Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forced Family Fun in the Great Outdoors

It's a gray, drizzly Thursday here and the weatherman says we are in for some honest to goodness fall weather this weekend. Hopefully DRY fall weather as I'm pretty sure this state is about to break off and sail out to sea.

I love the way God ordained the seasons. Just when we think we can't handle any more heat, cooler weather rolls in and the leaves begin to change. As the leaves drop and we grow weary of the bare brown forest we suddenly awaken to the beauty of a white winter snow. Finally, when we think we can't stand one more minute of the cold and damp, a spring breeze sweeps in bringing splashes of color and a fragrance all its own.

When our girls were growing up one of the things we liked to do in the fall was go camping. I just lost some of you, didn't I? Some people hear camping and immediately turn up their noses and think ewww but when you camp with my hubs he pretty much does all the work so what's not to love?

We took a couple of trips with another family too and they also have a worker bee for a dad which was perfect (for the rest of us). We used to joke that they should sign up for the Amazing Race because they're like a highly industrious comedy tag team. On one camping trip an older woman and her daughter who were set up in the campsite opposite ours started a conversation with us. The older woman said she and her daughter had been watching our husbands and they couldn't get over the way our hubs never sat. She then added that she was heading off to give her lazy good for nothing son in law a 'talking to'. Uh-oh.

We tent camped and I know there are haters out there but I have to say there is nothing quite like having your whole little family lined up all together in sleeping bags in a tent. Sometimes we'd have the dog with us too because the more the merrier, right? I love sleeping tucked in tight under the stars.

My girls have always had very active imaginations and the family we camped with had two girls who were the same. They loved playing pioneer or what they called "poor". They collected berries for food, created homes in the trees, and one time they tied daughter2 to a tree-I believe it was their version of the wild wild west which I know is not pc but it was the nineties people.

Some of our favorite stories to tell and retell come from camping. We especially love the one where we pulled into a campground to check in, followed closely behind by our friends in their mini van. They thought the electronic arm of the gate would allow two cars to pass but unfortunately that was not the case as they discovered the hard way. When our friend went to the window to explain what had happened the guard casually grabbed the broken arm and tossed it into a big pile of other broken arms and said, "That happens all the time." He had a stash of replacements right there. It seems the simpler thing would be to repair the gate, doesn't it? To make matters worse (or funnier depending on who you are) this little mishap occurred mere minutes after the same friend had somehow managed to drive over a rake sitting prong up in the middle of the highway.

One year the two dads took the four little girls on a weekend camping trip. Vacation Bible School was kicking off that Sunday evening and I was involved in the preschool department. The plan was that the dads would return in time for everyone to clean up and come to VBS. I remember being in the church office and glancing out the window to see a pile of absolutely filthy children clambering out of a vehicle. I think I was even just a teensy bit judgemental in my head before I realized THEY WERE MY CHILDREN. Turns out they'd been having so much fun on their weekend away that there was no time to go home before VBS. I love that camping affords us the freedom to get a little dirty and wear a baseball cap now and then.

The dads of the girls in daughter1's scout troop got to be friends and they began organizing a father daughter camping trip every year. I think it's good for dads and daughters to do things on occasion without the moms around because let's face it...dads don't immediately run thru a mental list of all the dangers involved in a particular activity and then say no because in reality, a little bit of adventure is good for building confidence in young girls.

The first year they did this the girls all got out of the cars shouting, "We wrote our names with fire!!!" The dads had asked them to keep that on the qt but every mom knows girls are not really capable of that. Had I been on the trip would I have said, "Hey girls, let's all write our names in fire?" No. No I would not. I would have said, 'Now girls, that's dangerous..everyone stay back from the fire...and put down those sticks before someone gets hurt." Just keepin' it real. Dads on the other hand say things like, "Hey girls, watch this...I can write my name with fire! Who wants to try?"

I love hot chocolate and cats cradle first thing on a chilly fall morning.

I love the time and space to dream big dreams and little girls who furiously pen those dreams into a journal from the comfort of a camp chair.

I love cobbler cooked by the hubs over white hot coals.

I love the thrill of discovery.

I love making memories.

I love secrets told on a rock.

I love small hands getting an up close look at the natural world .

I love little girls who ask, " becomes______?"

