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Last year I went camping for the first time, and I had my children with me. Don't get me wrong; my husband was there, too. He had camped before he got married. The scale of excitement was just higher for my children and me. I read books that described the camping experience, and I couldn't wait. Camping sounded earthy to me. There was an element of living like the pioneers; without all the hardships. Using an outhouse is hardship enough, for me.
We were going to the camping grounds in the redwoods near Mendocino. The camping site was the Paul M. Dimmick wayside camp, which is near the Navarro river. The ulterior goal for my husband and his friend was to be close to Albion. It is the secret spot for abalone diving. I didn't know the amount of gear you needed, until I saw the back of the truck. There were iceboxes filled with food, camping stoves, lanterns, gallons of drinking water, tents, air mattresses and sleeping bags. There were also diving suits, weights to help the person stay underwater longer and booties to help protect your feet. That was a lot of stuff for a four day trip, I thought. The day dawned bright and beautiful. The gas tank was full and off we went.
At the fifty mile mark of the trip, we made two bathroom stops, and one fast food stop. Don't believe your child if she tells you, "I'm starving and if I don't eat I'm going to die." Soon after that, we had to make an emergency stop at the side of the road. I never ate burgers again after what I saw. The roads were winding and I had to bite the insides of my mouth to keep myself from asking, "Are we there yet?" We got to our campsite in the afternoon. That was when momentous action took place.
I saw my husband and a friend lay down tarp sheets before setting the tents up. The answer I got to my obvious question was so that moisture doesn't seep in through the floor. The tents were set up so quickly that I could hardly believe it. I envisioned the dreaded struggle with poles and pegs, and the ultimate collapse of the tent on the person setting it up.
The children, in the meantime, were awestruck by the redwoods. They couldn't believe how large the trunks were.
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"Free Personal Narratives: Camping - With Children!." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Sep 2019
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It was beautiful, to say the least, cooking outside in the wilderness. I watched the kids chase each other rosy cheeked and full of life. It is fun being a kid. We splurged the first night of dinner. In the waning light of the sun we sat huddled hip to hip enjoying our rib eye steaks. The salad was crisp; amass with different flavored leaves and colors. The dressing was tangy and flecked with bits of black pepper. Food never tasted this good. My husband, Mark and I had never seen the kids atomize the food that fast. We could only hear sounds of appreciable grunts and audible swallows. I had to keep telling them to chew the food well but to no avail. The children wanted S'mores after dinner. They got it. That first night we had no trouble putting the kids to bed. It was dark outside with no television distractions. The only light source was from the lanterns and fire pit. After the kids went to bed the adults pulled out the old saying, "Brandy warms you up in the cold." We had a nightcap or two and we even had a cigar. They don't smell bad out in the woods. The scent could actually belong out there. We sat around the fire pit listening to the hiss of the fire. We were mesmerized by the colors in the pit and by the heat it gave off. We told stories for a while and then sleep overtook us. I hit the sleeping bag with a smile on my face.
The next morning we were awoken by stifled giggles that were getting louder by the minute. It was really freezing cold in the morning. Fortunately, I read a tip about putting clothes in the sleeping bag for the next day. I slipped on my clothes that felt warm and comforting and I thought twice about complaining about the cold. The children were such sports in the morning. They whined about the cold but they were even more excited that they could start playing almost immediately. Once again, I undertook the task of cooking except this time it was for breakfast.
I made pancakes, eggs and bacon. Everyone was famished and gobbled everything up. Mark and his friend were going abalone diving and I was in charge of the campsite and the children. I took the kids for a walk and we discovered a river not too far from the campsite. They wanted to
play in the water that was freezing cold. I told them it was cold but they wanted to do it anyway and I let them. After the initial exuberant shout of - hurray- there were whispers of how cold the water was. I took them back to the campsite where they warmed up by the fire pit. They were very compliant after that.
I made them Top Ramen for lunch. I put a packet of dry lentil soup in the noodle mix and it turned out delicious. A backpacking friend told me that trick of the trade. You get the protein with the carbohydrates and that gives you energy. It gave my children energy. I loved hanging out with them. They were so happy with life with no worries at all. They were enjoying the redwoods and the protective canopy of shade it provided. They were looking for mountain lions and black widow spiders. They were looking for a lucky clover and found poison ivy. What a nightmare!
The children and I were ready to leave when we did. We looked grungy from not showering for four days. In retrospect, it wasn't that bad. I did have creams and ointments for unforeseen circumstances. Overall, the kids made me enjoy myself all the more. I saw camping through their eyes and that gave me a new perspective. Children are very intelligent people and it is fun camping with them. Next time we go camping we will teach them to avoid poison ivy, and find a campground that has showering facilities. It was definitely a more exciting first trip than I envisioned.