The one where Max wrecks a car but everyone has fun anyways

Last weekend Angie and I decided to make a run to my family’s beloved cabin up north.

Things started out okay. It was hot, but I managed to get the car loaded up. Because the dogs took up almost the entire trunk we decided to use a roof bag to carry most of the gear. Kids buckled in, dogs already whining, and car overloaded, I put things in reverse and hit the accelerator.




Angie and I got out of the car to see what the hell had happened. It was truly stupid– I had extended the roof bag, which we had used before with no problem, and in the process the load had gotten too tall to clear the exit of our carport. The bag was in tatters, with all the stuff now scattered across the front of the roof. Amazingly, nothing seemed too damaged. Even Jack’s training potty, which is basically just a piece of cheap plastic, somehow ever survived. Quickly Angie and I decided we would just drive separately, with me taking all the extra stuff. We took all the gear off her roof, threw it in the mighty Forester, and tossed the roof bag in the trash. Ready to set off, I gave Angie’s car on last look over and that’s when I saw it:

Giant dents, some more than 2 ft by 2 ft, all along the roof over her car. A bit of horrified swearing latter, we decided the only thing to do was press on. Determined not to let this ruin the weekend, we put on our bravest faces and set off down the road.

Because I am the most experienced with the Arizona’s roads, Angie decided to follow me. She’s a great driver, so this wouldn’t normally be a problem, except this meant that every single time I looked in my review mirror I had to stare right at the the giant dents I’d put in her car. I was genuinely angry. I had been saving up all the money that I make on the side from photography for a Orvis H3 fly rod, but it looked like that would be going to an insurance deductible now. Around Fountain Hills Angie pulled up at a stoplight behind me, and I got a good look at the damage. I started to piece together what had caused each dent. There was the stroller, and that was the duffle, and wait…what could that big dent be? Piecing the accident together it became clear.




And even I had to admit that this was pretty funny.

In a couple of hours we were up at the cabin and this really didn’t seem to matter anymore.


In the morning Jack and I drove down to the East Verde to do a little fly fishing. I fish this stream all the time, and I know all of it’s sweet spots. When we arrived I was amazed to see the usually wide and fast stream slowed to a literal trickle. I walked to my favorite spot, a wide, usually 5ish feet deep hole with a large downed sycamore in the middle, to find it only a couple of feet deep. The small riffle above, which has brought many fish over the years, was almost nonexistent. Half-heartedly I threw a couple of casts into the water before deciding it was best to leave these fish alone. Not wanting to return home so fast, Jack and I walked upstream. Along the way Jack kept trying to take the rod from me– MY FISHING POLE MY FISHING POLE he kept saying– so upstream I found a nice even spot for him to try his hand at casting.

Not half bad!

No fish were harmed (luckily, given the conditions), and Jack and I decided to call it a day.

Back at the Cabin my parents had arrived to spend the rest of the weekend with us. Madre/Grandma, being an educator through and through, couldn’t resist the chance to teach.


Henry, on the other hand, was having the time of his life with his first strawberry.


Post-strawberry bonanza, Henry did his best Andy Dufresne from inside the pack and play.


After lunch and a nice long walk with Angie, Jack finally collapsed.


But Henry was too busy having fun to slow down.


After Jack woke up Angie pulled out his favorite toys, a small set of letters. Much tomfoolery ensued.


Henry realized he was being left out, and he wasn’t about to have any of that.

We’ve got a crawler!

As the night wore on we laughed and joked. The sun went down and the air became cool. Soon, we were all ready for a well deserved sleep.

In the morning we had one last ting to do before returning home. Henry had to take his part in a long standing tradition– writing about his adventures in the Apple Tree House’s journal. Spread across countless volumes, these journals are a complete, unbroken record of everyone who has visited this lovely little cabin since my Grandparents bought it decades ago.


I guess that makes him officially a Wilson.

I’ve written a lot about this cabin. I won’t repeat it all again. What I will say is this: as we grow older and as time speeds up, their is an ineffable joy in returning to a place that is always the same. We come and go, but the cabin remains, a wonderful reminder of who we were and how we’ve changed. Permanence, even on a human time scale, is an awfully hard thing to find. But that is what we have here, a permanent home that welcomes us no matter what.

Even if you imprint a training potty into your wife’s car.

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Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. He writes here at Lesser Places, occasionally for, and even more occasionally for scientific journals. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.

2 thoughts on “The one where Max wrecks a car but everyone has fun anyways

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