Then about a month or two ago, Nelson's trip was canceled, but since I'd already requested the week off from watching Benji, and Susanne and Monica had already made alternate arrangements for his care, I decided we'd still go on a trip. A camping trip. Why the heck not? That's what families do right?
Now, to be clear, this is not what my family did. We NEVER went camping. Not even one time. Maybe one time in our urban backyard. Nelson, being an Eagle Scout, has camped many, many times. He's quite an experienced camper. He and I went a few times post college and I did not hate it, but that was back in what Nelson refers to as my "cosmopolitan days" so I was more into going out for beers than sleeping in tents.
Nelson had done some yard camping with the boys and they liked it so I was like, "Let's go on an enormous camping trip and see how that works out." That's kind of how I do things. I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal. My husband, being married to me and all, fully signed on to my proposal without a hint of concern or nay saying. He was like, "Yes, lets do that."
We did not want to go all the way up to Vermont, but we did want to head north, out of the terrible 100+ degree temps we'd been enduring here in DC. I decided Western Mass would be the place - less than a day's drive, and close to family so we could do some visiting. We'd planned to camp for three nights and then do a hotel for two, but the more I though about it the more I just waned to camp for the full five nights.
Nelson though we could do it, but we decided to play it by ear. If the first three nights went well, we'd go for two more.
(What Nelson failed to tell me at the planning of the trip was that he had three (THREE!!!!) papers due August 1. That's a lot of papers. However, he got them all finished before we left and he told me it was the first time in recent memory that he had not been working on papers up to the wire. It meant that I had to do all the camping preparations myself, but who are we kidding? I'd have been in charge the prep work anyways.)
The drive up went not so great. It should have taken us around seven hours and it took closer to nine thanks to traffic in New York (is there ever not traffic in that godforsaken place?) The last 20 minutes of the trip, Miles was screaming, "Let me out! Let me out!" and I was feeling that, too.
But we got there, and my sister's dad was waiting for us and helped us set up camp and it was awesome. We had a great time. Delicious campfire dinner (chicken, potatoes, asparagus), s'mores, sleeping bags. It was a bit difficult for them to get to sleep that first night, but that got better once the novelty of sleeping in a tent wore off.
We had no cell phone reception. That was just fine, though we did have to drive down the mountain so Nelson could check that his papers had been received, but we needed to go down for ice anyways.
Back to camping. The weather was gorgeous - highs around 82, lows around 60. We hiked; we swam in rivers and lakes; Oscar caught his first fish; we visited family; we showered in camp showers (well, some of us did); we fished; we slept in a tent; we climbed to the summit of a mountain (okay it was a mountain in name only, but we're okay with that); we played in the woods; we poked toads. We camped our faces off, and it was great.
We did the full five nights, but I have to say four would have been enough. It's not that they were tired of camping, but the boys were ready to come home. They missed TV and their toys. They last day, all they wanted to do was watch Bolt and whine. But the rest of the trip had gone so well, it was okay. The first three nights, there weren't even any bugs. We were too high up or something. (There were lots of bugs at our second site, but there were plenty of other redeeming factors.)
And I loved it. I did not expect to love it, but I did. I loved sleeping in the tent, waking to birds singing, being outside all day long with my family. I even liked fishing! So, we are officially campers. I'm working on planning another (shorter and closer) trip for September, and maybe one for October.
Here's a photo of the family at the summit of Thumper Mountain. Thumper is not a very tall mountain, but the hike up is rated as strenuous, (even more so with small children, I might add) and it was quite steep and challenging in places, so I'm proud and thankful we all made it with no injuries and in good humor. I'll post more later this week.
|Our first (very tiny) mountain summit!|
|The boys at the summit of Thumper Mountain. I was hovering to the left, sure they would plummet to their deaths.|
|This sign gave me heart palpitations. The drop was huge.|
|The view from Thumper Mountain|