Author Topic: Happy Campers - Chapter 8 *Complete*  (Read 6606 times)

Offline Cheezey

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Happy Campers - Chapter 8 *Complete*
« on: February 19, 2015, 11:07:37 AM »
Happy Campers

Author’s Note: Shortly after I got Outdoor Retreat and explored it with a super-sim that already had a bunch of rewards and base game skills maxed, I thought it’d be fun to have a fresher-from-CAS family that was utterly unsuited for the “roughing it” experience go to Granite Falls.  So I sent my Sims 4 remakes of the Sims 3’s computer-geeky, couch-potatoey scientists, Boyd and Susan Wainwright, on a camping trip with their daughter Blair. 

A quick bit of background: In my Sims 4 version of them, Boyd and Susan are both still young adults, and Blair is a child, so you can either imagine this as fitting in with their Sims 3 past, and that they’re actually in Sunset Valley and not Oasis Springs, or you can take it as an alternate universe, whichever you prefer.  Both Boyd and Susan have computer whiz aspirations, and both work in the tech guru career.  They share the traits genius and lazy, but Boyd’s third trait is slob while Susan’s is snob.  Little Blair is a loner, with a whiz kid aspiration.  She just earned an A in grade school on the day the story begins.

Chapter 1

“I got a call from Blair’s teacher today,” Susan said without looking up from her Blicblock game. 

“Oh?”  Boyd did not look up from his screen, either, and continued to type.  Most would have wondered how much attention they could be paying to each other, and some would have been offended if it was them they were conversing with in such a manner, but for the Wainwright couple, it was typical. 

Susan frowned as the game refused to give her the color block she was waiting on.  “She said Blair is one of the brightest kids she’s had in her class in years.  Not only is she an A student, but her standardized test scores are all at the top of the charts.  It surprised her, because Blair’s so quiet, and hardly ever answers questions she asks the class.”

“It doesn’t surprise me.  Blair’s always been shy.  It has nothing to do with how smart she is.”

“Oh, I know.  That’s what I told her.  Anyway, she also said that she thinks Blair is gifted, and with our permission, would like to put her in a special program with extra credit work to keep her mind challenged.”

Boyd studied a picky bit of code he was tinkering with.  “Sure.  That sounds like it’d be good for her.”  He paused.  “Hey, remember when we told her at the beginning of the school year, if she got good grades, we’d take her somewhere fun on a vacation?”


“Maybe we could take her on a short trip now, to celebrate her getting into the gifted program, and keep her motivated.  We’ve got a few vacation days accrued, and there’s a holiday weekend coming up.”

Susan chortled.  “This suggestion wouldn’t have anything to do with how much you’ve been muttering about needing a vacation every day after work lately, would it?”

“Well, the daily grind has gotten more than a little… grinding,” Boyd admitted.  “I could use a break.  But I think it’d be a nice thing to do for Blair, too.”

“Fair enough.  Let’s do it, then.  Where do you think she’d want to go, other than Llama World?  We can’t exactly do that for a quick weekend trip.”

“I don’t know,” Boyd admitted.  “It doesn’t matter.  We can ask her and let her pick.  I figure as long as it’s not in my work space, it’ll be an improvement.”

Blair was doing some of her assigned reading for school when the family sat down for dinner.  “Are you sure you don’t want any macaroni and cheese?  I promise I didn’t burn it this time.”  Susan said it with a note of pride, even though making it had made a mess out of her when it spattered on the stove.  Neither she nor Boyd were particularly good in the kitchen. 

“I’ll get some when I’m done.  I’ve only got a few pages left to go.”

“You’re working pretty hard on that reading list, huh?” Boyd remarked.


“That’s what your teacher told us, too,” he said with a smile.  “You’re ahead of your whole class.”

Blair looked up in surprise.  “My teacher talked to you?”

“She called us today,” Susan told her.  “She said you’re one of the best students in her class, and very smart.  She wants to put you in a special program for only the smartest kids in school.”


“Yup,” Boyd said.  “We’re very proud of you.  So we have a surprise for you, since you’ve been doing so well.”

“Remember how we promised to take you on a vacation if you kept your grades high this year?” Susan asked.

Blair nodded.

“Well, it’s not the end of the year yet, but with how you’re doing now, you’re pretty much set for that trip to Lllama World you said you’d like to go on this summer,” Boyd told her.  “But since that’s a long way off, we decided to let you pick somewhere you’d like to go this weekend in the meantime.  Anywhere you want that we can do in 3 days.”

“Wow!”  Blair was practically bouncing with excitement.  “I can pick anywhere?”

“As long as it’s open, and we can get there and back in time,” Susan said.  “Maybe the beach?  Or the zoo?”

“Or over to the city?  There’s a lot of fun stuff to do there, like go the biggest toy store in Sim Nation, or see a show, or visit the planetarium...”

Blair thought for a moment.  “Can we go camping?”

“Camping?” Susan repeated, surprised.  “You mean, like out in the woods camping?”

“Yeah!  My friend Kody’s in scouts, and they took a trip to Granite Falls last summer.  He said it was a lot of fun.  They went fishing at a waterfall, and learned about wild plants you can eat, and had campfires and weenie roasts where they ate hot dogs and s’mores and told ghost stories.”

“That sounds like a camping trip, all right,” Boyd said.  “But you know, there are also bears in the woods, and lots of bugs, too.”

“Huge bugs,” Susan added.  “And bees!”

It didn’t seem to faze Blair.  “I’m not afraid of bugs or bees, and Kody told me his scout leader said that bears leave you alone if you don’t bother them, or leave food out for them to get.  Oh, and you shouldn’t get between a mother bear and her cub, because she thinks you’re going to hurt her baby and gets really mean.  But I wouldn’t do that.  I’d just leave the bears alone.”  She gave her parents a hopeful look.  “So can we go to Granite Falls this weekend and go camping?”

Susan and Boyd exchanged helpless looks.  Camping was far from their cup of tea, but they had told Blair she could go anywhere she wanted.  Granite Falls was only about an hour and a half drive, easily done as a weekend trip.  “If you’re sure that’s what you really want to do,” Susan said.

“YAY!”  Blair was so excited, she almost knocked her book off of the table.  “Can we leave tonight?”

“Tonight?  Well, I don’t see why not, but we’ll have to make sure there’s a place to stay there first,” Susan said.  “We don’t have a tent or anything.  And even if we leave within the hour, it’ll be almost dark by the time we get there.  You’d have to pack fast.”

“I can do that.”

Boyd pulled out his smartphone.  “I think the campgrounds up there have rental cabins.  Let me call and see what they’ve got available.”

“In the meantime, get some dinner,” Susan told Blair.  “We’ll get there late if we have to stop on the way.  You can pack your book if you want to read in the car, or in the cabin.”


It didn’t take Boyd long to find the number.  “Hi,” he said when the representative answered.  “Do you have any open cabins left for this weekend?”  He paused.  “When would we be checking in?  Uh, tonight, if possible.  Family of three.”  He frowned as he listened to the response, and looked over at Susan.  “Apparently all that’s left is a one-bedroom cabin with a full size bed.  But he says that an air mattress can be purchased at the 24 hour ranger station.”

“An air bed?  Those are cool.  You can bounce on them.”  Blair grinned and bounced in her chair.

Susan shrugged.  “I guess that’s fine.  Put us in for it.  I’ll get ready.”  She looked at Blair.  “You get to eating, and get some play clothes packed.  Don’t bring anything you don’t want to risk getting ruined.  Mud and grass stains can be permanent.”

Boyd returned to the call.  “Okay, we’ll take the one bedroom cabin.”  There was a pause.  “Reservation name is Wainwright.  Oh, you need a credit card now?  Yeah, that’s no problem.”  Boyd fished out his wallet and gave the information.  “All right.  Thanks.  Wait, I forgot to ask.  Is there any wi-fi on the campgrounds?”  His expression soured.  “Oh.  Thanks anyway.”  He hung up.

“No wi-fi?” Susan guessed as they cleared their plates from the table.  Once they were taken care of, they headed to their computers to shut them down for the weekend.

“Nope.  Now I really wish we'd bought that tablet we looked at last week.  Guess we'll be roughing it on our cell phone screens all weekend.  At least the reception should be decent on a mountaintop, and we have unlimited data.”

Since Blair was out of earshot now that she was wolfing down her dinner, Susan sighed.  “No internet feels so primitive.  What’s next?  No electricity in the cabins?”

“Don’t even joke about that.”  Boyd paused.  “Do you think they sell solar chargers at the ranger station?  I mean, just in case.  We should probably top off the charge to our phones on the drive up in the car…”

Susan let out a cynical laugh.  “Oh, Watcher, Boyd.  What are we getting ourselves into?  I don’t know the first thing about camping.  I wasn’t a sim scout.  I took ballet.  Once my brother lit a ‘campfire’ on our grill that we roasted marshmallows on, but that’s about the closest I ever got to it.”

Boyd took a deep breath and forced some optimism.  “A cabin in the woods won’t be that bad.  Sure, we don’t have the computers, and there’s phone-only internet, but he did say they have a TV and cable.  The cabin’s also supposed to have a kitchen, so we’ll stop and get some hot dogs and decent snacks on the way.  We can have a barbecue, and roast some marshmallows.  We’ll enjoy the scenery, maybe take a walk around Granite Falls National Park one day so Blair can see it, and the rest of the time we’ll kick back and relax while Blair plays around in the woods.  Maybe it’ll even be romantic when it’s just the two of us.”

“Well, when you put it that way, you almost make it sound fun,” Susan said with a small smile.  “Come on, let’s get packed.”

Offline Rikki8528

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 1
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2015, 03:43:52 PM »
Yay! This looks great already, you're a good writer. I can't remember if I posted on it, but I love your Sims 3 story too.

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Offline Nettlejuice

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 1
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2015, 05:19:47 PM »
It's my first time seeing the Wainwrights in Sims 4. Hopefully they can survive with computers and wi-fi  ;D
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Offline Cheezey

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Happy Campers - Chapter 2
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2015, 12:39:24 PM »
Yay! This looks great already, you're a good writer. I can't remember if I posted on it, but I love your Sims 3 story too.

Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying both stories. :)

It's my first time seeing the Wainwrights in Sims 4. Hopefully they can survive with computers and wi-fi  ;D

Survive, perhaps, but enjoy it?  That's up for debate.  Granite Falls is not exactly a tech-friendly environment!  ;)

Chapter 2

It was already dark by the time the Wainwrights made it to Granite Falls.  Due to the holiday weekend, the grocery store they stopped in had long lines, and traffic was worse than they expected.  After that drive, Boyd and Susan were looking forward to crashing in the “cozy” bed the campground cabins were advertised to have.

Unfortunately, there was an unwelcome surprise waiting for them on their arrival.  There was no cabin for them.

“What do you mean there’s no available cabin for us?” Boyd shouted angrily.  “I reserved it on the phone earlier tonight!  It’s been less than three hours!  How can there be no cabin?  Did it disappear?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the elderly woman in a ranger’s uniform answered in an apologetic tone.  “I don’t know how this happened, but I’m afraid that all the cabins are indeed occupied.  Part of my security job here is keeping an eye on them.”

Tapping on her phone screen, Susan looked over at Boyd.  “Well, they may have lost the cabin, but they didn’t lose our credit card information.  They charged us for the cabin they don’t have an hour ago.”

Boyd was furious.  “What?!”

“Oh, dear.”  The ranger took a deep breath.  “I am very, very sorry.  Your card shouldn’t have been charged until check-in.  Let me give the main office a call and find out what’s going on.”
Blair looked at her mother.  “Are we going to have to go home or sleep in the car?”

