Saturday, September 21, 2013

Our camping trip

I am very happy to report that our second family camping trip went MUCH better than our first (which was 4 years ago, where most of us vowed we would never go camping again!).  It was a short trip.  We drove to the zoo on Friday, visited one half, then headed to the camp ground, all of 10 minutes away.  We set up camp and explored a bit. We only went swimming once this summer, so the pool at the camp ground was a big hit.  Saturday we headed out to see the other half of the zoo, and spent the remaining of the day swimming, jumping on the huge "pillow", and playing putt-putt at the camp ground.  After breakfast Sunday, and a quick walk on the walking trail we packed up and headed home.

There was a lot of walking to be done back and forth between our tent and the bathrooms.  Little boys decided 10 minutes *after* the other had gone to the bathroom, that they too had to!  Ha!  We were very blessed with wonderful weather.  So thankful for that.  Not all went as planned.  The first night two of the boys were freaked out about sleeping in the tent.  Jonah kept begging to go home.  The funny thing, by the following evening he was saying, "I love this place!  I want to live here forever!"  So he got over his fears.  Unfortunately one of the girls was experiencing extreme anxiety.  Extreme.  I didn't get much sleep because of it, and neither did she.  However, when we got home, she slept like a rock until after lunch time!  Being the Mom, meant I didn't get such the privilege of doing the same :-)  Which made me very thankful that everyone wanted to just chill out that first afternoon home, and I got to take a nap with Aubrey.  Phew.

We had some neat evenings at the camp. The first night there was an elderly couple who drives around the camp ground in their *very fancy* golf cart, giving rides to the kids.  They insist that an adult goes with them, for safety, which I appreciated.  I went along, and the kids loved the ride, singing and laughing all the way.  The second night we had a bonfire, with s'mores.  The s'mores were compliments of two families that we met earlier that afternoon.  They were friends (each having 4 children), moving down from New York.  It was a lot of fun.  The kids had a ton of fun telling scary stories and running around in the dark.

A few other lessons learned:
::  It took 3 days to prepare for our camping trip.  Lots of food prep and packing.  But we only spent 2 days there.

::  Definitely must convince everyone else the importance of organization.  I wanted all like items in one bag, but everyone else just wanted to throw things together.  That meant there was a LOT of searching for things like tooth brushes, flash lights and food items.

::  We figured that the time it would take to uninstall the back seat of the van would not be worth the time and effort.  Wrong!  The van was packed to the hilt and it was not exactly a comfortable ride with things under our legs, and crammed in between people.

::  Simple, cheap, Dollar Store items really, really held the boy's attention, making the car ride go smoothly :-)

::  I'm very thankful I packed more clothing than we thought we would need.  We ended needing pretty much all of it.

 I'm quite certain there were more!  Oh, yes, next time I really need to *chill out*.  Which, for me, surrounded by woods, next to a deep creek....well that's just hard.  But despite trying to keep track of everyone at the campsite and at the zoo, it was fun and I think all of us, save the anxious girl, wants to go again.  Here are some of the pictures.  Some came out really blurry.  Something is really not right with my camera.  I just got the focusing figured out and 'something' happened.  Nothing physically that I know of (like being dropped or the like), but everything in the view finder is blurry, blurry, blurry, and it seems like the camera is not focusing properly (taking longer, not really engaging on the first attempt).  Sigh.  We shall see.

We had just arrived at the zoo, time to unpack our lunch and eat before heading in.  We really try to not bring much with us, as there is a lot of walking!

 I think most of the kids got up that tree at some point.  Here is Moira and Flannery.  I was surprised that Moira climbed up, and also surprised that Flannery didn't go any higher!  Both odd events :-)

 Unfortunately you can just barely make out this duck's bill.  If you look really closely to the brownish duck at the bottom of the picture you may make out that his bill is *blue*!!  A BLUE bill?!  How cool is that.  I've been to the zoo quite a bit, but never saw this.  Ends up, it only happens for a few weeks out of the year, during mating season. The rest of the year it is the normal yellow/orange.

 Saoirse and Flannery hanging out on a bee.  The kids were all looking forward to watching the bees at work.  They all kept asking when we are going to get our own bees.  So glad that non of them are afraid of the prospect of having hives of bees on our property!

 Although very blurry, his smile was just too cute!

 Oh. My. Word.  This picture *really* shows how much Jed has changed in the past few months!!!  He looks like a BOY!  As opposed to looking more like a toddler/preschooler for years.  So happy to see that improvement.

 You can see Isabella's notebook in the lower corner.  She kept notes on everything we saw and did!

 Almost everyone!  We usually get a family photo at the zoo, but we failed this time around.  Here we are eating a snack before heading on to see more exhibits.

 Isabella was really thrilled with getting her picture taken.  Looks like I was too :-)

 Ugh.  I snapped two pictures of the kids against this wall, and both are blurry with silly faces.  It is hard to get them all looking decent at the same time.  I am pretty sure that I put my camera in auto mode to get a picture quickly, but it is still all blurry!!!  Grrr.  Like I said, something is not right with my camera right now.  I have to find out if it is under warranty.  I've had it less than a year and I have not been happy with how it's been acting.

 Jeremiah took Saoirse and the boys to a special dinosaur exhibit at the zoo.  The rest of us hung out by the carousel.  They got to "dig" for fossils.  They had fun.

 Looking for fossils.

 Jonah having a fun time with a jeep.

 There was one dino that you could get on for photos.  Not sure where Jonah and Aubrey are for the picture.  Oh, well.

 I usually don't put pictures since, well, they are just animals at a zoo.  This one however is of the polar bear, who we found out on our return, died the very next day!  So sad.

 The highlight of the walking...the playground.  There is a huge kid play area that was supposed to be finished this summer, but was still under construction.  Such a bummer.  It looks like it will be a lot of fun.  Though, do to it's size, it looks like a lot of work for parents!

 Jed climbing the spider web.

 The girls wanted their picture taken on the praying mantis.

 Jonah was very pleased to show off his monkey skills :-)

 A fellow camping family gave us the red box of kindling for our fire starting efforts.  The boys immediately saw this wood for what it really was....building blocks! 

 They actually made some impressive buildings, but I got side tracked and didn't get a picture of them.

 Jeremiah starting the fire.  All of our folding chairs out.  I do believe we took up a lot of space.  As it was we had to have two camp sites, due to our size, but with no one else there (on our side of the road) we got to spread out a bit more.

 Moira peeking out of the tent.

It may look like we either just arrived, or were packing up.  Actually this was our second night there, and in one nights and day time the tent was a wreck.  Isabella pulled everything out to put everything back in as it should be.

It proved to be a lot of fun, a lot of work and in the end we were sad to go.  We did have a sad arrival as we found that our baby male goat (he was about 6 months old) had died while we were gone.  He had never been well since we got him.  We made the decision, that should we ever get him well, that we would sell him as he wasn't fit for our purposes.  He was taking another, out of the many over the past few months, turn for worse the day we were leaving.  I had hoped with the meds we were giving him that we could see him through another bout of 'whatever was ailing' him.  But that was not the case.  I felt bad for the family that was taking care of our animals, as they were the ones to have to find him :-(  Poor little guy.

I was able to get all the laundry washed in quick order when we got back.  However, with the extra work, the long weekend, things fell apart with the rest of the house.  With Jeremiah being home on vacation we were all out of sorts schedule wise.  It took us the following week until we were completely back on track.  BUT, I am grateful that we did indeed just jump back on the wagon!  Phew! 

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