We took a week away from home and work for some vacation!
Normally we’d camp with a group of people. As such, we reserved a group campsite, just in case. Planning and comfort didn’t mesh, so we ended up using the entire group campsite alone. This worked out to be fantastic, as it gave the kids room to be plenty rambunctious and loud. They did still get too loud, but that was tempered against our desire to relax more than other gauges.
We set out on Monday to camp until Friday. In the weeks and days leading up to it, the kids got increasingly excited, to the point where they were ready to go at any moment’s notice. Until the day or two before, when it was time to pack. Getting them to select a set of clothes in the right style and volume for the activities and duration was way more difficult than it seemed necessary. We eventually got it done.
Monday we spent the morning packing the trailer and Jeep. And dealing with dog problems.
We had arranged to drop the dogs at the sitter’s early, and then planned to pack and dash after. It turns out there was a cut on one of the dogs’ feet, which we noticed on Sunday and took care of at the emergency vet, but which the dog peeled back open over the night. So we had to take her to the regular vet. This caused enough delay that we had to wait for the sitter to become available again. We packed some while we waited, but needing to use the Jeep, we couldn’t pack where the dogs would need to be.
Eventually all of the dog tasks aligned and were complete. We finished packing the Jeep, and took off. We were about four hours later than expected, but eventually underway!
We raced to try to make camp before dinner, but the kids got hangry sooner than that. We stopped for some quick drive through, which was thoroughly unsatisfactory as the weight of the day and hunger in the moment got the better of us.
We reached the campsite with maybe an hour of light left. We quickly assessed the large, and very comfortable campsite, looking for a convenient and level place to set the tent. Curiously, some of the optical beauty of the sight was because of the curvy terrain, but that made it difficult to find a flat-enough place for the tent. We eventually settled on a bit on the crest of the hill in the site, and started assembling the tent.
We tried to send the kids running as we threw the tent up. First time tent set-up in the season often reminds us how infrequently we set up our tent. We worked it out and got a tent up before dark. We focused getting the things into the tent to sleep for the night. Food could wait, since we’d stopped for dinner on the way. We settled in, and everyone crashed pretty fast.
Tuesday was a brilliant day! But overnight we had a brief adventure.
Settling in Monday night, we realized that we’d forgotten to bring sleep diapers. The 4yo is great during the day, with months since his last daytime accident (a nap time where he resisted a bathroom break prior to napping), but he is frequently wetting his bed over night. Many nights we are happily surprised he makes it through, and we celebrate with song and dance. But this day, around 1AM, we were interrupted by a bed wetting. A quick change, and a breath-holding for the rest of the night, which seemed to work.
We woke peacefully and everyone dressed fairly quickly. Breakfast on the grill and discussion about what to do. I noted the need for overnight diapers, and one or two other forgotten things, so I dashed to Target to pick some up. Everyone else played at the campground.
Upon my return, we wandered down the walkway a bit and set the kids loose in the beach, swimming while we tried to hide from the sun and the biting black flies. In the end, I sat on a picnic table bench wrapped in towels to make shade and fly barriers.
We compelled a little nap for the little. The kids ran and screamed and rode their bikes. It was a pretty good day.
We settled in for dinner over the campfire, making dogs and brats over a roaring fire. We also made s’mores and tried making campfire cookies (with no good luck).
In all, the best day camping.
Over the night, a thunderstorm rolled through. Based on the short counts between lightning and thunder, it wasn’t on top of us, but wasn’t far, either.
We had plenty of wind, not severe, but lots. Rain came in ebbs and bigger ebbs. It’s nice sleeping in a tent during the rain, but gets a little tense in a storm. The trees protected us from plenty, but the campsite was open to the lake, so there wasn’t much to stop the wind when it blew from that direction, which seemed to be the entire time. Still, everyone slept through.
We had set up a tarp over one of the picnic tables. We spent the day there. We have sun shields that we can and did hang on the tarp, protecting from the wind and blowing raindrops. The rain was intermittent during the day, but between rain showers, it still fell from the trees.
A little later in the afternoon, done with the wind and mud, we ventured into the building on the site. Inside were electric lights, a wood-burning stove (that we didn’t fire up), dry picnic benches, and most important, real walls and ceiling.
