We went camping!
It was something that had been on my bucket list for a while, so once the girls and I discovered the perfect spot a mere 25 minutes from our house, I knew that it was time for our first family wilderness expedition and campout.
So, a few Friday afternoons ago, I loaded up the car with all the necessary equipment and food, and the girls and I swung by Neckflicks and busted Matt out early so we could enjoy some time in the untamed wilderness before it got too dark.
At the park, we were pleased to discover that Alice could locate campsite number seven, the one we had reserved, by pointing to the large "#7" on the park map handed to us upon entry. We tucked our orienteering skills away for future use. The cargo space in Joanna’s stroller was full to capacity with beer and brats, so we had to load our collapsable aluminum captains chairs onto our shoulders, making the journey especially grueling. My experience hiking the Inca Trail was a boon to the family at this point, when spirits were lagging.*
Once camp was established, we knew that survival priority number one would be locating a source of water. We couldn’t believe our luck when we discovered a faucet right at our campsite.
We then set off on a reconnaissance mission to explore the surrounding area, look for droppings, follow animal tracks, and identify any threats to our safety in the surrounding forest. Having found none, we hastened back to the campsite, as it was nearly four o’clock, and nightfall was fast approaching.
Back at camp, we reflected on how nice it was to just be together in the woods with few distractions. But for the noise from the thirty or so other campers in the park that evening, it was absolutely pin-drop quiet. We were so pleased to be joining the ranks of nature lovers like Daniel Boone, H.D. Thoreau, and Timothy Treadwell.
Our appetites stoked by fresh air and physical labor, we ate and drank heartily from the provisions we had packed.
After dinner, we invented the most charming dessert that I feel I must share with you all. Noticing that the texture of marshmallows could be improved by roasting them over the fire, we sandwiched a few toasty ‘mallows and some chocolate pieces between two graham crackers. I know it sounds crazy, but our zany creation was absolutely delicious! Alice declared it to be “gooey-er and gooey-er” and kept asking us for some more of the nameless dessert.
After we had eaten all we could and exhausted our repertoire of campfire tales, we doused the fire with water and watched the great clouds of smoke and steam billow up. Alice found them to be "perfectly wonderful."
We broke camp, retraced our steps back to our transport vehicle, and drove back home with the smell of firewood lingering on our clothes, bratwurst juices lingering on our pants, baby food and spit-up lingering on my shirt, and dirt lingering on the sticky marshmallow residue lingering on our fingers, mouths, cheeks, and hair.
Alice was deep in the throes of a sugar crash/nature high duet as we made our way home. Driving out of the park, she offered us her observations on the experience: "Dad, we're in nature. Recycling. It's so beautiful and so trees." We hurried home, with four little eyelids in the back seat getting droopier and droopier.
Up in the front of the car, Matt and I congratulated each other for being such intrepid, adventure-courting parents. We would return home triumphant, having survived, nay, thrived, during our sojourn in the wilderness.
We went camping!
Bucket list goal: completed.
What’s that you say?
Sleep in a tent?
Heavens no, we didn’t do that.
Is that something that most campers do?
That would explain the snickers and head scratching we received from our fellow campers during our 8pm victory march back to our car.
So, you’re telling me that we didn’t actually go camping?
Please don’t tell Alice.
*I did not hike the Inca Trail. I did, however, make all of the preparations to do so, including, my top action item: purchasing 10 or so Snickers bars to keep up my energy along the way. Unfortunately, my traveling companion contracted a relentless case of Montezuma’s Revenge so we had to cancel our plans and hide out in our Cuzco hotel for three days while she recovered and I ate Snickers bars.