The warm weather has been calling us outdoors, and we'd been looking forward to testing out our new Coleman stove. Pioneer Pass is only a half-hour drive from our house, is a little cooler at 5900 feet, and has some great campsites among the Ponderosa pines. There's no running water or flushing toilets, but that doesn't phase us at all. We are "full equipment" campers, which means that a minor one-night camp out finds us filling our truck bed and cabin to the brim. We not only take our large family tent, but an air mattress, foam pads, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, and a play pen. We've got the hammock, the camping chairs (adult and child-sized), the ice chest, water cooler, stove, pots and pans, plates, bowls and utensils (disposable and reusable). For convenience, we take a shovel and rake (to prepare the campsite), an axe and firewood, and a hammer for tent stakes. There are the beloved roasting sticks (we registered for one of these babies when we got married), the flashlights and lanterns, the porta-toilet, and the canister of antibacterial wet wipes that we go easily go through in a 24-hour period. And of course, there's the FOOD. It's quite amazing how much food a family of 4 can eat when there's nothing else to do but sit around, enjoying nature and a few Cheetos or Laffy Taffys. The food definitely helps keep the kids happy. And the large duffel full of several sets of clothing for all climates and PJs tops of the inventory list. I'm not sure how it all fit. We've actually got the prep down to an art. Chad is a great planner, so it's not a huge deal to pack for a camping trip. Plus, he loves it. And he gets a big kick out of stuff like raking our campsite free of pine needles.
We lounged in the hammock, read books while the kids took a short afternoon nap, hiked up a steep hill for no reason, and ate. We roasted hot dogs and topped them with chili for dinner, followed by S'mores (what else?), and I popped corn on the stove (all stores were out of Jiffy Pop) for a late-night snack. I dreaded bed-time after last year's camping fiasco. Thankfully, Bree was so excited to wear her "camping PJs" (this is what I have to call her remaining winter sleeper so she won't wear it to bed when it's 80 degrees out) and sleep in a sleeping bag, that she went to sleep without a problem. It was Mason who had trouble falling asleep, and then waking in the middle of the night. Chad finally brought him to bed on the air mattress with us, and he slept the rest of the night. I have become a terrible sleeper when I don't have the ambient noise of a humidifier or fan. So I woke at every whimper the kids made, at every pine cone falling, and when there was an animal rummaging for food on our picnic table (the next morning produced left-out Milk Duds with tiny teeth marks). And of course there were the 4 trips to the toilet, which is so much fun at night.
The morning dawned too early, but the thought of our delicious breakfast of O'Brien potatoes and scrambled eggs motivated me to get up (oh, and the buzzing of bees and flies trapped under the tent fly was getting annoying--by the way, why does bug spray not deter flies?). We lazed away the morning, and finally broke camp when the kids were showing signs of extreme fatigue. We came home happy, tired, and smelling of camp smoke. The kids loved their time outside. They never seemed to tire of running around, climbing on rocks (Mason is absolutely insane, and got the double-bloody nose to prove it!), and watching the campfire (Chad tied Mason to his camp chair while we were preparing dinner to keep him safe--you can see it in the picture). I know I can get used to camping with kids, but it certainly took a lot out of me--I took a three-hour nap after getting home! The fun is definitely worth the work, and we're talking about camping at Pinal Peak next!