...where to begin...
It all started one cold dark dreary night...
ok ok...I won't be that dramatic...but yesterday was cold, dark, and dreary!
Let me start by saying; yes, this was my first camping trip ever! At least, that I can remember. Camping to my family was the Holiday Inn or the car parked in the driveway (great memories!) and I was perfectly happy that way! Lee grew up in a family who camped (tent camped) all the time; every spring, summer, and fall, many times a year.
In our ten year marriage, Lee had tried several times to convince me to go camping, but I had been reluctant. My reasons being; we didn't have the "supplies", the boys were a little young, blah, blah, blah. He would relent, but I knew it wouldn't be long. My time to camp was coming.
On Tuesday, we went to Devil's Den. That night I mentioned to Lee that I thought it might be fun to go camping on Thursday night. It took nothing more than that! Lee jumped into action and before I knew it we had all the supplies we would need for the Woods' Great Camping Adventure. I was genuinely excited. I have, in recent history, developed a real love for hiking and biking with my family, so this couldn't be that much different...right?
Thursday morning came and so did the torrential downpour. Always the optimist, Lee decided to just wait out the rain and go as scheduled. I think he thought if we backed out now, he might never get me out there! :) So we waited, and waited, and waited. By about three, we decided to just go ahead and head for our reserved campsite at Devil's Den. We had such great plans...so many dreams of what our first camping experience as a family would be like. We would fish, hike, hang out around a roaring fire, sleepy snug and cozy in our tent, get up in the morning for bacon and eggs, and then do a bit more fishing and hiking. Such great expectations!
We arrived at the visitors center around 4:30. The park ranger informed us we would need to buy some dry wood for a fire. After purchasing our coveted wood, we headed to the campsite. With adventurous spirits, we began to set up camp. There was a definite chill in the air to say the least.
After setting up our tent, we realized that it is much MUCH smaller than previously thought. We, thankfully, have a queen-sized air mattress, but that barely fit. "Hmmm...", we thought, "this might be a bit of a squeeze..."
Next, came building our roaring fire. It didn't take long to realize that the "dry" wood that they sold us, was not dry at all. Two and a half hours later, around 8:30, we finally had a small, yet constant, fire. At that point, the chill is gone and it is cold.
Needing to eat, we pull out the food for dinner only to find that the skillet and hot dog sticks we were sure we packed were nowhere to be found. Through some finagling, we finally ate. As unbalanced as it was, at least we ate.
"It will all be better tomorrow", we said, "Let's just go to bed." So off we went to our warm snuggly tent...
No amount of blankets or body heat keep 28 degrees out...and it was more than a little snug. The boys; who were, by some miracle, warm; burrowed down in the middle and would wake up in the night crying about being squished. Lee and I, who were sleeping against the tent walls and would wake up in the night crying about being frozen! I'm not exaggerating about the crying, there was a lot of it! It was truly miserable! The only thing keeping us from escaping to the van, was the fact that we were sure getting out from under the covers and sprinting to the van would be even more miserable. Even Lee, our fearless camping leader, said that that was the most miserable night of camping he has ever had.
At this time, I would like to make two points ~
1. A bald head looses a lot of heat, especially when the owner of said bald head forgets a stocking cap. As you know, I have no hair. Miserable!!!
2. No one told me that when it is cold outside AND has been pouring rain all day, that some pretty hardcore condensation builds up on the inside of the tent. Evidently, this causes anything that touches the tent walls (Me, Lee, our blankets, our pillows) to become cold and wet. Miserable!!!
That morning, 6:30am, the boys and I abandoned the tent for the van and it's heater.
Lee abandoned the tent for the campground bathrooms. Our fearless leader was down for the count. Stomach issues while camping = MISERABLE!!! I won't go into details, but this went on ALL morning. After many trots (pardon the pun!) to the bathrooms, he finally found some relief in the form of a little miracle! Our friends, Lance, Jennifer, and the kids, were camping in their camper directly behind us! He happened to have some stomach medicine on hand, and after a while...that seemed to do the trick. While Lee was feeling a little better (meaning he wasn't doubled over and he wasn't running towards the john), we quickly loaded up our campsite.
Thinking that the worst was behind us, we headed out to do some fishing...that didn't last long. The fearless leader's iron stomach revolted and he was off to the bathrooms again. At that point, we recognized defeat, gave up, and headed home. That was the longest drive from West Fork to Rogers! We all agreed that our home, showers, jamies, and beds have never felt so good, or been so appreciated!
At this time, I would like make a few optimistic points~
1. We got to make some memories! Ones that, shockingly, we are already laughing about!
2. We got to share some experiences and received much needed encouragement and help from some friends we haven't seen in a while! Thank you Faddis'!!!
3. Finally, in the warmth of the 11:30am sun, I could see how camping might be fun! As a matter of fact, I am more than willing to give it another go! Does that make me a little crazy? Yes!!! Am I excited to make more memories with my little family? Absolutely!!! Besides, camping can surely only get better from here...right? :)
However, all that said, this camping option......is looking more and more appealing!!!
PS. This story has been read, verified, and approved by Lee! :)