Sunday, August 30, 2009

Camping with the kids, part II

Well, it was time for our annual end-of-summer camping trip. We hooked up with some friends this time -- we've been camping with them a couple times before, a few years ago. All their kids are similar ages to our kids, and they get along really well, so it works out great.
This trip was less-than-ideal in many respects. In fact, I probably would vote not to do it again -- at least, not the way we did it, which was last-minute. We didn't have a reservation, which is a bad idea for weekend camping (we went out on a Friday afternoon). So we were going to camp at Whitewater State Park, which has a swimming beach, but by the time I'd single-handedly thrown together all our camping gear (S has started work) and packed the car, it was mid-afternoon. When I called the park at 1:30, there were only six spoits left. When I called the park at 2:30 -- right before leaving -- there were only four spots left. The park is forty minutes away.
So, after much dithering -- literally circling the top of the freeway entrace ramp a couple times trying to figure out whether to go east (toward Great River Bluffs State Park) or west (toward Whitewater), I finally opted for Great River Bluffs, which was closer and less popular. I hesitated because our job was to secure the campsite and meet the other family there after their dad got off work, so I hated to let them down about Whitewater, but I figured it would be worse to get there and find it full; it would probably be too late by then to drive an hour east to Great River Bluffs, so we'd miss out on any campsite at all.
Turns out the kids enjoyed GRB just fine -- despite the fact that it rained much of the afternoon and part of the evening, soaking us and our tent thoroughly. Made for a muddy mess, but the kids were underred. Heck, it started pouring right after we set up s'mores, but the kids barely braked, they were so busy greedily stuffing half-baked, slippery-wet marshmallows into their mouths, along with a token graham cracker (soggy, of course).
Our packing was so rushed that we forgot numerous crucial items -- like a can opener. And the other kids' dad forgot his sleeping mat, and broughgt the wrong kind of sleeping bag.
On the up side, the kids pronounced it a grand success, and we enjoyed several hikes through the bluffs, as pictured below.
Here are the kids six hundred feet above the Ole Miss. Yes, that's a cliff behind them. A little nerve-wreaking, to be sure.

The girls proclaimed this meadow the "fairy meadow," and made up an imagination game about it.

B was given responsibility for keeping the fire going, a job he and his friend performed with enthusiasm.

The girls got a little silly and a little loud around the campfire.
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