We’re back from a week at Allegany State Park in New York. Twenty-three Dashes and relatives invaded the park for about a week. Yikes! The week started out okay once we got past the border with our Canadian beef. The customs agent almost pulled us over before deciding that we were good to go. Forget terrorism, those steaks are a national security threat. I did better than one of my relatives, who was detained for an hour. Our normal camping pattern was broken. We did all the same things (hikes, beach, campfires) but the best part was time with family. It’s rare to be able to spend that kind of time with the extended family. We laughed, even though our stories are getting really tired. In the future we should just number them and yell out “Story 14!” and start laughing. The nieces and nephews already roll their eyes. The major excitement came on my birthday, and I had little to do with it. My mother took a walk just as a sudden thunderstorm blew in right over us. She eventually showed up completely drenched but safe, giving us yet another story to tell in future years. It will be embellished as time goes by but she gave us a lot to start with. My birthday was actually just one of those days where weird stuff kept happening. There is nothing like spending time with a family where there are no tensions to speak of, and a great deal of comfort. This is all the more amazing when we realize we beat a lot of odds having been raised by a single parent. We’ve been blessed. Thanks to Pete for burning the popcorn, to David for teaching us alternate ways to find nourishment, to Liz for showing other women the right way to camp at night, and to Meredith for teaching us the importance of rubber gloves while camping. Thanks to David for teaching us about how to ask for more from our doctors and to Kevin for demonstrating the fine art of ventriloquism. Thanks to Fi for counting our kids at the beach while David was counting his beverages. Thanks also to the local ice cream shop for making their $1.50 small cone three whopping scoops. No thanks to the beach guards who got a little out of control with their rules. Hope to be able to camp together again. Here’s proof that the Charlene and I and the kids were still standing at the end of the week.