Instead, to Dude's surprise, the complaints came from his own son, D3.
"That shower was DISGUSTING!" D3 declared.
"Don't be a baby," Declan told him. "I've stayed in WAY worse places with my mother."
Bill made Breakfast Scramble for everyone.
Declan DID seem to be in a better mood this morning.
After cleaning up, everyone headed to Granite Falls Forest, with enthusiastic Scout in the lead.
They reached the Ranger Station,
and went inside.
"There's a nice, clean bathroom in here," Bill advised D3, "if you want to use it before we go fishing."
D3 was very relieved.
"Cool!" Erin said, looking at a Leaf Frog in a terrarium.
"You like frogs?" Scout asked.
"Oh, sure," Erin answered. "Frogs, bugs, all sorts of stuff."
"So," Scout suggested, "how about we go look for frogs and bugs instead of fishing?"
"I'm in!" Erin exclaimed.
Once everyone had used the clean bathroom, the girls headed out to collect bugs and frogs,
Dude and his son went to fish at the nearby waterfall,
while Bill took Declan to a different fishing spot.
"Come on, Declan, let's go this way," Bill said.
The two dads had decided that Declan might do better with individual attention, and away from D3, who was a very good fisherman and tended to brag when he landed something exciting (such as a "Gummie Guppie").
Bill taught Declan how to bait a hook, and how to cast.
And, because Bill wasn't much of a talker, he didn't invade Declan's space.
So the two got along just fine.
"So, how come you like bugs and frogs and stuff?" Scout asked Erin, as they walked through the forest, looking for critters to collect.
"Oh, my dad likes stuff like that," Erin answered. "So, whenever he's home, we do nature-type stuff."
"Oh, so ... why didn't your dad come camping with us?" Scout asked.
"My dad's in the military," Erin explained. "Right now, he's in Iraq. So, he's not home that much."
"So, how well do you know Declan?" Scout asked Erin, as they were hunting frogs.
"Pretty well, I guess," Erin answered. "As least as well as ANYONE knows him-- he's not really an 'open book', as my mom would say.
"I met him about a year ago in school," Erin went on, "and we started hanging out, and for the longest time I thought Mrs. Johnson was his mom -- 'cause she was showing up at bake sales, and PTA meetings, and stuff like that.
"Yeah," Scout said, "but I don't think that's fair. From what I've overheard from my parents, it was his dad, Mr. Johnson, who abandoned him. So why should he be mad at his mom, who was left alone with a baby and no husband and no money?"
"My mom's a psychologist," Erin explained, "and she's says this is fairly common. Kids -- especially boys -- tend to romanticize the 'absent father'. They're stuck with a mom who can't afford a nice place to live, or to buy them the latest sneakers, or whatever, and they imagine that the 'absent father' lives some glamorous life, and that the mom just wasn't good enough to keep him."
"But that's not fair," Scout repeated.
"No, it's NOT 'fair'," Erin agreed. "But it IS reality. You and I are lucky -- we have parents who love each other, and who are committed to staying together."
"But Declan hasn't been as lucky."