Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Camping Out...and Back In

Today's post comes to you from our local laundry mat, as the sleeping bags, pillows and towels go round and round in two separate dryers. But never fear; the intrepid camping father is hard at work, reorganizing the car so that we can hop back in and head back to our wet campsite. Never say die.

Yesterday was a fabulous first day of camp. We had lunch in a terrible fast-food place on the way there (we are between two trips, after all) and arrived to find every single site of our destination open for set-up. Nobody for miles around. Perfect.

We cozied in, nestled down in a little valley next to a medium-sized creek, and went for a hike. Charles and Thierry, who had been there on a boy-scout camp-out or two, led us up and down hills, squeezing into cave-like openings in the rock formations,  exploring this incredible slice of nature in the middle of Iowa. We did not rush, the heat slowed down our movements and the mosquitoes had us slapping and murdering and regretting the absence of deet in our repellent. It did not matter, the scenery of hills and green and forest was soothing, the exercise was invigorating, and I was thrilled to finally be outside for a few days straight, with not even a cell-phone connection to tie me to the rest of the world. 

The boys gathered firewood while Valentine and I cleaned the muddy shoes over at the outdoor sink across the way. They returned awhile later shouting like warriors on the path about the stinging of the nettles...and left to bathe in the creek, sister in tow. We prepared for dinner and sat for a minute, enjoying the quiet, with an ear out (of course) for their voices to prove they had not floated away.

After dinner, the kids and Papa headed off for another hike and I stayed to knit. The double-brioche in Stephen West's Exploration Station has finally been broken down, seen, this is key for me: to finally see the pattern in a new stitch, applied and conquered. Now I just have to get through the slow process of the rest of the rows. I knit until all the way dark, finally gave up trying to see stitches in the glow of the citronella candle flame, and took up the baby hat in plain, in-the-round, no-need-for-lights stockinette instead. 

When my wild children arrived back at the campsite with their father, the coals in the firepit were ready for marshmallows. And that was that; s'mores and bed, until the middle of the night when the storms and torrential rain had us finally scrambling for the car with our sleeping things. We attempted to wait it out, so we could return to our beloved tent and snuggle in again. After an hour of "higher ground" and another 30 minutes of drinking hot cocoa in a gas station, the rain had not abated, and we called it quits, for the first time ever, and went home, gratefully, to our own beds. Better luck today!

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