Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Caron Family's Very First Camping Trip

White Lake Camping Trip

Day One- June 21, 2010

Here I am sitting in the middle of nowhere in the mountains of NH camping with my family and typing on my laptop. I suppose that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite, roughing it but not. This camping trip is pretty special, however, so I felt it would be wrong if I did not somehow document the adventure. Although I suppose a notebook would have sufficed, but I was not clever enough to bring one along. So, here I am, listening to my children’s hushed giggles as it grows dark outside, tapping away on my portable technology known as a laptop.

I woke up this morning, groggy but excited. We had been planning on going camping for several years now but never got up the courage to actually go for numerous reasons. Our children had been very young and being that we are primarily hotel vacationers, we were a bit intimidated by the prospect of sleeping outdoors in a tent and “roughing it”. I now laugh at our idea of “roughing it” as I sit here writing away and the bathrooms just a short walk away…

We hurriedly finished packing this morning before the children woke up so that all we would need to do is feed them breakfast, get dressed and go. That is precisely what we did too. I am quite proud of this, because we are known by all our family and friends as being late. I planned on having us out the door no later than 8:30am, and by some miracle, we were out the door at 8:22am. Success.

I must admit here, however, that both Seth and I were a bit skeptical about this venture we were about to embark on. The last time either of us had gone camping was when we were children and we both like sleeping inside away from bugs and with food just a phone call away.

What makes this particular camping trip is special for more than one reason. Firstly, both Seth and I have a special place in our hearts for White Lake. We both camped here with our families when we were children. One of Seth’s fondest memories of his father was here. I learned how to swim here. It seemed fitting that this be the place we take our children for our first family adventure in the woods. We cut Rylee’s school year short by three days to take our kids on this family first. We thought it would be a memorable way to kick off the summer.

Secondly, Seth’s father, a member of the Sioux tribe, passed away three years ago. One of his final wishes was to be put at rest amongst the nature of the White Mountains. This was very difficult for us, but as our children are finally at a manageable camping age (they are both potty trained) and it has been a few years since Seth’s father’s passing, now seemed like a good time to finally follow through with this final wish. So, we are here, in part, for Seth to finally say goodbye to his father in one of his father’s favorite places. This seems rather apropos as yesterday was Father’s day.

We made sure Molly and Murphy were taken care of, and we finally arrived in the mountains for our first afternoon of this trip. It did not take long to get the tent up and the kids were eager to explore. Sammy found a heart carved into a tree at our campsite. The kids love the tent and the fire pit, but what they enjoyed most this first day here was the trip to the lake. The glacial water was surprisingly warm and the view was spectacular. Dinner time posed to be a challenge as I forgot my frying pan, but it was soon remedied by Seth who found one at the ranger station. The kids loved dinner, but adored roasting marshmallows more. Apparently I roast mine wrong as I do not light my marshmallows on fire. Perhaps I need to fix this? Not exactly sure what is in store for tomorrow, but I can almost guarantee that we will make another appearance at the lake and the playground, and Seth will finally be able to say goodbye to his father.

As I bring this entry for day one to a close, it amuses me that the kids are supposed to be sleeping, but are giggling because they get to sleep in a tent. Soon I shall be joining them. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood were of camping, and I hope the same will be true for Rylee and Samuel.

Day Two- June 22, 2010

The end to the second day of our trip has come to a close. As I think over the day’s events I am astonished at how much we were able to fit into one day. I am rather concerned about the weather, but we are willing to muscle through another night.

Last night was a rough one for me as it has been years since I have spent the night in the middle of the woods. Unfamiliar sounds were constantly startling me, and even at one point, we had some kind of creature shuffling around our campsite. It was most likely a chipmunk or squirrel, but at 3 am in my half asleep mind, it was a wolf or a bear. I remember being awakened by the distant sound of what I thought to be a child screaming, and I panicked. I thought somehow my son had gotten out of our tent and was lost somewhere in the woods. I could not see him from where I was sleeping, so I practically woke everyone in the tent in my efforts to catch a glimpse of my son, sleeping safe and sound just a few feet away from me.

Morning came, and we all eventually stumbled out of bed for breakfast. Seth had already made French Pressed coffee but was skeptical of the quality. He needn’t have worried as it was perfect. After some deliberation, we decided that we would venture on a waterfall expedition and upon returning make another visit to the lake.

Before we headed in search of the Kangamangus Highway, we of course needed to make a potty run. I must stop here to specifically say that I am proud of my son, who for the first time, requested to not only use a public restroom, but that he needed to poop in one. And he did. We were both quite proud. When camping with small children, as some of you might already know, potty runs are an adventure in of themselves.

