If you had to choose someone to be stuck with on a deserted island, you might consider me for comic relief purposes or perhaps a good ear for listening or for getting your ass handed to you in a game of speed. But for survival reasons? Nah, you'd be wise to pass me up! Growing up, we weren't an outdoorsy type of family. Sure, we'd spend the night in a HoJo with an indoor pool, but never outside. And certainly, not in a tent.
When I met Eugene he shared so many fun stories about his memories of his family camping trips. Stories about sharing sleeping bags and meeting new friends on the campgrounds and cooking your food outdoors.
He even convinced me, on several occasions, to go camping too. And you know what? I loved it. It was so much fun. There's something so exciting about sleeping outdoors, sitting around a campfire and being stripped of your comfort zone. Recently, he had an itch to go camping again. And apparently this itch was worse than poison ivy because I came home one day to a 6 person tent erected in my living room. The next day he surprised me with a propane stove, which thanks Eugene, it is exactly what I've always wanted.
Trying my best to add calamine to his itch I deflected the idea because we have a newborn, and because I need to nurse and pump and because I don't get enough sleep as it is and because it might be too cold and wah wah wah. So he told me that he'd take the girls himself. Hold up! Wait a minute! Suddenly thoughts of me missing out on key family memories took over and I grudgingly agreed to go camping. For one night only.
One night or not, we still had the van completely packed. The best part? We took our dog Rizzo with us which made it so complete.
After chosing our spot, Bella and Mia had a hoot exploring their new "home."
It felt spontaneous and adventurous. I remember watching the girls playing in the dirt and thinking how happy I was that I agreed to do this. That lasted about 20 minutes until I freaked out that they were tracking dirt and sand into the tent.....but yes, happy memories.
After lunch we went for a walk exploring the campgrounds
We happened upon the KOA general store and couldn't pass up $.25 ring pops. Edible bling? Huge hit!
Although in hindsight I wish someone would've tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that an 8 carat sugar high about 2 hours before bedtime IN A TENT might not be the best of ideas.
For dinner, my very rugged husband cooked pasta arribiatta. Pause for laughter. Forget canned beans--this dude packed some panchetta. Hilarious, huh?! Watching him cook looked like some sort of Top Chef outdoor challenge. It may have been pretty funny to watch but it was, as always, delicious to eat.
Following the stereotypical camping handbook, we built a bonfire of course. Well, Eugene did, I just watched and contributed with several oohs and aaahs.
Which also meant that we had to make some Smores. Knowing it would be difficult for a 4 and 2 year old to hold, we created a toddler friendly version. We added some chocolate chips and marshmallows to those teeny tiny graham cracker pie cups, wrapped it in foil and added it to the fire.
They loved it!
By this time, the sun was gone and our fire died out pretty quickly. So I dressed them in about four layers of clothing and put them to bed in their sleeping bags. I'll never forget the moment (after all 3 kids were sleeping) that Eugene and I stepped out of the tent and was greeted by a thousand twinkling stars overhead. The night sky was so beautiful. Stars were everywhere.
It was one of those moments you know you'll always remember.
We crawled back into the tent and Eugene fell asleep rather quickly. I on the other hand, slept with one eye open most of the night in fear of getting gruesomely attacked by a Michiana chubacabra. I'm an odd one, I know.
Everyone slept pretty well, considering. Even Chance endured the cold. I had so many layers on the little guy that he totally looked like the kid from A Christmas Story. He could barely move his arms but dammit, he was warm. I remember cursing under my breath about around 3AM when I was half asleep, shivering while nursing him in the tent. But before I knew it, the sun was up and I was being "tapped" on the forehead as both girls decided to shout "WAKE UP MOMMMMMYYYYYYYY" at 6AM--waking up EVERYONE in the entire campground. Yeah, proud moment.
Overall, it was a perfect little getaway. Even though it was just one night---it made an impression on all of us, one that will last a long time. I adore little adventures like this that bring us all closer together. I have a feeling we'll be doing more camping when spring comes along. Anyone want to join us?