Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Camping over Memorial weekend

“Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” 
-Psalm 118:24

We pulled into the campground, deep in the Wisconsin country, and immediately made a snap judgment about the place. Run down. Small. No privacy. Our particular campsite was over-shaded with enormously tall trees that left the ground a pile of dirt where we would prefer grass. The roots from the trees stuck out of the ground, creating an uneven playing surface, potential tripping hazards. And the smell. Oh my goodness, the smell. Downwind from the bathroom and dumping site, we were rewarded with great big whiffs of urine. Rotting, stinky pee that attacked your nostrils and hung on for a bit. We spent the great majority of our first moments there griping and whining about our temporary home for the weekend, spoiling our fun, vowing to never, ever to return. It wasn't until we settled in, took in our surroundings, conversed with the handful of seasonal campers who so graciously welcomed us and stopped to talk to us, that we finally lifted the veil of our first initial judgment. We finally saw the place from our children's eyes, who were busily occupying themselves with the things we deemed awful. Instead of begrudging the tall trees that cast us out of the halo of the golden sun and created tripping hazards with their protruding roots, the boys pretended they were digging for dinosaur bones or construction workers or farmers. The thing that solidified our change of heart was when the owner of the campground, an older gentleman, walked to our site with an arm full of freshly popped popcorn boxes. Apparently, they hand out popcorn on holiday weekends. I am not entirely certain who was more excited, the boys or us. Either way, we have decided the campground definitely deserves another visit after all.

Our first night, deep in our resentment for the place we chose to camp, we strapped the boys in the stroller and decided to explore the great Wisconsin wilderness. The boys weren't happy to be contained, preferring to be running around. Both Dave and I were still grumpy, our moods seeping in and affecting the boys' behavior. It wasn't until we pulled off the road and let the boys run wild that we actually enjoyed ourselves. Back at the campsite, the boys had made a list with Dave of things they wanted to find. 5 pinecones. 7 sticks. 10 birds. None of the items was a snake, yet we still seemed to find one anyway. Dave says I lifted Ashton's hand away from the snake hole so fast and hard that I managed to swing him shoulder height with me. I also managed to scare the poor kid so badly that he's probably scarred for life. I still shudder seeing the little slithering body in the hole and my son's tiny hand reaching for it. I'm told it was a harmless garter snake.

Saturday morning we headed into town to visit a small and very scenic zoo and park. We could have spent the majority of the day there had we planned ahead and packed a lunch. Instead we stayed as long as our bellies allowed and then found a small hole-in-the-wall type restaurant for some greasy food.

We spent the duration of the trip at our campground. After a supper that really couldn't go right--from my blender dying while attempting to make margaritas to forgetting key ingredients for the meal--we found ourselves in an open field at golden hour, armed with bats and teeny tiny baseball gloves. That was probably my favorite part of our time camping, running around like freed animals.

We ate plenty of s'mores. Blew bubbles. Dug with shovels and dump trucks. Hung around the camp fire. And enjoyed quality family time together.

Sunday morning we packed up after breakfast and headed home, opting for a little downtime during our long holiday weekend. We attempted to see the Lego movie, but apparently my four-year-old isn't ready for violent animated films just yet. We left about 30 minutes into the movie and took our food to a riverside park, salvaging the evening with the spectacular view.

Monday we did more sight-seeing of the Mississippi River and crammed in some family time with the in-laws for both lunch and dinner, raising our glasses to the many serviceman (my husband and his friends included) who have sacrificed so much in order for us to have weekends just like this. All in all, a very nice holiday. It took me a whole day to recharge my batteries.

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