Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Camping

Camping. What can I say? Well, its outdoors, in the heat, cold and dust. No running water. Oh and since I live in California our tent was not flat. Going to the bathroom was a 100 foot hike down the hill, which was fine, but going back to the tent meant hiking up the hill. Let's just say my glutts are feeling it.

We arrived later than we wanted due to 4th of July traffic. It was nearing dusk so we had to hustle to get camp set up. Have I mentioned that I have never done this before? So after spending all week long loading the stuff into the car (while hubby was on vaca . . . um, I mean, a work trip) I got to spend over an hour hauling the same crap up a small dusty hill. Fun times.

Then the camp ranger came and scared us all into keeping our food locked securely in our car because of bears. She told a great story of a boy who left a granola bar in his pocket and a bear came to his tent, ripped it open and scratched up the boy. She told this story to all the children; including my 4 year old who is afraid of the characters at Disneyland. When night fell he sat on his daddy's lap and cried hysterically begging us to take him home. It took a lot questions and hugs to calm him down. Even still he spent most of the night in tears and having nightmares. When dawn broke at 5 am he jumped out of his sleeping bag and announced, "It's morning, that means all the bears are sleeping."

Sleeping went so much better than I thought it would be. Thanks to some great sleeping bags, air mattress and over packing we were plenty warm. Even Miss Ellie Bellie was pretty warm. I didn't sleep much that first night. Of course, Eleanor and Alexander ended up with plugged noses all night long and William with his nightmares. If I had a clock I would have seen that I was likely up every 45 minutes or so. The saving grace was only one child woke at a time and that child didn't wake the others.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early and we were out of our tent by 7 am. While the other families in our scout pack made eggs, bacon and pancakes on their portable stoves I busted out the giant Costco muffins and some frozen yogurt. The kids were thrilled to death to run around the campsite while eating and I was able to tidy up the tent and get the younger kids dressed. It was truly best of both worlds. I had the pleasure of smelling every one else's yummy breakfast without having to buy and bring extra equipment, cook, clean and beg my kids to eat it. Win-Win

In their play William caught a frisbee with his lip. Caskey and I spent the next hour debating whether or not an ER visit was warranted. First aid in the wilderness is a whole new skill that I have now mastered. We didn't have the luxuries of extra clothes, ice or a sink. But we made due and within an hour William was back to jumping off of rocks and kicking up dust.

It was really nifty camping with our scout pack. There was such a large group of children close in age running around, making up games and playing together. With so many extra moms around Eleanor was thoroughly loved and entertained. I am so glad we brought her highchair along. We would just set her up in the shade and give an adult some graham crackers and she would sit for an hour or more between naps. Alexander, well, we all know he thinks he is big. So he just followed around the big kids. Occasionally he would get stuck on an extra tall rock, but he managed to keep up with this big kids just fine.

Then the scouts gathered in their respective dens to work on a an elective. Caskey lead the wolves in a knot tying activity. They practiced a series of knots for about 45 minutes. Then worked on their evening skit - which Caskey also wrote. The wolves then spent the next several hours using their 12 inches of ropes, tying it together to make one longer string of rope and tying it between two trees and inventing a game.

It seemed to be going pretty well so far.

We took a nice drive around the lake so the kids could nap. It was over 100* in our tent, so a/c was the only way to get them to rest. I hadn't realized quite how large Big Bear Lake is. It was quite a nice drive looking at the log cabins, tourists on the lake, yard sales and antique shops. The kids took a too-short nap.

Then I saw it! My chairs. My kitchen table chairs. Those ugly, poorly constructed, caked with food chairs. There were 2 matching ones sitting in a parking lot for sale. Caskey whipped a u-turn on a 2 way highway and we got a closer look. The chairs were in poor condition, but they will still in better condition than our chairs. And the price was right, 2 chairs for $3. The only question was where to put them. We were packed to the hilt on the drive up the moutain, how were we going to add 2 chairs for the drive down the mountain? We did it anyway. We managed to squeeze in 2 non-folding kitchen chairs.

Back to the campsite we went. As we were unpacking the kids from the car we realized what Eleanor has been up to on our drive around the lake . . . pooping . . . all.over. No bathtub was available so my woodland princess took a dip in a chip bowl and ice cold mountain spring water. I soaped her up head to toe and rinsed her 3 times. She never once screamed or cried. She smiled and laughed the whole time even though her goosebumps had goosebumps. Poor little girl.

We had a very unhappy discovery in the afternoon. It seems that Connor was not taking the buddy system seriously. As Lainy Ann, Connor and Alexander tromped through the woods to the flushing toilets Connor decided to hide from his siblings while Lainy Ann was in the bathroom. That left Alexander literally alone in the woods. He wandered towards the nearest tents which thankfully belonged to other pack-members. They recognized Alexander and brought him back to us. Once Caskey and I discovered what had happened Connor received a punishment akin to the rock punishment Lainy Ann received in 2008 (?). He was to stay within arms reach of one of us, he apologized to both the cubmaster and person who found Alexander and wrote notes to them as well. He will also be regaining our trust this summer and showing us he does know the buddy system. The last time I was that angry at one of my own children for hurting another one of my children was . . . . well, the rock incident.

That evening went great with hot dogs over the fire and s'more and skits put on by the scouts. But I had had enough. Punishing Connor while camping wasn't going great. Thunderstorms were expected the following afternoon and I was just done, mentally. Loosing my child in the forest was scary and I wasn't going to be able to follow him around the rest of the trip. So we packed up a day early and headed home.

I learned a lot on our camping trip. My packing list is more finely honed. We will definitely go again, but I am thinking we will find someone to keep the littler kids for our trip. I surely can't imagine taking a toddling Eleanor along next time.

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