Round Trip: 152 miles
Furthest Distance from Home: 76 miles
August 22, 2020. Saturday, 6:00 AM EST
North Lake in the Adirondacks, New York, site 19
We are being hit by a mountain lightning storm. Dad and I rushed to move the camper to harder ground, but it was far too late to do anything. The rain is coming down in buckets, so hard we cannot see the trees across the lake. We just hope that the camper doesn’t sink down so much that we can’t get back out.
While I’m waiting, I’ll put down how we got here.
Two days ago, on August 2oth, we loaded up the camper, put the house in order, and drove off for our destination, loaded with rice chips and taffy.
After only an hour of driving we parked on the side of the road so some of the girls could use the bathroom in the camper. Mom got out to get something, (can’t remember what,) and she tripped in a hole and fell, tearing a tendon in her ankle.
I was very scared, but it’s funny how in the moments of greatest stress your mind seems to have the greatest clarity. I ran to get some ice and on the way back I tripped in the same hole, but got back up.
Dad and I helped her into the van and put ice on it, but it didn’t seem to help. She said she needed medicine, and she nearly never takes medication.
We both wanted to turn around, but mom insisted we keep going.
We raced away to Tops, six miles away, towing our beast of a camper behind us. We pushed our way through a crowded town at speeds which had any lesser man been behind the wheel would have proven disastrous. The rest of us rode apprehensively, feeding Jeremiah and Lily bits of taffy to keep them quiet.
We pulled into Tops. Dad parked the van and ran inside, forgetting a mask. Nobody bothered the man rushing to buy pain reliever, and before long Mom was feeling a lot better although still in a lot of pain.
Dad wanted to go home, but Mom convinced him to continue.
It was a good three hours from there, the last hour of the trip being nothing but untamed woodland.
When we got here we had to drive a gravel path for 16 minutes, only to find that all the sites were full! We were very disappointed. Dad met some people on the road that told him some incredible news. The bridge to the other 7 campsites, which had been out for two years, had just been repaired that very day. On the other side of it we found a large grassy site with water access and a view of the mountains, by far the best site yet, and parked the camper, (after a lot of finagling to get it in just the right spot.
We kindled a fire and cooked some hotdogs, then spent the rest of the night exploring the land, which is beautiful and abundant with resources . Evelyn climbed to the very top of a pine tree so high we thought she was a bird and scared us all half to death when we realized it was her way up there. Was she scared? Of course not.
The next morning, August 21, Emma, Alicia and I explored the west side of the woods, our swords at our sides, and brought back much wood, despite the harrassing attacks of Matthew, Racheal and Evelyn.
We washed in the lake (I’m not sure I got much washing done, as I wore a dive suit and diving mask). It was my first glimpse of the bottom of a lake that’s not one of the great lakes, and nothing like I expected. There were several different terrains, including rocky, clay mountains, deep valleys and some grass. I know there must be a seaweed (lakeweed?) forest somewhere, because I see it floating around. I saw a fish and numerous newts in several colors. That afternoon, for sport, I caught three of them.
After we were done swimming we rode around in the van for far too long considering what we saw. Upon getting home we went swimming again, at which time I chased and caught those newts at a depth of about five feet, and one at about six feet deep. One was green and lime, one green and yellow and one green and orange.
For supper we ate pizza and watermelon, and that brings us up to today, August 22.
The rain storm has stopped and the sun is just beginning to break through the clouds, although it is still quite cold. Me and the cat are the only ones awake, although I’m sure that will change very soon.
Later, 6:02 PM EST, The Van
This morning was very wet. Somehow, Dad and I coaxed a fire out of the soaking wood, something we’re getting better and better at over our travels, and spent two hours making a massive breakfast. Meanwhile, everyone else ate sugar cereal. The sun was shining by the time we had finished breakfast, and we were surprised to see everyone devour it as if they hadn’t eaten all that cereal!
Alicia tried out my wetsuit, and she liked it, although she had a hard time counteracting how buoyant it is. After she was finished she changed in the bushes and I got the wetsuit. I spent the next two hours diving, but it was overcast again and I couldn’t see well. Then Matthew and I dragged three logs together and got on them, holding them together with our legs and polling around.
My brother got off the raft and I began to make my way to a small island on the other side of the lake. Riding my logs with a stick for a paddle, I began the quarter-mile journey. I moved-
August 23, 2020. Sunday, 8:42 AM EST
Adirondack Forest Preserve, Southern Adirondacks
I was interrupted in my story. Now I’m not sure if I should continue the story I was on or if I should tell what interrupted me…
For the sake of clarity I’ll keep the events in the order they happened.
I took the long journey across the lake very slowly, so slowly that sometimes I wasn’t sure I was moving as all. The sun came out and turned my wetsuit into an oven, but I didn’t get off the logs for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get them back together.
