I Am the Dad: An Adventure with James

A couple of years ago I decided to start a tradition during Christmas when I would spend an entire day with each of my children. This has been such a fun way to nurture my relationship with each of them.

The adventures haven’t always gone exactly as planned, but they have provided great stories.

Two Christmases ago James had decided that he wanted to hike to the top of a mountain on our day together. It would be his first mountain to hike. So I scouted out our mountain and started planning our day. Unfortunately James got sick during Christmas and our adventure had to be postponed.

But, I was committed. I want my kids to know that when I say I am going to do something, I follow through. I want to be a dad of my word.

We were living in Clemson, SC at the time and were planning to jump the border into Georgia and hike to the top of Rabun Bald. Rabun Bald is the second highest point in Georgia at nearly 4700 feet. It was going to be a great hike.

It took waiting until April for everything to be in order. A great mountain. A beautiful day. Good health. It all came to pass Easter weekend. We got up that morning and went to the early church service and then headed to the mountains.

Our plan was simple enough. Drive about an hour. Stop for lunch, at the place of James’ choosing. Change clothes and then get to the trail. We were starting later than I wanted but I knew we would be fine as long as we didn’t waste much time at lunch

We stopped for lunch where all great mountain climbers fuel up for the climb, McDonalds. Nothing like McNuggets before the climb.

As soon as we ate the last bite I was ready to get going. I grabbed our bag of clothes as James and I rushed into the bathroom to change.

Now for the, “haven’t always gone as planned part.” As we were casually changing into our mountain man clothes in the stall, I heard the voice of child talking. As I thought to myself, “That is a funny sounding boy”, I realized it was the voice of a very young girl. My first thought was something like, “A dad must be here with his daughter and had to bring her in the men’s room.”  I had done that when my daughter was younger. You just get them in and out as fast as you can. You do what you have to do.

Then, I heard the parent speak.

It was the voice of a woman. Not good.

Now my first thought was, “They are in the wrong bathroom. This is going to be awkward for them. Can’t they read bathroom signs?” As I processed the moment further, I began to question my own geographical certainties. “Where am I?”

As I carefully and fearfully peaked through the crack in the stall door, I saw another person walk in and my geographical uncertainties cleared up.

It was woman.

We were trapped in the McDonalds women’s bathroom.

Half in church clothes. Half in hiking clothes. One shoe on. One shoe off. I looked at James and in a panic motioned for him to remain silent. As my eyes looked down and to the right, I could see the feet of the lady in the stall next to us.

All that was between us and this unsuspecting lady was ¾ inches of bathroom stall wall. Not good. Not good at all.

We grabbed everything in our arms and waited for the mother/daughter pair to leave. As long as the lady in the stall next to us stayed there for about 5 more seconds and no one else came in, I believed we could get out. We would have to be fast.

I motioned to James to get ready to run and not to stop. I counted to three with my fingers and we ran.

Making it out in time we stopped to gain our composure at a booth far from bathrooms. At this point I just wanted to find my keys and get out of there as fast as possible. I found my keys but my wallet was nowhere to be found. It then dawned on me that I might have dropped it in the ladies room.

What do I do now? Let’s just say that there is nothing like explaining to a teenage McDonald’s employee that you may have left your wallet in the ladies room when you are not lady. You should give it try.

I got my wallet.

James and I went to the car and laughed hard. I also thought to myself, “That’s almost the kind of stuff grown-ups got to jail for.”

We did make to the trail and ultimately to the top of Rabun Bald. We laughed all the way up and down the mountain about our adventure in the ladies room at McDonalds.

FYI – We always double check the bathroom signs these days.


At the start of the hike


4700 ft above sea level. The top!


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