Friday, June 1, 2012

Trip Report! 2012 Summer Campout #1

                So this weekend was it!  The first ‘weekend’ the kids and I had off on summer break.  Two years ago we launched into summer break with a load of activities and it kept the summer fun and entertaining.  Last year I got bogged down by work and life and the summer was not so adventurous.  This year I was aiming to get back to our adventuring ways.  The girls have been dying to go camping again and Lil J had sort of caught on to the idea that camping might be pretty fun.  My father-in-law had bought us a tent for Christmas and that had been the key ingredient missing so I felt it was time.  There lots of things that I could’ve allowed to get in my way, one of which was a major event this coming weekend at work.  I’m sure they could’ve used my assistance today but my kids needed to come first because if I didn’t get the summer started right I was very much afraid it’d sputter and die off quickly.

                With all of the above ever present in my thoughts I kept single minded in my desire to go camping.  I packed the truck up Tuesday morning before work and kept it a secret from the kids.  Wednesday morning dawned at around 8 am for me and when the girls came in to the room to say good morning I sent them out to the truck to see if they could tell me where we were going.  Both came running back into the house asking, “Are we going camping?” I replied that we were and one of them literally jumped up and down and ran out of the room.  From there we packed our personal items and got on the road. 

                We had to run a couple of errands and buy food for the trip before left town but by 11am we were travelling.  I grew up in Vista and so I know of this nice little regional park named Guajome.  It’s a quaint little place with a little over 30 sites.  The sites are spread out well and the crowds seemed ok (the last time we stayed there was the girls first time camping and we stayed with my brother-in-law, his wife and his daughter…that was about 4 maybe 5 years ago).   We stopped by my parent’s house and picked up some free firewood, had lunch out real quick and went and got out site.

The first campsite of Summer 2012
                The site we stayed in 4 or 5 years ago was taken and my kids were a little bummed.  We drove through the park and found a nice site with nobody around us.  There were a few trees and the tent site was a nice distance from the fire ring.  We picked that spot.  I’m glad we did because it was darn near perfect.  We paid for the site and started setting up.  I was very impressed with their desire and ability to help.  (Maybe we haven’t done such a bad job raising these kids after all) We got the gear out of the truck, set up the tent & chairs and Jackson could only think about one thing…..the playground!  So off we went.

Guajome Park Nature Trail
                As usual the playground captured the 5 year olds attention for about forty minutes and he was ready to be off and see other things so we wandered down some trails.  We played pirates on the trail, we talked, we laughed and we made funny faces at one another.  It was AWESOME!  The trail we were on wrapped around near our site and then led us to a second playground that was even better than the first.  We played there for another hour or so.  At this point the girls desire to start a fire and roast hot dogs was taking root.  We headed back to the site.

                Unfortunately for them (but not for me) it was too early for fire starting and dinner making so I made them relax and play while I read a book and caught my breath.  They did a good job.  There was no fighting or bickering.  They played together with a couple of things they brought and played Life as well as Battleship on the iPad (all we were missing was Taffy and some rides to go on….right now my sister-in-law is chuckling to herself….the rest of you just have to trust me, it’s amusing) After some mathematics (my watch is in 24 hour mode for work and I wouldn’t tell them the time unless they figured it out…which worked for a like 30 minutes cuz they didn’t even want to attempt it) the girls realized it was dinner time finally and so it began.  Fire starting!  I am proud to say it only took me two matches to get the ‘log cabin’ fire going.  (If there’d been a piece of string stung over that fire it would’ve been burnt in a heartbeat…ex-boy scouts know exactly what I’m talking about here) We broke out the hot dogs and began roasting away.  I made up some mac & cheese and opened some chips.  It was a feast worthy of a king!  I posted this on Facebook at some point but I’ll mention it again; Children while in the ‘wild’ are voracious eaters.  The kids ate two hot dogs a piece, polished off about half the box of mac & cheese and munched on chips the whole time.  Quite impressive compared to the nibbling they call eating at home.
Gathered around the campfire 'Settling in'.
                We cleaned dinner up and then my wife showed up followed a short time later by my parents.  We all chatted, roasted some marshmallows (I think my Dad did most of that….did you know that when my Dad eats a roasted marshmallow he’ll do this strange happy dance?  Seriously we all witnessed it.) I found out that my wife knows how too artfully roast a marshmallow and that once again my kids, like me, don’t like them.  All was not lost though because my Mom had brought chocolate graham cracker sandwiches.  Mmmmmmmmm I love those things.   As soon as the bag was opened up the kids dove in.  It was awesome.

Finding my inner peace.
                Everyone left us after about an hour and the four of us settled in our chairs around the fire.  It was a bit chilly and soon the kids wanted to go curl up in the tent.  With the iPad in tow they watched Transformers 2 while I sat and watched the fire.  It was nice and probably the first time I relaxed all day.  With my job sometimes it’s hard to enter a park without entering work mode and indeed for most of the day I failed to put my work-self away.  The smell of campfires and the way people set up their camps all triggered my ‘work-mode’ but at that moment with it being almost dark staring, mesmerized by the dancing flames and the soft voice of my children in the tent I found a little inner peace.  It was nice.

Is that a Mouse sighting?
                The next morning dawned all too quickly and while it was overcast it wasn’t all that cold.  I started a fire anyway.  You have to right?  It took 3 matches this time but I chalk that up to having used all the kindling the night before.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it) After ‘Dad build fire’, I started up the grill and cooked some pancakes (I made a most excellent Mickey Mouse Pancake) which the kids started putting away with alarming speed.  Clean-up followed that which was then followed by packing up.  Again, I am impressed with how much they wanted to help and did help.  We had the tent down, folded (into the original packaging even), and the gear stowed in the truck in about 45 minutes.  Awesome!

The 3 Amigos.  Inseperabled and well behaved!
                Mere seconds after getting the last of the gear into the truck the familiar chorus of ‘we want to play on the playground’ began and off we went.  (if there was theme to this trip it was playground play makes happy children.) The kids played and we had a great time.  We were tired though and I think they only laste about thirty minutes before there was a consensus that it was time to move on.  I had decided we couldn’t leave town before we hit up the beach and so we were off.  We drove around the Oceanside Harbor and then walked out to the end of the pier.  This was, I believe, my sons first time seeing the ocean.  Like I said we were all a little tired and at this point feeling fairly hungry so we put off walking along the beach and hit up some fast food. (btw, at no time this weekend did I drink a soda…for those of you keeping track.)

Girls at the Pier.  Lil J was playing shy (he was also exhausted & hungry)
                We’re home now and I’ve gotta say it was a blast.  The world is moving forward once again and even as I write this the girls are off at Piano practice and I’m about to run Lil J over to karate.  For 30 hours, however, the world was put on hold and we got to enjoy each other just being ourselves, a treat all families should partake of occasionally.  Tomorrow I’ll be diving into a mess of an event at work but that’s for tomorrow, right now, I’m happily exhausted and quite relaxed.  When I asked my son if he had a fun time he replied, “I like camping in a tent.” And that folks says it all! 

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