Monday, September 8, 2014

mountain camping: part 1

One thing that I REALLY wanted to do before the summer was over was go camping. We never found the right opportunity- our weekends were either filled with other things to get done or attend, or we simply didn't feel like going. I mean...camping with your kids is a LOT of preparation and planning, plus the added stress of everyone having a good time and no one getting hurt too badly. :/ I'm already pretty paranoid by nature, so taking my children to the great outdoors amongst sharp rocks and poisonous plants and insects,'s a bit of a challenge for me to RELAX.

However, I have such fond memories of camping with my family growing up. It truly is one of my favorite things to do- and Jonathan's, too. When we were dating we talked about our camping experiences often and how much we loved the peace and solitude of sleeping in the woods and gazing at a star-filled sky. It was one of those things that made us fall for each other, actually. So to be able to take our own little family camping is sort of surreal, wonderful, and magical.

Last weekend it was supposed to be in the 90's, so Jonathan suggested we play in the river. And then I was like, "Why don't we just go camping?" THE DAY BEFORE. That's how long we had to plan for day! haha. We're kind of nuts sometimes.

While Jonathan worked on Friday, I made a few errands to the grocery store for food and the dollar store for entertainment. According to Pinterest, you can find a lot of things from the dollar store to make camping with kids easier. I've tried this theory and found that it is true.

Glow sticks...LED bracelets and boomerang...matchbox cars...beach ball...anti-bacterial wipes...all for a buck each? Doesn't get any better than that.

Anyway, for the rest of that day I packed as much STUFF into the back of the van as possible. Jonathan packed the bigger stuff the night before, thankfully.

I always overpack. It's just who I am. We probably had enough food and clothes to last us four days or so, and we were just staying one night. But being over-prepared eases my anxiety so I do it anyway :)

As far as WHERE to camp...we didn't exactly have that one all planned out. We knew the general area of where we wanted to be, but weren't sure any campsites would be 1. FREE (cause camping should be free, folks.) or 2. empty. 

After about an hour of driving, we were in the mountains and on the hunt for a spot. We went through federally owned forest, which is never free. Besides, ALL the sites were packed full of people or didn't feel safe. 

{by the way, our camping trip last summer was an absolute nightmare. Due to lack of preparation, the only spot we could find was on the edge of a CLIFF. I was living in a nightmare...every time the kids took a step I imagined them tumbling down the mountainside. Lesson learned: never, everrrr, sleep in a place like that. I would rather turn around and drive home.}

Then we got to the national forest and our hopes were high. Still...people at every site. The road was bumpy and twisty and the kids were quickly getting restless. We had said a prayer before we left but, unwilling to take my eyes off the road, I asked Talmage if he could please say another prayer for us. In his sweet little voice he mumbled, "Dear Heavenly Father, please help us find a camping spot with no people..." haha. I didn't ask him to say that, but I had mentioned aloud to Jonathan that I like to be ALONE when I camp. Especially with being pregnant and all, I'd like to be able to pee in the dirt unseen. Plus... people are often weird, loud, or creepy. Camping should be private, in my opinion. 

Jonathan had looked at Google Earth before we left, and noticed this one camping site at the top of a VERY big mountain. This spot was perfect- right on the edge of a lake and with complete solitude. The road up the mountain was super long and narrow and it was a huge risk...but we had no other options. The sun was setting and we needed to find somewhere to set up camp before it got dark. So, we took the risk and up the mountain we went. We kept saying out of reassurance that surely no one would want to drive so far to somewhere so remote, and hopefully it would just be us up there. But then we realized it was the weekend, after all. 40-ish minutes later, we get to the top and out of nowhere this guy walks across the road. We all kind of jump out of our seats, surprised to see life forms. Jonathan stopped to talk to him and asked him if he was camping at the site. The guy smiled and said "No, actually! My wife and I just came for the view, but we were just leaving! The site is really beautiful, though, and no one is there." We all breathed a sigh of relief. 

The campsite was, in fact, truly breath-taking. Literally on the edge of a serene lake surrounded by tall trees. Around the site were little trails for exploring and lots of rocks to climb on. One big flat rock in the middle of the site served as the perfect "buffet table." There were 2-3 pads for tents and all were completely empty. We had the top of the mountain to ourselves. 

In that moment my testimony of prayer was greatly strengthened. I know the Lord is aware of us in our every need. I felt truly humbled by this mercy to our family.

That face. He kills me.

The kids wasted no time in climbing every rock in sight!

Okay, okay...I debated putting up this picture, but moms of little boys will understand--there is nothing cuter! Such a little man :)

While Jonathan set up camp, I put the kids in their pjs and they had some quiet book-reading time. This was my attempt to wind them down for bed....huh..."Yeah right, mom!" 

I will NEVER get tired of our minivan. We laid down memory foam pads in the truck for Charlotte and I to sleep on. It wasn't super comfortable but it was better than sleeping on the ground at 7 months pregnant.  :)

 After camp was all set up, we went for a little walk to see the last light going over the treetops. The view was remarkable.

haha...I'm not quite sure what Talmage was doing.

I adore this girly so, so much. She is just a little ray of the purest sunshine.

My boys! Love them.

There were quite a few walking trails around the campsite. I felt like we were walking through a wonderland of Christmas trees. The mountains will always be my favorite place to camp!

Call it cheesy or whatever, but as we stood at the top of the mountain and took in the scenery I said, "Gosh- it's so pretty I feel like singing a hymn!" So we sang "I Stand All Amazed" because it's Talmage's favorite (and the only one he knows all the words to). It was a nice moment :)

Lack of smiles = time to sleep.

Except everyone knows that bedtimes don't exist when you go camping ;) After a tasty dinner of cheddar brawts and fruit we busted out the glow sticks for some priceless fun! The kids LOVED them. We went to the lake's edge and waved our glowy sticks around like hooligans, even stuck them in the water and attracted a few crawdads. (Ps- we call them "crawfish" in the south but out here apparently they are "crawdads". And since they don't look- or taste- anything like crawfish I call them that, too. It still sounds weird on my lips.)

Ignore my comment at the end. Charlotte was taking care of business :)

For the rest of the night, we enjoyed s'mores over the fire and daddy's new constellation app on his phone :) It's called "Explore the Universe" and when you point it to the sky, it shows you where constellations and satellites and planets are. Pretty awesome! Jonathan and Talmage stayed up late in their tent looking at iphone constellations, haha. 

Meanwhile, Charlotte and I settled into our "trunk tent", and she fell right to sleep all snuggled in my arms. It was the best feeling to know we were safe and settled in such a beautiful place. 

Part 2 of our camping adventures coming soon!

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Sounds like it was a great trip.

I find that whether we go camping for a week or one night we pack about the same amount of stuff. :) The initial packing cost is so high (tent, coolers, sleeping bags, etc) that throwing one extra bag of clothes in doesn't make a big difference.