try to set the night on fire
-The Doors, Light My Fire
Ahhhh, fall. I love the trees as they start to change colors. I love the crispness in the air (though I must admit that NC has seen precious little of that this year during our record-setting heat wave). I love the outdoors in the fall, and one of my fave ways to enjoy the great outdoors is camping. So last weekend, the whole McFoster clan headed out to test out the new camper that my folks just got. Jay has nicknamed this vehicle "Camp the Camper." You can't just call it "Camp," mind you. It's Camp the Camper. "I want to go in Camp the Camper!"
Now, I must admit, camping in an RV is not my idea of camping. I'm no primitive backwoods backpacking girl ... if there's no potty with actual toilet paper within walking distance, it's not really my thing. But I had imagined a camper as a glorified hotel room without the benefit of someone to change your sheets. I mean, it's not camping in my mind unless you're sleeping on the ground. But I decided to be open minded about it and give it a shot, with the plan for me and Derek to stay in our trusty, well-loved tent. My mom so kindly named it "Ren Tin Tent." (C'mon, you had to chuckle at that!)
We got a bit of a late start, but frankly, that's just how I was raised. We're chronically late. So even though we were only headed about 30 miles from Raleigh, it was after dark when we got there. Derek and I got the tent set up before it got completely dark, and we managed to aim our headlights at the site for dad to back Camp the Camper into its space.
As soon as we got it parked, Jay began begging "Let's go camping!" We're like, "This is it, kiddo. This IS camping." Clearly, that answer was unsatisfactory. He kept asking "No, let's go camping in Camp the Camper!" Eventually, we realized that he'd imagined camping to mean riding around in the camper. Poor kid. Not gonna happen with a pull-behind trailer. And unless we really get into this business, we're not buying an RV that you can drive.
But once he realized that his vision of camping needed to line up with ours, he got into it. He ate a few roasted marshmallows, and got sticky goo all over every inch of his hair. He slept in his clothes. He wore said clothes again the next day. He cooked sausage and grits with his Uncle Matt. He double fisted said sausage, eating two patties at once (one in each hand!). He dug in the dirt. He went fishing with Popper. He took a nap in the tent. He went on a little hike with his daddy. He ate a lot of junk food, including a SlimJim. (Derek says it's just not camping without them.) He learned the finer points of building a campfire as Popper and Uncle Matt debated proper wood-stacking technique. (Answer - both the teepee method and the log cabin method work pretty well as long as you have 4 firestarters underneath!) He had a fantastic time in the woods and didn't play with a single toy. He invented his own from sticks and rocks and his imagination.
Laid back Luke approached the whole camping business the same way he approaches everything else ... with a smile. We plopped him on a sleeping bag on the ground and he scooted around, gnawing on anything he could reach. He was as happy as could be as long as we kept him well-fed. And let me assure you that, even though Luke and I refused to attempt the SlimJims, we were all quite well-fed.
I must say that this trip made me miss my Appie & Papa more than usual. They loved to camp, and all of my childhood camping trips were with them. When the firewood we bought was seriously green, my dad commented "Papa would have said, 'That firewood had squirrels livin' in it yesterday!'" It made me laugh, hearing in my mind exactly how Papa would have said it. I trust that he was helping us out, watching us from above and making sure our green wood burned enough to roast our marshmallows.
All in all, I could not have asked for a more perfect weekend with my family. In the end, it's not whether you sleep in a tent or in a bed, it's who is there to roast the marshmallows with you.