Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Holiday Inn Is My Idea of Camping Out

The first thing you need to know before reading today's tale of Forseter lore is, I snore. The second thing is, I am nothing if not the antithesis of an outdoorsman. I personify the mostly Jewish joke that camping out to me is a stay at a Holiday Inn.

With that in mind, return with me now to the summer of 1981. Gilda and I were 32, expecting our second child, Ellie, in December. Dan was nearing his third birthday in October. Aside from his allergy to dairy products, he also suffered through occasional bouts of asthma.

Our dear friends Dave and Gemma and their daughter Tash, two months younger than Dan, were avid outdoors people. To this day Gemma rambles across such places as Greenland and Africa. (Dave doesn't ramble anymore, but three decades ago he was a veritable Daniel Boone).

For a reason that still eludes me, Gilda fancied herself a co-religionist of the great outdoors. She conspired with Dave and Gemma to arrange a camping trip to Lake George one weekend. I vehemently resisted, arguing, among other things, that Dan had just recovered from a slight cough. But she threatened to go without me so I caved in.

We traveled north in two cars, arriving at the campsite around 4 pm. We set about pitching our tents. That is, Dave and Gemma did. I mostly watched. We built a fire, prepared dinner and, I must admit, were enjoying ourselves when it started raining around 6:30. We retreated to our respective tents for the rest of the evening.

All night long, Gilda later said, I snored. Indubitably I did. I snore every night. But lost amid my zzzzzs was the wheezing of Dan’s breathing. When we awoke around 6 am, Gilda observed his struggle to take in oxygen. The heavy humid air had triggered an asthma attack. The nearest medical center was 60 miles south in Albany. Leaving Dave and Gemma to pack up our gear, we hurried to our car and raced down the Northway. Not too many people are on the road that early, so speeding was not a problem. I was almost hoping a policeman would stop us so we could go even faster with him as an escort.

At the emergency room the doctor administered an injection. All this time aside, from being lethargic, Dan was quite the happy kid. He didn't complain about getting a shot either. Even when the doctor said he needed a second injection, Dan was cheerful and cooperative. We suspect riding in the air conditioned car ameliorated much of his asthma.

I'd like to relate I didn't say to Gilda I told you so, but I don't recall if I was so forgiving and mature. I suspect I most probably was not, while also insisting we never go camping again any further than our back yard. For the record, Gilda and I haven't. Dan, on the other hand, twice has traveled cross-country, often sleeping under the stars.