“This trip was for her, you know,” Susan said angrily, pushed over the edge by the anxious and disappointed look on Blair’s face.  “A present for getting excellent grades.  My daughter deserves better than this.  This is supposed to be a highly rated facility.  If we have to leave without giving her the trip she wanted, by the time I’m done on Threesquare, Holler, and SimBook, I can guarantee you that nice rating will be history!  I’m sure you don’t want to be known all over the internet as the campground that makes little girls cry!”

The ranger gave an understanding nod, and offered Blair a hopeful smile.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll see to it that you get your camping trip, honey.  And sir, ma’am, I can’t apologize enough for this.  I’ll get to the bottom of it and make it right for you.”  She went back into the station and immediately got on the phone.

Blair traced a line in the dirt with her shoe, while Boyd looked over at Susan.  “And they say mother bears are fierce when you get between them and their cubs.  You could give them a run for their money.”

“There’s no excuse for this level of incompetence, especially when it ruins what’s supposed to be a weekend for her.”

They heard the ranger’s voice getting agitated inside the station. She sounded almost as upset as they were. A moment later, she came to the window. “I’m sorry, folks.  I hate to tell you this, but here’s what happened. Your reservation’s in the computer as a standby, meaning that it says you agreed to take the first slot that opens knowing they’re all full, like if someone checks out early or cancels.  But your reservation also shows a changed status, so that wasn’t how it was first put in.  They never updated the credit card information on the old reservation, so when that family checked in, your card paid for it.  The main office said that the records show the ranger on shift before me switched your reservation and another family’s. It’s against policy to do that without permission of both parties, but it looks like he fudged that.”

She sighed. “I’d call it an honest mistake, but between you, me, and the fireflies, I know how that guy is.  There’s a single young lady in that family, and I’ll bet he did the old switcheroo with their standby reservation and yours hoping to impress her into a date.  Can’t prove it, unfortunately, and campground policy doesn’t allow us to cancel their stay when it was one of our employees responsible.  Of course, we’ll refund your card right away. I can also promise you that management will deal with the ranger who screwed up your reservation. Beyond that, all we can do is offer you what lodgings we do have, free of charge, to make up for your trouble.”

“But I thought you said you didn’t have any more cabins,” Boyd said.

“We don’t.  We do have an empty camp, though.”

“What’s the difference?” asked Susan.

“A cabin’s a cabin.  A camp site is meant for campers and RVs.  You get a nice bit of land around the cabins with your own water access, fire pit, grill, picnic table, and horseshoe court.”

Susan and Boyd both paled.  “That’s… that’s not lodging.  That’s sleeping in the grass!”

“We don’t have an RV.  We don’t even have a tent or sleeping bags,” Boyd told her.  “We didn’t come here to camp, at least, not like that.  We expected to have a cabin.  The food we brought needs a refrigerator.”

“And where do we shower, or go to the bathroom?” Susan asked.  “This is a three-day weekend.”

Boyd hadn’t even thought of that.  He did not want to be the proverbial wild bear in the woods when the time came.  He would sooner drive to the nearest public bathroom holding it.

The ranger thought for a moment.  “Well, given the magnitude of the screw-up, and that you signed on for a cabin that costs a good amount more per night than the rental on a camp site, I’d say we could comp you one of our premium tents and stuff to sleep on.  We’ve got public bathrooms a short walk from your site, and it has pay-per-use showers.  I can give you tokens for that.  Otherwise, we sell portable camping showers that hook up to the water access, if you prefer one more private.  We can also throw in a free cooler and ice.”

Susan made a face.  “The camp shower is a must.  I am not putting my bare feet on a public bathroom floor.”

“So that's what I can offer you folks, unless you'd like to reschedule for the cabin another weekend,” the ranger said.  “It’s up to you.”

Blair made the decision for them. “Camping in a tent is going to be so cool!”  She looked at her parents.  “Can I pick it out?”

Boyd and Susan exchanged looks.  At least Blair did not seem to mind the downgrade.  “Go for it,” Boyd said, and then turned back to the ranger behind the glass.  “All right.  Sign us up and show us what you’ve got.”

A little less than an hour later, they were set up on the camp site.  The ranger stayed to help them pitch the tent, and left a battery-operated lantern for them on the picnic table.  “Looks like you’re all set now.  If you need the bathrooms, they’re right down that path in the little building there.  Close enough to see.  Be sure to carry the light if you go after dark.  The bears are less likely to bother you that way, although they’re mostly harmless if you leave them alone.  Keep that cooler locked, though.  Rumor has it there’s a bear around here that can smell granola through three inches of plastic and ice.”

“Thanks for your help, ma’am.”

“My name’s Kendall.  Feel free to call on me, or anyone on duty, while you’re here.  I apologize again for the whole mess they made of your reservation.”  She pulled a small book out of her pocket and left it on the table.  “This is the latest Wilderness Digest, if you want a little light reading.  Has some fun trivia about the area and some other nature articles.  The fishing tips are always good, and if any of you are anglers, that creek down there has some bass almost as big as the ones in the lake by the falls.”  She stood up.  “Have a nice night, folks, and enjoy your stay.”

“She was nice and helpful, at least,” Susan said.  “Although I’m still going to leave a few honest reviews when I get back to a real keyboard, and don’t have to type on my phone.”

“Can we light a camp fire now?” Blair asked.

“Sure,” Boyd said.  “Let me get the lighter.”  He swatted his arm.  “Ugh.  The mosquitoes are treating me like a buffet.”

“Speaking of buffets, I’m going to grab something to eat out of the cooler,” Susan said.  “I could use a snack.”

Blair wandered around the camp site while her mother ate some yogurt and her father rummaged through bags in the tent.  “Wow, Mom, look at all the stars you can see.”

Susan glanced up.  “The sky is really clear here.  Do you see the big dipper?”

“Yeah,” she said as she relaxed on the ground.  “And that one’s Orion, right?”

“Very good,” Susan said proudly, as Boyd came out and began messing with the fire.  “Do you recognize any others?”

There was a bright flash at the fire pit, and Boyd let out a panicked scream.  “Aaah!”

“Oh, my Watcher!”  Susan saw Boyd flailing with flames on his arm.  She ran for the nearest thing that was wet, which happened to be the cooler.  Adrenaline brought Boyd to his senses fast enough that he was able to pat the fire out himself, which spared him the additional discomfort and indignity of having a tub full of ice, drink cans, and uncooked hot dogs thrown on him.

“Dad, what happened?”

“Uh, a little unexpected air flow over the fire, that’s all.  I’m fine.  Not even burned, really.”  There was a slight sting in his skin, but it was no worse than a sunburn.

Susan sniffed at the air.  “Honey, how much lighter fluid did you use on that?”

“The wood was a little wet.  I thought it needed an extra boost when it wasn’t taking.”  He sighed.  “It made sense in theory, but I didn’t think about drafts.”

“So much for enjoying those ‘fresh mountain breezes,’ huh?”  Susan patted him on the shoulder.

“Yeah,” Boyd muttered as he crouched by the fire and tried again.

He had better luck the second time, and before long, they had a nice campfire going.  “Hey, Blair, I got the marshmallows out,” Boyd called over to her, where she was still watching the stars. 

“Cool!  I even have my stick picked out already!”

Susan was about to throw out her empty yogurt container and join them when she heard a noise in the woods nearby.  “I wonder what that was.”

“Do you think it’s a bear?” Blair asked, wide-eyed as she sat down beside Boyd at the fire pit.  She skewered a marshmallow on the end of her stick and put it in the fire.

“Nah.  Wild animals don’t usually like fire,” Boyd said.

“It might’ve been a raccoon.  I imagine they're in these trash cans all the time, with how many people cook out and throw out food scraps in them.  Maybe it changed its mind when it saw us here.”  Susan frowned and walked toward the path.  “Anyway, I don’t see anything.”

Susan joined Boyd and Blair at the fire, and they spent a good hour chit-chatting about the woods, animals, and stars while stuffing their faces with marshmallows.  Blair became increasingly giggly as it got later, and after a silly joke about ducks had her in hysterics, Susan decided it was time to cut her off from the sugar for the night.

“All right, sweetie.  I think we’ve had enough of these for now.”  She closed up the bag. 


Boyd yawned.  “It’s getting late, anyway.  Aren’t you tired?”

“No way.  I haven’t seen any shooting stars yet, and I want to wish on one.  The Wilderness Digest said people see them here a lot.”

“It’s a good spot to see that kind of thing.  I’m surprised nobody’s put in an observatory out here.”

Susan stood and stretched.  “Well, I think I’m going to observe the softness of the air mattress, and get changed for bed.”

“I’d join you, but I don’t want to go in for the night until I’m sure the fire’s out.”  Over the last hour it had dwindled down, but Boyd was not certain the bucket of water they had ready for it would be enough to completely extinguish it.  He looked over.  “Come on, Blair.  Time for bed.”

“But I want to watch the sky,” she argued.  “Please, can’t I stay up a little longer?”

Boyd realized that even if Blair did go into the tent, she was not going to fall sleep anytime soon with how wired she was.  That meant he and Susan were not going to get any sleep, either.  “How about this?  You can stay out here and watch the stars until the fire is low enough to be put out.  If you promise that you won’t leave the camp site, won’t play with the fire, and you’ll come get us if you hear anything close by in the woods, I’ll go on in with your mom, and let you keep an eye on the fire for me.  When the fire gets low, come and tell us.  We’ll put it out, and then we’ll all go to sleep.  Sound fair?”

“Yup,” she agreed happily.

Blair relaxed by the fire while Boyd and Susan went into the tent.  Like the responsible girl she was, Blair kept watch over the fire, and basked in its warmth while staring up at the night sky.  All sorts of space adventures and stories filled her imagination, and she was so caught up in them that she never noticed her parents took an awful long time to get changed, and did not peek out to check the fire for quite a while.

When the fire died down to little more than embers and a couple wisps of flame, Blair figured that was what her father had meant by almost out.  “Dad?  Mom?  I think the fire’s died down.”

“Okay, I’ll be right out,” Boyd answered.  A moment later, wearing what he usually slept in, he emerged from the tent and headed for the bucket.  Susan came out behind him wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top. 

“Go on in and get changed,” Susan told Blair, while Boyd extinguished the fire.  Once Blair was inside, Susan stood by Boyd at the fire pit.  “So, still think anything not in your work space is an improvement?”

“Well, the accommodations leave much to be desired.  The lack of internet will have me in withdrawal by this time tomorrow, and I did set myself on fire, but overall… yes, it’s still better than work.”  He pulled Susan into a hug, and gave her a knowing smirk.  “And Blair was right about the air mattresses being fun to bounce on.”

Susan was about to make a witty retort when Blair came out of the tent.  “Can I take a drink in with me?”

“Only if you promise not to spill it.”

“I won’t.”  She rummaged through the cooler, and then went back into the tent.  Boyd and Susan followed her in, and before long, all three were fast asleep, resting up for whatever adventures awaited them tomorrow.

Offline Nettlejuice

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 2
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2015, 12:54:03 PM »
Glad they got a refund! At least now they may even get to enjoy a tech-free holiday.
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Offline Rikki8528

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 2
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2015, 02:06:47 PM »
Hmm, I wonder what will happen to the bad ranger...

Offline Cheezey

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Happy Campers - Chapter 3
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2015, 10:21:33 AM »
Glad they got a refund! At least now they may even get to enjoy a tech-free holiday.

Whether they like it or not.  ;)

Hmm, I wonder what will happen to the bad ranger...

