We've decided to become a camping family, and I am fully on board with that idea. Me, a camper! Who knew? I am usually a girl who likes luxuries and conveniences within arms reach. I mean, I get giddy over the fact I have at least four Targets (including a Super Target) within a 15 mile radius of our apartment. But, we've had a lot of fun camping at the Acoustic Cafe for the past two years, and enjoyed a successful overnight stay at Tims Ford State Park two years ago. It seemed silly to use our giant tent, air mattresses and sleeping bags just once a year, so we started looking at local campgrounds to do a another trial run before this year's music festival.
Our schedule is pretty tight these days (hooray for a social life), so Fred wanted to go last weekend. The weather forecast was promising, and he really wanted to go for a two night stay. I was reluctant because I was convinced we would end up with food poisoning due to our hot dogs not staying fresh in the cooler, but really, I was just stalling. I like camping when I'm actually in the wild (with bathrooms just a two minute walk away), but I admit, the idea of it seems just so tiring. The weather was on my side, as rain was in the forecast all day Friday. Who wants to set up a tent in the rain? We decided to just go for Saturday night instead. There we met Problem #1. The campsite we chose, Don Carter State Park, only accepts two night reservations over the weekend. So we went ahead and booked both nights, hoping the rain would hold off. Nope. While Violet and I were busy buying camping supplies, the heavens opened and it started to rain. And rain. And rain. Yep. We paid $30 to sleep in our own beds that night.
The next morning was still pretty miserable, but Fred assured me the rain was going to blow over. He showed me the forecast to prove it. I had my doubts because Google showed me a forecast that called for rain all day. So we headed north, hoping to see a break in the clouds. And finally, the sun! Yes, the sun was shining over Fred as he went to confirm our reservation in the visitor center. Well hello, Problem #2! Fred came out a few minutes later looking very bemused. "The ranger says we made a reservation in the wrong place. We booked a spot in the RV campground. We can still camp there, but we have to move the picnic table. I have no idea what's going on. It didn't say that on the website." Apparently, there are two campsites at Don Carter. One is for "primitive camping" which means no bathrooms or water, and you have to leave your car behind and haul your gear to the site. The other is mainly for RV's. Is it just us, or is that weird? Can RVing even be considered camping? We have three kids and a lot of gear. We need to park our van right there, and have bathrooms close by. How much of a problem would this be?
Turns out, it was kind of a big problem. As we drove around the campground looking for a spot, we couldn't see any that would fit our tent. Now, we don't have a HUGE tent. It's an 8 person tent, which is perfect for us, and pretty standard for families. Luckily, we found one spot that would work. And yes, we did have to move the picnic table. Man, that thing was heavy. We got the tent up pretty quickly, and set up mattresses and stashed our gear. By that time, we were starving and it was time for lunch. We piled back into the van and it started raining. That was Problem #3, and for once, I hated to be right. It wasn't a heavy rain, more of a steady drizzle. But the temperature dropped too, so we felt pretty chilly. It held off long enough for us to go on a hike and enjoy the park. We found a playground and a beach, which Ruby declared to be "paradise". And it really was.
We headed back to the tent as it was time to start a fire. There's nothing like hot dogs and brats cooked on an open flame. And let's not forget the s'mores! That's when Problem #4 turned up in the form of rain and wind. No matter what we did, we could not keep that fire going. The paper would not burn, and the wood just smoked. It was so disappointing. Eating at a Mexican restaurant was not what we had in mind for this trip, but that's exactly what happened. And it wasn't even that great. We didn't even have s'mores to look forward to when we got back. Just chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers in a bowl. I think Ruby's face says it all.
Of course, with no campfire, it was cold outside. Fred and I had no choice but to go to bed at the same time as the kids. Now camping wears me out, but not that much. And here we met Problem #5, the cold. Because the sun had stayed behind the clouds all day, the tent didn't hold any daytime heat. Also, I don't like sleeping bags, and we really have nowhere to store them in our apartment. Fred was okay with just using blankets, so that was what we packed. Except we didn't pack enough. I was freezing! I ended up wearing five layers, including my hoodie. I kept the blanket over my head and I was still cold. I barely slept. Poor Violet felt the cold too, because her sleeping bag was too lightweight. Cy and Ruby were fine in their all weather sleeping bags. I woke up more tired than when I went to bed! And I was so stiff too, because I had been so tense all night long, trying to stay warm.
So was this trip a disaster? Actually no. We all had a great time. Sunday morning turned out beautiful, and we went back to the playground for breakfast. It's really nice to get away from home, just the five of us. The kids LOVE camping. It's just a huge thrill for them. And because they're happy, we're happy. I just wish we could've had s'mores.