odds and ends from a life under construction

Evan’s first camping trip

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Jason often goes camping or backpacking with his college roommate Sean, but we decided it was past time to take a group outing with Sean and his wife and introduce Evan to the magical world of camping. To make things easy, we picked a spot with established camp sites and bathrooms (not that Evan cares – he’s down with the diaper still). I was feeling a little anxious about things ahead of time – we hadn’t planned things out enough, we needed groceries, the house was a mess, I’d miss my long run for the week, yada yada – but once we hit the road Saturday morning, my mood had definitely improved.

We camped at Jack’s Gulch, a pretty large site (it had some places with electric, and even pads for people with horses). The site doesn’t take reservations (and we had waited until the last minute to pick a site so we couldn’t have made reservations anyhow), but luckily there were two camp sites next to each other so we could be neighbors with Sean and his wife Jennifer. We made short work of setup (Evan even “helped” a little).

"Where do you want me to stick this, Dad?"

“Where do you want me to stick this, Dad?”

"Confirmed. The sleeping bag is comfortable! What's next?"

“Confirmed. The sleeping bag is comfortable! What’s next?”

We might have entertained thoughts of hiking at one point, but sporadic rain kept us close to camp. We made sandwiches for lunch and wandered around the campgrounds, and Jason and I managed to get in mini-naps in the early afternoon before tag teaming to get Evan to lie down and nap himself (he was way too excited to play in the tent).

"Rise, fire. RISE."

“Rise, fire. RISE.”

We hung out under the canopy over our picnic table (thank you, whichever wedding guest bought that for us off our registry a decade ago!) waiting for a break in the rain, and we were finally able to get a fire going in the late afternoon. While the “menfolk” tended to poking the fire with sticks and finding more sticks to set on fire, Jennifer and I started preparing dinner. Jen had been industrious and prepared some dehydrated rice and veggies that only needed boiling water from Sean’s backpacking stove to heat up; Jason and I went a more low-tech route and dumped cut-up hot dogs into a can of chili.

Tastier than it looks. And I gotta say – it looks pretty tasty.

Tastier than it looks. And I gotta say – it looks pretty tasty.

Since we had a fire going, there wasn’t much else to do but make s’mores. I mean, come on. Camping and s’mores are like baseball and hot dogs. Or baseball and nachos. Or baseball and beer.

When regular marshmallows just won't do.

When regular marshmallows just won’t do.

Definitely not part of my diet.

Definitely not part of my diet.

Evan’s bedtime is around 8 and we’d have to be in the tent with him or he wouldn’t sleep, so we called it a night pretty early. But not before Evan bonded with the rocks around our campsite in the rain.

"I love you, Rock. Never change."

“I love you, Rock. Never change.” Yes. He’s kissing the rock.

It was a chilly night, but we managed to to stay pretty warm with our sleeping bags zipped together and Evan in between us. The kid, however, had more than sleeping on his mind. He fussed and squirmed and kicked and eventually found peace with his head rammed into my lungs and his feet jammed into Jason’s stomach. Whatever works, right?

It sprinkled a bit during the night, but we barely had a chance to visit the bathrooms upon waking before the rain turned heavy and dumped on the campsite non-stop. We ate our breakfast (Pop Tarts, because that’s how we roll) and waited for things to clear up so we could get break down camp, but when it became clear the rain was not letting up, we packed up everything we could before finally tackling the tent and canopy. Evan and I hung out in the car for the last bit; he was already good and dirty for the ride home, and the last thing we needed was being soaked as well.

My camping afro.

My camping afro.

On the way out, we had a great view of some of the burn areas. Sean had mentioned that he wasn’t even sure Jack’s Gulch would be open because it was very close to fire areas, but we got lucky. It was heart-breaking to see how many trees the fires had destroyed, and also interesting to note how randomly the fires selected which areas to burn. In some places, the burn areas came right up to the road and homes just 20 feet away had been miraculously spared. Mother Nature doesn’t mess around.

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