So I went to the cardiologist last Friday. He said "You have an interesting and complex heart, and an ER doctor that sees it for the first time is going to think you're having an acute medical emergency, but in reality, your heart looks the same as it did 5 years ago when I first looked at it. You can continue to do whatever activity you feel you're able to." The tachycardia is something that happens a couple times a year to me anyway, and I can usually get that to go away on its own, and the pains when I took a deep breath probably was the pericarditis. That continued until I took some ibuprofen when I got home from the ER and it went away and hasn't come back. So, back to normal for the Curtis family in Republic I guess.
Friday night was my friend Billy's birthday. I went camping with him and his wife and his twin brother Gary (it was his birthday too) and Gary's girlfriend. We went camping in a campground because a friend of Billy and Gary's was coming up Saturday with a travel trailer to "camp" for the long weekend. I wasn't planning on camping, but when I woke up Saturday morning I decided to run home and grab the kids and come back up and camp. Faith chose to stay home and have a weekend to herself. A few of our other friends were camping for the weekend as well at the campground, so there would be other kids for the boys to play with. So, I got home at about 6:30 in the morning on Saturday, loaded up the old minivan with the necessary gear, including a wall tent my friend Jeremy had given me years ago and I hadn't used yet. I also brought our normal tent in case the wall tent didn't work out. So we headed up to Swan Lake campground and got a site right next to where everybody else was camped. The wall tent set up went surprisingly well with the boys helping hammer in stakes and tying things down while I held the poles steady. Having a tent you can stand up in to change clothes when you're wet is awesome, and both Simon and I ended up in the lake, but we'll talk about that later. So Billy's friend Brian showed up with his travel trailer and his family. We walked over to introduce ourselves and Simon met Violet, Brian's 7 year old daughter, and the two were instantly inseparable. Brian told me last night "If Simon was about 5 years older him and I would be having a long talk." They were pretty funny together, Violet said her chair was too heavy for her to move, so Simon assured her it wasn't to heavy for him and lifted it over his head as he moved to where she wanted it. Simon took her fishing down by the lake and was showing off by walking on a log jutting out into the water and fell in the lake. I had extra clothes, but not extra shoes, so Simon sat in a chair by the fire the rest of the night, and said he wanted to throw small pieces of wood into the fire. Violet then spent the next hour or so running between our campsite where there was a bunch of small pieces of wood the boys had chopped with the hatchet, and the campsite where we were sitting around the fire bringing Simon handfuls of wood to throw in the fire. Violet invited Simon to sleep in the trailer with her, but I said no. Dylan spent a lot of time playing with his friend Logan, they went fishing for awhile, but both ended up getting their line snagged, and Dylan tried to wade out to free their hooks, but didn't make it. So I now had two wet kids sitting by the fire with no shoes. After dinner and smores, Gary fed all the kids birthday cake at about 9:30 at night, except for Dylan, who informed the whole camp he "wants to eat more healthy stuff and less unhealthy stuff" so he didn't eat any cake. I think it was more from eating 6 hot dogs, 1/2 a bag of doritos, and 3 smores, but he assured me it wasn't, and sat down and ate another hotdog. Me and the boys spent a great night in the wall tent, got up the next morning and started a fire and ate some breakfast, and I got our friend Gwen to keep an eye on the boys while I ran home to grab dry shoes for the boys, and I got back and we went for a hike around the lake to do some fishing. As we took off, Gwen's son Lucas said he should take the lead, since he knew exactly where we were going to fish. So he took the lead, with Simon and me right behind him, and we ended up leaving everybody else way behind. We got about 3/4 of the way around the lake, and Lucas turned with an exasperated sigh and said "Ben, where are we going!?" I told him I'd been following him and I wasn't sure. So we found a place to fish, Violet, Dylan, and Lucas' brother Logan had caught up by then, and between all the boys we caught three trees about 30 feet up, numerous bushes behind us, one finger, and a downed log in the lake. We finished the hike around the lake and ate some lunch, and me and Billy and Brian started a cribbage tournament (which I won later that evening), when Brian said he'd always wanted to build a raft and paddle it across a lake. After some discussion about what supplies we had available, Billy, Brian, TJ (Gwen's husband), and I took off hiking to the other side of the lake with 50' of rope, a bow saw, and a hatchet. After cutting up a bunch of 9' long chunks of wood of varying diameters that a beaver had thoughtfully laid down right next to the lake for us, I suggested we have a discussion about design. About that time Gwen's dad Richard showed up with all the kids to watch us. We settled on a design and set to building. We quickly discovered that 50' feet of rope wasn't enough for the design we wanted to we figured out something else that we were fairly certain would work. Richard suggested handing anything over to him that we didn't want at the bottom of the lake, so I gave Simon my wallet and a knife and keys, which he ended up setting down next to a stump and trying to leave, but I noticed and got him to pick it up and take it with him. So we got the raft built and Brian and Billy got on. It wasn't looking too stable, and while it was technically floating, the weight of the two of them was keeping it just barely above the surface of the water. Billy had already made me swear I would get on it and paddle back across the lake with them, so I jumped on the raft, causing it to sink about a foot under the surface of the water. I was standing on it, and I was going to turn and jump back to shore, but every time I tried to shift my weight the darn thing almost tipped over, so I ended just jumping backwards off of it and wading back to shore. Richard thought it would work if I sat on the back of the raft with my legs in the water, Billy in the middle, and Brian in the front. Since I was already wet I waded back out and hopped back on. We all got situated and amazingly the raft stayed afloat, though all of us were wet and the "raft" was below the surface of the water. We had some "paddles" that were really 6" wide pieces of dead tree, and we set off paddling all the way back across the lake to camp. I spent some time thinking on a an article I had read in the paper a few weeks ago about the number of drownings this year already. The leading causes were alcohol, inflatable water craft, and a lack of life jackets. After I thinking that at least we weren't in an inflatable water craft I started to feel better. I spent most of the trip back convincing Billy that it would be much better if we made it without sinking, and Billy trying to convince Brian and me that it would be a much better story if the raft sank 1/2 way back and we had to swim the rest of the way. We ended up making it all the way back to camp, where quite a crowd had gathered. Richard had brought his wife and her parents, some of our other friends had showed, and some other kids camping at the campground had all gathered to watch us. The people in un adventurous store bought boats with their life jackets on gave us some pretty weird looks on the way across. Gwen took some video and a couple of pictures that I will hopefully get from her and post. My camera has disappeared, I am beginning to think it got stolen out of the van at some point, that was the last place I remember having. I've looked all through the house, and the van and it hasn't turned up. So we all got changed into dry clothes, though Brian didn't have any extra shoes and had to wear his wife's flip flops the rest of the trip. Another friend showed up with her son and a bunch of wood that somebody had cut up for the kids to hammer together to make boats, so we spent the rest of the evening doing that. Dylan said he was cold at about 630 and asked me to come into the tent with him to grab his coat, then told me he was tired and wanted to go to bed, and he was asleep about 5 minutes later. Simon and Billy both fell asleep sitting in camp chairs at about 8:30, and everybody else started drifting off to tents shortly after. I got up this morning and started a fire and made some coffee, the boys slept in for quite awhile. Everybody packed up pretty early, Brian had to drive back to Idaho, and they all wanted to go to a fireman's breakfast benefit they do every Memorial Day weekend here. Simon told me he was going to miss Violet, so I suggested he ask for her address so he could write her a letter. Me and the boys just came home though, ate some lunch and watched a movie while I took a nap. It was a pretty fun weekend overall. Hope everybody's doing well.