I have to say, our family has desperately needed a vacation for some time now. We use to go camping all the time, at least once a month and I had been wondering recently… why did that stop? I honestly couldn’t tell you why. All I know is, I’m glad we went this past weekend. And for FOUR DAYS at that!
It was bliss!
The First Day of Camping
We set out on a Friday, after running some errands. We wound up going to three different campgrounds to find the right spot and “wasted” about three hours round trip. After it was all said and done, we had come full circle, back to the first place we had actually looked at: Dog Creek Campground. When we first got there, we were put off by the fact that there were no good sites available that had both electric and water. There was a nice primitive site, but we were just sure we could find something better, so we took off to further our adventure.
The only other campground that was open had sites that were worse than Dog Creek, crammed in tight like sardines and not even close to the water. After driving around for what seemed like an eternity, we wound up deciding to go back to Dog Creek and just stay there. It was, after all, a decent spot, near the water, under the cover of trees and far enough away from others for Abby to be comfortable. So we were sold.
There was, of course, the fact that there was no electric, but we decided we weren’t going to let that deter us. In fact, we had already thought about that and had brought our inverter along for the trip. Hooked up to our van battery, it was easy to charge our devices and use the shop vac to air up the air mattresses. Yes, you heard that right… a shop vac. I only wish we’d learned about that fun fact sooner!
Setting Up Camp
Once we had paid and pulled into our site, we immediately went about the business of setting up our tent. It was already late evening and we knew we only had a couple more hours of sunlight so we didn’t even unload anything BUT the tent. We actually wound up making great time, and I was pleased with the results even if I had complained a little here and there. In my heart, I wanted everything to be perfect, but that’s something I’m working on every day. We can’t always HAVE perfect, and we just have to learn to be okay with that sometimes.
Especially when we’re suppose to be having an awesome family outing!
Once we had the tent set up and the cover on top, we went ahead and started unpacking the rest of our gear. Then, we fixed a quick dinner: hot dogs and chips, while Abby added a can of cream of broccoli soup to her order. One thing we never ever slack on when camping is meals. We bring at least two pieces of iron – this time it was my griddle and one skillet. Some of my most prized pieces actually. They really came through on every single dish, especially since our focus was the amazing breakfasts we made.
With dinner over, we cleaned everything up and attempted a campfire but that wasn’t as successful as we had hoped. The wood was damp and we didn’t have much tinder for starting the fire. So, instead of letting that get to us, we grabbed the lantern, settled inside the tent and had an awesome time telling stories and jokes and laughing so hard our sides hurt! I admit, there wasn’t much sleep, but I don’t think anyone minded.
That First Breakfast and Full Day
When we got up, bright and early the next day, we already knew breakfast was going to be amazing. We pulled out the iron and the 1965 Coleman camp stove and commenced with the bacon, followed by pancakes. Not in the same iron, of course. Then back to the bacon grease to fry some eggs. We all agreed, there’s just something about breakfast in a campsite that tastes SO much better than what we could have made at home.
We had a great time, sitting around eating and talking and planning the day. Nathan was going to go fishing while the rest of us tidied up the campsite and went exploring. There was an amazing little cove just down from out campsite that offered a gorgeous view, a secret fishing spot that Nathan decided to try out, also close by, and a Wetlands Pond area that served as a sort of sanctuary for the wildlife in the area. Just gorgeous all the way around.
It was right about this time that I realized just how out of shape I had gotten over the past few years. It was a pivotal moment, but it made me swear for a better lifestyle. That will be another post for another day, but I’ve already battened down the treadmill since being home! I wasn’t able to do nearly the amount of hiking that Abby and I had planned, but we made the best of it. Let me just say, homeschool is never so exciting as when you can carry it all out in the great outdoors!
Fishing and hiking and photos and planning the next day… these were our primary goals for the day, and we accomplished most of them. While Nathan didn’t actually catch anything, he did have an amazing time and loved the very act of fishing. For him, I think it’s more about the peace and quiet and communing with nature. And for that, I’m glad.
The best part about the whole weekend though, was the fact that we gathered, as a family, and just lived. It was absolutely amazing. I just wish we could live that way sometimes… big dreams for everyone, right?
Ending Another Perfect Day
After dinner that first full day, Nathan went off to do some night fishing. He was armed with a catfish pole, a bass pole, some stink bait, a package of chicken gizzards and hearts and an assorted pack of supplies for refreshing if necessary. With his trusty lantern by his side, he set off with the highest of hopes, while Abby, Jimmy and I tried the campfire again. Another flop, but not as much as the night before. We actually got a few flames, however short lived they were. Our lantern kept us lit until we retired to the tent for more stories and laughter.
Did I say that was the best part of the weekend? Well it was!
Sleep was hard to come by, yet again, but we didn’t care. I think sometimes we just have to remember that time is fleeting. I remember hearing it said somewhere once that we should never “save up” for this or that. Buy that special something. Take that crazy big vacation. One day, it’s all going to be gone, and we can’t take it with us. If God blesses us with the ability to have something or to be able to do something, then by all means… DO IT!
And so we did.
The Last Full Day
That last day was a doozie. We decided to spare nothing on dinner, or the campfire. In fact, we took a few extra walks just to gather kindling and tinder for the fire. We saved our paper towels, soaked with bacon grease, and other bits of paper and trash for making a nice fire starter. We walked the dogs a little farther and talked about all the fun things we’d seen other people do since we’d been there. Then we laughed about seeing some people with Dish Network setups and wondered if we could even call that camping. It was just really fun.
One of the campsites we passed in walking to the bath house was adorned with the most beautiful blue strip lights. Abby called it “dope” and said we had to remember that for when we got our own RV. Then, on the other side, another RV had party lights strung around their awning and they blinked and changed colors. They had a crockpot too, and I thought to myself that I SURELY needed to remember that!
On our side of the campsite, of course, it was all primitive camping. People came with tents and hammocks and chairs. We had to admit, we were kinda jealous about those chairs, since we didn’t have any. BUT… we will next time!
See, that’s one of the most awesome parts about camping. As you traverse the campsite and check everything out, you can gather ideas for the next trip. Someone right next to you might have the next big greatest idea in camping. I was thankful for all that we saw and all the mental notes that we took.
The Big Fire and the Last Day
That last night, we had an awesome campfire! The effort we had put into finding all the right materials and in saving bits of paper and packing really paid off. I think it was one of Abby’s favorite parts about the weekend as she sat mesmerized by the height of the flames. It was gorgeous, that’s for sure.
The next morning, another awesome breakfast with all the trimmings. After that, we started packing up for the trip back home. Not a moment wasted, but still relishing every second. Even the dogs seemed to know we were getting ready to pack it up. They pushed for one more long walk.
I’m not sure when we’ll get to go back, but one thing I know… God has given us such an amazing planet, it’s just an absolute travesty to sit inside, “living” your life away. If that doesn’t make sense to you, then you definitely need to get to a campsite somewhere for about a week. I bet that will change your perspective! It sure changed mine!
And finally, the prayers that we had, and the private study time that I got in, was just unexplainable. I can’t wait to go back. Maybe not to the same place. But still, back out into God’s great big world. He made it for us, made us shepherds over the whole thing. Why shouldn’t we enjoy it?