DadVenture /dad-vÊn-cher/: (noun) A father-inspired activity, typically of epic proportions in his mind, which usually results in a different outcome than expected.
Summer is in full swing and this mean time for DadVentures. Last week Yarei cashed in on a much deserved mother’s day massage, and I took advantage of this window to exercise my DadVenture planning powers. Usually these events involve great dreams of adventure and grandeur with some sort of high-flying trapeze finish… until I realize the limited capacity and tolerance of 1 and 3 year olds. But a dad can dream… and dream I did.
Our destination: Little Manatee River state park. Atmospheric conditions: 90+ with high humidity. Mission: Survival…along with some nature surveillance.
Upon arrival at our wilderness base camp, I briefed my troops on the day’s mission.
“Estan listos para la aventura?!” I yelled with the enthusiasm of a brand new camp counselor.
“SIIII!!” Came the munchkin chorus in the back seat.
We got out of the car and started down the paved, unbeaten path into nowhere land. We stopped at a sign with strange markings, which I quickly deciphered for the troops.
“These are animals we may see in the wild.” I pointed at the different snakes and birds pictured in the markings. Ooo’s and ahh’s followed.
“It’s like Wild Kratts, papi!” shouted Elias, showing his sister some sample creatures he had already spied.
And so our trek began along a winding path covered with Florida vegetation, mysterious bird sounds, insects, heat and humidity. Lots of heat and humidity. The thick wetland foliage gave brief spots of relief from the blistering sun, but these were sparse and we often found ourselves at the mercy of teasing cloud coverage.
Elias grabbed a random stick to use in the event trouble found us, and Selah took over navigation by leaving a trail of cheezits in case we got lost. I donned my safari hat and blazed the trail… for about 10 minutes.
“Papi.. i’m hot.” Complained Elias.
“Yes, yes… the jungle tests those who would enter it. We must go forth!” I yelled as I waved mosquitoes from my face.
“Pero papi… i’m hungry!!”
Blasted… I left the snacks back in the explorer mobile!
(For those with DadVenture experience, a common trait is omission of small details that the motherly type usually remember, such as rations, hygiene equipment, recreational items, and other minutiae that are irrelevant in the world of wilderness exploration and conquest).
“It’s ok, this is a short unexplored trail. We’ll be back at the van soon.” I assured my security officer.
“No papi… I want my snacks!” Apparently the jungle was pushing him harder than any other explorer had ever endured.
I squatted to his eye level.
“Elias. There is terrain to explore and creatures to be discovered!” I waved my hand for emphasis, then smacked a few mosquitoes off my neck. But it was no use. His shoulders drooped and I could see the weight of the wilderness crashing upon him. I had to act quickly to maintain troop morale.
“Guess what! The rest of this path is a mirage… it actually ends here! There’s nothing more to explore!”
“YAAYYY!” came the chorus of mini troops. Deep inside, my own mini-explorer was also secretly cheering at the thought of leaving this wretched, mosquito-infested humidity tunnel.
I carried Elias on my shoulders, pushed Selah’s tricycle and hacked my way back through the vines and primeval forest heat , defeated and downtrodden by the elements. And like a marooned castaway who sees a boat on the horizon, the children yelled with delight when they saw the van emerge from behind the thick moss and myrtle oak. But nature gave me one last hope to redeem our adventure: in the distance, a shaded picnic table.
“Look Elias! We can have our snacks at the table and keep looking for creatures!”
“Papi, I have better idea. Let’s eat in the van. We can look out the window,” Elias countered.
“But you can see more if you’re outside!” I protested like a tour guide who’s about to lose a big tip.
“No papi… it’s better in the van..with the air on.”
We loaded into the van and Elias settled happily into his explorer car seat with his snacks on his lap and the ac on his face.
“You see papi! It’s better in the car. You need to listen to me.”
And so concluded a day of exploration, conquest and defiance of nature with air conditioning.