I love a front row seat to the beauty of a setting sun.

And most of all-
I love life unplugged.


  1. Okay, even though I am not (at all) a fan of camping this does remind me of when we go to "the ranch." The family property on the Umpqua River about 3 hours South down I5 where the Hubby is forced to unplug and such things as bow and arrows, fishing, tractor riding, floating the rapids and campfires take center stage. The best part (for me) is the fact that there is an actual house in the form of a double wide with real beds, working toilets and showers and washer/dryer. I know it loses some of it's 'roughing it' glamor but still.
    Oh and yes I may or may not be the voice of reason when the pellet rifle comes out to shoot up some cans of (full) beer... just for the fun of it. :)

  2. I love all your pictures! I am not a tent hater, but I am a lack of toilet/lack of shower hater! This may surprise you, but I don't really HATE camping. :) I just don't LOVE it. But we have fun.

  3. Beautiful post! Pumpkins, cobblers, little girls and secrets! All fabulous things.

  4. What a wonderful post, full of great memories! It's amazing how a couple days of camping can be so refreshing. I always loved it until I had to come home and clean out the cooler, wash the dirty clothes, the dirty dishes, etc. etc.

    But it's a great experience for the family and I'm glad we did it! I have memories of our tent leaking and the kids and me laughing, thinking it was hilarious. My husband not so much - but that's because like your husband, mine was the one who felt responsible for doing the work involved. I just did the cooking.

  5. What fun pictures and even better memories. We camped some when the kids were little. I grew up camping, hubby did not and he wasn't too big of a fan. Now I'm not either. Our daughter and her hubby love to camp. Just give me a nice hotel with A/C and a king size bed and I'll be happy. :)

  6. We did lots of camping when the boys were little too. I miss those days. There was something about hearing all the outside noises that just didn't happen in a travel trailer. I know. We tried most every mode of camping there was and always came back to good ol' tent camping.

  7. My kids have always loved doing weekend stuff w/ just dad because he lets them do all the things I'm known to "freak out about." Like anything fire-related, or swinging from ropes over deep lakes. Love your pictures. That last one is a real keeper.

  8. I don't normally comment on your posts Jo...I just love reading them. This one however, makes me miss having my girls home more than ever. I want to us all to go camping.

  9. We LOVE tent camping for the weekend. We have a 5th wheel for longer trips...and by longer I mean loooooooonger like spending the summer wherever in the USA my hubby is working.

    Even when we are in the 5th wheel we do most of our cooking outside because everything just tastes better made over coals. Cobbler made in a dutch oven is a family favorite!

  10. Our own family camping times are among my favorite memories. I enjoyed reading your memories. Cobbler over coals? I'm impressed!

  11. I love tent caping too, it's so much fun. Great pics too.

  12. Beautiful memories. We have them too. We use to camp with some friends before we had children and by ourselves. Traveled from Illinois out West! Camped with our children too. We also did the motor home thing once. We are talking about doing that again when we retire. Now we do the cabin each year and we are pretty much unplugged all week! Have a great weekend. Great post, thanks for sharing all the pictures.

  13. What a wonderful childhood your kids have had! Mine was great, too - lots of camping and hiking and such in the great outdoors. I couldn't have asked for a better one.

  14. I'm not turning my nose up at camping I just never had those experiences or passion for it. But I'm happy you and your family have such amazing memories!

    We are having a beautiful 60 degree weather and dry....I love it!
    I hope you have a great weekend!

  15. What a great trip down memory lane! You're right that I'm not a camper, been there/done that/didn't sleep much; however, I can appreciate that others enjoy sleeping outside. Thanks for sharing!

  16. You almost make me wish I was a camper....almost. lol

  17. This post reminded me of the times we went camping at a motorcycle rally. Good times! Did you see my caterpillar picture from sisters' weekend? It's the same kind you have in the picture!

  18. You should write travel brochures. I was almost tempted to try camping again, but I snapped out of it. Every time--and I do mean every single time--we went camping, something major happened. And none of it good. Now we do hotels. With free breakfast. And cable. ;-)

  19. Great pics! I love camping-- Josh, not so much.
    I'm looking forward to doing more of it now that our kids are getting older.

  20. The halloween photo is awsome... the bug is creepy!

    I enjoyed reading this! :-)