We had an incredible time on our campout over the kids’ Spring Break last week.  We went from Wednesday to Saturday and stayed over in Carmel, just south of Monterey.  The weather was pleasant, though in the 40s at night, and the time we had together was very enjoyable.
Lindsey, being 6 months old, needed a little more comfort and attention than usual.  Also, she had a diaper rash that I aired out while Scott and the kids set up the tents.  Right away, the kids got to playing in the trees that were plentiful in the park.  I still don’t know what kind of trees they were, but they are excellent climbing trees.  They were many-branched, and pretty low to the ground.  Derek perched at the top of one right over our camp and had a good lookout post with his binoculars.  They all climbed the trees except Rachel and Lindsey.  There was a very good, large playground in the center of the park, two bathrooms—one with warm water and showers–, and a few nature trails.  The first morning we were there we saw a group of 5 deer come right by our campsite!

Our dinners were fun.  We roasted hot dogs wrapped in biscuit dough the first night, the second night Scott baked potatoes in the fire to perfection and we put butter, sour cream, cheese and sautéed onions over the top, and the third night we had canned beef stew and rolls.  Our breakfasts were pancakes & eggs, French toast & sausage, and oatmeal & hot chocolate.  It sure is fun to do things in a different, adventurous way.  It’s fun to be resourceful when you don’t have your usual tools and conveniences from home, although I highly recommend buying a “Camp-Pal” that holds your garbage bag, paper towels, sanitizer, and salt & pepper all conveniently located wherever you choose to clamp it on your table.

Scott still amazes me on our campouts.  He is the epitome of patience doing what’s necessary day or-gratefully-night like blowing up our sagging air mattress time and time again, helping Melissa to the bathroom, or investigating strange noises in the camp, Melissa being the source of most of them.  He doesn’t complain the next day over lost sleep, and we even get a good laugh over the nightly escapades.  I helped Melissa change from wetted pants to clean ones in the middle of the second night.  I was able to arrange her sleeping back so as to not feel any wetness, so she went right back to sleep.  The next morning I took her to the bathroom.  She was talking to me through the stall, but stopped mid-sentence.  She exclaimed, “What the…Some magic must have happened in the night because I did not wear these pants to bed!”  I told her what happened and she-at first-was not willing to believe me.

Staying quiet was out of the question so various camping “neighbors” got a glimpse of our family-life. Most of what they saw was positive: singing, working together, etc.  I don’t know what they thought in the middle of the night, though, when Melissa started yelling at Christine for taking her spot.  They yelled at each other for at least a few minutes!  It helped my nerves to know that we set up camp first, and the others, if they had been on their toes, could have avoided a camp that looked to be holding a large family.  I mean, we had two tents, a suburban, and Lindsey’s booster chair always in plain sight!  One set of neighbors actually picked up their tent and moved it to another spot and then later took all their stuff.  We had a few good chats with them, though, and there were no hard feelings.  He commented that “at least it sounded like we were having fun.”

I love the way you can spend your time on camp-outs.  Staying 3 nights is ideal, I think.  Our down-time on a stay of any fewer nights does not justify the work a campout requires. Any more feels too long for me.  We talk a lot about past, present, and future.  We walk.  We get to appreciate nature a lot.  We feel the wonder and adventure that is inherent in life.  We read aloud to each other.  Being on such Hi-adventure also lends itself to kids putting-off using the bathroom.  It is amusing to note that each person in the family actually has a very unique stance they take when they are trying to “hold it.”  We picked these magestic looking frauns-on-a-stick and tried to use them in various ways. You have the time to stop and talk about lessons in life; about work, resilience, flexibility.  And “life’s lessons” are somehow taught perfectly when you have the experience of losing your golden marshmallow to the unforgiving fire and you then have to start over again.  So does the experience of losing your precious and only pack of Double-Stuff Oreos to a thieving (and very fat) raccoon.

We visited the old California mission: Carmel by the Sea.  Father Junipero Serra, the priest over all the missions up Camino Real, was buried there.  We toured each structure, saw paintings, sculptures, replicas of the priest’s “cells,” courtyards, the cemetery, and the chapel.  Derek’s 4th grade class focused on the missions this year, and he was especially attentive during the tour.  Rachel was especially inattentive.

Both Thursday and Friday we were able to visit the beach.  There were a lot of interesting things to see in the pools and rock off of the Monterey coast.  The Carmel coast has white, warm sand that we picnicked and napped on.  The kids kicked around at the water’s edge and got quite wet.  Lindsey napped during almost the whole visit to the beach.  One day we’ll go back and rent a Bay Bike, which is actually two bikes joined together by two benches, one at the back and one at the front.  Our whole family could fit on one of those.  It has a lovely umbrella, and the path you take has a view that is unbeatable.

It was funny.  We ran out of propane, using it the first two nights for heating our tent.  So on the last day we went to buy some more.  Scott and I couldn’t agree on which store to go to.  We ended up paying for convenience: $5.50 for a new pack of pristine sea-side Double Stuff Oreos and $5.80 for a single can (good grade plastic with a cool logo, mind you) of propane.  Ay Caramba!

