Thursday, June 9, 2011

Family Campouts

The first time I ever stayed in a tent, to my recollection, was at my Aunt Sue’s.  I was staying the night with her one weekend and she put up a small one in the back yard.  I always looked forward to seeing Aunt Sue for two reasons; she had two small trees that were great for climbing in her front yard, and there was a train track just a few yards from her back yard.  The tent she put up, that was just icing on the cake!
Once I was old enough for school, the summers were filled with my friends coming over and sleeping in our small orange tent.  We never slept until the morning, and usually we would be a little wet where the dew would start dripping through the tent fabric.
My wife also recalled her childhood camping trips.  Her response for going camping as adults was, “I am old enough now to know I can get a room”.  Evidently she had a change of heart after a recent trip to Asheville.  “It is so beautiful, let’s carry the kids camping.”
So we bought a tent large enough for us not to kill each other, and packed up the family for a weekend camping trip.  Oh, and we carried our two smallest dogs as well.  This could be a disaster, or it could be something special.  We planned the trip where we would fish for a bit, but mostly just relax at the campgrounds in Pisgah National Forest.  The only other extra activity would be to hike Mount Mitchell for a few hours.
If you have not been camping in a tent in a while, there are a few things to remember.  One, the ground is very hard.  Two, it gets really cold at night, especially in the mountains.  Three, there are no showers.  Well, on the first note, we had an inflatable air mattress.  It did not hold air.  The second note, sleeping bags work great.  Except when you have them opened with one for the base and one for the cover and the kid you are laying beside keeps pulling it off of you.  On the last note, a cold mountain stream does a really nice job when used to wash your hair.  Of course, that is if you have hair.  I am basing that observance off my wife and daughter.
Cooper, Bill, Julianne, and Turner heating up deer sausage by the campfire.
I will also add a couple of more notable observances.  When camping in the deep dark woods, wildlife should be abundant if you look for it.  That we did, and we saw bobcats, turkey (where were they during the season?), and a coyote.  For my wife, daughter and youngest son, it was the first coyote and bobcat they had ever seen.  The last note, campfires are a must.  As Susan mentioned one morning, there is nothing like sausage, bacon, eggs, and pancakes cooked over an open campfire.  S’mores becomes a food group when sitting on a log.  And somehow, some way that only God knows, the warmth of a campfire penetrates the family and warms the heart, taking away all bickering, aggravating, and other sibling hostilities, if but for a few moments.

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