As I drew nearer and nearer the island I began to look for a good beach. The East side was sandy, so I made for it. It wasn’t until I drew close to it that I saw how dense the brush was beyond it, and drew off to look for another beach.
I made for the south side, but there was a strong current there pulling away from the island, so I turned around and headed North.
On the north side of the island I found a small rocky shore and I beached there, getting off to explore the island.
I found it to be one large rock, perhaps twenty feet high and fifty feet feet wide, covered in moss, brush and small trees. Climbing to the top was a bit of an effort, and, tired by my journey, I lay on a large bed of moss for some time.
A little blue flower the only souvenir of my travel, I put my boat back together, reboarded, and set sail, paddling with my stick.
The sky had darkened and the wind picked up, driving me east. Little waves kicked up, slapping my logs. Then it began to lightly rain.
I continued North towards shore, although the wind constantly fought to drive me Eastward.
By the time I was nearing my home port the sun was shining again and the wind dying down. Matthew came out on his own log to meet me and together we returned to the shore.
I gave my flower to Mom.
That afternoon I did more diving, finally finding the grassland I knew would be there, and, while exploring a very deep ravine (9ft?), I found a golf ball, my first treasure.
After that, me and the little girls made stick forts in the woods.
As we neared supper time we packed up to leave, planning to get some subs on the way home. We rejoiced at how much freedom we had living this lifestyle, and about our plans to switch to a smaller camper (a hybrid) and a bus. (We need a bus for our daily lives anyways, the 12 passenger is much too small.)
As we drove down the road, we drove past a random campsite next to a pond. Mom said, “Hey, Jim, look.”
Dad stopped the van, looked at the campsite and said, “Alright, Brandon, get out.”
Thus, we ended up here.
As dad was unhitching the suspension bars it pulled his face down into the propane tanks, gashing his forehead. He yelled and fell over, and I found myself running for ice for the second time in our trip. Mom ran (limped) to get him ibuprofen and he started to shout at her to sit down. It was scary and ridiculous. Dad, with blood running down his face, shouting at Mom to sit down and rest her foot, while Mom, limping around at top speed, shouted at him to shut up and sit down. They both shouted that they were fine at one another.
After Mom got Dad to sit down and put some ice on it, I whipped up a fire, thankful for the hot coals left from whoever was here before.
Mom finally convinced Dad to lay down and rest, and Matthew and I became responsible for parking the camper. It was very tough and took us about an hour, as the camper was very unlevel and kept trying to roll down the hill. Dad ended up coming out and directing us as we hooked it back up and I towed it forward with the van.
Alicia had cooked dinner, and after eating everyone felt much better.
Mom and Dad went out to get diapers for the little ones later that night. We ate peanuts while they were gone, then I played a game with the younger kids. After Mom and Dad got back I fell asleep very quickly, worn out from the day.
Today I woke up early and read out of 1 Samuel. I came out to find people sitting around the fire with cereal, and I joined them.
After breakfast Mom and Dad went back to bed, tired from their long night with Lily, and Matthew and I ran off to claim land for ourselves.
Now, we are playing around here. Lily is running us, as she usually does when Mom and Dad aren’t up, but we’re learning to just ignore her.
There’s a pond here, and I hope to dive in it.
Today after lunch we plan to go home, as I have to feed my rat, (Natalia, my other rat, died August 10), so I’ll probably have one more entry that concludes this trip.
Later, 2:31 PM EST, The van
We are headed home, driving along the bumpy, winding road through the woods. Speed up and slow down, speed up and slow down. Bump bump bump. Swerve. Bump… It’s been a great trip.
After Mom and Dad woke up Lily fell asleep again and slept for the entire morning. That was a very nice treat.
We rekindled the fire and made Mom and Dad’s breakfast. I went diving in the pond, which turned out to be entirely seaweed forest. It was very stagnant and smelled bad, and I quickly regretted it. I took a minimal shower in the wetsuit, then out of the wetsuit. Here’s to me not getting infantido…
When I returned we all sat around the fire eating unshelled peanuts while we read proverbs. Then Mom and Dad showered while we cleaned up, then we sat around and talked about theology and public speaking, Jeremiah giving one of his speeches. Dad cooked hotdogs, then we cleaned up the camper and the campsite.
We found that the cat was missing, (she always tries to run and hide when she knows we’re getting ready to move), so we had to stop and spend forever looking for her. Eventually Alicia found her hiding under the couch, we proceeded to pull out and head down the bumpy road…
It’s been an incredible adventure, full of ups and downs, smooth spots and mountains to climb (quite literally).
Here’s me, hoping I don’t have some sort of disease from that pond,
-Brandon James Kohler