Well we packed up on Saturday morning in about an hour (that was how long it took for our family moving crew to load ALL of our belongings onto a moving truck back in 2004).  We left that wonderful camping feeling and headed for home.  To “round” things off we ended the whole affair with a buffet lunch at Golden Corral where most of us stuffed ourselves silly with city food, no pun intended at first.  Maybe it was just feeling too full, or maybe it was the stinky city bathrooms (this is a different stink from parks and recreation bathrooms), but I think we came out of that restaurant feeling a letdown from the sharp contrast we felt.  (Our) nature’s tendency to excess clashed with Nature’s Wonderful Gifts of peace, wonder, work, and enjoyment. 


is the name of a tribe of Native Americans who lived in eastern California up until the 1880s, and it’s the National Park we camped in last weekend as well! The views are glorious!  Down in Yosemite Valley you can look up at the domed granite cliffs, or you can drive up and around on the North or the South to see the same breath-taking Half Dome, El Capitan, The Three Brothers, Echo Peaks, Cathedral Peaks, and so on.

You would not believe the effect that listening to John Denver Greatest Hits 🙂 while driving to 10,000 feet elevation along Tioga road would have on you until you try it!  And what if your cute kids are totally into some of your favorite music?  It adds even more punch to the “rocky mountain high” that you’re on.  HA!  Jenny, remember how we listened to Troy and Travis’ cool music over and over until we had every word memorized?  I told the kids how we would argue over who had the words right.  I admit that I also told them that you eventually gained a respect for my wonderful memory for lyrics…wouldn’t you agree? Hee Hee.

This is me, detaching the camera-case Velcro from my lovely camping sweater for the third time.  Hand-me-down sweaters made of acrylic yarn are very sticky, people.  I’m gonna have to keep a tighter surveillance on the location of the camera in the future…I guess I thought it was funny enough to share, though.  Hmmm.

I have to say that I “stand all amazed” that the wonderful world of nature goes on all around us, in it’s majesty, whether humans notice it or not.  The world spins, the insects buzz, trees grow, trees house other animals, drop seeds, burn sometimes, fall over other times, but mostly offer some of the best beauty and solace we children of God ever know.  Little animals find their food and store it, birds stay together flying around and playing, and the effects that the flow of water bring all year round keep it all continually changing.  Here is a great shot of a chipmunk that Janelle got at Glacier Point.

We had planned this trip since we’ve met some people that are pretty enthralled with Yosemite.  We took good food, a couple of frisbees, and gear.  I’m glad that we had a secluded spot–glad for ourselves as well as potential neighbors–and the kids found plenty to explore.  Rachel found herself flat on her tummy every half hour it seems, but enjoyed herself nonetheless.  She takes to rough terrain with a lot of courage, but doesn’t have the balance she needs to stay upright all that much!  Friday afternoon, while Scott took a rare nap, I taught that awesome game I learned at girl’s camp to Janelle, Derek, and Christine, where a couple of people are the rescue team and they wait in a hidden spot until the “lost” people call them to come find them in the wilderness.  The exciting part is that the lost people have laid down an intricate set of clues for the rescue team to follow to their hiding spot.  Sticks set up to look like arrows, words spelled out in sticks, such as “31 steps North,” pathways dug out of the pineneedles, and other landmarks that would point the way to the location of the stranded hikers.

So, while a couple of times I felt a little put-out that meal preparation and clean-up took the bulk of 5:30-7:30 p.m., I also realized that we had the time for it!  Here is the wonderful enlightenment that allows me to be at peace with my work even at home: I have the time to do this valuable task, and I am going to do it.  There is no hurry.  Janelle and Derek felt wonderful about being old enough to do most of the fire-starting and tending, and Christine and Melissa felt very grown-up about helping me cook at the stove.  Especially the little girls couldn’t believe they were actually cooking at the stove!

The weather was accommodating, the site was private enough, and the views were fantastic.  This was another great camping trip!

I’m very proud of the header picture here on the site with the pink sunset and the green trees off to the right.  We took that picture in July in southern Oregon at the end of the coolest camping trip ever!

Mom and Rachel

Mom and Rachel

Now, the camping trip we just returned from yesterday was not quite the “destination” any forms of life are looking for.  In fact, not even mosquitoes and flies live there!  Lake Camanche is northeast of Stockton and ne’er has man seen a dirtier, hotter place than this.  Thankfully we had awesome company (Jeanette and Alan) and a muddy lake we played in.

Scott praised me and said, “if you can enjoy yourself at Lake Camanche then you’re a real camper…you’ve come SO far!”  I think to myself, Why do we have this drive to be good campers?  Why does the subject seem to draw a line in the sand and separate the men and the mice, the winners and the whiners?

Of course there are reasons you shouldn’t or couldn’t go camping as a family.  I appreciate those.  But this is one reason I like camping: As good as I am in my daily life at doing laundry :), online shopping J/K, keeping the house up, and using all my appliances and computer, etc., It all gets taken away when you go camping.  What do you have left?  You.  You and your husband.  You and your children.  If I’m not caring, patient, and cheerful then, then I am not caring, patient, and cheerful enough!  I guess I like that I’ve learned a happy freedom camping over the last 10 years that I didn’t have before!  Thanks Scott, I really needed that.

The reasons we DON’T like camping are obvious. 🙂  I am interested to know why you LIKE camping?