Day 3: June 12, 2012
I was woken up at an ungodly hour this morning. The clock read @*&$! Or maybe that was what I said. Clearly all of my mental faculties weren’t on track yet. We piled into our vehicles and headed out again, stopping only briefly for breakfast. I was asleep when we stopped so me and my brother Paul* had the breakfast of champions: Skittles. Or maybe they were rainbow vomit. I never can remember.
It only took about 4 hours to reach Philmont or rather the city outside of the ranch. It was still too early to arrive, so we stopped at an old hotel/restaurant to have lunch. The food was good and the place was quiet unlike after 9 PM. A sign informed us that minors aren’t allowed in after that time. Apparently things get ugly then as evidenced by the bullet holes in the walls and ceiling. Actually they came from many years earlier when the hotel played host to the saloon of a mining town. Apparently they had a little bit too much fun on the weekends.
Compared to lunch, our first (1/2) day at Philmont was really boring. We had a million and one hoops to jumps through and a ton and a half of paperwork to push. And when I say “we” I mean Dad and my brother Michael*. Dad is the money man and Michael is the “crew leader” so they get all of the fun jobs. I’m just a peon so my only job is acting like a tree! (The dogs all think that I’m part of their territory) While Dad and Michael ran about, signed things, pushed paper, and wove their way through the crazy world of administrivia, the rest of us played “hurry up and wait.” You may know this game. The rules are quite simple: 1) rush to a location frantically as if your survival depended on you getting there yesterday 2) when you arrive, discover that you have nothing to do and wait for a few hours. Needless to say, the game got old fast and we switched to Black Jack. Without money, of course. A scout is thrifty, after all.
After a few briefings and an extremely brief physical examination, (“Are you dead yet?” “No.” “You’re good to go.”) we received our Philmont issued equipment and food. Apparently our tents are high maintenance (they require approximately 137 stakes apiece) though they are light which is a good thing. The food looks passible, if we were mules, that is. Seeing as though we are humans, I see a lot of nutritious yet nasty tasting meals ahead of us. You know that they’ll be good for us because they look and probably taste nasty.
We carried our gear back to our tents. I neglected to mention earlier that when we checked in, we were assigned 6 tents with 2 cots in each. Anyway, after putting our equipment away, we went to the mess hall where they served us a mess for dinner. Dinner was an easy affair. The mess hall was set up buffet style expect that staff served the food which meant that they never gave us enough food. That’s just as well as you’ll see later on. There was a salad bar which I hit twice before stopping. All in all, the food was good, at least initially. As it turns out, Philmont food is to Peter as drain-o is to a pipe. Things come out a lot easier and a lot faster afterwards.
After dinner there was a camp fire. At least it was supposed to be, but a burn ban forced them to use propane flames. The fire was a medium for transmitting to us the history of Philmont. It was entertaining though not overly so, and quite frankly I didn’t care about most of it. After the fire it was back to our tents. Tomorrow we start hiking in the open country.
*Paul is my youngest brother. He tells me that he is 14, but I think that he’s only about 12. He knows pretty much everything until you really need some info at which point his bank of knowledge dries up. He’s too smart for his own good.
*Michael is my younger brother, age 16. He’s working on his Eagle Scout rank and trying desperately to prove that he is a good leader. Perhaps this trip will give him the opportunity to sharpen/build/locate these skills.
It’s probably a good thing to mention now that one of the crews, a venturing crew from Birmingham, AL is composed entirely of girls. Based on the reactions of Steven* and Nash* to this knowledge, this could be an interesting development.
*Steven is one of the scouts in our crew that is not from my troop. He is starting college this fall. He is interested in animals, so it’s no surprise that his intended major has to do with them. He has a girlfriend so he should know better (about the crew from Birmingham)
*Nash is a scout not from my troop. He is also starting college this fall with plans of engineering and ROTC. Given my experiences with him, I don’t expect him to know better.
I should introduce The Frantic Orange as he will also be accompanying us on our trip. I found him tonight in the fruit bowl of the mess hall with all of the other fruit. I mistook him for a normal orange and was about to eat him when I heard him mumble something. I told him to speak up, but of course he had no mouth. I grabbed a pen and went straight to work, giving him eyes first, a mouth next, and finally a nose. He can read lips so I didn’t give him ears; there are sometimes that I don’t want him to know what I’m saying.
Once he had a mouth he begged me not to eat him and I agreed. I was glad that I had given him his mouth, but have come to regret it already. A talking orange is not the miracle. Getting him to shut up is.