Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Camper's (B)Log

A couple of weeks ago, the big kids and I went on a family camping trip with some dear friends of ours, the Leonards, up to Cunningham Falls State Park in Maryland -- just south of Gettysburg. Below is the play-by-play of that eventful trip.

Thursday morning: We went over the Leonards to pack the coolers and finalize details for our departure that afternoon. The plan was to leave mid-afternoon (before rush hour got too bad) after an appointment for Brennan and a mid-day engagement the Leonards had.

Thursday afternoon: It turned out to be 3:45 by the time we got off for various reasons, and I knew that we'd hit some rush hour traffic. Sure enough, before we even hit the -270 spur, traffic came to a stand-still. I assumed that traffic would ease up once we finally hit the -270 HOV lanes -- and it did -- but then it came to another stand-still before we got out of the DC metro area. We finally heard rumor of an accident about three miles south of I-70, 20 miles north of where we started. So, our 1.5-hour trip turned into a 2.5-hour trip. The Leonards got delayed and didn't make it to the site until 8:00 that evening -- and they had our food! Once they got there, they started setting up their camp and I started cooking the food. Cooking (and eating) in the dark was definitely interesting. For those that didn't know, the fire from a propane camping stove does NOT provide much light!

Friday morning: I awoke to find out that something (a raccoon perhaps?) had gotten into our picnic pavilion and into the trash. No biggy. Just pick up the junk and double-bag the trash. Brennan really wanted to make a fire in the fire pit to roast marshmallows (what kid doesn't?), so he and Reese (the Leonards' 4-year-old son) went out to collect sticks while I cooked breakfast. The landscape around our campsite had a fair drop-off, but the kids had been careful and had been playing for a little while. All of a sudden, Reese screamed. Vanessa ran to him and he was holding his arm. To make a long story short, his arm didn't look good, so Vanessa loaded Reese up in the car and took him to the hospital. It turns out that he broke his arm at the elbow and had to have surgery to put pins in, which would require an overnight stay -- less than 12 hours after we all arrived! So much for a nice, relaxing family/friend camping trip!

Friday afternoon: We went to the hospital to visit Reese later that morning. When we returned, we quickly had lunch and it was starting to rain. Thankfully, I had just sealed the tent prior to the trip, so the rain was no problem. Uh-huh. I walked in the tent only to hear my kids tell me that there was water on the floor of the tent and some dripping over their heads. What happened to all that tent sealant I put on??? Well, the rains came down...and down...and down harder. As the day wore on, we developed more leaks. I was left wondering whether it was the sealant that didn't work or the sheer volume of water that almost any tent would be hard pressed to withstand. Finally, out of boredom, Brad came over and asked if we wanted to go to Gettysburg just to have something to do. His two remaining kids are 3 and 1, so entertaining them for the afternoon was much harder for him than for me. So, we packed everyone up and away we went for an afternoon driving tour down History Lane. We didn't get to walk Pickett's Charge, but we did walk the ground of the high water mark of the Confederacy. Love that place!

Friday night: The rain finally quit. I fixed dinner, then Brad took his kids to see Reese at the hospital. Addison, Brennan, and I enjoyed a nice relaxing evening roasting marshmallows and reading.

Saturday morning: I awoke to find that the raccoon had gotten into the trash again...and the two bags of marshmallows that I forgot to put in the car the night before. Oops! I fixed breakfast for all of us and discussed plans with Brad. Reese was going to get discharged that morning, so he was going to go pick them up and bring them back so that we could all go hiking to the falls. Vanessa loves waterfalls and didn't want to miss it. After that, they were going to eat lunch with us, then pack up and head home. The falls were actually a stream of water that cascaded down a high and wide rock face rather than a traditional water fall. But, you could climb up the rock face, which was cool. We had a great time!

Saturday afternoon: After a late lunch, the kids and I headed over to the lake. We decided we'd either go swimming or rent a canoe or paddle boat. It turns out that the lake is a huge draw for folks on the weekend. It was almost as if the state park was there for the lake and, oh by the way, they have camping, too. We aren't used to seeing that many people around where we go camping! On top of all the people, both swim beaches were closed due to contamination and there was an infinite wait for a boat. So we decided to go hiking instead. We found a trail map and found that we could hike from our camp site back over to the falls -- only about a mile hike -- so we decided to do that then come back for an early dinner. When we reached the falls, we climbed all the way to the top of the rock face to enjoy the view, then we picked out a place right next to the water and just sat there. Addison convinced us that we should take our shoes off and stick our feet in the stream. I didn't want to at first, because I'd just have to put my shoes back on...with wet feet. After a few minutes, I couldn't take it anymore and decided to live a little. I took my shoes off and stuck my feet in, and I'm so glad I did. It felt good. It was peaceful up there. It was awesome! We hiked back, had dinner, and enjoyed a very restful evening roasting marshmallows (newly purchased from the camp store!) and reading before dark. Now that's the life!

Sunday morning: We struck camp and headed home, minus the traffic jam. Overall, a very nice weekend -- even with all the unexpecteds! I am sorry that Reese broke his arm and turned the Leonards' weekend upside down. I know they were hoping for a restful weekend as well, but I think they enjoyed the small time they were there. Oh, and Reese is doing very well, but he has a massive cast on his arm. He's quite a trooper!

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