My sister and her family bought a camper a couple of years ago. We started talking about buying a camper, too, but decided to invest in a better tent instead. My sister’s family made reservations at a campground in northern PA and we made reservations to join them. In preparation, Wayne bought camping stuff. Packages arrived almost daily. Cots. Foam to put on the cots. A Coleman stove. A cast iron griddle to put over the fire. A fire grill. An extra table. Some smaller tables to put next to chairs around the campfire. A mesh tent to put around the table. Two kinds of bug spray. And that’s just the stuff that comes to mind immediately. “But like the man said, you can use it all again!” (The Camping Trip, Ray Stevens)
Packing a van with stuff for 5 people and 2 dogs to camp for 6 nights cannot be done haphazardly. It almost can’t be done. See?
Even with the rooftop carrier, it was tight. I had stuff on my lap and around my feet, as well.
We stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel, and were amused by the table sign:
We got to the campgrounds and set up. During set up, I tweaked my back, resulting in 3 days of intense pain and very limited mobility. For example, I couldn’t lift my left leg more than a few inches. I couldn’t lean forward; brushing my teeth required a wide squat. Getting in the car was a process of several minutes and made me feel like I was 90. Changing clothes took some ingenuity, to say the least.
It rained most days. There wasn’t a lot to do at the campground and not only was there no wifi, we couldn’t even get a cell signal. Not at the campground and also not for about 20 minutes outside of it. We took daily trips to civilization to download texts and check the forecast.
In a moment of sun, I took a photo of our set up.
I will say that camping really shows off Wayne’s ingenuity. He’s great at setting things up and making them work for us in the best possible way.
But the site was filled with rocks, which made it difficult to drive in tent stakes. And the pine sap got all over our dogs. Miley still has a good-sized spot on her paw. We threw away the dog beds because they were gross with it.
On the worst day of rain – we later learned there had been hail just over the border in NY – we took refuge in the rec room. I read, sitting up straight and careful in a folding chair, and everyone else played in the small arcade.
Yes, I actually brought this many books camping. I read 5 books in the 5 days we were gone. That was the best part of the week! I had thought I would read aloud to the kids, and also that I would drill them on math and Latin flashcards, but guess what? That part didn’t happen. I’m the only person who is surprised by this.
Friday was a beautiful day. My sister and her family – aka The Cousins – were there, and the kids ran wild and free all day. They played gaga ball, they rode boats on the lake, they rode bikes, they played Bingo. It was warm and sunny. My back and leg were healing. I could lift my leg all of 6 inches again. I could get in the car almost like a normal person.
However, we knew it was supposed to rain all day Saturday and Sunday. We knew there was no possible way to take down the tent in the rain and pack everything so that it would fit in the van. We were packed to the gills on the way, and that was with lots of time to pack carefully. This wasn’t the kind of trip where you can toss wet things in any old way and sort it out later. So we decided to leave a day early, and to rent a cabin for our last night. Which meant that Wayne and I spent most of Friday afternoon and evening packing everything. Well, Wayne did most of it and I tried to help as much as I could. We moved our suitcases and sleeping bags into our cabin, which was handily adjacent to our campsite. It rained all night, and in the morning we were really glad to have most everything packed. Wayne packed the rest – in the rain – while we hid in the cabin.
So it wasn’t a particularly good trip. We made memories, I can tell ya that. The girls go to church camp in June; we had talked about taking Ben camping while they are gone. I’m not sure I can face it again so soon. But as Wayne says, practically everything that could go wrong, did. The next trip has to be better.