The rain abated and the ground dried fairly quickly. We huddled around a late campfire and had some grill-made food there, soaking in some nice fire warmth.
Before bed, we tried to catch some of the Perseid meteor shower. Of course, they fly fast, and we were a little early for the mid-night peak, so while everyone got to see a few, none were amazed at how many. I believe these were the first meteors the kids had actually seen, nonetheless.
The night was windy. In the rain, the tent rain cover had stretched or folded or somehow got a little loose, and there was a frequent annoying rippling sound that happened all night. The clouds were gone, though, and the big moon made the night pretty bright, even in the tent. Our tent has a screened top half, with is covered then by an orange rain cover, so the two combined to give a bit of an eerie glow inside the tent. I thought it was cool, and it seems I was the only one awake to notice.
We woke to a beautiful morning. More like Tuesday than Wednesday. Birds singing, not too many bugs, gentle breeze, partly cloudy, delightful temperature... While making and eating breakfast, we checked the forecast. Thursday seemed like it was going to be great, with clear skies and mid-70°F temperatures. Thursday night and most of Friday, however, seemed to be destined for severe thunderstorms and heavy rains all day long.
After much debate, and some sadness, we decided to break camp and head home early. We can certainly weather some bad storms, pun intended, but packing up wet really sucks, especially if you’re tearing down a tent in wind and rain. We briefly debated packing everything but the overnight stuff, but that still left a lot. I even suggested maybe moving into the building, but it would have meant trying to move the tent in there, or sleeping exposed to whatever wanted to wander or fly in, which we weren’t ready to do with the kids.
It works out that friends of ours have a lake home on the same lake as the state park in which we were camping. They had planned to arrive earlier in the week, but things didn’t happen. They were there on Thursday, though, so we set out to meet up with them later. We met with some of them mid-day for some light swimming, and maybe by their place on our way out. Pa and kiddo joined the kids and I at the beach, and they had a blast playing with a friend, which is unfortunately rare this year. Other dad and I had a great time catching up. Usually we’re only around in a crowd, and while we get time to chat, it’s usually more crowd divided. We left with plans for “stop by if time allows,” and we returned to our site while they trekked off to return in their boat.
When we returned, just about everything had been torn down. Ma had packed all of the clothes and sleeping gear. She was down to the last bits of the cots and tent. I set about trying to get the kids help me stack stuff in the trailer and Jeep back, while leaving room for the remaining bits. Once we were down to nothing but tent, it went really fast.
Ma was glad to hear that we’d arranged to connect on our way home. She was a little disappointed that other ma had to work while we were meeting, and with the tear-down duties, thought she’d missed out on the visit entirely.
We found and visited for a while. Much comparison of COVID-19 survival was made. No one is excited for the return to school, except maybe the kids; all they see is friends, though. We took off before it got to be dinner time, and set out on our hours-long ride home. We stopped for take-out on the way, and made really good time. The 4yo had fallen asleep when we stopped, so we had to stop later when he woke, but it was about time for gas and a leg-stretch anyway.
We got home, pulled some of the essential bits out of the trailer and Jeep, and went inside for well-needed showers. There were many “we’re not tired” proclamations, but everyone fell asleep quickly.
Friday at home was a brilliant day, also. There was some mild “could have stayed” attitude from the kids, but showing them the weather images showing the massive red blocks over the area we had been in just the day before eased some of that. They get, but at the same time don’t get, that weather can be different just a short distance away.
Later, the storm hit our area. It wasn’t as bad as it had appeared to be in the previous imaging, but with much rain, lightning, and thunder, the kids both finally realized the good call we had made. They didn’t want to go outside, much less imagine packing up the tent and trailer in the rain.
In all, everything was great. Unplugged from work, almost entirely, for the whole week. Very little face on screen times for the adults, aside from forecasts, ordering diapers, and arranging hook-ups with our friends. Lots of low-key activities. Also, no dogs!
The return on Friday was nice, as it gave a weekend to try to return to normal. We gathered the dogs on Saturday, as planned, and started adjusting back to our same every-day activities. Work was a welcome adventure come Monday.
Everyone stayed healthy. No one was hurt, and no COVID-19 resulted from our brief interactions with others.