Author Topic: Happy Campers - Chapter 8 *Complete*  (Read 8069 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?”

“Mmm-hmm.” 

“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.

“Uh-huh.”

“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.”

“Really?”

“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.”

“Okay.”

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. 

“Awww.”

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.

“Yeah.”


 
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.”

“Okay!” 


 
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!

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.

“No!”

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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Offline Playalot

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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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