The Power of Nature

IMG_5343In all my end of the year chaos, I neglected to tell you about our family camping trip. A tradition, on my mom’s side, that began with her brothers and their sons hiking deep (according to them) into the woods with sleeping bags and just the bare necessities (according to them), has evolved into brothers, husbands, wives, a sister, nieces, nephews, and cousins, bringing tents, beverages, grills, coolers full of food, swim suits, fishing rods, beach chairs, radios, and in some cases RV’s and a pop-up (aren’t we fancy), parked conveniently near the bathrooms.IMG_5418

IMG_5492Change is good.

IMG_5333Our destination, as in prior years, Otter Lake, in PA. A little bit of a hike for us, but well worth it. Our sites were on the lake which with the weather, was just beautiful.

This was the first time my husband and I had been camping since before we were married. Our last trip, to Otter Lake, though fun, did not end well for me, when on the second night (we only stay two) I spent more time in the bathroom than in my sleeping bag. My mom swears it was the Mike’s Lemonade that did me in, but I don’t know, I still think food poisoning. After all, grilling over an open flame without a kitchen nearby doesn’t always lend itself to proper food handling.

This year, we decided to take the plunge, again, figuring the kids were old enough to make the trip, which is funny in that we would have never taken either of the boys when they were my daughter’s age, but like I’ve said before, she’s different. She can hang.

Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t set the bar very high, declaring that any camping trip that I didn’t get sick on would be a success. But there were other variables, too. Would Second Son be up every hour in the night asking us what that noise was? Would First Son wake at 4a.m., and declare he was ready to get up for the day? All these things have happened to us on vacation, and I can tell you, it makes you never want to go away, again. But, you know me, I’m an eternal optimist (a.k.a glutton for punishment) so those feelings never last and we, thankfully, always find ourselves fortunate to be able to take another trip.

I am happy to report that camping rocked. Sure, we were a little more tired than usual, nothing like waking up to the birds at 5a.m. Sure, we weren’t very clean. IMG_5475It was a toss up between my younger niece and Second Son to see who stayed in their clothes longer, with my niece winning, since she ended in the same outfit she started with, and my son, in a moment of weakness (or being forced by his mother) changed his shirt. But, overall, it was a really great experience.

IMG_5382The boys fished, and fished, and fished some more. IMG_3125And when my son could not find someone to help him untangle his rod, bait his hook, etc., he resorted to throwing rocks in the water, and he was happy doing it.IMG_5485 They took my cousin’s canoe out on the lake, rode scooters around the campground, and even did some arts and crafts.IMG_5460

Don’t worry, she got her turn.IMG_5462

IMG_5470But, by far, the biggest highlight of the trip was fire. They were determined to build one using flint.IMG_5401More determined than I would have liked. IMG_5391I’m not sure if they succeeded, but they did learn how to keep a fire burning 24/7.IMG_5525And, of course, became experts in the art of making s’mores, which aren’t just a dessert food, you know.IMG_5316Just like when we went skiing and were outside and active all day, I couldn’t help but notice a peacefulness that came over my middle son. He, who can become consumed with angst and anxiety, was content. Each night, he lay down in his sleeping bag (on his air mattress, of course) and quickly fell asleep. He never said he was scared, or asked did you put the camp fire out, like he will ask about the stove. He was relaxed.

IMG_5561My oldest didn’t play a video game the whole time he was there and he wasn’t bored, though he did scrape his chin in a scootering accident.

IMG_5537And, Little Lady, well, what can I say, give that girl a tub of bubbles and her cousins and you won’t see her for two days. IMG_5478

IMG_5312She even stayed in the tent with my mom, the second night. She was, as they say, a happy camper.

Nature, I tell you, is the answer.

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