We did it! The Partridge family went on our first just-the-five-of-us camping trip this past week. The kids and Kevin were the most excited about it, but I was excited, too. We ended up having to put the trip off a day because of all the rain, but the extra preparation time was good for us. We took a family trip to Target the night before we left to get some extra supplies and then rewarded ourselves with ice cream from Sonic.
Tuesday morning was spent gathering last-minute items and piling them all by the door for Kevin to pack in the van. By lunchtime we were all set. We made one last stop at McDonald's on our way out, and the kids got their coveted Happy Meals, and we sat out in the sunshine to enjoy our food and the start of our adventure. About an hour later, we arrived at Roosevelt State Park in Morton, MS, checked in, and found our site--#38.
The kids could hardly contain themselves. Callie was wanting to be all in charge and go blaze a trail or something. The pioneer woman in her really came out on this trip! Everyone was immediately--though happily--put to work. Everyone helped put up the tent; each child got to drive a stake into the ground. And we all helped gather firewood. We explored our site, made sure we knew where the bathroom was, and introduced ourselves to our "neighbors," who were just about the nicest people we've ever met. They were a middle-aged couple who were remembering bringing their own children on camping trips, and they loved that we were on our first big trip. They were also really helpful in letting us borrow a broom and some fishing supplies; they let the kids watch while they cleaned fish (ewww); they brought us some extra firewood; and they even brought us some homemade cake. Callie made a thank-you card for them, and the lady gave each of the kids a big hug before they left. The kids just loved our "neighbors"!
I'd have to say that I don't think the weather could have been any more perfect. It was in the 70s during the day, and it was just a little chilly at night--cool enough to sit pleasantly by the campfire and to snuggle up in sleeping bags to sleep. All five of us were snuggled together in our tent, which was fun. And we all slept pretty well, I'd say. As we were drifting off, we could look up through the mesh window in the roof of the tent and see the stars peeking through the towering pine trees. It was really beautiful. And I spent some of that drifting-off time pondering how big and wonderful and creative our God is.
Our food was pretty basic, but it was good. Hamburgers one night; hot dogs the next; and S'Mores both nights, of course. Kevin also cooked breakfast for us--scrambled eggs, sausage, grits. And we made my coffee right on the fire, which was fun. It tasted really good.
I think that Callie's favorite task was chopping firewood! All the kids really enjoyed using the hatchet, but Callie was the one who used it the most. I think she found great satisfaction in chopping wood; it gave her a sense of accomplishment and contribution, I think. She was really good at it, actually, and she has a blister to show for it.
Overall, we took it pretty easy. We walked around a lot, fed the ducks in the lake, played on the playground, played soccer (sort-of), did a little bit of fishing (didn't catch anything with our little Spider Man fishing pole, the line of which I managed to wrap around a tree in the water on my first try), did some reading, visited our friends who were there at the same time, saw some deer in a deer pen, and just kind-of observed things around us. One of the highlights for me was getting to take a nearly hour-long hike by myself around part of the lake. (I found someone's cell phone in the street and managed to find out where their campsite was to return it.)
Sitting together at night by the campfire was also delightful, as I knew it would be. We all sat really close together and laughed and ate S'Mores. And a few times we played what we call "Build a Story," where one person starts a story, and we all take turns adding a sentence or two until we feel like the story is complete. Everyone had great contributions, and our stories involved things like a raccoon that goes to Target and a marshmallow that gets put on a special "Don't Eat Me" stick (but gets turned into a S'More anyway). It was hard for the kids to stick to just one or two sentences when it was their turn.
So the first Partridge family all-out camping trip was a success. Two nights was just right, because it left us all (yes, even me) wanting more. That's a good note to leave on.