I'd guess that's a firing offense, or at least earned some serious disciplinary action, depending on whether gossipy Ranger Kendall was right about it being deliberate or not.

Chapter 3

Boyd, Susan, and Blair were all hungry when they woke up.  Unfortunately, since they had planned on a having cabin with a kitchen, they had no way to make the pancake mix they’d bought for breakfast without going all the way to the ranger’s station to buy a frying pan for it.  “Well, there’s that granola we picked up on the way.  It’s kind of like cereal,” Susan suggested.

“It’ll do until we barbecue later,” Boyd said, pouring himself a bowl after handing one to Blair.

“I think it’s good!  It’s kind of like a cookie.”  She chewed a little.  “But cookies are better.”

Susan took a bite.  “So this is what being one of those doomsday preppers feels like,” she said afterward.  “Here’s hoping society never collapses.”

“Tell me about it.  I never realized just how much of a luxury plumbing is,” Boyd remarked.  “I won’t complain nearly as much about our cheap toilet breaking after not having one.”  He glanced down the trail that led to the bathrooms. 

“At least you can just go pee in the woods.  We girls can’t do that,” Blair stated in a tone that made it clear she found that unfair.

“She’s got you there,” Susan remarked.  “Speaking of which, I’m going to head down to the bathrooms after we’re done eating.  Do you need to go with me?” she asked Blair.


Blair finished her granola, and went to retrieve the Wilderness Digest from the tent.  She had been quite interested in it ever since the ranger left it with them, and had been sharing various facts and trivia from it.

Boyd noticed Susan making a particularly miserable expression while Blair was in the tent.  “What’s wrong, honey?  Is the granola that bad?  I thought it was okay.  Not great, but not awful.”

She let out a long sigh.  “I’m trying hard for Blair’s sake, but ugh.  The bugs, the dirt, the lack of electricity and plumbing, the animals… I miss my bed, and my computer.  I thought nature was supposed to be relaxing.”

“It is, when appreciated from the porch of a nice cabin with electric, plumbing, and cable.”

“At least Blair is enjoying herself.  That’s the only reason I’m not tearing down that tent right now, and insisting we go home and stop at a decent restaurant on the way.”

After Blair came back, she and Boyd headed to the bathrooms while Susan cleaned up their bowls, saying she’d meet up with them there.  Now that they were up and walking around, they realized how badly they needed to go.  Especially Boyd, who had not been since right after they arrived in Granite Falls. 

Blair headed toward the bathrooms at a brisk pace, while Boyd lagged behind in a shuffling I-really-need-to-go walk.  “Hey, did you hear something in the bushes back there?” Blair asked.

“It was probably just a deer or something,” Boyd said, but as he glanced over, he thought he saw a large dark shadow far taller than any deer.  It’s a ranger.  Or a hiker.  It’s nothing to worry about.

The big brown creature that came out on the path behind him was most certainly not a ranger or a hiker.

Boyd let out a whimper and tried to stay calm.  Don’t panic.  Animals sense fear.  Don’t run.

He could hear something that resembled a faint growl coming from it as it followed him down the path.

“Don’t run,” he murmured to himself.  “Keep calm.  Keep calm and shuffle faster.”

Luckily, the bear was not aggressive.  After scaring Boyd almost to the point where still needing the bathroom would have been moot, it went down another path and back into the woods.  Blair and Boyd were waiting outside when Susan finally caught up with them.  She came out of the bathroom last, looking utterly disgusted.

“I have never seen so many flies in my life,” she announced, waving the last of them away from her face.

“It was that dirty?” Boyd asked.  “The men’s side wasn’t that bad.”

“It wasn’t too yucky, but there were a lot of flies in there,” Blair said.

Susan washed her hands.  “It wasn’t dirty like the staff hasn’t been keeping it up, but I guess out here in the woods, you can’t help but get bugs.”

Blair perked up.  “They talk about that in the Wilderness Digest!”  She flipped to a page.  “Here it is.  ‘Top Ten Insects Found in Granite Falls National Park.’”

“Well, the actual park is about a mile up the road.  This is just a campground for it,” Boyd pointed out.  “The park itself doesn’t allow you to camp there like this.”

“We’re going there tomorrow, right?” Blair asked.

Susan nodded.  “That was the plan.  Today we’re just going to relax a little and explore the campgrounds.  There’s a lot to do here, too.”

“I know!  I want to go hiking!”

“That’s fine, but change into long pants first,” Susan said.  “I don’t want you getting cut up on briars or getting ticks on you.”  She looked at Boyd.  “Does the ranger shop sell insect repellent?”

“I don’t know.  We’ll have to check.”

Blair looked bored by that suggestion.  “Can I just go back and change and then hike around?”

“All right,” Susan agreed.  “But don’t wander out of sight of any of the trails or cabins.”


Susan and Boyd were starting off toward the ranger station when Boyd saw a couple of brightly colored lady bugs by the side of the trail.  “Hey, Susan, check it out.  Just like Blair mentioned in that guide.  Too bad she ran off already.”  He paused.  “Maybe I can catch one and show her.”

“She’d get a kick out of that,” Susan agreed.  “I think I see some over here, too.”  She bent down to take a closer look, while another hiker walked by.

“OW!” Susan let out an ear-piercing shriek.  “They bit me!”

The hiker walking by stopped.  “Are you all right?”

“I didn’t think lady bugs bit,” Boyd said, surprised.  “How bad is it?”

“I’ll live,” Susan muttered, rubbing her arm.  “There are ants here, too.  I think it was one of them.”

“Oh, the fire ants are bad in this area,” the hiker volunteered.  “You’ve got to be careful of them.  They can hurt as much as a wasp sting.  You’re not allergic, are you?”

Susan shook her head.  “No.”

“You should be okay, then.  It’ll just itch and sting for a while before it heals.”

Boyd examined the welt on Susan’s arm.  “They must have some cream or ointment over at the ranger’s station.  I’ll go get you some.”

“No, I’ll go with you.  I want to see what they have that we still need if we’re going to last two more days here, anyway.”  She started down the trail. 

“Thanks for the heads up about the fire ants,” Boyd said to the hiker.  “I knew they were native to the area, but I’d never actually seen one before, and I didn’t realize they were that common.”

“Oh, yeah, they thrive in places like this.  The park is pretty good about taking care of it if they see any signs of big colonies, but this close to the woods, it’s a constant battle.  Always look before you poke around any logs or sit on them.  There are some places you never want them to get you.”

“I can imagine,” Boyd said, although he would have rather not imagined it.  “I’ll have to bring my daughter here and show her so she doesn’t get stung.”

“You’re new to camping, aren’t you?”

Boyd chuckled.  “It’s that obvious, huh?”

“Kind of,” the hiker admitted with a grin.  “But hey, you only live once, right?  Got to try new things every now and again.”  He extended his hand.  “I’m Pawel.  Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too.  I’m Boyd,” he replied, shaking Pawel’s hand.  “Actually, camping wasn’t my idea.  It was my daughter’s.  My wife and I aren’t really the outdoorsy types.  Nothing against it, of course.  Nature is fascinating, and I’ve always been interested in botany and biology.  Just more from an academic standpoint than a hands-on one.”

“Ah.  Well, in that case, you should definitely visit Granite Falls National Park if you can.  They’ve got some displays up in the main building, and some fish in that lake that can’t be found anywhere else in Sim Nation.  But there’s also a nice grill and picnic area with some games if you don’t feel like being too far out in the woods.”

“Great!  We were planning to go there tomorrow, actually.”

“The weather’s supposed to be nice like today, so you guys should have a good time.  Take care,” Pawel said as he started back down the trail.

“You too.  See you later.”  Boyd waved and then hurried to catch up with Susan.

When he got to the ranger station, he found Susan had already bought some of the things they needed, while others, like a pan to cook their pancakes in, were just too overpriced to bother with.  Susan purchased a cast iron pot to use on the grill along with some cream for her bug bite, and walked with Boyd back to the camp. 

They decided to change into lighter and more athletic clothes since it was getting a little warmer out, although Boyd still found it cool enough in the shade that he wanted a sweatshirt.  It also kept the mosquitoes off, and with what the ranger’s station charged for insect repellent, Boyd decided he’d rather go without than buy a second bottle of it.  Susan had already used about half of the one she got covering up herself and Blair.

Afterward, the Wainwrights split up for a bit.  Susan wanted to go down to the lake, but Boyd got drawn into reading the Wilderness Digest after Blair left it on the picnic table.  He decided he’d relax and read in the tent for a while, and meet up later.  Blair went back out on the trails exploring on her own.

As she made her way down the path to the lake, even Susan could not help but be impressed by the beautiful view of the sun sparkling on the water against the backdrop of the mountains.  For a moment, she felt serene and peaceful, rather than frustrated and bug-bitten.  She took a picture on her cell phone, and then realized her battery was almost out as she went to upload it to SimBook.  “Figures,” she muttered with a sigh.

A little while later, Blair came back to the camp site and talked her father into walking around with her for a little while.  They ended up in the central part of the grounds.  Blair was amazed by the giant bear statue.

“Wow!  It’s so big!  I only come up to its ankle.”

“Yeah.  The artist did some pretty nice carving work on it.  Very lifelike, although I’m glad they’re not that big in real life.”  Boyd noticed what looked like a garden area behind a nearby fence.  “Is that an herb garden over there?  I’m going to check that out."

“Okay.”  Blair stayed by the statue.  She was so impressed by it that she didn’t notice an actual bear wander onto the path about twenty feet behind her.

Boyd, on the other hand, noticed right away.  He tried not to be nervous as it just stood and stared at him.  While he was glad the bear was not bothering Blair, he also did not like having it so close to her or him.

He breathed a sigh of relief when it finally wandered off.

Unbeknownst to her husband and daughter, Susan was on the trail leading in their direction.  It was the same trail the bear went down.

She was walking along when it crossed right in front of her.

Oh, my Watcher, she thought, frozen in step.  That’s a bear.  There is a bear right here on the trail with me.

Boyd had told Susan about his encounter with the bear earlier, and a part of her realized that if he had gotten away just fine, she would, too.  In that split second, though, logical thinking barely factored in.  The bear slowed down as it approached Susan, its eyes watching her every movement.  To say it was unnerving would have been a huge understatement.

The bear only stayed for a moment before it continued on down the trail, although to Susan it felt much longer.  Once it was a safe distance away, she bolted for the center of the campgrounds in the hopes of finding a ranger or other campers.

As she came around the bend, she spotted the vegetable garden and the familiar figure of her husband inside the fence.

“Boyd!”  She threw her arms around him.  “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here.  I was just coming up the trail, and there was a bear right there!  It walked right by me!  Barely ten feet away.”  Susan looked around in a panic.  “Where’s Blair?  What if it comes—?” 

“Hey, it’s okay,” Boyd assured her.  “Blair’s right over there by the statue.  She’s fine.”  He pointed over to where she was kneeling at the base, looking at the flowers growing there.  “That must’ve been the same bear that was up here a few minutes ago.  I saw it, too.  Those things are enough to give you a heart attack, but so far, the rangers seem to be right about them not being aggressive.  Blair didn’t even notice, thank the Watcher.”  Boyd smiled at Susan.  “I’m glad you’re all right.”

“Me too,” she admitted, her voice returning to a somewhat normal tone.  “Although I wouldn’t mind heading back to camp and getting a fire going, if it really does keep them away.  I think I’ve seen enough wildlife for one day.”

