Last night, after 8 years of marriage, I finally opened the sleeping bags and camping gear we were given for our wedding. Did you notice I said "I" and not "we"? Well, that's because Adam was not included in this excursion. He's not a camper, so I took Autumn away for her first night of campin' with Grandpa and Jodi's boys.
I've always loved camping, roughing it, and playing "olden days". Camping is kind of an extension of that - living primitively, leaving behind the finer things... Well, my Dad's version is a more upscale version of living primitively. You'd think we were staying a whole week, but my Dad is just prepared with everything we could possibly need.
We camped at Prince William Forest Park, which is just down the road. No, we didn't hike or drive hours to our spot, but why would we when we have a huge National Park so close? Especially for a quick overnight trip. For what it's worth, it took me longer to get out of the park than it did to get home once I was out - that should tell you something about how big the park really is.
Once we claimed our campsite, it was time to set up shop for the night...
There were quite a few people camping. Not so many that we were right on top of each other, but enough not to feel like we were abandoned in the wilderness. Rather, we could chalk up noises to people instead of bears, big foot, or bobcats.
Autumn's face pretty much says it all. "Oh my gosh, camping!!!"
Not only did we camp, but we passed off some merit badges too! Christian needed to cook a meal for cub scouts and he helped prepare the hot dogs and hamburgers for us! They were rather delicious!
Additionally, Diego needed to start a fire for a merit badge. Taking a cue from Pinterest, I finally had a need for the trashbag of dryer lint I'd collected in the basement! I guess they worked good - probably better if we'd brought the right tools to get our fire started with flint. My Dad was very skeptical of my Pinterest find, so, for my sake, let's say it was a raging success!
Grandpa is an old pro at all this camping and boy scout stuff. He didn't even flinch when tasking Diego with questions about how to properly start a fire!
Once we starting striking the flint in an effort to get the fire going, Autumn wanted nothing to do with it. When the fire started however, she was all about it - and the marshmallows.
Once the fire started going and the darkness fell, we roasted marshmallows, popped popcorn over the fire, went on a walk around the campsite with our flash lights and started to wind down. Although Autumn originally wanted to sleep in the boy's tent, she found her way back to mine, just as I'd suspected. It didn't take long for her to completely pass out. She slept through the night without moving an inch. I'd say her first trip was a raging success!!
On the other hand, it was made abundantly clear that camping with a gastrointestinal disorder is a gamble. Around 11 I made what I thought was my last stop to the bathroom before bed, but I would see the restroom many times throughout the night. I wasn't even sick really (not the usual anyway) but I was finding myself making the long, dark walk with my itty bitty flash light at 2am, 3am, 4am... I lost count after trip number 6. I ended up really sick, almost like I had food poisoning or something. It was all made worse I think by being far from the bathroom (well, not as close as my bedroom's obviously), the anxiety of having to walk by myself, not waking anyone up, not being able to sleep... I think I got a whole hour of sleep at best, no exaggeration. I just kept praying, "Please just make me fall asleep. Make me fall asleep..." Each time I got up to go to the bathroom I thought as I walked the path, "THIS is the time the bear is gonna get me..."
Because I had such a lousy night, I didn't end up staying for breakfast. I was so exhausted and dehydrated that I knew I'd be no help and I just wanted to get home. Not only did I miss getting breakfast pictures, but I wasn't able to help my Dad pack up our camp site. He went to so much work putting the trip together and I felt like I'd let him down, even if I was sick.
Still, I'm willing to give it another go. Up until that point, everything had been awesome and we'd had a blast! The weather was perfect, very few mosquitoes and while we saw ticks, I don't know if any of us ever found one on us.
I know that I had a ton of fun spending time with the boys (Grandpa included!) and I know Autumn's first camping trip will be a lasting memory!