Chapter 2: The Journey and the Following Occurrences
Throughout this book, I will open each chapter with a few side notes as well as descriptive phrases and stories or maybe an illustration or two introduce the mood of the scene. In this chapter’s opening, I shall fill in a few blanks that may have been drawn from the previous chapter.
First, I am the fifth child out of six. My parents are Stephen and Charlene Giegerich, and are both in their mid fifties. I have four older siblings, two brothers and two sisters. The oldest is Peter who is married and has two daughters. The second is Jonathan who is also married. The next is Deborah, who is finishing up a nursing degree at a Christian college. Then comes Karis who was 16 at the time this story took place. I sit at the fifth position. I was 14 at the time this story took place, and it is of no matter to you how old I am now. If you want to know, I was born on January 2, 1994, and this story took place in July of 2008. Anyhow, that is not of importance. David is the youngest in the Giegerich family, and was nine at the time of our experience at Camp Swampy. We all were “blessed” with a bright shade of blonde hair and blue eyes, which distinguished us as the people of German descent that we are. I hope that helps you as I leave the editorial and move on to the actual story. It is as follows:
I woke up at 5:13 that morning to the annoying buzz of a hair dryer. Mom came in and shook me to make sure I was awake. She knew not to disturb me too much, because I am very testy in the morning, especially mornings that we are bound for a primitive disease camp named Swampy. She left the room quietly, and I sat up slowly. David was already dressed and was gathering his stuffed monkey, writing notebook, pillow, and other items. He looked at me and I quickly shot back a glare that was meant to communicate the horrible pain he would suffer if he said anything. He walked out, dragging his pillow stuffed with belongings behinds him.
Very slowly I pushed back my quilt and swung my legs over the side of the bed. I sat there for a while with my head in my hands, wishing that this were all a bad dream and that we weren’t really going to Minnesota. After sitting there for about ten minutes, I finally stood up and slowly dressed, gathered my belongings and stuffed them into my book bag.
Everyone was running around, packing, eating breakfast, and making sure every loose end was tied up. No one paid attention to me as I ate my breakfast, brushed my teeth, and carried stuff out to the car. I made sure that I was still half asleep so I would be able to sleep for the first half of the trip.
Everything eventually was set, and we were off. As our van pulled out the driveway, I felt a deep feeling of remorse come over me. I hate traveling. Not so much the location as much as the drive to and from. I’m a free spirit who hates being bottled up inside a motor vehicle for several hours. Thankfully, I have mastered the art of sleeping in a car, so it isn’t so unbearable.
Anyway, we drove a while and I sat in the van seat, thinking. Slowly but surely my eyes started to droop and I fell into that wonderful state of unconsciousness known as sleep.
* * *
I woke up several hours later. We were in Wisconsin. Where we were, I couldn’t tell you, but I did find out that it was very close to Duluth, Minnesota. I started my wake up process, happy to know that we were only two hours away from our destination.
Not long thereafter, I was interrupted from my book by Mom yelling, “Look out the window, guys!”
I turned and for the first time, laid eyes on the great Lake Superior. It was beautiful. Huge boats and other watercraft dotted the great blue surface of the waters.
“Karis,” I said, “hand me your camera.”
“Hold on a second,” Mom told us. “Once we get onto the bridge we’ll have an even better view than this.”
I waited, but not for long. Once our front wheel hit the pavement that started the bridge, I yelled, “KARIS!!!! HAND OVER THE CAMERA!!!!”
“OKAY!!!” She yelled back and handed it to me.
I turned it on, focused, and snapped a picture. To my dismay, a lone tree on the beach blocked the shot almost completely. Just my luck, I thought. I didn’t get upset, because there was still plenty of time before we got off the bridge and lost sight of the lake. Once again I focused, waited, and then snapped another shot. Once again another lone tree ruined the picture. I was getting a little annoyed as you can imagine.
“Dad,” I said, “slow up, you’re driving too fast.”
He slowed some, and I tried again. This time, not only was there a tree in the way, but also a random sign that said, “Jack’s Snowmobiles. Open for business.”
I was angry now. I gave up and we never got any good pictures of Lake Superior, but my disappointment didn’t last long when Mom told us, “We are now in Minnesota!”
We were all cheered by this news, and we no longer resorted to finding entertainment inside. All eyes were studying our new surroundings. We drank in everything, enjoying the scenery.
Mom called the pastor’s wife, letting her know that we were only an hour or so away. The rest of the trip there is foggy, and it is also unimportant.
Eventually, we drove down a long stretch of highway that was marked as the road that held our destination on the map. We passed several stores and other businesses and then hit a large patch of wood that stretched for some distance. Eventually it opened and there were more businesses, but also a church with a parsonage next to it.
As we pulled into the driveway, Mom announced, “We’re here!”
