Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Little More Roughing It Than We Planned

Last week I wrote about camping and the benefits camping provides for a family. So, we took off for a two day camping trip last Wednesday. To begin with, all of our stuff wouldn't fit in one vehicle so we ended up taking two vehicles. I took the two girls with me in the car and Rich took the three boys in the van. We had a great time all the way up there, chatting, telling jokes/stories and singing together. I mentioned in my last camping post that when we do go camping we only rough it to a certain extent because we choose campgrounds that provide bathrooms, showers,  and electricity which usually come with a decent mirror.  Um, yeah...scratch all that. We kinda forgot to check into the amenities at the campground we chose for our little get away last week and consequently we were required to tough it out slightly more than we are accustomed to. In fact, on our way to the campsite a momma black bear and her cub crossed the road fright in front of us. It was super cool and a tad bit disconcerting at the same time.

When we finally arrived at our campsite we needed a bathroom a.s.a.p. so we headed out in search of one. All we were able to locate was this:

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It's such a quaint little outhouse, isn't it?  It was actually very clean and didn't smell bad. We figured out how to wash our hands and brush our teeth without a sink. And forget the hair fixing, which is fine with me since a spray bottle filled with water works just fine for all my crazy curls. Since Christine has the same "do" as her mother, it was a no brainer for her and Natalie sported a pony tail all week-end. We usually don't do a lot of hair fixing while out camping anyway so it really wasn't a big deal. It's just the sink thing, ya know? I was grateful I happened to have a big bottle of hand sanitizer in the car because it was pretty much empty by the end of the trip.

We headed out for a little hike soon after we got the tent set up and we discovered what we already knew. We had some interesting neighbors in our neck of the woods. We had seen the black bears, but were not quite prepared for Grizzly! Fortunately we didn't run into any of our furry neighbors and enjoyed a beautiful week-end away.

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We all settled in around the campfire that first night after we made a quick and easy meal of sandwiches, fruit, nuts and healthy snacks. We let the kids undo all that health with a good sized round of marshmallow roasting. I did draw the line on the chocolate though and brought good, dark, organic chocolate.

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We have a fairly comfortable blow up mattress that Rich and I sleep on in our tent, but for some reason on this particular trip, it seemed to function more like trampoline than a bed. :) We have a ten person tent so in spite of the bouncy bed, we couldn't complain about the sleeping arrangements. Space was adequate and it was nice and cozy.

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On the first day we made gluten free pancakes and organic breakfast sausage for breakfast. The coffee didn't turn out very well, but the rest of our breakfast was delicious. The only water source came from an old pump that required some serious muscle power and the water was rather brownish in color. We could only assume the water was safe to consume since there were no warning signs posted.

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After breakfast and clean up, we did the re-grouping thing and then we headed down to the lake to explore and play in the water a little.

I snapped a few pictures from right in front of our campsite and on the short little jaunt down to the lake.

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The scenery was spectacular and the water was like glass perfectly reflecting the surrounding trees and mountains.

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The kids had a great time hanging out, playing, skipping stones and exploring the area with their Dad while I was like a kid in a candy store with my camera.

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The kids found tadpoles.

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After exploring down at the beach, we went for a hike. Everywhere we looked, we saw stunning beauty. Since we were well aware of the friendly neighborhood bear population, I was a teensy weensy bit nervous, but we took our chances anyway and had a great time together, burning off our breakfast and enjoying the breathtaking landscape surrounding us.

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When we got back to camp, we had a delicious lunch followed by another good, brisk walk and then everyone headed to the tent and took naps. We never do that....not the whole family, but every single one of us fell asleep for about an hour and a half, except our twelve year old son who laid in his sleeping bag reading.  It was wonderful.

That afternoon was enjoyed some more time in the sun, down at the lake where I had fun snapping a few more pics of the kiddos and some more of the picturesque surroundings.

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Back at camp we put on a fresh pot of coffee. This time we used bottled water and it was much better. We sat around the campfire, played some games at the picnic table, and after we ate dinner Rich and the boys headed into the small town about thirty minutes away, to replenish our ice supply. The girls and I had some tea by the fire and read aloud to each other while we waited for them to come back.

A few shots of our campsite

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Playing games

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After Rich and the boys returned, it started to rain so we battened down the hatches, took the battery powered lantern into the tent and played games while it poured like crazy outside. It didn't let up all night long and we could see lightening flashes through the tent followed by loud thunder claps. We stayed dry and warm in our cozy tent.

We all laid in bed talking and laughing after we slept in until 8:30 the next morning. It was such a sweet, sweet week-end as a family, getting back to the basics of life and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. We decided that morning, since everything was drenched outside, that we would work as a team to pack up everything in the tent as quickly as possible and tear down camp right away.


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With the whole family working together we broke camp in about an hour and a half, then drove home where we made a delicious brunch after we unloaded.

There were moments when arguments broke out. There were some complaints about the lack of accommodations and the extra work load. There was some whining about the discomfort of doing life sans a sink with running water, and a couple of kids said they got pretty cold during the night, but overall, the week-end was really good. Our family connects on a much different level when we unplug and get away from it all. Time spent around the fire reading to each other, roasting marshmallows, hiking, playing games, talking, praying together and doing life without electronics or movies and living without conveniences we are accustomed, to changes perspectives. When we arrived back at home there were grateful hearts for warm cozy beds, fully functioning bathrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen.

We have so much in our society that we don't appreciate all of the blessings. We take them for granted. Daily life with modern conveniences if not kept balanced, promotes cohabitation rather than family unity. Camping provides the opportunity to get back to the very basic necessities in life and promotes togetherness and teamwork in families. It promotes gratefulness for what we do have and it's one of the least expensive, hardest ways to take a family trip....yet in so many ways it's also the most rewarding.

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