“Sure.  We can start our barbecue.”  He pulled some potatoes and carrots out of his pocket.  “Maybe we could try grilling or roasting these, too.  Apparently, they keep this garden here as an educational thing for the campers, so they can try the ‘wild food’ experience without the risk of eating actual wild plants that haven’t been identified.” 

“I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of the ‘wild experience’ for one day.  Give me the electricity and indoor plumbing experience anytime.”

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Offline MarianT

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 3
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2015, 10:49:46 AM »
I'm with Susan, but I love to send my sims camping. This is fun, and I think you've done a wonderful job with the Wainwrights. Can't wait to see what happens next!
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Offline Nettlejuice

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 3
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2015, 10:56:22 AM »
That shot of the bear behind Boyd is so funny. Another delightful chapter.
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Offline karlissa

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 3
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2015, 11:51:40 AM »
Wouldn't surprise me if Blair's encounter with a bear would make her less scared than her parents.  ;D
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Offline Cheezey

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Happy Campers - Chapter 4
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2015, 01:33:36 PM »
I'm with Susan, but I love to send my sims camping. This is fun, and I think you've done a wonderful job with the Wainwrights. Can't wait to see what happens next!

Thank you!  Sending the sims camping is a lot of fun.  The time always seems to fly by on sim vacations.

That shot of the bear behind Boyd is so funny. Another delightful chapter.

Glad you enjoyed it! It cracked me up when it happened in my game. It's amusing enough when the sims do the "potty walk," but with the bear on the path behind him, I almost lost it.  I felt a bit bad for him, though, with the very uncomfortable and unbearable moodlets together.  At least when he finally got to the bathroom, he didn't get the bad moodlet from that. One benefit of being a slob, I guess. Susan and Blair both got the "bugged in the restroom" moodlet from using it.

Wouldn't surprise me if Blair's encounter with a bear would make her less scared than her parents.  ;D

It wouldn't surprise me, either.  Her Sims 3 version does have the lifetime wish to be an international super-spy, and that's not the kind of thing someone without a certain amount of natural courage would want to do.

Chapter 4

When they got back to camp, Boyd started looking around for enough sticks and small logs for their fire while Susan warmed up the grill.  She winced as she slapped a mosquito on her arm near where the fire ant had bitten her earlier.  “I’m so tired of these bugs I could scream.  No wonder they can charge highway robbery prices for bug repellent and still have people buy it.”

Blair, who was doing a crossword puzzle in the Wilderness Digest, looked up.  “Hey, did you know you can make your own bug repellent with plants?  There’s an article about it in here.”  She thumbed through the pages until she found it, and then handed it to her mother.

“Easy Herbal Remedies You Can Make on a Camping Trip,” Susan read aloud as she skimmed the page.  “That’s interesting.  Yup, here it is.  Insect Repellent Liniment.  Hmm, there’s one for bug bites, too.  That looks a little complicated, though.  Oh, wow.  There’s even a deodorizing cream recipe.”

Blair wrinkled her nose.  “You should make some for Dad’s smelly feet.  He left his socks out last night and the whole tent smells like them.”

Susan laughed.  “I noticed that earlier.  I’ve already got the tent airing out, sweetie.”

“I’m right here, you know,” Boyd said, peering over his glasses at them from where he had just left some sticks at the fire pit.

“Don’t worry.  I’m not going to slather a concoction of elderberries, strawberries, and parsley on your feet,” Susan assured him with a smirk.  “But you have to admit those socks were rank.  Maybe we should leave them out to keep the bears away.”

“Ha.”  Boyd tossed an armful of wood into the fire pit.

Susan checked the ingredient list for the insect repellent liniment, and went over to a cluster of bushes near the camp.  She noticed some flowers growing.  “Hey, isn’t this chamomile?”  She picked a flower.  “I think it is.  Oh, and if you see any basil or noxious elderberry, let me know.”

“That elderberry bush by the path over there is noxious,” Blair said.  “A ranger saw me picking them and told me if I ate them, they’d give me a stomach ache.”

Boyd frowned.  “Blair!  Were you eating wild berries?  That could make you very sick!  Some plants are deadly poisonous.”

“No!” Blair protested.  “I just picked a couple and mushed them against a rock to see what they looked like inside.”

“All right.  Just remember not to eat anything unless you know it’s safe.”

“I know.”

“I’ll go find that noxious elderberry bush and get a few, then,” Susan said.  She took a few steps down the path.  “Tell me if you find any wild basil.  That’s the other ingredient I need.”

“Actually…”  Boyd went over to a patch of brush not far from where they were.  “Ah!  Yes.  I thought I saw some of that here.  My mom used to have it in her herb garden when I was a kid.”  He snatched a handful of leaves.  “I’ll leave it on the picnic table for you.”

A few minutes later, Susan returned with the berries.  The grill was hot enough to cook on now, so she filled the pot with water like the instructions said, and added the herbs and berries.  Soon she had a strong-smelling green concoction bubbling away. 

Boyd put down the wood he gathered, and came over.  “That’s the home brew bug repellent?  It looks kind of like soup.”

“It has to boil for an hour and sit overnight to congeal, from what the digest said.  So I guess we’ll find out of it works tomorrow.”  Susan shrugged.  “In the meantime, maybe the fumes will keep the mosquitoes away.  I haven’t gotten bitten while making it.”  She looked over at the fire pit.  “You haven’t lit it yet?”

“I wanted to make sure I got enough wood to keep it going until late tonight, so I wouldn’t have to find more firewood after dark.  I’ve got it now, though.  Hand me the lighter, and I’ll get it started.”

Susan picked up the lighter off the picnic table.  “Maybe this time I should do it.”

“Oh, come on.  That was just an accident last night,” Boyd said.  “You don’t think I can’t light a camp fire, do you?”

“Of course you can.  It’s just that this time you have long cloth sleeves on,” she said with a note of concern.  “I don’t mind.” 

“You can come play horseshoes with me while Mom lights the fire,” Blair said.  “It’s fun.  Did you try it yet?”

“Not yet.”

Blair picked up some horseshoes out of the pit and handed one to her father, then went up to the throwing mark.  “I’ll show you.  It’s easy.”

Boyd watched while Blair threw her horseshoe, but before he got a chance to try it, he saw a bright flash of orange in his peripheral vision.  Susan let out a yelp as a column of fire flared up her arm.  “Oooh!  Ow ow ow hot!”  She patted the flame down before anything came of it, but it missed igniting her hair only by inches.

“Susan!  Are you okay?”

“Did you set yourself on fire, too, Mom?”  Both Boyd and Blair rushed to her side.

“I, uh…”  Susan’s face turned almost as red as her hair.  “Yeah.  I guess there was more of a breeze than I noticed.  It blew it onto me before going out.”

“Uh-huh,” Boyd said with a knowing look.  “How bad did it get you?”

Susan looked at her arm.  “Not that bad.  It’s just a little red.  The fire ant bite hurts worse than that.  I’m all right.” 

“Want me to light it?”

“No.  You still have long sleeves on.”

“You still got burned,” Boyd pointed out.

“You’d have been burned worse if the breeze blew the fire on you the same way,” Susan argued.  “That hoodie would go up like kindling.”

“I could do it,” Blair volunteered, but both Boyd and Susan shot her down in unison.


Susan picked up the lighter again.  “Let me try one more time.”  She took a careful look at the way the wood was arranged, and then chose a spot toward the bottom of the pile.  “That should be safer.”  Leaning in only as far as was necessary, Susan positioned the lighter and lit it.  A moment later the fire caught, and that time, it did not blow back as much.  “There we go.  All done.”

“I’ll go get the sticks!” Blair announced.

While Blair was selecting the perfect sticks for weenie-roasting, Susan got the hot dogs and buns out, and Boyd got them drinks from the cooler.  The three of them settled around the campfire for dinner.  Blair had a blast making hot dogs that way, and talked about how it felt like they were pretending to be cave sims roasting animals they hunted over a fire.  When she got up to get some mustard, Boyd whispered to Susan, “And here I’ve felt like a cave sim ever since my phone battery finally died.”

“Tell me about it,” she whispered back.

Once they were done with their dinner, Blair asked if they could tell a ghost story.

“Sure,” Boyd said.  “As long as you don’t think you’ll get too scared.”

“I wasn’t scared during the Spooky Day movie marathon you and Mom watched.”

“I think you can probably handle a ghost story, then,” Susan agreed.  She looked over at Boyd.  “Do you know any good ones?”

Boyd thought for a moment.  “Yeah.  I’ve got one.”  He looked at the fire.  “Let me get another log on that first, though.  It’s starting to get low.”

“Cool!” Blair said, excited.  “I wonder if it’s really true what the digest said about the woods being haunted sometimes.”

Susan looked at her daughter in surprise.  “The Wilderness Digest said the woods were haunted?”

Blair nodded.  “Yeah!  One of the pages in there had some letters people wrote in, and one of them said that if you tell ghost stories in these woods, the restless spirits come out to see whoever’s talking about the dead.  Then whoever wrote the article said he saw that happen when his friend’s brother told a ghost story around a fire over by the creek.  They were telling one about someone who drowned in the lake, and then they saw a ghostly figure all dripping wet walking down by the beach, but they could see right through it!”

“A ghost from a lake on a campground?  I think I’ve seen that movie before.”  Susan chuckled.

“Well, I won’t worry unless it shows up wearing a hockey mask.”  Boyd tossed a log on the fire and looked over at Blair.  “So you don’t think you’d be scared if you saw a ghost?”

“Nah.  You wouldn’t let a ghost get me, right?”  Blair looked up at her parents.

Susan and Boyd were both amused and touched by that.  “Of course not, honey,” Susan assured her.

They settled in by the fire and Boyd started to tell the ghost story.  It started off with some teenagers exploring the woods and finding an old, abandoned cabin, where they found strange hand prints that disappeared and reappeared in different spots.  Boyd really got into the theatrics of telling the story, and the forest campground and fire set the right ambiance for getting spooked, but despite that, Susan found herself thinking that how they were staying in accommodations without their own toilet was scarier than any ghost.  Blair was drawn right into the story, though, and listened to the tale with wide, anxious eyes.

At the end of the story, Boyd did a shout-and-jump effect that made Blair shriek, but she insisted afterward that she wasn’t scared.  “It was just because of how you did it, like how in the movies when you know something scary is about to happen because they play the creepy music, and even if you’re not scared, it gets you anyway.”

“I know what you mean.  The Shreddy movies always do that to me.”  Boyd poked at the fire to see how close it was to going out.  It was getting late, and he and Susan were both tired. 

Susan filled a bucket with water and told Blair that it was about time for bed.  “Okay, but… ooh!  There are fireflies over there.”  She pointed to a spot just in front of the tree line.  “Can I go see if I can catch one first?”

“Yes, but after that, it’s bedtime,” Susan said.

“Okay!”  Blair went over to the spot on the path where the bugs were, and slowed down so as not to scare them as she approached.  She watched them for a moment, and then very carefully closed her hands around one.  She peeked into her hands.  “Mom!  Dad!  I got one!”

Blair raced over to the camp site, where she showed the bug first to Susan and then to Boyd, who was already in the tent.  While Blair and Boyd settled in, Susan extinguished the fire.  She was heading over to the table to grab the lantern when she noticed something odd.

Am I that tired, or is that trash can floating?  An eerie feeling crept over her, and she could have sworn there was a chill in the air.  She rubbed her eyes, thinking that between Boyd’s ghost story and Blair telling them that the woods were haunted, her imagination was playing tricks on her.

When Susan refocused her eyes, the trash can was back on the ground, but there was something else she couldn’t explain—the glowing outline of a woman standing beside it.  One that she could see right through.  Susan blinked to make sure she was not seeing things, but nothing changed.  The figure was still there.

