I love camping. It is such a source of nostalgia for me. I have memories from when I was young, and we went camping with family at the Grand Canyon. We weren’t all that interested in the scenery around us, but I distinctly recall setting up the inside of our tent to look like the inside of Jeannie’s bottle from ‘I Dream Of Jeannie.’ It was such fun pretending to be magic genies with my cousins.
After my husband and I were married, we ended up camping a lot. It was how we did all of our exploring around here…at the Outerbanks, in the mountains, and even river rafting in West Virginia.
My favorite was when we decided to go up to the mountains near Mount Mitchell, and hadn’t made a reservation because we thought that there would be a site available for us. Lo and behold there was not. But they did tell us that if we drove up the road a little bit farther, there were some spots off the road you could pitch a tent. So that’s what we did. There were quite a few more bugs than usual because we were right next to a creek, but it was so much more peaceful and relaxing because there were no other campers around. I sat and read my books, while Emile did lots of fishing, but the best part was at night. It was the beginning of summer, so the fireflies were out. Because we had camped where there was no one else around, there were hundreds of them! The only way I can describe it is if you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Avatar.’ How the jungle lights up at night with all those magical lights? That’s what it looked like. It was incredible.
Needless to say, we have been wanting to take Esmé for some time now. Last weekend we finally got the chance to take her and she LOVED it.
The second we let her out of the car she was off and running. She immediately started picking up as many acorns as she could find, set them on the table and was off to find more.
She was more than happy to “help” set up the tent. Though I’m pretty sure my husband would have rather she not. She kept trying to go inside before it was all the way up, and laughed like crazy when it would float back down on her head.
I will say that we had quite the upgrade in our camping situation from when Emile and I used to go camping. We used to be in a very small tent, on very uncomfortable small camping pads. We knew that we needed a bigger tent since the monkey had to sleep with us, so we got a 6 person tent. We also brought along a nice air mattress for us, and Esmé’s travel mattress (which is basically like a kid-sized air mattress). Man oh man. Let me just say, that is the way to camp! We were so comfortable and cozy in our new camping arrangements.
We also did a fair amount of exploring with her. We were right next to this trail that was about a mile walk to a lake, and it was gorgeous.
The weather was perfect, and the water was so clear. The leaves were even starting to change color, which Esmé really enjoyed. She’s seen the leaves change color before, but I don’t think she remembers it. She just loved that there were trees dropping red leaves all over for her to collect.
We even got to see a waterfall while we were there. The water was super cold, but she did not care in the slightest. She probably would have stayed all day if we’d let her. She loves water, and she loves rocks, so this was a very happy marriage of both. There was lots of splashing. There was throwing of rocks to make even more splashes. Basically she was living her best life.
As much as she loved everything else, her absolute favorite was the hammock, (also new addition to our gear!). Probably because she thought it was a swing, thus tried swinging Emile and I (not at the same time) as fast and as high as it would go. Yes, we both got very nauseous/dizzy. Esmé did not. In fact, the higher/ faster you pushed her, the happier she was. She pulled up the sides over her face to cover her whole body in there, like a little bat, and there she’d rock. Back and forth. Back and forth. All the while with her thumb in her mouth.
Truth be told it wasn’t all perfect. Esmé fell six times at our campsite alone, and every single time it was a Broadway production. People two towns over could probably hear her wailing, and she had huge tears to go with. Her poor little knees, legs, and hands took quite the beating from that. We also forgot a couple of things like towels, and cooking tongs, but that was it. Everything else was a breeze.
I know that camping isn’t for everyone. There are bugs involved, and sometimes manual labor is required. You also have to be ok with being kind of dirty for a couple days. But for me, it’s like a reset button. There’s no phone service. It’s peaceful and quiet (Esmé’s meltdowns excluded). You have gorgeous scenery everywhere you look. You’re completely free to relax and enjoy your family.
I kicked back with a good book. I got lost daydreaming in the sites and sounds around me. I got to watch my girl’s face as she experienced the magic of it all on her own. It’s just the best.