Tuesday, May 28, 2013


This past weekend we went camping for 2 nights!  We used to camp all the time when we were stationed in Colorado, even once Nathan and Luke came along.  Then we would camp with the L's, and we had a great routine going, as far as who brought what.  It was great!  We camped a few times in Ohio, and then only one time once we moved here to VA--our eventful and rainy trip to Shenandoah back in May 2005, not long before I got pregnant with Anna.  I guess I don't like camping when I'm pregnant, and I've been pregnant 5 of the last 7 summers--and the 2 summers I wasn't pregnant, it was because I'd had a baby earlier in the year, so . . . camping just didn't happen.  Plus, we had outgrown our "7 person" tent, and finding a new tent to fit us all seemed like an insurmountable challenge. 

For the past 9 (?I think 9, anyway) years, our friends the H's have reserved an entire loop of a campground in Maryland for the whole weekend.  This year we were finally able to go, and we had such a wonderful, fun time!  We found a new tent at Costco, a "10 person" tent that fits 3 queen-size air mattresses!  That's where Bob, I, the 3 girls, plus Drew and Micah slept.  The other 4 boys slept in our older faithful tent from Colorado days. 

We were able to fit all the sleeping bags, tents, tarps, camp stove (thanks Ed and Elizabeth--that was one thing they always brought, so we don't actually own our own one, LOL--we had to borrow theirs!), equipment tub, food tub, cooler, etc.  only because of this wonderful thing called a "Stow-Away".  We actually bought it 2 years ago from someone in our homeschool group.  We went to get a hitch put on the big van, but we found out that because of the time someone rear-ended Bob, a piece was out of place, and so they couldn't get all the bolts on.  We didn't do anything more about it, except keep this big thing in the smack-dab middle of our garage.  Until 2 weeks ago, when we realized that unless we wanted to drive 2 minivans, we absolutely had to have some other place for cargo to go camping.  So Bob took the van into a place that hammered on the frame for an hour to get the piece back into place, and then they were able to install the hitch.  The Stow-Away worked like a champ!  It actually swings away from the back, so we can still get into the back of the van, even with it on. 
Here is a picture of our campsite.  We managed to get the 2 tents both on it with no problems!  The one on the left is the new tent.  It is really nice, although it is not anywhere as easy to set up as our old one.  That one goes up in about 2 minutes!
You can see the fire smoking away in the picture.  We had the fire going pretty much all the time Friday and Saturday.  That is because it was FREEZING cold!!  It was like we were back, camping in Colorado, except silly me, I certainly didn't pack like that!  Oh, how we all wished for gloves, hats, winter jackets, etc.  I think it was below 40 degrees Friday night, and it was sooo windy!  None of the kids in our tent slept really well because it was so cold, and by the (early) morning, both Drew and Micah were in bed with Bob and me.  Nathan was up around 6:00 to start the fire.  I had packed something like 35 packets of hot chocolate mix, figuring that would be more than enough for 2 mornings.  Well, we had hot chocolate Friday night and Saturday morning, and we used up all the packets, plus I was putting pieces of Hershey's chocolate bars in there to up the flavor!  We were so desperately trying to be warm!  A lot of us went into town for dinner at a restaurant, and we got some more mix at a store there for Sunday morning.  Saturday night was not anywhere as cold, though, and the kids all slept really well. 
Saturday before lunch we all took a hike to a waterfall.  It was not a hard hike to get to the falls, and then a lot of people climbed up to the top of the falls.  Unfortunately, Anna slipped off a rock and fell in up to her waist, so she was not a happy camper (ha!).  Bob had to carry her back, so he was not a happy camper either!  She is not as light as she looks, LOL, and we were all exhausted from our bad night of sleep!  I was stuck hiking back with Micah.  He trooped along for awhile, and we had a fun time looking at trees, birds, bugs, etc.  But then he wanted to stop and turn over pretty much every single rock and leaf on the ground.  I started to carry him, but he pitched a big fit.  Eventually he even laid in the middle of the trail for a bit!  Finally I picked him up, and he fell asleep, so we were making good time . . . unfortunately, due to all the distraction of a stubborn 2 year old, I completely missed the signpost where we were supposed to turn onto the trail back to the campground.  So I merrily followed the blue trail at a brisk clip, although I did start wondering why I wasn't seeing anyone else.  We had been going so slowly, I was sure Bob would have caught up to us . . . I called and left a message on his cell phone . . ."Ummm, are you following the blue trail . . .??"  When he called me back a few minutes, he was quite concerned, although I did explain that I wasn't technically lost, LOL; I was simply going on a different trail!  I retraced my steps (we really had gone quite a ways!), and Bob and the older boys met me right where I should have turned in the first place.  Just a little added excitement!

Sunday afternoon, after a little church service and lunch, a group hiked back up to the falls.  Twenty-two of them joined the "Polar Bear Club" and swam in the freezing cold water, including Bob, Nathan, and Jonathan!  Crazy . . .
The kids all had so much fun.  The McC's were there, as well as the M's, another Rivendell family.  These 5 girls had such a ball playing together!  Rivendell is going to be so fun when they all get old enough! 

I wish I had a picture of Micah.  He wore our trusty 3T USAFA sweatshirt--now on its 5th boy!--the whole weekend, since it was so cold.  He got tons of hot chocolate, as well as sticky marshmallow, syrup, and other assorted stains, on it.  It may never recover!  And he was so dirty.  This weekend was like his dream--be outside the whole time and get as dirty as he wants?  Playing in the dirt is encouraged?  What fun!  He didn't want to leave, LOL.  He followed the big boys around like a little man. 

Oh, a funny thing--he and Bob were walking around the loop, when another man struck up a conversation.  The man noticed Micah's USAFA sweatshirt and said he was an Air Force fan.  In fact, he had a son who had just graduated from AFROTC at Alabama . . . he was the dad of the former CAP cadet that Nathan had talked to last week when I was so late!  What a fun coincidence!
Finally Sunday afternoon it was warm enough for Drew to be able to sit in his bumbo without his huge fleece winter thing that I had fortunately thrown in at the last minute!  He rode around a lot in the front pack or the Ergo.  There were a lot of teenage girls around, and they did a fantastic job playing with him and holding him.  In fact, the H girls watched him Saturday during the hike so we didn't have to take him!  I think he enjoyed his first camping experience, although he was glad to get home to a warm bed, LOL.  He slept a good deal on Monday!

So now that we are back in the camping mode, we are hoping to do more of it.  The boys all really enjoyed it, and they were great helps with the fire, getting the tents up and down, etc.  We'll see!

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