Susan was stunned.  She was not afraid, exactly, but in that moment, words failed her.  While she accepted the possibility of paranormal phenomena, she was a natural skeptic, and had never encountered anything of that nature firsthand. 

She took a few steps toward the apparition.  “Um, hi,” she said, half expecting the woman to vanish as a figment of her imagination.  She did not.  She turned and looked at her instead. 

Wow.  I’m talking to a ghost, she thought in amazement.  What do I even say?  Still somewhat in shock, she introduced herself.  “I’m Susan.  I’m, uh, camping here.  Who are you?”

“Tired.”  The ghost’s voice was raspy and faint, reminiscent of the way wind whistled through trees and brush.  She glided over to the picnic table and sat down. 

Susan sat down opposite her.  “I’m sorry.  Did you… I mean, is this camp site where you…?”  She faltered, wondering why the spirit was there and what she wanted.

“The woods.”  It seemed to Susan like it was difficult for the ghostly woman to talk.  “Heart attack… exertion…”  A faint smile formed on her face as she looked toward the fire pit.  “Little girl… like granddaughter.”  Her image began to distort, as if it was using the last of whatever energy she had.  “Miss her.”

“You mean Blair?” Susan guessed.  “The little girl here?  She’s my daughter.”

The ghost gave a slight nod.  “Same… age.”  Susan could feel the chill in the air again as the form on the other side of the table began to dissipate.  “Goodbye.”

The ghost’s face seemed to melt into the whitish mist surrounding her, and then she vanished into the night air, leaving Susan alone at the table.  The encounter had happened and ended so quickly that Susan never even had the chance to call Boyd or Blair out to see her.  She stood up and looked around, but there were no signs of the spirit anywhere, or even that she had been there. 

“How sad.  She must’ve died out here,” Susan murmured.  “And Blair reminds her of her granddaughter.”

She looked around one last time, and then went into the tent to tell Boyd and Blair all about it.  None of them would be getting any sleep for a while.

Offline Nettlejuice

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 4
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2015, 09:46:06 AM »
Oh, Susan catching on fire, I burst out laughing! I can't seem to catch ghosts after telling host stories, such a sad ghost too.
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Offline Cheezey

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Happy Campers - Chapter 5
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2015, 12:51:59 PM »
Oh, Susan catching on fire, I burst out laughing! I can't seem to catch ghosts after telling host stories, such a sad ghost too.

I was surprised that both Boyd and Susan managed to get the "arm on fire" reaction the first time they lit a camp fire.  I've gone camping with other sims, and I noticed that it doesn't happen to every sim on their first attempt at lighting a fire.  I don't know if it's just a funny coincidence, or if their lazy trait ups the chances of a bad start.  (Maybe since a lazy/couch potato type wouldn't be likely to do outdoorsy activities?)  But because they're geniuses, it makes me think of how some people are very intelligent and "book smart," but don't always see the more common sense applications of things in life.

With the ghosts, I've had pretty good luck getting them in my games.  This one took a while to show up.  Blair and Boyd went to sleep in the tent before I saw the ghost on the lot, so I was only able to get Susan to interact with it.

Chapter 5

“Mom, do I have to?”  Blair stood outside the tent holding the bottle containing Susan’s homemade herbal bug repellent.  It was about eight in the morning, later than many campers got up, but early for a vacation day as far as Boyd and Susan were concerned.  Especially when they had been up well past midnight the night before due to a lengthy discussion about ghosts, the paranormal, and Susan’s eerie encounter with “the ghost grandma” as Blair called her.

“Yes,” Susan replied from inside the tent.  “We’re going to Granite Falls National Park today.  There’s no ranger station there, and we’re not coming back here until this evening, so I want you covered.”

Blair gave the bottle a dubious look.  “But it smells funny.”

“That’s what the bugs think, too.”  Boyd came out of the tent and gave his daughter a pat on the head as he passed.  “Besides, we’re all wearing it.”  He felt a little weird with the stuff on himself, but it was cheap, and to him at least, it smelled no worse than the store-bought bug repellent.

Resigned, Blair began putting on the liniment on while Susan came out and lit the grill.  “Since we can’t make any proper breakfast food, what do you think of hot dogs and baked beans?  We should eat something substantial since we’ll be walking around in the park all day.”

“Sure.”  Boyd picked up the can of beans, and then frowned.  “Oh.  Yeah.  No electric can opener.”  He set it back down and went into the tent, returning with a multi-purpose tool from his camping bag.  It was one of the few supplies he thought to bring.  As someone used to doing on-the-spot tech support for himself and his less tech-savvy friends, that was something Boyd always had on him.  “This has an attachment for that.”

Susan cut up the hot dogs and put them in the pot while Boyd worked on the can.  Opening it that way was slower going than he expected, and Susan could hear Boyd grumbling under his breath about primitive inconveniences until he finally got it open.  He poured the beans in the pot, and before long, their breakfast was ready.

“Not bad.  It beats unevenly heated oatmeal from the microwave,” Susan remarked.

Blair giggled.  “I’m just glad we’ll be out in the woods with lots of fresh air after we ate all these beans.  ‘cause beans are good for your heart, but the more you eat, the more you—”

“We’re well aware of how beans react in the digestive tract, dear.”  Susan arched an eyebrow at her daughter, while Boyd just chuckled.   

He finished eating first, and noticed that what was left of the wild basil and noxious elderberries they gathered yesterday was still in a bag in the cooler.  “Hey, is there enough of that left for another batch of the bug repellent?”

“I think so.  I figured if it worked, we’d make it again and save ourselves some money.”

“It has to sit for a while, though, right?”

“Overnight, according to the recipe,” Susan replied.  “So I’d say about eight hours at least.”

“Why don’t I make it now while you two finish eating?  It can sit while we’re at the park, and that way it’ll be ready tonight.  It’s not like we’re out anything if it ends up not working.  We aren’t going to use the plants for anything else.”

Boyd cooked the bug repellent while Blair finished her breakfast, and soon the Wainwrights were ready for their day out at Granite Falls National Park.  They stopped by the ranger station before leaving the campground.  While Susan and Blair talked to the ranger on duty, Boyd checked the map.

It was only a short drive to Granite Falls National Park, but the walk from the campground to the parking lot, and then from the park’s parking lot to its recreation area made it take a little longer than they expected.  The first thing they did upon arrival was head for the bathrooms. 

“There are just as many bugs in this one,” Susan said with obvious disappointment and disgust when she came out.

Blair looked around, awed by the tall evergreens surrounding them.  “It’s so neat out here.”

“This is all protected reserve land,” Boyd told her.  “There are pretty strict rules about what people are allowed to do here, so it stays like this.  There are some plant and animal species in these woods and in that lake that you won’t find in many other places because of that.”

She looked at her parents.  “Are there bears here, too?”

“I’m sure there are,” Susan said.  “So remember what the rangers told you.”

They walked farther into the park, and spotted a log cabin building.  “That’s the Granite Falls National Park rec center,” Boyd told them.  “I saw it on the map.  It has electric.”

Susan’s eyes lit up.  “Does that mean we can charge our phones?”

“Yup,” he replied with a grin, pulling wire chargers out of his pocket.  “Come on.”

Nobody was inside the rec center when they went in, which meant that the Wainwrights had the place to themselves.  Both Boyd and Susan immediately plugged in their phones, and they hung around while they charged back up.  “Hey, there’s a bathroom here, too,” Blair said when she noticed a partly open door revealing a small, but clean, one-person bathroom.  “We don’t need to use the buggy one while we’re here!”

“Oh, sweet civilization, how I’ve missed you!” Susan sighed happily.  She noticed some terrariums on the countertops.  “Hey, look.  They’ve got frogs and bugs on display here.  Have you ever seen a whirlyflower frog before?”

After taking a few minutes to look at the specimens on display, Susan asked Blair to play a game of chess with her while Boyd went up the stairs to see what was on the second level.  When he came back, he told them it was just a balcony with a nice view, and then relaxed on the couch beside the chess table.  It was surprisingly comfortable, and Boyd ended up drifting into a short nap, even though it was barely noon.

By the time Blair and Susan’s chess game was finished, their phones were finished charging.  Blair nudged her father awake while Susan loaded up her Blicblock app up for a quick fix.  “Now this is much more my speed for camping.  The beauty of nature, with the comfort of technology readily available.”

“Can we go look around the park now?” Blair asked.  It was obvious that she was eager to get back out into the woods.

Boyd stretched and checked the time on his phone.  “Sure.  What do you want to do?  They rent out fishing gear down by the lake.  I was thinking of giving it a try.  Maybe I’ll catch something we can fry up for dinner.  I love a good fish and chips.”

Susan side-eyed her husband.  “Do you know how to gut and clean a fresh fish, let alone how to cook it on a grill?  And I don’t think those wild potatoes you picked out of the garden yesterday are going to work as fries.”

“I’ve watched them clean and fillet fish on World of Bass.  It doesn’t seem all that different from the dissections we did in college biology labs.”  Boyd shrugged.  “Assuming I catch anything, anyway.  I might not.  The last time I held a fishing pole, I was about Blair’s age.”

Blair looked at her father.  “You went fishing when you were my age?”

“Your grandfather liked to fish in the park sometimes.  He took me along on a couple of trips.  He found it relaxing, but I always wanted to get back to my computer after a while.”

After Boyd headed down to the lake, Blair asked Susan if they could walk around in the woods.  They went out, but Blair had far more energy than her mother, and was way ahead of her.  Susan was not up to trying to keep up with her energetic daughter, so she told Blair to go on and look around, but not wander out of sight.  Meanwhile, she admired the plant displays outside of the rec center.

Susan was impressed by how educational the park was, both for adults and children.  There were little signs all over the place sharing interesting facts about the plants and wildlife, and even some hands-on displays.  One was a fireleaf plant seedling that had a watering can beside it.  Its placard said in bold letters, “Learn Gardening!” and then beneath it, “Is there water in the can?  If so, I’m thirsty!  Water me!”  Beside the text there was a picture of a smiley face with petals around it.  Even though that display was obviously geared toward educating the youngsters, Susan picked the can up and watered the little plant anyway.

“Fireleaf is so pretty.  It’d look fantastic in our rooftop patio garden,” she mused.  “Maybe I can take a cutting off a mature wild specimen in the woods if I come across one.”

Susan wasn’t the only one whose eye was caught by a fireleaf plant.  On his way to the lake, Boyd noticed its characteristic purple and green foliage peeking through some tall weeds alongside the trail.  “Wow.  What a fantastic fireleaf specimen!”  While he was not interested in its aesthetics the way Susan was, it interested him as someone who studied botany, being an unusual plant that did not grow where they lived.

He crouched down by it as he approached, but after he got a better look at it, he drew back his hand.  “Wait a minute.  Tiny fibrous protrusions on the stems?  That’s not ornamental fireleaf.  That’s poison fireleaf.”  The two plant species were closely related, and to an untrained eye, they were virtually indistinguishable.  One key difference between them, though, was the oil in the plants’ leaves and stems that gave it its shiny luster.  In the ornamental specimen, that oil was harmless.  In the poison variety, it was a powerful skin irritant that induced a notoriously itchy rash.  The best way to tell the plants apart, according to what Boyd had read in the Wilderness Digest, was that the poison variety had a “fuzzy” look on its stems that its relative did not.

Boyd studied the plant a moment longer without touching it, and then straightened back up.  “Glad I noticed that in time.”  He made a mental note to show it to Blair and Susan later, so they could avoid it, and headed down to the lake.

