Why in the world do we like going camping? My hubby has a quick answer handy: we don't. But I have always loved camping. As a kid it was a time to get away from the routine, go somewhere exciting, play with fire, smell the woods and sleep out-of-doors. Since having kids of my own I have become a little less attached to the sport (yes, I mean that in the active sense, often it could be considered a contact sport) since I have to do most of the work.
This particular trip turned out to be a difficult one for me. I've been battling a round of depression and fatigue which did not improve, even in the woods, one of my favorite places. When depression is a chemical imbalance, even a fun trip can't lift it, unfortunately. It made the whole weekend that much harder.
We spent most of Thursday getting ready. Baby Bear helped me pack the Camping Box of dishes and pans, spreading them gleefully all over the kitchen. It took him most of the afternoon to get them arranged to his liking. He had a great time and if he looks a little grumpy in the pictures it was because he was teething and due for a nap.
Friday we drove up early to secure our spots, the kids and I. We camped with two other families; one of the moms drove up when I did. When we got there the temperature hovered in the nineties, with little shade in the grassy camp spaces. Rather than set up camp, we had lunch tailgate style, then rode bikes, played with sidewalk chalk and rested on a blanket in the shade.
Little Mister enjoyed the swimming hole, wading in the chilly water and hauling cupful after cupful up onto the bank to create little waterfalls. In spite of my best efforts to keep his fair-skinned, red-headed little self slathered in sunscreen, he still managed to get a few pink spots, on his shoulders and the tops of his little, sandaled feet.
Hubby joined us after work on Friday, riding out to the campsite with another of our friends. After a day wrangling Goombas alone, I was immensely glad to see him. His concession to camping is that we pack good food, so Saturday night we grilled New York steaks over the open flame, made caramelized onion garnish, cooked corn on the cob and had a green salad topped with feta cheese and red onions. I think that meal was my favorite part of the entire weekend.
The heat affected Curly more than the others and several times I was scared that we were repeating last summer's heat stroke incident. We kept her cool wading in the creek and drinking lots of water so she came though fine.
Taking a newly-mobile baby camping had me worried for a week prior to the trip, dreaming nightmarishly about him eating poisonous plants or crawling into the river. It turned out fine, though. There were lots of willing arms to hold him and he stayed happy and content. He did eat his share of rocks and bark, but didn't choke or poison himself and for some reason the hordes of mosquitoes, who feasted on the rest of us did not bite him at all.
We had a good sleeping set-up: we took the seats out of the van, creating a long, flat space where Hubby set up a foam pad and the Pack-n-Play. He and the baby slept in there where the early morning fussing would not wake the other campers. The two older kids and I slept in our little tent, where they zonked immediately, exhausted from running and playing all day.
Shadow-dog opened the weekend for us by bolting straight from the van into the next county, with me running frantically after him hollering wildly. Once we got him back, his fate was sealed and he spent the weekend on a chain. He didn't seem to mind much, greeting people who passed and eating our corn cobs. I was impressed with how quiet and calm he stayed, even with all the kids running around and other dogs coming in and out of his space.
All in all, I couldn't say this has been the best camping trip I've ever had. The heat and feeling so down made it really difficult to keep up with all the work. Also, our friends never really got a chance to sit and visit much since we were all chasing kids most of the time. When night fell we were all too sweaty and exhausted to sit around the campfire and chat. The kids, of course, had a ball so I decided the best I could do was to count this trip as just taking one for the team. When they are older I hope to get back to enjoying camping.