Monday, September 23, 2013

Camping Adventure at the Beach

Our 3-night camping adventure to Virginia Beach this past weekend was wonderful.  Such a fun trip, such gorgeous weather (mostly!) and so many good memories shared.  Our trip, top-10 style, plus photos:

Happy Face Camping
Top Ten Moments of Awesomeness:

10.  Pax's favorite moments:  sleeping in our cozy tent, in sleeping bags that kept us warm; digging holes in the sand and making "hot tubs"; and climbing trees at the campsite.
Tree monkeys
Pax's "Hot Tub"
9. Leo's favorites:  getting presents (a bubble maker for Pax; a boogie board for Leo; a kite for Aidan, the gifts reminding them too that this trip was also a Christmas present); playing in the hammock; and watching the seagulls and pelicans and crabs at the ocean.

Kite flying

8.  Aidan's favorites:  moving from one campsite to another; playing lots of games like King's Corner, Guess What?; and building a big campfire with Dad.
Moving from A 11 to A 1 on the first morning
Guess Who?

7.  The car ride there and back was sooo pleasant, thanks to the audiobooks I picked up from the library before our trip.  Beach-bound, we listened to Mrs. Piggle Wiggle - one of my favorites from childhood.  Home-bound, it was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - we loved it so much, we listened to another half hour last night before bed. 
Fireside reading
6.  Our meals were scrumptious!  New favorites include camping tacos and a lunch sandwich of hummus, bell pepper, feta, and salt and pepper.  Banana boats for dessert were also a hit!

Banana boat face
Good beer = good camping
Master Chef of Breakfast, hard at work
5. The glorious, glorious weather.  We were never too hot or too cold, and it was never damp or dewy until the rain came in.  The sky was a slowly changing kaleidoscope of puffy clouds and variegated blues, with hints of pinks and grays deep on the horizon.  The trees, just beginning to hint at the change of seasons, captured the boldness of summer with a brilliant glimpse of autumn to come.

4. The people watching was fantastic.  We saw four weddings, one of which we were practically guests at given its proximity to the oceanfront.  We enjoyed watching a group of 8 women who were various ages but united in their friendship.  They made us giggle because of how much they were clearly enjoying their time together - splashing in the ocean; sharing cocktails and cold salads; setting up silly photos to take using a timer, just like we do.  We also spied Mr. Universe, an impressively hulky man who could have been on the cover of Muscle & Fitness.
Our almost-fame as almost-wedding crashers

3.  Our campsite was huge, and very private.  It was the biggest campsite I've ever enjoyed, with so much space for the kids to explore yet still be within sight and away from the road.  We did, however, move to a different site on our first morning, because the road noise from a nearby highway was too much at the first site - the only drawback to this campground is its proximity to highways.
Campsite #2 at the initial phases of moving in....

2. The incredible Harvest Moon on our first night at camp.  Low on the horizon, illuminated with a soft yet strong, golden glow, it was unparalleled in beauty to any moon I've seen before.  We stumbled upon it quite by accident, drawn to the setting sun on the calm ocean and found ourselves mesmerized by its stunning beauty instead.

1. Three nights and four days of mostly fun and happy time as a family.  There were still tantrums, tears, total frustration, anger, and annoyance, felt by all of us.  But there were so many more times when Jeff and I would look at each other and say, "This is so good."  Our kids become better campers each time we go, and we marveled at the fact that we actually hung out, for two afternoons in a row, at our campsite.  The kids played games or read books; Jeff snoozed; I propped my feet up and immersed myself in my own book.  Far away from ipods and televisions and video games, they entertained themselves by sketching with small bits of (cooled) burned wood from the campfire, or building elaborate structures with wooden fire starters, or climbing the same tree five different ways.

I loooove his reflection in the water
 ...and perhaps the photo that best summarizes the Not Awesome moments of camping:
Because it's not Camping with the Carters unless it rains.  But can I actually complain?  Not with this memory of our last trip to VA Beach camping still fresh enough in my mind. And perhaps because of that particular camping disaster, this weekend felt like a triumph in so many ways.
Our trip was perfectly timed.  Four years ago when we [disastrously] camped at the beach, Pax was growing steadily and strong in my belly, 7 months along.  But he was a relative stranger to us all - unnamed, soon to be born.  That memory, juxtaposed with the funny, chatty, happy, loving little boy who turns four years old tomorrow, made this trip so special. Our trip four years ago was weighed down a bit by the anticipation of a new brother.  Our trip this weekend felt like an early celebration of him, of the one who makes our family complete, who is dependable at offering comic relief and quiet affection in equal measures, at just the right moment.  We are so lucky.

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