so this past weekend my husband decided it would be fun to take the whole family on our first-ever camping trip. i am not sure how i successfully avoided it for this long, since my husband and son both love camping and regularly camp with scouts at least once a month.....but i have. it has long been a dream of nathan's though that one day the whole family would go camping, as he envisioned idyllic scenes of kids roasting s'mores around the campfire and singing campfire songs. so when i came across this article about the best lakeside camping in "sunset" magazine, i relented. if i had to be eaten alive by mosquitos and go days without showering, at least i would have some beautiful surroundings to do it in. so we packed up the kids and dog and we set out for lake crescent.
we decided to pick up some firewood in port angeles with the rationale that it would be cheaper than at the campsite. we saw a trailer with wood piles in front of it so we pulled over to get some. turned out to be a firewood/adult book store combo. no joke. nathan went in and told the guy he wanted some firewood, and the guy raised his eyebrows at him and said "will that be all?" nathan assured him that was all, though he later admitted to me that he *almost* bought a lighter with a naked girl on it to light the fire with, but decided against it, since this was, after all, a *family* camping trip.
we continued on up to lake crescent, arriving at the fairholme campground a little after 2 pm. drove straight to the "C" loop since that is what "sunset" recommended. all spots were full. great. moved on to "B" loop. oooohhh! there's a spot! hurry, go to the bulletin board by the bathrooms to see if anyone's paid for it yet! uh, yeah, that spots taken. okay, on to "A" loop. and wondering where on earth we are going to go camp for the night if there are no available spots here. we loop around once and there is the fire dept. parked in a couple spots doing something. we stop and ask them if the one spot is taken where their truck is parked, cause there is a motorcycle in it as well. fireman: "well, i think that motorcycle belongs up to that campsite up there (pointing up the hill.) so i think it is open." SCORE. because, as it turns out, that is the last.available.campsite. in the entire place. *whew*. sigh of relief. i scamper on down to pay for the site while nathan and the kids start setting up camp. i come back up just in time to meet Jim, the park ranger. he is a friendly guy, mid-60's, driving around in his golf cart. we tell him the motorcycle story that the fireman told us and he agrees, he thinks the motorcycle belongs to a different site and they are just parked there because the firetrucks were in their way. cool. so we start setting up camp and awhile later lo and behold, said motorcycle owner shows up.
him: oh, did you guys pay for this site?
us: uh, yeah.....
him: oh, you didn't see my motorcycle here?
us: well, we DID, but both the firemen and the park ranger said it belonged to another site and TOLD us that we could take this one.
him: hmm, well, i had my motorcycle here holding it, but whatever.
grrrr. well, jackass, next time read the rules on the board. it clearly stated you had a half-hour to pay after leaving something in your site to hold it. you *clearly* had been gone longer than a half hour, as we had been there at least that long setting up already.
so we finish setting up camp and while nathan is cooking dinner, i venture over to the fairholme campground store to get some "mommy juice". get back just in time to eat some pretty good vegetables and some not-so-good meatloaf. i ask if we have ketchup, so i can try and rehydrate my leather-like piece of meat. "no, but if you spray a bunch of 'i-can't-believe-it's-not-butter' on it and use the nature's seasoning salt, it is pretty good", nathan replies. hmmm. okay. we will have to re-think this cooking situation here. i may need to take over if i want to eat for the next 2 days.
nathan and katie cooking dinner, missy assisting.
austin sharpening some marshmallow sticks.
saturday morning starts out cool and overcast. this does not make me happy, and i am already not a happy camper because i woke up no less than 25 times the night before, re-adjusting my camping pad, soothing a crying samuel next to me, or shushing the dog as she growled at some late-night camper making a bathroom run. i feel slightly better after i go brush my teeth and clean up a little, and when i get back to camp nathan has some coffee ready for me. hallelujah. i take over cooking duty as i drink my coffee and we have some rather yummy (if i do say so myself) breakfast burritos. after we clean up and everyone is ready we load up the truck to go hike marymere falls......and the battery is dead. yup. must've been the 187 times we were in and out of the truck last night getting stuff. we ask the guy camping across from us for a jump and he says sure, but he has to let his mammoth diesel Excursion warm up for at least 10 minutes before he drives it the 10 feet across the road to give us a jump. we hope and pray that our battery doesn't die again.
so we venture on down the road a piece to the storm king ranger station where the trailhead is to the falls. by this time the sky has cleared and the sun is out and it is quite a pleasant day for a hike.
tunnel under freeway on marymere falls trail.
me and the kids by barnes creek.
samuel crossing over a log bridge.
katie and her "friend" that she found along the way. (a ginormous slug)
the hike up there is short and relatively easy, and the reward is awesome. the falls are gorgeous. we stop and admire them and the kids and nathan recharge with a granola bar as we take some pics.
afterwards we went and checked out the view of lake crescent from here. the kids explored along the shore and dock.
this is a pic i took off of the dock. the water is pretty deep right here, but super clear.
then we went down the road a bit to east beach, and ate a picnic lunch there. we thought about letting the kids swim while we were there, but it seemed a little windier than the swimming spot at our campground, and we figured we would let it warm up a bit more. so we packed back up and headed back to camp. everyone fell asleep on the way back, a welcome bit of quiet. that afternoon, after everyone had a little rest, we went down to the little store at our campground and rented a kayak. austin and i took it out for awhile and then nathan and katie went for a bit.
sam wanted a turn too, but he was too little.
the kids swam for a while at the beach but it was pretty chilly, so we didn't stay long. then we just meandered back to our campsite, stopping at a huge tree on the way back that everyone climbed.
while i got dinner ready, nathan taught katie how to whittle a stick into a magic fairy wand.
then they played "i wish, i wish", where katie waved her magic wand around and wished for something and daddy would grant it. i wished for a better night's sleep.
the kids by the campfire, i'm cooking dinner in the background.
the littlest camper.
after dinner we all sat around the campfire and made s'mores. well, everyone except samuel. he just liked seeing how many marshmallows he could stuff into his mouth at once. then we completed nathan's dream by singing some campfire songs. but wait, i don't *know* any campfire songs! no worries, my kids taught me this one:
so after gorging ourselves on marshmallows and singing some sponge-bob classics, we all turned in for the night. i actually slept much better the second night......maybe because i was so dang tired from the night before. whatever the reason, it was a welcome night's sleep.
sunday we woke to a beautiful morning. the boys broke camp while i made pancakes and sausage for breakfast. we got the truck loaded and headed on out. all in all, it was a pretty decent experience. heck, i will even go so far as to say i had *fun* camping. there, i said it. maybe i will even do it again. we'll see.