It did not take us long to find the Kangamangus. Soon we made our first stop at the Lower Falls. The river was full of rocks and the water lapped over them, trickled in places, and splashed in others. There were many beautiful small waterfalls and even a beautiful place in which to wade. There were also butterflies everywhere, which, of course, delighted my already enchanted children. They are in love with the mountains.

On our way back to the van we discovered an old fashioned water pump. The kids got a huge kick out of taking turns pumping the water to drink. Seth also found it amusing. I’m not sure what he thought was more fun, pumping the water or watching the kids give it a try.

We continued up the Kangamangus and found another great stop with a waterfall. This one was the Sabbaday falls. We had to hike a small trail to get a really good look, but it was an easy hike and very worth the walk. The kids were amazed at the falls. We headed back down the trail to the van to head back and get some lunch at the campsite.

After lunch we decided that it was time to head to the play ground and the beach area. Before we headed over, I discovered a pretty lavender dragonfly sitting near me. I had to take a picture.

I watched the kids play on the playground as Seth ventured on his own to finally lay his father to rest. This was especially hard for him I believe. His father died over three years ago, and we had always wanted to spread his ashes in the mountains. Today Seth was finally able to do just that. When he returned from his quest, the kids swam in the lake for awhile whilst Seth reflected and I took pictures of our kids, the mountains, and ducks.

After some time we decided it might be fun to rent a paddleboat. Sammy was nervous about the idea of being on such a “big” lake in such a small boat, but pretty soon he became okay with the idea. Turns out, our trek around the lake was pretty neat. We saw two beautiful loons, a great blue heron, a protected nest (believed to be the heron’s), and hundreds of tiny blue damselflies. I really wish I had my camera out on the water, but I was afraid we might get wet. We didn’t, and now I have no pictures of our trek out on White Lake.

After we returned to shore, we headed back to the campsite, tired and thirsty. The kids snacked and we roasted marshmallows. The rest of the day was pretty laid back, and Seth was on a mission to create the perfect campfire. He enlisted the kids to help him gather kindling. They gladly did this until it was time to turn in. I shortly followed them to spend some time writing here and it wasn’t long before Seth was calling me back outside. It was dark at this point, but we heard rustling and he was shining his flashlight in the sound’s direction. There, in our campsite, was a really huge raccoon! Huge! This might have been our culprit from last night? I am VERY glad our food is in the van… Before long another raccoon appeared and Seth was in the middle- a raccoon on either side of him and blocking his escape to the tent. Then the raccoons saw one another and decided they didn’t like sharing our campsite, so they began to fight. Seth took the opportunity to flee to our shelter. And here we are, the kids sleeping, the possibility of rain, and two rogue coons patrolling our campsite…

Day Three- June 23, 2010
We slept much better last night. Perhaps it is because we were becoming conditioned to sleeping in the woods, or perhaps because we were tired. It might have something to do with the fact that we actually zipped up all the tent's windows. Our raccoon pals hung around the campsite for awhile, but we convinced ourselves we were safe inside our tent of indistructability. Those raccoons were determined that there was food somewhere. There must have been! But, alas, we were smart enough to at least pack it up in the van before those critters began their investigation.
We awoke to a downpour and were thankful for being mostly dry, although I think we would have all preferred to have been all the way dry. We promptly loaded up the van to drive to the bathroom for yet another potty adventure. When we returned to the campsite, the children sat in the warm dry van watching cars on the built in dvd player while Seth and I marathon packed the camping gear halfhazardly in the back. This was where we jump ship on our very ambitious camping trip.
We headed south to my Mother's house and are eternally grateful to her for the use of her shower, potty, and dry shelter. Oh and also the pizza! What a great way to end a camping trip! :) We are clean and dry and the kid's are happily watching Bolt and playing with their uncle Caleb's baby hamsters. Later on we will pick up Molly and head back home and to normalcy (which, is a relative term, isn't it). We learned some things on this camping trip and made some cool memories. Most importantly, we learned that we are not camping people. At least, not the way we did it. Perhaps this will help us to be better prepared next time. Or perhaps future vacations will be held in Orlando partying with Mickey. Either way, I don't regret going or meeting those interesting people we met while there: the family with the crying child, the late night charade people, and the Moth Lady. All in all we had a great trip, a great summer kickoff, and a celebration of family and life.
Welcome, Summer 2010! This is gonna be a good one!

No comments: