Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The joy of living.

"To be a child is to know the joy of living. To have a child is to know the beauty of life."

We finally got the camper back out again after a busy July and, quite frankly, less than desirable conditions the last time we camped (ahem, Yellowstone). It felt good.

Dave named the camper Ted, as in Teddy Bear, because of all the bear decals on the outside. The boys vehemently disagree. They call it Dusty Crophopper. Whatever you choose to call the camper, it definitely serves its purpose. It beats the six-man tent we used to dwell in one weekend a summer.

This particular camping trip we ended up at a campground that squeezes you in so tightly that your awning nearly rests upon the neighboring camper and your bump-out brushes up against tree branches and the only place to park your vehicle is right in the area you would have designated for your kids to romp around on. Somehow, though, we landed the single campsite outside of the campground with yards of space dedicated solely to our family of four. The only neighbor was an older couple with a seasonal site that came and went briefly to let out their yappy dogs. Our backyard was picturesque, a swamp with flowering lily pads and wild flowers, the sun glinting off the water just so. I'll admit to shirking my set-up duties just to spend some time with this natural beauty and my Big Girl camera. I just couldn't help myself.

All the campground sounds--kids shouting, parents calling, friends laughing, music blasting, golf carts humming--was dulled in the distance. We definitely enjoyed the seclusion and spoke about our luck continuously over the weekend. We are the type who like privacy, to let our kids go pants-less, pee on trees, run around like crazy apes while we sip brewskies around the campfire.

We are also the type of campers who like to get out and do something, preferring not to lazily sit around at the site all day. So we made plans to meet our friends at the zoo Saturday morning. It is a bit odd to be on a time schedule while camping; it is definitely preferable to slowly start your day than rush through the morning hustle in a small camper. But it was a nice way to spend our morning, then drive around to accommodate a napping boy, and stop for ice cream before returning to our sweltering campsite. You see, the lake was infested with blue algae, which we learned is quite harmful to humans. Since we couldn't cool off at the beach, we filled dozens of water balloons instead.

Then it rained. My meteorologist husband promised the rain would be brief, roll right on by, but I would hardly call two hours of hard rain brief. Spencer pouted. My pyro son's desires of a fire were delayed. Ashton ran through the rain, got sufficiently wet, and then joined his brother in a game of who could pout better. So we did the one thing we always said we would never, ever do, and in fact have made fun of others for doing it:  we turned on a movie. The boys colored, played and entertained themselves watching Frozen inside the camper while Dave and I enjoyed a brewskie or two under the awning outside. We ended up eating supper on the cramped camper table, Dave cooking with the grill in the grass under the awning and me boiling the corn on the stove in the camper. But once the rain passed, we shut off the TV, dressed our naked kids and resumed our camping trip. Campfire. Sparklers. Games. Tractors. S'mores. You know, the good stuff.

We got our lazy morning on Sunday, slowly starting the day with bacon and eggs on the picnic table outside while the boys, tummies full of poptarts, dug up the mulch with their tractors. After packing up--a feat made much easier and quicker than during our tent days--we dumped our waste, stopped at a gas station for treats and allowed our GPS to steer us the oddest route home.

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