I write you all from our mini-mini van. Frank Sinatra is crooning on the radio. Nico’s busy with her animal book in the back seat and beyond the train tracks out the window is a vista Marta declared “just like a Western movie.” Grasslands and bluffs rising out of the fog and little dark specks that are surely cows.
That’s right folks, we’re on vacation. We cheered when we passed over the Texas-New Mexico line and even Nico got in on the game, saying “bye-bye” to the Lone Star State.
Last night we arrived at the Clayton Lake State Park, where we found a campsite on a bluff overlooking the lake. Nico spotted some deer in the distance and grunt-pointed at them. We saw a baby bunny and then we put up our tent and realized we were missing half the stakes. We’d also forgotten any tool for fire-making. So we ate cold avocado and turkey sandwiches and then headed off to our droopy tent.
I had imagined that Nico’s first night camping would go something like this: we give her some milk, she falls soundly asleep and then Marta and I stay up whispering about how nice it is to get the fuck out of Lubbock.
If there is something I have learned about motherhood this far it is this: whenever you start assuming that your child will do something she inevitably does the opposite.
And so, after Nico finished her milk, instead of sleeping she proceeded to jump from one to the other of her mothers’ prone, work-weary bodies (we spent the three days leading up to this vacation moving from one house in Lubbock to another one two block down the street).
This lasted about an hour. At which point Marta and I were ready to sleep too. We all slept soundly until about 2am at which point we noticed the tent was visibly sinking in around us. Marta fixed it as best as she could but basically we spent the rest of the night enclosed in a tight womb of tent netting.
It was “una aventura,” as Marta sang the next morning to cheer Nico up (she was slightly freaked out to wake up and find herself in such tight quarters). An adventure indeed.
After packing up our things we hiked over to see the preserved dinosaur footprints at the far end of the lake. They looked very much like potholes but we oohed and ahhed regardless.
Perhaps the best part for the morning was when Nico was looking at the tattoo on my wrist and I explained that it was an arbol, a tree, and she looked at me and repeated “ahhbow.”
It’s the first time she’s just repeated a word like that, right after hearing it. And it felt really revelatory. Then the rest of the walk she pointed at trees and said, Ahhbow.
Here’s Nico at a junkyard-tradeshop we stopped to see on the road (we were looking for a park for a pit stop, but couldn’t find one so we settled in this)
And here she is at her first campsite