Friday, August 1, 2008

Camping - Against All Odds

When I think back on my childhood some of the very best memories for me were of camping. We haven't gone in about 7 years. That last time ended badly. We drove for hours and as we were pulling into our campsite, in northern New Mexico, it started to rain. No actually it started to pour. We hoped it would clear so we went ahead and set up the tent and camp site and waited for the rain to stop. It didn't. A couple hours later we packed it all up, soaking wet and drove all the way home. It kinda left a bad taste in our mouths. Lately I had been thinking that I wanted to try it again. I had several concerns about it even being possible. With a 3 1/2 year old, a 21 month old (who is newly potty trained) and a newborn, a tent, a Prius, and several food restrictions it seemed more than a little daunting so I didn't mention it to Ron. Then one morning he comes home from work and announces that he wants to go camping. Sage knew what camping was and was really excited. I was excited too and more than a little apprehensive. What the heck would we eat? No gluten means no hot dog buns. Hot dogs without the bun? Yuck. Camping without hot dogs? It's just not right. But since we told Sage about our idea to go we were kind of committed.

So Monday afternoon Ron started to get the car packed up and I started to bake. I made my awesome whole grain bread, brownies and rice krispy squares. All were gluten and dairy free. The rice krispy squares I made with coconut oil instead of butter and they were so unbelievably good that I could have eaten them all myself. Ron and I agreed that they were better than the original version. When Ron was done packing it would have been difficult to squeeze an extra toothpick in. Then a new concern hit me. Will this tiny car make it up the 5000 + ft elevation climb? We left Tuesday morning. Sage was so excited she chattered nonstop for the entire 2 1/2 hour drive. It was so sweet. That is one of the best things about having kids; you can see the world through their eyes. Anyway, the car made it there without a problem and it still managed to get 46 miles per gallon. Man do we love that car. We got a good campsite on the Mogollin Rim which is about 30 minutes east of Payson and set up the tent. Here is a pic of us setting up and proving that we really did this trip in a Prius.

At first Rori was a bit of a princess. She kept saying "dirt, dirt." But within the hour both girls were exploring the campsite and having a blast. The weather was so perfect. Daytime highs were in the mid to low 80's. Here in Scottsdale it was 113, I was told. It is amazing to me that in just a 2.5 hour drive we were in beautiful weather, green trees and clear air. The air smelled so good. I had forgotten what clean air smelled like. The first day we just hung around the campsite and took

walks and relaxed. I can't even put into words how happy I felt to see my girls playing outside. Sadly this is something they can't do at home. Between the heat, rattlesnakes, scorpions, javalina, bobcats, coyotes and cactus, playing outside isn't an option. Dinner was hot dogs, of course, on my bread with various other junk as expected on a camping trip. It was so good. I didn't feel cheated at all. Justus is such a good baby. He slept the entire trip there and then seemed so happy to be outside too. He kept starring up at the trees and smiling and laughing. He was perfectly content.

As expected, getting all 3 kids to sleep in one tent was not easy. But eventually they finally dropped. In Rori's case she literally dropped. She fell asleep while crawling around on the floor. But the very best thing about the night was that Justus slept right through for the first time. I didn't sleep well as I kept waiting for him to wake up and I was acutely aware of the fact the Ron was having a terrible sleep. In the morning I saw just how bad his night was. The air mattress he was on had a hole and by morning it had completely deflated and he was sleeping on the rocks. He woke up less than cheery. The rest of us though were happy as can be. We had breakfast and went to Payson

to get Ron a new air mattress. On the way back we stopped at Christopher Creek for the day. We had so much fun. Ron was teaching the girls how to fish for crawdads. The creek is small, clean, warm and shallow. It was beautiful there and I could have stayed all day. We had lunch on the bank and played in the water for a couple hours. We all got some "color", aka sunburned, even Justus.

That night went a little smoother in respect to getting the girls to sleep. They were just so exhausted. Justus only woke once during the night and Ron and I slept better too. So all in all we had a great trip. I didn't want to come home. I think that if we had a 5th wheel the kids and I would be perfectly happy to stay up there for a couple weeks at a time. Not only was the weather perfect and the kids were so happy and content to be playing outside, Ron and I were able to relax a bit and just sit and talk. Amazing what can happen when there is no TV. We also found that the people were so friendly there. People smiled at each other and said "hi". Here is North Scottsdale people don't even look at each other never mind smile or god forbid actually talk to one another. Sage surprised me with how friendly she was with complete strangers. She was so cute when she started chatting with our neighbors, an elderly couple. She said, "Hi, I'm Sage and this is my little sister Rori and I have a little brother Justus." Justus and Ron were back at the campsite while the girls and I went for a walk. The woman asked Sage if her brother was a little brother or a big brother. Sage replied, "He is my little brother. He is a baby and he came out of mommy's..." This is where I jumped in to stop her from giving them a lesson in the birds and the bees.

The first evening we were there an elk was wondering through the campsite. He was beautiful. He had huge antlers and we all had a great view. Rori kept repeating "elk, elk." Sage just wanted to get closer. I wish I had gotten a picture of him.

When I was a kid I used to see my mom and dad and all the other adults just sitting around the campfire just doing nothing. I used to think "how boring". Now as an adult myself I can appreciate those perfect moments of complete content in feeling the warm sun on my skin or the warmth of the fire. Watching the kids be kids and listening to the birds or the sound of the fire. These simple moments make me appreciate the wonder that is my life.


lisa said...

Awesome! You guys all look so happy. (There are a lot of great camping places here in OR, too, btw. ;-) )

Kim said...

I bet there is even better camping there!

danielle said...

Love it! Brent has been talking about camping for ages. We used to go a fair bit, but haven't in awhile. Maybe your trip will inspire us!