I did not grow up camping like some people. I am not super outdoorsy. However, I love the idea of my kids growing up with the fun involved in camping trips- the swimming, playing hard all day, eating food cooked on a grill or open fire, going on hikes, seeing parts of the country that they otherwise might not, and just enjoying God's creation. So in spite of the fact that we have not found just the right camper for just the right price, we planned a camping trip. I aksed my sister, Racine, to come along and then told her husband, Dan, our plans and let him do the convincing. We bought a big tent and various other supplies and picked the date- last weekend. We figured May would be good because it's warm, but not too buggy and since schools aren't out yet the campground shouldn't be crazy busy. We were right about the lack of bugs and the only half filled campground. We were wrong about the weather. We watched the forecast all week and prayed that the prediction for rain Friday afternoon and night was wrong. Well, it was wrong- Friday MORNING I woke up to rain. It continued to pour all morning and into the afternoon and we were a little worried about attempting to set up camp in the rain. We waited for it to stop, but it just kept coming down! I had spent DAYS packing, planning meals, shopping, etc and really did not want to cancel! And the kids were SOOOO excited. By Friday afternoon we decided there was no way we could set up camp in the rain so we changed our plans to include sleeping at home and leaving early in the morning. So rather than stopping at Indiana Dunes State Park campground, Racine, Dan, and their son, Aiden, continued on to our house and we cooked our foil packet dinners in the oven (rather than over a campfire), put the kids to bed, and got Dairy Queen for dessert. And it kept raining. Saturday morning I got up at 5 am and took a shower -because I could. We were planning on leaving at 6 am so we could cook our big yummy breakfast at our campsite. It took just a TAD longer than that. Pete had to figure out how to fit way too much stuff in not enough space. After we determined which things we could live without, we were on our way. Other than having one of the worst headaches I've ever had, the day was wonderful. It was beautiful, sunny, warm but not too hot and we had fun relaxing, eating, digging in the dirt, eating, hiking, and eating. On the menu were pancakes, sausage, eggs, and hashbrowns, sandwiches, pizza pudgy pies, and smores. We need to perfect our coffee percolating skills though for the coffee was HORRIBLE.
Saturday evening the temperature was quickly dropping so we BUNDLED the children up and tucked them in for the night. After a little bit of time around the fire we got our cold and tired bodies in the tent and hoped for a somewhat full night of sleep. Around 2 am I had a visitor- double pajama-d, stocking capped and hooded Ella who is still in a crib at home decided to get out of her sleeping bag and wake mommy up. One of us put her back down. Then I think it was around 4 am Maddie had to go potty so we trudged over to the less than clean bathroom and took care of business. Back to "bed" we went. However, the birds were singing their very loud morning songs by 4:30 and I could not sleep so I got up and had a shower thinking maybe that would wake me and warm me. It worked- until I left the bath house. Then I was freezing again AND had a wet head. So I got back in my sleeping bag and waited for Pete to wake up and build a fire and make some more of that disgusting coffee. Later we heard that it had gotten down in the 30's!!! And there was frost on the picnic table in the morning! During the night when I checked on Charlotte she was always in the same position- maybe she figured out if she moved she was cold. Actually, she probably COULDN'T move due to the fact that she was wearing a onesie, socks on her feet, 2 pairs of footed pj's (one was fleece), a hooded fleece sweatshirt, a stocking cap, socks on her hands, and 3 layers of blankets. Well, anyway, we had planned to go to a church in Valparaiso that we like because it's not too far from the campground. Then we were going to head back to our site to cook hot dogs, pack up and go home. That was before the cold came. In the light of morning we knew there was no way that it would be wise to shower our filthy dirty children and have them walk around with wet heads. So we decided to get packed up right after breakfast and head home for showers, lunch, and naps in time to go to our own church in the evening. It took 2 1/2 hours to pack up! When we got home I, still with a POUNDING headache, showered the girls while Pete and Peter unloaded. Then I cooked hot dogs, fed everyone, and we all took naps. Pete ended up going to church with just the 3 oldest because the headache had turned into a pretty serious allergy attack and I needed benedryl and bed. Monday I did TONS of laundry (blankets, blankets, clothes, sheets, more blankets). Some of the stuff from camping is still just laying around in the garage waiting to be given a home. So here are a few lessons learned from our big adventure:
1. We will NEVER EVER tent camp as a whole family for one night.
2. We will probably NEVER EVER tent camp as a whole family for two nights- three is probably what it takes to be worth it.
3. We need to always head home on Saturday morning if we are tenting because it takes HOURS to unload and clean up.
4. We will never come home on Sunday again because unloading and cleaning up ( I had NO idea there was that much to it) is not what we want to be doing on the Lord's Day.
5. I will NEVER EVER go camping without my double stroller as long as I have 2 that need a ride. There was a nice boardwalk to the lake that I could have gone on, but didn't get to.