Friday, September 4, 2015
Our summer extravaganza is coming to a close -- on Tuesday Kailey starts second grade. But, these last weeks of summer have not been lazy days. We took two weeks off at the end of August and spent a week (5 nights) camping in Big Sur and a week building a deck off the back of the house. It was Alden's first time camping and the first time Kai had been in a long time. We made reservations for the camp spot six months ago! So, it was hard to believe it was finally upon us.
Earlier in the summer, I realized we were going to have to get a new tent. Eric and I bought the one and only tent we've ever the second year we were together, after one too many trips with Eric's one-season tent that he came to the relationship with (well, at the point we had it, it was only a one-season tent -- so ratty that it really wasn't much more than a thin piece of fabric, partially concealing you from the great outdoors). I think it was camping somewhere in Virginia in the dead of winter in the middle of a lightning storm that resulted in us getting completely drenched that convinced us of the need to buy a four-season tent. That, of the time we went to the horse island in Maryland and slept in the puddle that was our tent while the sleet/rain/hail poured down around us. It was one of those times. Anyway, early on, we bought a mountaineering tent. Meaning it was built to weather storms. And to be super light - for backpackers. And super small. It was intended for two people that liked to sleep curled up in a ball, forcing themselves to be the size of one person. We've had that tent and that tent only for all these years -- including the camping trips we've been on with Kailey (and there have been several). When I thought about our tent and camping in Big Sur with a squirmy baby that doesn't know how to sleep through the night, I realized an investment in our future was in order.
We went to REI and asked them when the next used gear sale was -- an event that happened on a monthly basis in Berkeley and was always a good way to score cheap gear. In Sacramento, it turns out the gear sales happen a lot less often and are a thing. A major thing. We were told that we were lucky -- the sale was Saturday. The store opened at 10 AM, but we should probably line up by 8. Earlier if we were serious. I was serious -- I wanted a 6 person tent in good condition. Not the easiest of finds. And, it turned out, Eric had a work event that day -- so it meant going it alone. It was an ordeal. Alden was none to happy about the two hours in line. But, we did it - somehow - and we got the tent! Woo hoo!
Next stop -- Big Sur! We went with our friends from Courtyard (Kailey and Dean are classmates) -- and I feel like we've found another family who really shares our camping style. We ate terrific food, did activities without being overly scheduled, took turns cooking and cleaning, went hiking, divided up and did our own things part of the day, took naps, played in the hammocks, went to Junior Ranger programs, hiked every day, went swimming, played at the beach, had campfires, sang camp songs, roasted marshmallows, played games -- and just had fun. Alden adored it. Man, he got dirty. He had so much fun just throwing dirt on himself.
The one downside was the campsites were surrounded, and I do mean surrounded, by poison oak. We told the kids to be super careful and pointed out the plants at issue. A week after returning home, Eric said, "well, looks like we all escaped poison oak". can you hear the "dunh dunh dunh" music playing in the background? Yea -- that evening, Kai started itching, and has been covered in poison oak rash. Like she rolled around in it at one point, which I don't recall her doing, but seriously -- she was covered. It has been an itchy week around these parts.
But, despite the poison oak, which didn't disrupt the trip at all but has just made the last week a little less fun -- we had an amazing time. And, the other family we were with actually cares about documenting the journey in photos -- so, lucky for us, we have tons of great pictures. Can't wait to go again!