Offline Nettlejuice

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 5
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2015, 01:38:07 PM »
Susan and Boyd are least getting into nature now, even if they did relapse to modern technology at the rec centre.
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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 5
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2015, 05:01:43 PM »
Oh, just found this! I love it! I also just adore your Wainwrights, you have them down to a 'T'.
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Offline Cheezey

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Happy Campers - Chapter 6
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2015, 01:35:14 PM »
Susan and Boyd are least getting into nature now, even if they did relapse to modern technology at the rec centre.

I'm sure that brief bit did wonders for their sanity.  I imagine that once their phones went dead, they felt totally cut off.

Oh, just found this! I love it! I also just adore your Wainwrights, you have them down to a 'T'.

Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying the story and my characterization of them. 

Chapter 6

As luck would have it, Susan also found a well-established fireleaf plant.  Unfortunately, she had not read about the differences between fireleaf and its evil twin sister species in the Wilderness Digest.  She had no idea what she was in for when she knelt by it and handled most of its branches to find the ideal candidate for taking a cutting.

Exploring nearby, Blair was less interested in the plants of the woods compared to the animals.  She watched a chipmunk run across the path, and shouted to her mom in excitement when she spotted a woodpecker with bright red plumage on its head on a nearby tree.  It flew off when it heard her, though, so Susan never got to see it.  Then, in the tall weeds on the opposite side of the trail, Blair saw the biggest praying mantis she had ever seen.

“Wow!  Cool!”  She stared at it for a little while.  The mantis did not seem afraid of her.  “I wonder if I could catch you?”  She knelt down beside it, and to her delight, she was able to pick it up and hold it.

Susan continued down the path, and paused when she heard a croaking nose.  Noticing a small hollowed out log in the brush, she knelt by it.  “Is there a frog in here?”  When she peeked in, a pale green frog with blue spots on it stared back at her.  “Oh, a spotted leaf frog.  Aren’t you a neat little guy?  Well, don’t worry.  I won’t bother you.  I’m not looking for an amphibious pet.  But thanks for letting me see you.”

She stood up and brushed at her legs and arms.  For some reason, her skin was tingling.  “Must be these tall weeds tickling me,” she murmured as Blair ran over to show her the mantis she caught.  “What an impressive specimen!” Susan told her with a proud smile.  “You’re on your way to becoming a junior entomologist.”

Blair gave her mother a curious look.  “What’s that?”

“Someone who studies bugs.”

At that, Blair made a face.  “I don’t know.  That doesn’t sound like as much fun as being a super secret agent.”

Susan laughed.  “No, I suppose not.  Make sure you keep a good hold on your friend there.  There’s a spotted leaf frog in this log that’d love to make a meal out of him.”

“Oh, no!  Never!  I’ll go put him somewhere safe!”  Blair ran back down the path with the mantis in her hands.

When Boyd got to the lake shore, he was about to look into renting a pole when he noticed a brightly colored blur hovering near the water line a little past the fishing spot.  Curious, he went to investigate, and when he got there, his eyes widened in amazement.  “Holy llamas!  That’s a dragon dragonfly!”  Although they were native to the area, he knew that those insects were somewhat rare and highly prized.  Some overseas entomologists would pay three figures for a live specimen of high quality.  Boyd was careful not to startle it as he observed it, and he found himself transfixed by its beautiful coloring and iridescent wings.  “No wonder,” he murmured.  “They’re incredible.”

He continued to watch the dragon dragonfly hover, and then remembered that there were no insects on Granite Falls National Park’s “Do not harm, touch, provoke, or harass” list of protected species.  That meant it was fair game. 

“Come here, big guy.”

Boyd was thrilled when he actually caught the rare insect.  As he held it, he decided that no matter how much the dragon dragonfly was worth, he was not going to sell it, because it was just too cool not to keep.  “Wait until Susan and Blair see you!” he said, admiring his new pet.  “I’m going to keep you right on my desk.”

The same woman who rented the fishing poles also sold bait and insect containers.  She congratulated Boyd on his find as she sold him one for the dragon dragonfly, and set him up with a basic rod and reel to fish with.  At the moment, they were the only two by the lake, so she helped him get started fishing as well.

“You’re going to want to cast your line out that way.  There’s an underwater ridge about where my line is where the water goes from shallow to deep.  Some of the larger fish sit in its shadow feeding on the small fry that stay closer to the top.  Once you’ve got your line in place, all you’ve got to do is just sit back and stay patient.”

Boyd did as she said, but nothing happened for the first several minutes.  While he waited, he stared out over the water and admired the natural beauty of the highland landscape. 

“Ooh!  I think I’ve got something!” the fisherwoman exclaimed.  “Yes!  Come on, now.  I could go for a nice plate of blackened bass tonight.”

“That does sound good,” Boyd remarked.  He was about to wish her luck when he felt a bite on his own line.  “Hey!  I think I got one, too!”  When he felt it again, he did his best to bring it in, but while the fisherwoman struggled to bring in a decent-sized walleye, Boyd ended up reeling in a giant lump of seaweed.

He looked over as she admired her fish.  “Nice catch!”  He held up the slimy wet plants he caught.  “Want some greens to go with it?”

She laughed.  “Thanks, but I’ll pass.  Don’t give up, though.  I’m sure you’ll get something before long.”

A little while later, Blair ran up to Boyd’s side.  “Dad!”

“Hey, Blair.  How were the woods?”

“Cool!  I saw frogs and chipmunks and a woodpecker, and I caught this!”  She held up her mantis, which was now in a little container like Boyd’s dragon dragonfly.  “Mom got me this for it, and said I could keep it if I take care of it.  You can buy the little bugs they eat at the pet store.  Or catch them here.  They even eat mosquitoes.”

“I’ll happily feed some of those back into the food chain.”  Boyd took a look at her mantis.  “That’s a big one.  Did you find him in the woods?”

Blair nodded.  “Yup!  He was in the grass.  I named him Marty.  If he had wings I’d have called him Marty McFly, but since he doesn’t, it’s just Marty.”

“Your mother and I have taught you well,” Boyd said with a grin.  “Speaking of which, where is she?” 

“Up in the rec center.  She’s making soothing skin balm on the grill.”

“Skin balm?  What happened?  Did she get another bug bite?”

Blair shook her head.  “I don’t think so.  Her arms and legs started turning all red, and she says they itch really bad.  She got some kind of rash.”

“Oh, no.”  Immediately Boyd realized what must have happened, and so did the woman fishing beside him.

“Oooh.  Sounds like a nasty case of poison fireleaf.  Your poor wife.  Give her my condolences.”

“Is she all right?” Boyd asked with concern.  “Need me to go back up there with you?”

“No.  Mom’s okay, aside from being really itchy.  I just wanted to tell you what happened, and see if you caught any fish.”  Blair looked at the lake, at the fish the woman had caught, and then at her father.  “Did you?”

“None like hers.  I got couple of small ones, but I threw them back.  They weren’t big enough to eat.”

“Aw.”  It was then that Blair noticed the dragon dragonfly that Boyd caught.  “Wow!  What a cool bug!  What is it?”

“That I did catch,” Boyd said with a note of pride.  “It’s a rare breed of dragonfly.  It’s called a dragon dragonfly, because it’s so big compared to the common dragonfly, and because sometimes it spits out a bioluminescent mist that looks like flames in the right light.”  He smiled.  “I’m going to keep it, too.  Guess we both got a new pet, huh?”

After staying and watching them fish for a little while, Blair returned to the rec center to see how her mother was doing.  She took both Marty and the dragon dragonfly back to the cabin with her.  The fisherwoman suggested to Boyd and the couple of others now fishing in the area that they move to a different spot on the shore line due to the sun’s change in position.
Boyd still did not end up catching much, but at the new location he was able to land two perch that were worth keeping.  He was trying to catch a third in the hopes that he, Susan, and Blair could each have one for dinner, when Susan came and joined him by the water.

“Hey, honey.”  She bent down and scratched her legs as she greeted him.   

Boyd could see Susan’s rash even from several feet away, and he set his pole down.  “Oh, wow.  That looks miserable.”  He gave her a hug.  “I’m so sorry.  I dodged a fireleaf bullet myself earlier.  I was going to warn you when I caught up with you, and show you how to tell the poison variety from the ornamental one, but I guess I was too late.”  He winced as he saw the state of her skin up close.  “I read about it in the Wilderness Digest yesterday when I stayed back at camp.”

“It’s not your fault.  I’m the one who got the brilliant idea to get a cutting of fireleaf for the patio garden, completely forgetting that there was a poison variety of it.  I guess I should’ve followed Blair’s example and read more of that digest.”

“I’d like to claim it was foresight that inspired me to do it, but honestly, it was more laziness than anything else.  I wanted to rest and read on the airbed yesterday, rather than go out and walk around on the trails some more like you did.”  He gave her a sympathetic look as she scratched her left arm.  “How bad is it?”

“The itch is maddening, but the herbal remedy in that article took the edge off of it.  Supposedly it helps it heal faster, too, and will clear it up in a day or so.  I was able to make enough to get me through.  Consider yourself lucky you didn’t get it.”  Susan glanced at the lake.  “So did you catch anything good?  Other than that amazing dragon dragonfly Blair showed me?” 

Boyd couldn’t help but grin.  “Isn’t he cool?”  He pointed to the two perch he caught.  “My fishing haul isn’t nearly as impressive.  It’s barely an appetizer, especially with how hungry I’m getting.”

“Want to pack it in, and head back to the rec center?  We’ve still got hot dogs in the cooler, and Blair wants to do more campfire weenie-roasting here if we’re up for it.”

“That’s fine with me.”

An hour later, it was starting to get dark, and the Wainwrights were seated on carved log chairs around a rock pit campfire.  Boyd cleaned his two perch while Blair and Susan roasted hot dogs.  Preparing the fish was harder than it looked.  The perch had many more bones than he imagined, and by the time he got all of the scales off and the majority of the bones removed, there was only a small amount of edible fish meat left.  He roasted it over the fire while Susan and Blair chatted with him, and then he ate a hot dog afterward, since he was still hungry.

Susan scratched at her legs.  “I think the balm is wearing off.”

“I’ll go get it,” Blair said. 

Boyd looked over at Susan.  “You should shower when we get back to camp, and get off any of the plant oil residue that’s still on you.”

“Oh, I showered here already.  I broke down and paid to use the public one.”

Boyd’s eyes went wide as he recalled Susan’s vehement assertion that she would not use the public shower.  “Wow.  Now I know how bad it must’ve felt.”

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Believe me, I’m still going to use our camp shower to wash off the public shower.”  Susan wrinkled her nose.  “And all the dead locust parts.”

“Dead locust parts?”

“That was one of the ingredients in the balm.  Like I said, desperate measures.”

“I’ll say.”  Boyd stuffed the last of his hot dog into his mouth as Blair returned with Susan’s skin balm, and stood up.  “If it’s all right with you two, I’m going to go ahead and put this out.  Is there anything else you want to see here at the park before we head back to camp for the night?”

Susan shook her head.  “Nope.”

“Not really,” Blair replied.  “I wanted to look for fireflies again, but I can do that there, too.”

Once they were back at their camp site, Susan got right into the shower.  The tarp-style camp shower was primitive, and the water was not exactly warm, but at least it was private, and it felt good on her hot and itchy skin.  Afterward, she had to put one more application of what Boyd now jokingly called the “locust paste” on her rash.  She was not thrilled about it, but the rash was still bad enough that she had no choice. 

