*** My Adirondack Story***
By Casey Huang

About a week ago, I was dreading the awkward car ride of over ten hours from Virginia to New York, trapped in a car with four unidentified faces and armed with only a word bank of J-names (Jonathan, Jeffrey, and… Jason? Justin? Joshua?) Silently praying that these “nice, humble boys” and the “nice, humble girl” my mom told me about would have enough of a sense of humor to put up with me, I packed my bags (and inconveniently left the poncho and sunglasses on the bed). All too soon I was dreading the car ride of over ten hours from New York to Virginia that would mark the end of the trip.

In a way, going back was the same sleepy car ride as the first, except that this time, the cameras were out trying to snap unphotogenic pictures of passengers while sleeping.

And there might’ve been a poke war involved that was mysteriously absent on the trip to New York, some seat-stealing, and some fawning over a talking square on an iPhone.

Sometime between the two car rides the awkwardness magically diffused. It probably started disappearing that first Sunday, after a game (or two or three or four) of Contact, after half a game of Monopoly Deal, and especially after two people who will remain anonymous (ie, Josh and Jonathan)

tipped their canoe over – one of whom managed to fall into the water twice (ie, Jonathan).

This is foreshadowing: for the remainder of the week, he will continue to fall out of the canoe and into the water a respectable number of times, especially while gunneljumping – an art I finally, after two years, started to get the hang of.

In the meantime, there was a little bit of canoeing, a couple of canoe carries, some more canoeing, some canoe tipping, another round of canoeing, some climbs over beaver dams, an ounce more of canoeing, failed map-reading, and even a triple-canoe adventure attempt.

The weather was thankfully favorable all week, from windless lakes to windless mountain. Well, there were a couple windy moments on the lake – I seem to remember rowing like crazy and finding myself blown backwards halfway across the lake until finally being towed back to safety by CSC-4.

And the mountain was only slightly breezy and revealed a gorgeous scenic view that I personally would’ve preferred appreciating at the very top of the mountain in my flip-flops.

However, I was persuaded to explore the view along the mountain cliffs by Tansy, who decided to climbed down to the lower ledges, encouraged by someone who I will not name for the sake of anonymity (codename Reffrey). But it turned all right in the end. Besides an awkward moment or two, I was able to snap a picture of the Deathly Hallows symbol Josh left behind on the ledge in stone.

Even the chores turned out all right, and it was even – dare I say – fun (though God forbid my mom find out). While the girls did obey internet meme and made sandwiches, there was the role reversal in stereotype as we also gathered most of the firewood as the guys practiced channeling their inner housewife and cooked all the meals (read: attempted to push Paula’s weight over 100 pounds with obscene hot dogs).

Did they succeed in channeling their inner housewife? My taste buds say yes. And after their unicorn-shaped chocolate pancake?

Heck yes. On top of that, Jonathan even leveled up a couple times when it came to washing dishes. And the guys did do some firewood gathering, to give them credit. They built and marketed an easy-to-use Christmas tree, consisting of all natural materials – firewood arranged in teepee form encased in 100% organic pine needles. Just add magic water and light with a match. One thing they might’ve neglected in the campfire prototype was a warning label, cautioning users to wear protective eye gear when lighting the wood as the fire blinded and blazed to over double the height it normally was.

That besides, the campfire was a five star product. Of all the places you could be when the sun went down and the world turned black, the campfire was the place to be. It was the perfect time to warm up after a day of canoeing, lazing in the steer seat, and tumbling into the water – or to finish up another bag of marshmallows by shoving eight at once in your mouth, which (judging by someone’s reaction) was harder than expected.

It was also the place to stay up when trying to catch a mysterious ghost who plays a haunting melody at midnight (who ended up visiting only that one time) or a raccoon (which we missed by half an hour). And after the campfire, there was stargazing – a time for new discovery for suburbia when suddenly plopped down in a place with no light pollution. We discovered a couple new stars – which turned out to be airplanes – and a new alien species descending from the sky – which turned out to be lightning bugs. Yes, it was overall a very enlightening experience, pun completely intended. (See what I did there?) Not only did I learn the difference between stars and airplanes, aliens and fireflies, but also oars and paddles – which apparently are as different as an elephant and an ostrich. And the difference between rowing and paddling.

And how not to fold a tent. Amazing, how much you find you don’t know when electricity is taken away and you’re thrown into the woods, and how much you marvel at when you rediscover technology – namely, a magical bowl that flushes away waste, named Toilet. But now that I’ve rediscovered technology and befriended Toilet once again, it’s grown to be lackluster compared to the excitement a shovel had. (You can dig your own hole and poop in it too!) Forget the showers, give me the murky water on the bottom of the canoe that reminded me of bubble tea. But since packing up again and returning to the campsite isn’t an option, I’ll just sit here and nurse my mosquito bites (and leech bite) – a daunting task, considering I have more bug bites than Ireland has potatoes.

And maybe I’ll put the photos I took to good use and get around to making a calendar composed of everyone’s attractive sleeping faces. We’ll see.