threw my towel on the beach and waded in to what might’ve been the most refreshing dip of my life. The water was on the colder side with just the slightest shock after you submerge yourself. But after our hike it was exactly what I needed. I eagerly dove in and started swimming out towards the middle where there was a floating dock.
Like an excited little kid I proceeded to do cannonballs and dives off the floating dock, feeling absolutely glorious in the process. I was alternately swimming around, floating on my back and splashing MJ (who was slightly pissed because the water was too cold for her). When she wanted to get out I pouted like Will when we cut playtime short.
As I exited the water I smiled broadly. Absolutely exhausted but simultaneously refreshed, I was just looking around at our pristine surroundings and taking it all in. I grabbed my towel, dried off, put my sandals on and began walking towards the car in complete bliss. Until…
Suddenly a dark realization descended upon me with the force of an F-5 tornado. The color drained from my face and my heart sank into my toes. My entire body seemed to freeze and enter into a full-blown panic all at the same time. As my right hand desperately patted my right thigh, a sinking feeling set in and I knew, in that instant, I was sunk.
I had gone swimming with MJ’s car keys in my pocket. And now they were gone.
Unless you’ve ever lost your wife’s keys while four hours from home in the deep woods of Maine with no spare set, I’m not sure you can understand how idiotic I felt. Not to mention scared because I had to tell MJ. Except when I told her, she didn’t believe me. Which actually makes everything 100 times worse because I had to repeatedly persuade and convince her that I’m that inept.
“Baby, your keys are gone. I’m so, SO sorry.”
“Bullshit. You’re kidding. The keys are in the car right?”
“Honey, I know I screw around with you but I’m serious. I lost the keys. We’re totally screwed.”
“No, no, no. You’re kidding. I know you’re kidding.”
“I’m not kidding, I swear. Why do you think I’m kidding?”
“Because if you’re not kidding, you’re fucking dead!”
I immediately began looking for the keys in the water. But when I couldn’t find them in the shallows I looked despondently out towards the dock off of which I jumped, that sinking feeling growing exponentially. I asked Paul, the owner of the camp, how deep the water was out by the dock. The look on his face told me all I needed to know.
“Well, it’s about 40 feet deep out there. But that’s the least of your problems. A few years ago we sunk a radiator and tied the cable to it so we could hold the dock in place. When the cable broke we hired a guy with SCUBA gear to reattach it. But when he swam down there, he couldn’t find the radiator because the bottom is so soft.”
Great. The lake swallowed an entire radiator. There was no way I was getting my keys back. The only silver lining was the help we received from the TREMENDOUSLY nice people at the campground.
Frank took us up the hill in his golf cart to call AAA, but not before the other campers and their kids began scouring the pond for us. Triple A tried to call a locksmith, but couldn’t find one who would come out. Surprise, surprise seeing as we were in an area where the moose out-populate the people. When we searched on our own, we were told it wasn’t possible to make a new key because MJ’s car key has a fancified double-sided thingamabob component that couldn’t be duplicated.
That left us no other choice, and I had to make the phone calls I was dreading.
And so it goes that my unbelievably nice mother-in-law had to go to our house, find the spare key and drive it 40 minutes up to my dad. From there, my saint of a father drove 3.5 hours up to Maine to drop it off. And then he declined our invitation to stay in the tent while we slept in the car, and drove 3.5 hours back to his house.
Now those are great parents!
I’m such an idiot. Only I can turn a great weekend into a drama-fest. We had this amazing time on the mountain and then I lose my keys to a radiator-swallowing lake, which not only murders our Saturday, but also the Saturdays of my in-laws and my parents. And I wasn’t done there.
The only stroke of luck we had was that MJ had left the passenger side window down so we could retrieve our things. Clothes, food, gear…all inside the car. Except I had turned the alarm on before I lost the keys. So when I opened the door, the serene Maine woods was suddenly polluted with a jarring horn blasting away repeatedly, wrecking the experience for dozens of people trying to enjoy their weekend.
Frank was nice enough to drive me up and down in his golfcart to the car, which was parked down the huge hill. But in my tradition of screwing up, I had forgotten a few things. And since I had bothered everyone enough, I decided to walk back down to the car.
When I made it down there, I couldn’t bear the thought of setting off the car alarm again. So I decided to go through the window. Faced with the problem of having to get my 265-pound body through the window, I did what every red-blooded American male would do.
I decided to go Dukes of Hazzard all over that bitch.
As you can imagine, it did not go well. I took a running start and jumped as high as I could. Halfway up I realized I was nowhere near the level of Bo and Luke, and ended up doing this weird half-jump, half-dropkick thing as I thudded against the car door. With my career as a TV stuntman dashed, I decided to go in head-first. It only went a little better than my Dukes attempt. But I did manage to get everything I needed out of the car. Except myself.
To exit the car, first I tried go feet first. Didn’t work. So I went out head-first. I managed to wiggle my fat ass to the point my hands were on the ground but I was stuck halfway out. Completely upside-down doing a handstand with half my body in the car and half out, I flailed wildly and ended up kicking the steering wheel and laying on the horn in the process. Then, just for good measure, I suffered the indignity of my shirt falling down exposing my gut. Finally I wriggled my way to freedom, collapsing in an overweight heap next to the car.
As I stood up, it was just in time to see a teenage girl—frozen in place and staring at me in horror—while on her way down to the waterfront.
“Car trouble,” was all I could think to mutter. She quickly walked away. I don’t blame her, I would’ve too.
So I owe my mother-in-law and my dad big time. Not to mention MJ, who was (for the most part) very understanding about the whole thing. I still think I was helped immensely that there were witnesses so she couldn’t kill me right then and there. And I think I just need to resign myself to the fact that I will never have a normal…well, anything. Stories are great and weird stuff is wonderful for blog fodder, but I’ve had my fill. Just one normal weekend is all I ask.
So remember, practice safe-swimming everybody. And keep your keys on shore.