The rest of their evening was low key.  Blair did not catch any fireflies, but that was fine with her, because once she saw the dragon dragonfly breathing what looked like orange flame out of its mouth, she thought that was even cooler.  She set it and Marty side by side by her air bed in the tent, and watched them until she fell asleep. 

As it turned out, Blair’s energy had a limit, and for a change, she conked out well before Boyd and Susan were ready to nod off.  After Blair went to bed, they remained outside stargazing while the campfire burned out.

“Well, we made it to our second night here.  Just one day and afternoon to go,” Susan remarked.

“I’d say we made it through not that much worse for the wear, but I think you’d stuff my pants full of poison fireleaf if I did,” Boyd teased.  “I’m glad you’re feeling better now, though.”

Susan smirked.  “Wise decision.  But yes, by tomorrow morning I think I’ll be able to wash the last of that locust paste off for good.”  She stared up at the sky.  “The stars really are impressive out here.  You can see so many.  I’ll never be a nature girl, but I have to admit, the night sky is breathtaking out here in the mountains.”

“It is.”  Boyd looked over at Susan and smiled at her in the starlight.  “It’s not the only thing out here that is, though.”  He stroked her cheek.

Flattered, she leaned over and kissed him.  Afterward, Susan snuggled up close to Boyd for the rest of their stargazing.

Offline Nettlejuice

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 6
« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2015, 09:23:07 AM »
Poor Susan, though I have to admit to laughing at her pain. I love the dragon dragonfly, bugs are huge in this game.
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Offline karlissa

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 6
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2015, 12:36:24 PM »
I can't help but feel like that a face from the past will be caught out by Blair.
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Offline Cheezey

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Happy Campers - Chapter 7
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2015, 10:58:11 AM »
Poor Susan, though I have to admit to laughing at her pain. I love the dragon dragonfly, bugs are huge in this game.

They are. I love the detail on them. The dragon dragonfly is so cool, and the dust spirits are oddly cute. I always have to let my sims display those in their homes if they get them.

I can't help but feel like that a face from the past will be caught out by Blair.

As much as I'd have loved to include something like that, I didn't have any other families in this game that weren't the default sims or game-generated townies.  I hope that doesn't disappoint too much!

(Author's Note: Sorry this took so long to update!  This chapter was originally supposed to be the last one, but when I wrote out the draft, it was a bit long for one chapter, so I split it into two.  I'll post the final one sometime tomorrow.  Thanks for reading!)

Chapter 7

By morning, Susan felt much better. Her rash was almost gone, and there was no more itch. She was the first one awake, and after she got out of the tent, she hopped in the camp shower to wash the remnants of the locust paste skin balm off. Once she was dressed, she thought about breakfast, and decided that she could not face another day of granola and hot dogs. Instead, she grilled the remainder of the fresh fruit they had brought with them.

“Interesting breakfast choice,” Boyd remarked when he got up and noticed what was on the grill. “What inspired that?”

“When I was back at the rec center working on the rash remedy yesterday, I saw some hikers make this for lunch. It smelled pretty good. It’s even healthy, and how often do we eat anything that qualifies as that?” She turned the skewers over on the fire. “Plus, fruit is bulky and heavy, and if we use it up, we won’t have to carry it back to the car later when we pack up.”

“I like how you think, honey.” Boyd kissed Susan on the cheek, and got a drink out of the cooler while she served the grilled fruit.

Blair took a plate of it and sat down with her mother. “It looks weird like this.”

“Think of it as like what a cave sim would eat, like we did the other night,” Susan suggested. “They had to roast pretty much everything over an open fire.”

She was not convinced. “Even fruit? Why wouldn’t they just eat it off the tree?”

Blair had a point, and Susan thought for a moment before answering. “They might cook it if they wanted something warm.”

“I guess.” Blair took a bite. “It’s good.” She sounded surprised.

Susan also took her first bite. She found the grilled fruit’s texture odd, but the sweet taste made up for it. “It is pretty good. I wouldn’t want it every day, but it’s better than that granola or yet another hot dog.”

“You’re getting tired of them, too, huh?” Boyd sat down and took a bite of the grilled fruit. “I’m still a little disappointed we didn’t get to eat the pancakes and bacon we brought, but…” He paused and looked over at Susan. “That’s what this needs! If we ever make this again, we should put bacon on the skewers with the fruit.”

“Because we haven’t already eaten enough processed meat product in the last two days, right?” Susan teased.

Blair picked up her empty plate. “I agree with Dad. This would taste really good with bacon!”

Susan finished wiping down the skewers and put them away with the other grilling tools. “All right. I’ll try to remember that for the next blue moon when one of us makes breakfast on a grill, and we have things like fresh fruit and bacon in the house to begin with.” Considering how much take-out and convenience food the Wainwright family ate on a regular basis, it was not much of an exaggeration. “I’m going to head down to the ranger station and ask them about check-out later. With how messed up our reservation was when we got here, I want to make sure we’re supposed to keep all this stuff like Ranger Kendall said when we checked in. I don't want those incompetent fools sticking us with a surprise charge that we have to call a bunch of different customer service lines to dispute. Can you put the leftovers away when you’re done?”

“Sure. You’ve got your phone, right?”

“Like I’d go anywhere without it now that it’s working again.”

“It’s too bad we’ve got to go home today,” Blair said as she watched her mother leave. “This has been fun! But I guess you and Mom will be glad to have the computers and TV back, huh?”

“That’ll be nice.” Boyd motioned for Blair to join him on the picnic table bench, and when she did, he pulled her into a hug. “But even though we’ve complained about things, don’t think that we didn’t like being out here with you. That’s what we wanted for this weekend, for you to have a good time. So as long as you did, it’s all good.”

“I did,” Blair said happily. She looked up at her father. “Can we go fishing? It looked like fun when you did it yesterday.”

Boyd thought for a moment.  He had not planned on doing anything more than relaxing, reading, and maybe playing some horseshoes in the time they had left before they had to leave, but Blair was so enthusiastic that he would have felt bad turning her down.  "All right.  We can rent poles for the fishing spots here at camp, too, I think.  We'll take the path to the lake that runs by the creek, and find where they're set up. Let me just text your mom first so she doesn’t wonder where we went.”

After letting Susan know their plans, Boyd and Blair packed up the leftovers and headed down the trail. They reached the creek just as the fisherman renting the poles was packing up for lunch. He waited long enough to get them outfitted, and then bid them good luck. Blair read the sign marking the fishing area. “It says you can catch perch, bass, and salmon here.”

“Want to give it a try? It looks like we’ve got the spot to ourselves for now.”


Their solitude didn’t last. While they were getting ready to start, a hiker came by and stopped to chat. “Catch anything good?”

“We’re still getting started,” Boyd replied, while Blair remained silent and shuffled back a little. Boyd realized that she was having one of those anxious moments she got when her natural introversion kicked into high gear.

He looked over at Blair. “Hey, would you go look upstream over there and let me know if you can see any fish in the shallower water?”

“Sure!” She raced over, leaving Boyd alone with the hiker who stopped to talk to them.

“Cute kid,” the hiker remarked as Blair ran off.

“Thanks. It’s her first time fishing. My second,” Boyd told him. “At least, the second since I was about her age. It’s a learning experience for both of us.”

“The fish here are pretty active,” he told Boyd. “I’d be surprised if you don’t get a couple within the hour or so. Hit that area over by the rocks where the water’s swirling a little. It’s a hot spot.”

“Oh, it is? I'll have to try that.”

“Good luck, man. Have fun.” He waved and headed back onto the trail.

Blair returned when the stranger left. “There are some fish up there, but they’re small. I think they look like littler ones of the kind you caught last night.”

“Small perch. Okay. Good to know.” He handed Blair her pole. “Do you know how to cast the line?”

She looked at the pole. “You throw it?”

“Not exactly. Here, let me show you.” Leaning behind her, Boyd positioned Blair’s hands on the reel and showed her what to do. He landed her line in the water, and then guided her through how to hook the fish and reel it in. The lesson was still fresh in his mind from the day before, when the angler at the national park demonstrated it for him. Boyd then stood back and let Blair give it a try on her own.

The first attempt landed in the water a couple of feet in front of them with a violent splash.

“It takes some getting used to. I did the same thing yesterday,” Boyd told her. “Try it again. Go a little easier. You don’t need to throw real hard.”

“Okay.” Blair cast her line again, and that time it went a little farther out.

“Not bad. You could try fishing there and see if anything bites. It’s far enough out that there might be something there.”

Blair thought about it for a moment. “Nah. I want to catch a big fish, so I’m going to try for the spot you said that guy said had a lot of fish.” She studied the water, drew a deep breath, and then threw her line out one more time. It went right where it was supposed to.

Boyd smiled at her. “Good job.” He cast his line out, landing it about five feet from hers.

“I thought about it like throwing the horseshoes. It’s not that different. You’ve just got to focus to make it go where you want it.”

“That’s a smart way to think of it.” It was less than a minute before they got nibbles on their lines. They both jumped on them too quickly, and lost their fish, but after that, they got a better feel for what they needed to do.

Blair was the first to catch something. It was only a minnow, and not big enough to eat, but she still beamed as if she had won a prize. Boyd took a picture of her with it on his phone to show Susan, and then they released the minnow back into the water. A few minutes later, Boyd caught his first fish of the day. It was also a minnow, and even smaller than Blair’s. They laughed as he put it back into the creek, and tried again.

Offline MarianT

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 7
« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2015, 11:39:14 AM »
Glad the Wainwrights are back! I hope you'll keep going with them after they return from Granite Falls.
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Offline Nettlejuice

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 7
« Reply #20 on: April 22, 2015, 02:44:55 PM »
I have a feeling the Wainwrights will be back in Granite Falls not too long after, they seem to have developed some love for nature - then again, maybe the temptation of technology will through all that out the window  ::)
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Offline Cheezey

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Happy Campers - Chapter 8
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2015, 02:27:49 PM »
Glad the Wainwrights are back! I hope you'll keep going with them after they return from Granite Falls.

I could.  The file I sent them camping in is saved on the night they returned from their camping trip.  If I did, I'd make it a separate follow-up story, since it would be an alternate universe to their Sims 3 versions, and I wanted to keep this one as being able to be read as either being in that universe or not.  In game, both Boyd and Susan kept getting whims to try for baby, and now alien abductions are a thing, too.  I have been itching to do a proper active scientist career story, though.  :D

I have a feeling the Wainwrights will be back in Granite Falls not too long after, they seem to have developed some love for nature - then again, maybe the temptation of technology will through all that out the window  ::)

I love sending sims camping, so, it's entirely possible.  If one or both got a whim for a vacation, I probably would, although in Susan's case, that might be a case of "Be careful what you wish for."  I think I'd let them have their cabin that time, though.  (But the Watcher might have enough mischief skill to have it be that cabin with no stove and the outdoor shower, which Susan would not be pleased with.)

Chapter 8

While Boyd and Blair were fishing, Susan had an animated discussion with the ranger on duty, and made sure as she went over the check-out procedure that she had a full list of the charges that would be made to their card at check-out time.  Boyd’s text came through while she was in the middle of it, so she did not see it right away.

The picture of Blair proudly holding up her minnow made Susan smile, but despite that, she did not feel like walking all the way over to the creek to join them.  Fishing was not something Susan was all that interested in, and it surprised her that Boyd enjoyed it enough to try it a second time.  She saw no appeal in standing for hours on a muddy embankment by the water, just to try and catch something that smelled the way fish did, to be left with the choice of throwing it back or getting filthy cleaning it.  But she supposed that aspect would not bother her husband, whose neatness habits were near nonexistent unless it involved some kind of hazard.

