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.
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 . . .
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!
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!