We unbuckled our seat belts and just sat there for a minute while Dad got out and greeted a man that had approached from the backyard of the house.
“Hi Pastor Stevens!” Dad said.
“How was the drive?” the man replied. He was of average height, brown hair, well built, and a mustache. Something about him made me like him rather quickly.
“Pretty smooth,” Dad told him. “Traffic was good for the most part.”
To make a long story short, we got out of the van, unloaded, and went inside. He showed us to our rooms, and told us to make ourselves at home. When someone tells me to make myself at home, my first instinct is to go to the fridge. Of course, I ignored this urge. It would be making a mountain out of a molehill in a certain sense.
Anyway, we sat in their living room making small conversation with each other. I separated myself from the chatter and studied the room. It was a nice small room with a good feeling of warmth. My eyes ran across portraits and decorations and then rested on a flatscreen TV. Hmmm, I thought, I have got to get me one of these.
Suddenly, something cold and wet touched my left ankle. I jumped slightly and looked down to see a gray Schnauzer sniffing my feet.
“This is Sterling,” Pastor was saying. “We named him for the color of his fur.”
“Sterling?” David said. “That’s not a color.” David likes to say intelligent things like that. Most people I know do. Except for Hagar the Horrible.
“Sterling silver is a type of silver, dear,” Mom informed him.
The position in which I was in enabled to see the back door that was in the kitchen, and ultimately led outside. I told you that so I could let you know that it opened and in walked an average sized woman with a sort of blonde sort of brunette shade of hair. I say that because I can’t exactly remember what you would call it, so I won’t even try.
“This is my wife,” Pastor Stevens let us know.
She walked in and we did the routine of running through our names and ages that we had done constantly when meeting new people in the past. I almost put it to music and made a family jingle, but no one thought it was a good idea. Except for Hagar the Horrible.
“Our daughter is around here somewhere,” Mrs. Stevens said. “Rachel!”
“She must be downstairs working on her project she has to do for work,” said Pastor.
“What project?” Dad inquired.
“She has to design and then paint a sign advertising a new section opening at the shop,” said Mrs. Stevens. “Karis, you said that you’re sixteen?”
“Yes,” Karis answered.
“So is Rachel!” Mrs. Stevens exclaimed. “C’mon, I’ll introduce you to her.”
Mrs. Stevens led Karis to the back door and then turned abruptly right and disappeared down a flight of stairs. A few minutes later Mrs. Stevens came up but there was no Karis following her. She went into the kitchen and started finishing dinner. I wondered where Karis was and what she was doing. I couldn’t help thinking that the conversations she might be having with this Rachel person were tons more exciting than the dull one that was going on in the living room. I’d rather talk to a stranger who’s sixteen than a stranger who is……..is……however old pastor and his wife were. Except for Hagar the Horrible.
I sat on the couch, playing with Sterling, oblivious to the conversation going on around me. Those first several moments were so dull; I almost fell asleep on the couch. The only thing that hindered me from intensely studying the back of my eyelids was Sterling’s cold, wet nose that kept touching my ankle. And Hagar the Horrible.
Eventually, Mrs. Stevens randomly said, “Finally decided to be social, huh?”
“Yeah, yeah,” was the reply.
I opened my eyes to see a short, but rather good looking girl with long dark hair and glasses leaning against the wall, and Karis was standing next to her in like manner.
“This is Rachel,” Mrs. Stevens introduced us.
“Hi Rachel,” Dad said.
As she returned the greeting, she smiled, revealing her teeth which had braces on them. My heart skipped. They looked good on her, I thought. She sat down on the couch across the room from me, and was rather quiet. Apparently she thought the conversation was boring. I didn’t blame her, and neither did Karis.
Eventually, dinner was served and we sat around the table, eating and making conversation. Once again, it was rather boring. That is, until Mom popped the question, “So, Pastor, we’ve heard all kinds of ‘horror’ stories about Camp Swampy. Is there any particular reason it’s called that?”
Pastor thought for a minute then replied, “Not that I know of other than the fact that it was named after the boot camp in Beetle Bailey.”
“So there’s nothing swampy about it?” Mom asked.
“Not really,” Pastor told us. “That reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to ask you: Do you want to take a look at it tonight? It’s only about a fifteen minute drive, and it’ll give you a chance to see what you’re getting into this week. If you want to rest tonight, we could do it tomorrow after church.”
Mom and Dad looked at Karis, David, and me to see what we thought.
“Sure,” I said.
“I’m game,” Karis agreed.
“I guess so,” David reluctantly agreed.
After dinner was over, Mom, Dad, Karis, David, Pastor, Rachel and I piled into the Steven’s minivan and drove off to my first ever encounter with a primitive disease camp named Swampy and the mosquitoes therein.