While Susan was at the ranger station, she impulse-bought a book, The Man Behind the Falls.  She decided to relax at one of the empty picnic and fire pits and read until Blair and Boyd were done fishing.  She had just started the second chapter when a small group of campers consisting of two men and a woman approached.  “Hey, mind if we light a fire here?  The other pits are all full.”

Susan looked up and saw that the surrounding pits all had families or groups at them.  “Oh, sure.  Go ahead.”

“Thanks,” one of the men replied, while the woman with them lit a fire.  “We’re ready for a break.  We’ve been hiking all morning.”

“This place is great, isn’t it?” the other man remarked.  “The lake view is just spectacular.”

“Oh, isn’t it?” Susan agreed.  “I took a picture of it on my phone, but the camera doesn’t do it justice.”

“Are you here by yourself?” the woman asked.

Susan shook her head.  “No.  My husband and daughter are camping with me.  They’re out fishing, but it’s not really my thing.”

“Mine neither,” one of the men said.  “I leave that to Wendell and Roxana here.  I’m lucky if I catch a minnow when I try.”

Roxana laughed.  “Well, my luck wasn’t so great this morning.  So… marshmallows, anyone?”  She looked at Susan.  “You’re welcome to grab some, too.  What’s your name?”

“Susan.”  She set her book down, accepting the offer.  “Nice to meet you, Roxana, Wendell, and?”  She turned to the other man.

“Wayne,” he replied.  “Nice to meet you, too, Susan.” 

Wendell stood up and glanced in Susan and Wayne’s direction.  “Um, I hate to say this, but I think we’ve got someone else who’d like one.”

“What do you…?” Susan’s voice trailed off as she followed his gaze and saw a bear approaching.  “Oh.”

“Maybe he’s just hungry,” Wayne said nervously.

“Do you really think you can appease it with a marshmallow?” asked Wendell.

“He can have the bag!” Roxana said with panic in her voice.  She got ready to throw it, which in turn made Susan panic.

“No!  Wild animals don’t like sudden moves like that.  They find them threatening.”  She was suddenly thankful for all of those Discover-It Channel nature shows she had watched.  “Although I thought they didn’t like fire, either.”

The bear let out a little grumble and stared at them, while Roxana rolled two marshmallows in its direction in a gentle and non-threatening way.  “Here you go, Mr. Bear.  Have a couple.”

The bear seemed to appreciate her generosity, and gobbled them right up.  Wayne tossed him a few more.  Their ursine companion scooped them up greedily in his paws, and then sat down on the log where Susan had been seated just a short while before.

“Um, well, I guess he’s ready to settle in,” Susan remarked, mentally placing “BEARS!!!” at the top of her list of reasons she never wanted to go camping again. 

Everyone fell silent, and Roxana pushed the bag of marshmallows toward the bear, who grabbed and devoured them on the spot.  It did not leave, though.  Instead, it stayed on the log by the fire, watching them.  After an uncomfortably long silence, Wayne finally spoke.  “You know, there’s a joke here about our fuzzy friend causing unbearable tension.”

“And on that note, I think I’m going to see how my family is doing with their fishing exploits,” Susan said with a polite smile, walking slowly and carefully so as not to startle or inadvertently make the bear feel threatened.  “It was nice meeting all of you.  Thank you for the marshmallows.”

As she left, Susan texted Boyd to let him know she was on her way to the creek, but as it turned out, he and Blair were no longer fishing there.  After catching nothing but a couple of small fry, Blair asked if they could try fishing down at the lake shore.  She and Boyd headed down there, but Boyd was starting to dread the chore of packing up all of their camping gear as check-out time drew nearer.  When Susan texted him, he asked Blair if she was ready to call it a day for fishing. 

“Nope!  I don’t want to leave until I catch a big fish.”

“All right.  You can keep on fishing for a while, but I’m going to catch up with your mother.  She’s in the main area of the campground up the trail.  We’ll check back with you soon.”

Blair continued to fish for a while, and watched the sun sparkle on the water and the ducks swimming by the shore farther down. 

About twenty minutes after her father left, she caught her biggest fish yet.  It was a minnow, but it was much bigger than any of the others she’d seen.  “Wow!  That’s really cool!”

Blair was excited about her catch, and it made her feel like an accomplished fisherman.  Or would that be fisher-girl?  She was not sure.  She also wished her parents were there to see it, because she didn’t want to keep it.  She didn’t have a bowl for the fish, and it wasn’t really good for eating, not to mention that it would start to get stinky and spoil on the ride home.  She ended up just setting her fish down long enough to take a picture of it, and then she put it back into the lake.  Blair smiled as she watched it swim away.  “Bye, fishy!”

Boyd and Susan caught up with each other and talked about what they’d done that afternoon.  While walking, they passed by the fire pit Susan had been at earlier, although the bear, Wendell, and Wayne were gone now.  Roxana still had the fire going, and after Susan introduced her to Boyd, she told them about how the bear got sleepy after eating all those marshmallows, and eventually wandered back into the woods.  Wendell and Wayne had gone to tell the ranger on duty about the incident, while Roxana was keeping the fire going until they got back. 

Susan and Roxana kept chatting, while Boyd went over by the fire to check out the book Susan bought earlier.

A few minutes later, Boyd got a message from Blair.  “Hey, Susan!  Blair just sent me a picture of a fish she caught all on her own.  It’s a minnow, but… you know, I wouldn’t believe a minnow could get this big if I didn’t see it.  Come check it out.”

Susan came over and took a look.  “Wow.  I think that’s bigger than the perch you got at the national park yesterday.”

“I know.  Sad, isn’t it?  My fishing skills, I mean.  Not hers.  Hers are obviously pretty good.”  Boyd looked over at Susan.  “Maybe we should enroll her in Sim Scouts.”

“I don’t know if I want to encourage vacations where we forego plumbing and electricity as a regular thing,” Susan replied.  “I mean, these survival skills might be useful in a zombie apocalypse, but other than that…”

“Well, if she wanted to go camping again, we’d definitely get a cabin with cable, and get ourselves a mobile hotspot to use for internet service.  Maybe a tablet so we don’t have to pack more than one computer.  And if Blair wants to feel like she’s roughing it, we could always set up our new tent outside the cabin for her to play in.”

“Fortunately, for her next vacation we already promised her Llama World, and I’m fine with that.  Llama World has wonderful resorts.”

Boyd nodded.  “Llama World will be fun this summer.”

Shortly after that, they realized there were just a couple of hours left to get everything packed up and ready to go home.  Susan and Boyd headed down to the lake and met up with Blair, returned her fishing pole, and the three of them went back to camp.  Boyd and Susan did the heavier work of taking down the tent, while Blair helped pack up the things they needed to take to the car.  Soon, the camp site was as empty as it was when they arrived, aside from the lantern, which Susan kept on hand now that dusk was approaching.

Susan was finishing a yogurt, and Boyd and Blair were playing a final game of horseshoes when the ranger on duty, Ranger Krysta, came to their camp site.  “Hi.  I heard you had some issues with check in, so I wanted to stop by personally and make sure that if you needed anything before you left, we could assist.”

“Thank you,” Susan said, getting up from the table.  “I appreciate that.  I think we’re pretty much set, though.”

“I know your stay wasn’t exactly what you planned.  I hope you had a nice vacation regardless.”

“We did!” Blair said with a grin on her face.  “It was lots of fun sleeping out in the wild and hiking and fishing.  We even got new pets, Marty and Drogon!”  She pointed to the mantis and dragon dragonfly that she and her father had caught the previous day at the national park.

“Drogon?”  Susan arched an eyebrow as she glanced over at Boyd.

“That’s from Game of Groans, isn’t it?” Ranger Krysta remarked.


“Well, he’s pretty neat.  Can I take a closer look at him?” Krysta asked Blair.

She nodded.  “Sure!”

“Boyd,” Susan said in a hushed tone that Blair could not hear, “did you let her watch Game of Groans?!”

“No!  Of course not.  The other day I was playing a MeTube video from it, a montage of the dragons set to music, and she saw it on my screen, and asked me about it, and the dragons in it.  But there was nothing objectionable for a kid her age in that.”

Susan breathed a sigh of relief.  “Oh, good.”

“Those are some very cool bugs you got there,” Krysta told Blair with a smile.  “Take good care of them.”

“We will!” said Blair.

The ranger adjusted her hat.  “Well, it looks like you’re all set, so I’ll let you finish packing up and not hold you up.  Thanks for coming to the Granite Falls campgrounds, and for sticking it out with us despite the rocky start.  We appreciate your business, and you’re welcome to come back anytime.  Oh, and I was told to give you this.”  She handed Susan a coupon.  “10% off your next vacation, even on holiday and prime vacation slot rates.  We hope you’ll stay with us again.”

“Oh.  Thank you.”  Just what I never wanted, to go camping again, Susan thought.

“Yeah, thanks,” Boyd echoed, giving her a polite smile while his thoughts ran much along the same line as his wife’s.  He turned to Blair.  “You about ready to head back to the car?  Don’t need the bathroom or anything?  It’s a long drive.”

“I’m fine.”

“I can wait for the comforts of home,” Susan said, glad that she would no longer have to deal with the fly-filled public restroom.  “Let’s go.”

“Sounds good to me.”  Boyd picked up the car keys, Susan picked up the lantern, and Blair held Marty in one hand and Drogon in the other as they headed down the dirt path to the parking lot.

Two hours later, the Wainwrights were back at home, comfortably settled around a pizza on their dining table.

“This is like ambrosia,” Boyd remarked as he stuffed a hot and gooey slice of pepperoni and extra cheese pizza into his mouth.  “And we didn’t even have to roast it over a fire first.  Straight from the delivery guy, like technology intended.”

“You said it.  Processed meat topping and all,” Susan agreed, taking a slice.

“It does taste good.  I’m kind of tired of hot dogs and marshmallows,” Blair admitted.  “And it’ll be nice to take a bubble bath tonight.”

“Yes, it will,” said Susan.  “But you can go first.  You have school bright and early tomorrow.”

“I know.  I can’t wait to tell Kody all about our trip!”  Blair finished her pizza.  “His wasn’t as cool as ours.”

“I’m not sure ‘cool’ is the word I’d use, but it was definitely an, uh, unforgettable experience,” Boyd said.

Susan smiled at Blair.  “We’re glad you had such a good time, sweetie.”

“I did.  It was fun.”  Blair picked up her plate and went to the sink.  “I’m going to take my bath now.”

Susan nodded to Blair as she left, while Boyd set his pizza crust down on the plate.  “So, what do you want to do first?  TV or computer?”

“Computer until she’s done, and then I’ll take my bath.  After that, maybe we’ll watch some TV after she goes to bed?”

Boyd closed up the box of pizza.  “Want to catch up on the episode of Game of Groans we missed while we were away?”

“Sounds perfect.”  Susan picked up the pizza box and gave Boyd a kiss on the cheek.  “It’s good to be home, isn’t it?”

“Absolutely.”  Boyd stretched and headed over to his computer desk to settle in.


Offline Nettlejuice

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 8 *Complete*
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2015, 04:26:05 PM »
Ah well, it's in their nature to be techno-freaks  ;D I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this and look forward to more from you, hope the Wainwrights return or have cameo appearances elsewhere  ;)
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Offline Nutella

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 8 *Complete*
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2015, 12:11:29 PM »
Cheezey, can I move this story to the completed board?  or will the Wainwrights be camping more?

Offline Nutella

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Re: Happy Campers - Chapter 8 *Complete*
« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2015, 08:33:15 AM »
I'm moving this to the Completed Stories Board.

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