Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Skinny on Camping and the New Entrance Tour

Daddy and I planned this week long camping trip for months.  Carefully planned packing lists, menus, shopping trips, we actually didn't forget anything, except Henry's booster seat.  Which we forget everytime we go camping.  So the boys headed off to Wal-Mart to get one.  Oh,  and the SD card.  I ALWAYS forget the SD card, because it was still in the computer.  

Anyway, we love camping.  I know that people's opinions differ on this, greatly.  For many, a hotel without room service is camping.  For others, what we did was semi-camping, because we actually did some things to make it easier for us.  Like our washstand Daddy made: 

Three tubs, on PVC pipe stand, which breaks down to store in the tubs.  One wash, one rise, one dry.
Saved a lot of trips to the tenters' sink!

The weather was annoying.  It rained at one point during the first three days.  Thankfully, after the one night we had a very severe thunderstorm, it was clear sailing for us.  But that storm. WOW.  The lightening was like strobe lights, about every 5 seconds.  The thunder made the ground we were laying on shake.  And the boys slept through most of it.  Daddy and I were on alert, and once the boys woke up, we turned on the lanterns and read the next installment in The Boxcar Children series we are working our way through.  Finally, the slow moving storms moved through and well after midnight, we got some sleep.

Another thing we tend to forget is that the sun blazes in EARLY in a tent.  And being in the central time zone, that meant 5 am.  So we had an early start cleaning up the campsite from the storm,  and were more than ready to head to the caves for our New Entrance Tour.  As opposed to the Historic Entrance, this was literally a door cut into the mountain.  And down, down, down steps.  Steps that crossed 14 vertical shafts.  And made my hands sweat.  But once we got down there, it was a much different landscape than the other end of the cave.  Being an active part, there was still water dripping, and cave life.  The boulders were impressive, but not enough to keep Henry awake.  He fell asleep about halfway through and I held him as the rest went down the optional flow stone view.

Daddy had the camera at this part

We joined up with the rest of the tour, and found ourselves at the end of the line, but right next to Ranger Rick.  He treated us to some extra narration and tidbits.
Like how stalagmites glow

Beautiful flow stone

Remember the cave life??  Camel crickets are a key species.  They leave the cave to feed on things, then other
creatures feed on them.  They aren't blind, they are a "twilight" creature, going in and out of the darkness. 

All night vision gone after this shot!

See the crickets.  Yeah. gross.  I stomp on them when I see them other places!

Locking the door behind us.  My lens steamed up in the temperature difference.

We passed this cemetery on the way into the park each time.  It was called Little Hope Cemetery, and we wondered why. Little B asked a ranger, and it turns out the road used to be so muddy, your stagecoach would get stuck in it, and you had little hope of getting to the caves on time.

Also, Frank and Jesse James robbed two stagecoaches here in the same day. They hid in the caves. 

Our Junior Ranger worked hard to earn his badge.  We got him the hat to put his badges on. 
 After returning from the cave, we had time to join in some fun.  Pool, bouncing pillow, game room, lots of fun to be had!

But our favorite part...being together at the campsite

Daddy sending up smoke signals. Even though our wood was on top of the picnic table, and covered, it was still damp

Henry munching on chocolate animal crackers...see the one on his shirt?

Oh yes.  Tickets well spent in the game room!
 Camping involves everyone.  No free rides when you are camping primitively.  Even Henry helped pick up sticks, sort of.  So Brant's camp chore?  Hauling water.  He was thrilled, as you can imagine, but did it with only a reasonable amount of complaining.  By the end of the week he had it down.  He was interested to learn that Abe Lincoln also had that chore!

Of course, Henry needed a little George once in a while.  Thank goodness for the video system in the van.  Daddy charged his phone while the car was running. Whatever it takes, right?
One of the thing that this camping trip illustrated to us, as parents, is that Brant is ready for some independence.   It was good for him to run off to play (still in sight) but not feeling hesitant about not knowing the kids.  And the bathhouse...yes, he made a few runs there by himself.  Always returning to check in with us, he learned our expectations, and we learned to give him a little freedom. 

Playing with neighbor campers

All too soon it was time to pack up and head out.  Still exited though, since our trip wasn't even half over, and we had a lot of things planned yet to come!

1 comment:

Hannah, Horn, and Hannabert said...

Have you thought about getting a boba or an ergo for Henry? They are way more comfortable than a baby bjorn. Will still fits in the boba at 30 lbs so they can be worn long term but don't take up as much room as your Kelty Pack (which we have and love as well).