Monday, August 1, 2011

Camping, Baseball and Dogs

After much discussion, we decided to pack up the truck camper for a weekend in Grande Prairie for the Tier 1 Peewee Baseball Provincials.  Part of the thought process behind the camper involved what do you do with three dogs and a hotel? After phoning around to find a kennel in Grande Prairie we finally settled on Skyemist.  Then the challenge of course is what kind of camping do you want to partake in? Do you go the urban concrete no-surprises kind-of camping or do you head to the woods and hope it all works out?  We decided we wanted the no-surprises kind of camping and booked into the Rotary Campsite right in the middle of Grande Prairie.  The pre-check list all done and the duffel bag packed for a weekend beside the ball diamond we deliver Connor to a friend's house so he can ride the bus with his friends and Ken and I take off for the long trip to Grande Prairie with three dogs.  In all honesty it was an uneventful trip...not unlike many other road trips with dogs or small stop often for pee breaks and to stretch your legs - in this case all 16 legs of the occupants.  Upon arriving at our destination we find out that we have actually hit the jackpot.  The Rotary Campsite is not only next to everything we will need in walking distance, but across the street from the Hotel where the baseball team will be staying.  Although we did not know this at the time we booked it does seem that fate has smiled on us.
Knowing the team will be arriving on the bus we decide that we need to scope out the lay of the land.  We wake early and deposit the dogs into the kennel for the duration of our stay in Grande Prairie. We have previously learnt that three dogs at a ball diamond - of which one is scared to death of the sound of the crack of a bat on a ball and the thump of a well-placed baseball into a glove...which I have to say is a bit ironic considering how involved the family is with baseball - is not a stellar idea.  Also the truck camper is not designed for a peaceful stay when all the tiny floor space is squirming with fuzzy critters. Dogs safely deposited in the kennel we quickly are on the hunt for a Starbucks coffee shop.  Caffeine addiction satisfied we move onto the next logical step..where is the ball diamond? After driving down a gravel road on the outskirts of town I have to admit I am not expecting much.As we turn on the instructed second left on the gravel road we arrive at a most impressive ball diamond. I am struck on how amazing it is.  This diamond is surrounded by the forest which provides the backdrop to a promising baseball provincial weekend. 
The first day of Provincials the Peewee Oil Giants take the field at 9 am.  The battle is on and parents, siblings and well-wishers lean forward in anticipation.  Even with some great individual performances the team cannot come back to win it and lose the first game.  The next game takes on greater importance as we know there is a real need to win this one.  Again the team takes the  field at 3 pm in the afternoon.  It was soooo close, but alas the win eludes the team once again.  We are now in a consolation game for the next morning at 9 am. The mood is friendly on the stands with parents cheering on both teams equally and commenting on the good hits, and great plays on both sides. This is a marked difference from the day before when things are on a slightly more competitive edge with everyone involved...spectators and teams included.  It was another close game however it was not in the cards for the Peewee Oil Giants. 
We collect our son and then pick up the dogs from the kennel down the road.  After everyone is safely inside the vehicle we begin the long drive home...having decided not to spend another night in Grande Prairie due the fact that we have no more games left in the weekend.  It is on this drive that Connor is proudly wearing the MVP T-Shirt that he received in the last game from the Lacombe team.  We let him know how proud we are of him and how much we love him.  Due to the fact we are in the vehicle for quite some time it is not a blanket statement.  We let him know which plays we thought he did well on, which ones he could improve on....all done in a positive way knowing that praise is more meaningful when it is done about specific tasks.  The fact of the matter is that we are proud of him and do love him VERY much.  Now if only he would take off that T-Shirt so I can wash it.

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