June 30, 2014

Camping: A Summer Kick-Off

Guess whaaaaat? It's summer! Well. Technically. Summer doesn't ever really show up until post-July 4th in the PNW, but we celebrated anyway. With our first camping trip of the year!

Just over a week ago David and I visited beautiful Whidbey Island for a little camping trip with my sister and brother-in-law (remember them from their wedding last summer? So beautiful!). The weather was supposed to be iffy, but ended up being just perfect. Well, almost perfect. The first night I was FREEZING. But that's just lack of preparedness on my part. David assumed I had my little heater box to keep me warm. Not quite yet, my dear.

Every year we try to camp at least once. Last year we managed three trips. Three! I should specify our version of camping. We are tent campers. Not backpackers. Not RVers. Not pop-up-trailer-tenters. Just old fashioned tent campers. We'll find some state park that we're interested in exploring and make reservations at the beginning of spring, pack our multiple tubs of equipment and head out for 3-4 days mid June. In western Washington this is a bit risky considering my opening statement: summer does not really start until on or after July 4th. Nevertheless, we take the risk and plan for rain. Isn't that what all PNWers do?

This trip was by far the most relaxing camping excursion I have ever taken. And I think it was all because of my have-everything-packed-one-week-prior-to-the-trip-so-I-can-make-some-last-minute-store-runs planning. See, it all starts with an Excel spreadsheet. (Go ahead. Pin it! You know you want to ;-) though it's not very pretty...)

This is the source of my sanity for complex excursions. After every trip I come home and add what we forgot to pack, or what would have been nice to have. I know this looks like a lot, but trust me. It is quite simple. All of our supplies fit into four plastic totes with lids. We bought ours at Costco: the 3-pack of clear, 45-quart/11.25-gallon totes with latch-on lids (they are currently out of season; perhaps they will return in the fall?). One tote carried dry food. One tote carried our cooking utensils. One tote carried camping essentials. The last tote carried the left-over randoms. Yes, the randoms. Our cold food and beverages fit in one cooler. Our "big" stuff like our tent, sunshade and camp chairs were easy enough to pack on its own. We also pack a "bed-in-a-bag," which is simply a large duffle bag with our air mattress, sheets, and blankets/sleeping bag. Our pillows are in a separate bag. Both David and I are a wee bit type-A (can you tell??). I am especially so when it comes to packing. I prefer to be concise and efficient. Camping is a tough balance because I wish we could pack less. But when I pack less, I regret leaving something behind. Ah me, the woes of a silly mind. People call these sorts of worries first-world problems, yes? Yep. I can see that.

I spent almost two weeks preparing our food. Baking and cooking different parts of meals ahead of time to freeze it. I had really screwed up last summer and neglected to pack, let alone make cookies for our trip (I also forgot to pack an entire make-ahead pressed sandwich. Forgetful mama with her postpartum brain!). So this time around I made two different kinds of cookies, getting them in the freezer well in advance so I would not be in trouble. Baby has been craving all sorts of sweets lately, so I must oblige, right? ;-) Oh, I know I can't blame baby--not his/her fault. I simply lack self-control. In the middle of my prep, I came down with a bit of a cold, which definitely slowed me down since I could not medicate. I opted to purchase naan and sourdough English muffins instead of making them myself. (Note for future: DON'T buy naan. Unless you are purchasing from a bonafide naan baker, just don't.) I was rather proud of myself for letting go of the reigns...just a bit.

We arrived at the campground Friday evening, no rain in sight! After setting up camp and starting a fire we were able to relax with dinner and good conversation.

This was actually Saturday's dinner. I didn't take pictures Friday night.
Over the weekend we explored the park and all its beauty while soaking in the sun.

My sister and brother-in-law. They really do love each other. I promise.

The ONLY picture of my sister and me from the whole weekend.

Para-sailors were practicing while we ate lunch on the bluff.
Our hike in the morning along the bluff and down to the beach was lovely. I felt great the whole way, though was a tad bit slower than perhaps the others would have preferred. I was feeling so great I forgot I was even pregnant. However, about 10 minutes of bad-mitten after lunch led to a pretty strong Braxton Hicks. Perhaps my body was trying to tell me something? David was a trooper and picked up the slack while I took a little rest.

He played quite well against these two! We all got a bit burnt by mid-afternoon so made our way back to camp. In the shade. Not as beautiful as the sun. But much more protected.

On Sunday we concluded our trip with Mass at a local mission church. It was so tiny and adorable. In fact, the chapel itself was a historical building on the island from when the community was first established. You could tell the community knew we were outsiders! Before David and I headed home, we decided to explore the gun battery at Ft. Casey. Not our first gun battery by any means, but fun to explore nonetheless. David is a military history nerd so you can imagine how these sorts of adventures excite him. "Oh, let's go in here! What's in here? I want to look over there." I fall in love with him all over again when he gets excited. He will be a wonderful example and teacher to our kiddos!



We arrived home refreshed by this little getaway, even though camping does require more "work" than a typical vacation. Our laundry room no longer smells of campfire (finally). Though I would take campfire smoke to celebrate summer any day! 

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