Friday, August 25, 2006

Camping With Children Part 2

There are good and bad things about Money Creek Campground. The bad things are the highway and the rail line that sandwich the sites. Most of the trains seem to run at night, so you are jolted awake every few hours by the sounds of whistles and wheels. It started to get pretty comical after a while, and everyone was exceptionally good natured about the whole thing. Fortunately, the campground itself is quite beautiful with huge old cedar and fir trees, and the swimable river off to one side. Another great thing about this place was the buffer between the sites. I love car camping, but not when I can see and hear every little detail of my neighbor's camping experience. We arrived at the campground with plenty of time to set up the tents ("can we get in the tent yet?!" x 1000 repetitions) and get the fire going. Luckily scavenging of downed wood was okay because the kids found the foraging process to be very exciting.

It is easy to forget how exciting things are to children. We adults get soooo jaded, but they seem to enjoy every little detail. The tents, the fire, the special cooking, special foods, lanterns and candles, singing around the campfire, and all those things that seem like such common parts of camping. We also had a few other entertainments planned to keep the peace. Little niece got to play with all the playdough she wanted (there is no carpet to worry about in the woods!), and we also had a set of Velcro mitts for playing catch with a tennis ball. The most popular entertainment was definitely the Madlibs. We had "A Trip to the Farm" and "Science Lab" to start, but the most popular one by far was "How to Ride the School bus." Both little and big niece were nearly falling off their chairs with the humor of it all. We learned that you should never talk to the hippo or throw princesses while the bus is in motion. We wrapped up the evening with roasting marshmallows. This was a very popular activity, but there were a few tricky moments when a little person would forget themselves and hot sticky marshmallow went waving around on the end of its sharp stick. Beware the stick!

On Saturday morning we headed out for hiking at Bridal Veil Falls. Little niece and I had the same opinion of the steep and rocky trial, so we spent most of the trip brining up the rear. She is such a tiny little person that piggyback rides are not difficult to give, and she got more and more of them as the trail went on. Big niece, on the other hand, was not having any assistance of any kind, and she was actually the one to set the pace. By the time we reached the top we all agreed that the view and the falls made the trip entirely worthwhile. We all dangled our toes in the cold mountain water, and some people even took off their pants and went wading. Big niece and I agreed that we do NOT take our pants off in public thank you very much!

On the whole, I would say that our camping expedition was a huge success. We were not put off by freight trains or helicopters (oh I left that bit out didn't I? It was loud.) and we managed to enjoy almost every moment. By the time we were heading home on Sunday the nieces were getting a bit crabby with each other, but they were SO well behaved for almost the entire weekend. Having the two of them along made the whole camping experience seem fresh and new (not that I was tired of it, but you get the idea) and I hope we will have time to do it again soon (maybe in a slightly quieter place?).

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