A couple of weeks or so ago, we were driving back from a really nice outing at the park. I expressed to Mr. F. how much I enjoy the stage we are in right now. The kids are at a really good age; A lot of new activities are open now to us due to age and because missed naps are not life-threatening as they once were. I also mentioned, tentatively, that we might attempt to camp at some point. What I didn't know was that my little boy, though silent, was soaking up this conversation.
The next day as I was cleaning, Finn said he was getting a surprise ready downstairs. As this surprise left me to clean with only Enna to deal with rather than both of them, I didn't question his activity too closely. Later, Finn told me some clues. "It starts with the sound, C," he said. I tried to think of what things he could be gathering downstairs that started with the sound C. "Clothes?" I guessed? "No!" he gleefully replied. After a few more vain suggestions, I hit on camping. "Yes!" he happily responded. It turns out Finn had taken all of our tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and bags out of their storage area to dump in one large pile on the downstair's floor. He had also started packing. This entailed taking all of our shoes and other random objects and putting them in various bags. This became problematic later in the day when we were trying to run out the door for some errands but had to spend 15 minutes trying to find shoes for everyone.
"I am packing, so we can go camping tomorrow," Finn declared. "I am getting everything ready, so you don't have to worry about it."
Finn is not one for imaginative play. Also, tomorrow meant a Tuesday, a day Mr. F. had to work, and Finn had preschool.
"Is this pretend packing?" I suggested, oh so tentatively and hopefully. "Because Daddy has to work tomorrow. We can't really go camping tomorrow."
I could tell immediately by the brief fall of countenance before he closed up, that no, this was not pretend packing. Now I had a crushed and embarrassed soul on my hands. I gave Mr. F. a call at work to apprise him of the situation. Obviously, the ideal solution would be to realize Finn's dreams and go camping. However, we had no idea when we could possibly squeeze in a camping trip with Mr. F.'s current work schedule, even if it was more or less in our backyard. Providence, however, worked in our favor, and we were able to throw something together for that coming weekend. Although Finn strongly petitioned for camping "far away," we ended up at a recreational center 20 minutes from our house. It was ideal for our first family campout. If we forgot something essential, we could make an emergency trip home. There was also a grocery store practically across the street as well. So yeah, you could say we were pretty much roughing it.
What was not ideal was the caravan of six cars from Alabama who drove in at dusk and set up camp right next to us. (They even brought their own smoker!) They blasted Motown music from their cars until close to 11 o'clock at night, not to mention talking and laughing loudly the entire time. I guess we got our payback when Enna decided to wake up and scream for an hour just as they were shutting down for the night. (While she was a fan of camping, she wasn't a fan of not sleeping in her climate, light, and sound controlled room)
Despite the less than awesome night, the kids LOVED camping. They loved being outside All. Day. Long. They loved eating their meals on a picnic table and cooking them on the camping stove or grill. During the day on Saturday, we went 10 minutes north to a state park where there are some trails and a playground. The weather was lovely, and despite being basically in the same location as home, we felt like we were on an actual vacation.
We had planned on staying two nights, but the weather was forecasted to turn really chilly and windy on the second night. We bailed at the last minute. (Which you can do when you are only 20 minutes away!) It turned out for the best as both Mr. F. and Finn came down with colds the next day. Despite it being less than smooth, we all had a great time. Finn asked the next day when we could go again and we are tentatively planning on a trip in the spring. With luck, we might still have all of our gear out and ready to go. (Ha!)
More pictures on my Flickr photostream here.
And because, I would be interested, here was our menu (please feel free to share your easy camping meals. I am such a novice!):
Diced potatoes with oil, salt, and pepper wrapped in foil and cooked on coals
Hamburger patties pre-made before hand and cooked on skillet
Carrot and cucumber sticks
Pancakes (dry and wet assembled before hand to mix together morning of)
Quesadillas (store bought gf tortillas) with refried beans and cheese cooked on skillet
Carrots and cucumber sticks
Brined chicken cutlets cooked on skillet. (Too salty! But I was worried about dried meat!)
Baked sweet potatoes (cooked whole, wrapped in foil, on coals)
Steamed cauliflower in small camping pot on camping stove.
Baked oatmeal (previously cooked in muffin tins and brought with us) with cream
carrots and hummus