Despite the fact that everyone in our family has traveled somewhere
this summer, we haven't had one trip where we all went away together. Not even a weekend. Between busy schedules (one son's sports and one son's two jobs) and tight finances, it just never happened. I know we're fast approaching that point in life when the older boys are much more living their own lives; already, it's not automatic that they'll be free to go places with us, and if we waited for a point when we'd all be free...well, we might wait a couple months, which, incidentally, is about how long we had to wait for a summer family trip.
We're on about our third straight week of heat warnings, so it might not have been the ideal weekend for camping, but you take what you can get. Besides, we were camping at Meramec State Park
and planning to spend plenty of time floating the Meramec River...and our camper has air conditioning. :)
|Home, sweet home|
This park is where Jeff and I camped together the first time, so it has lots of good memories, but we haven't been there in several years.
|Jeff and I in 1998. We were about to go caving, which ended up being quite an experience in itself.|
I don't know why, really. Part of it is being busy, part of it is the fact that it's a popular park and you have to actually Plan Ahead
(not my forte) if you want to stay there on a weekend. Well, we got around that little detail by staying Sunday through Wednesday, and while the park wasn't empty, we had plenty of elbow room.
|J at our last camping trip to Meramec (I think)|
How long since we camped there? Well, this guy is 7 now.
We had lots of company on our trip. Pretty much all of Jeff's family (with the exception of a brother-in-law who was working and a couple of nephews) came, too. It was great to see the kids all getting to spend time and have fun with their cousins.
|Video games (hey, it was hot out!)|
We floated the river three times. Oh, the water felt so good. It was so cool, and floating is so relaxing! Well, as "relaxing" as you can get when your precious children are floating on a river, anyway, but the older boys are good swimmers and we make J wear a life jacket any time he's on the river. Jeff's kayak was used twice (which basically doubles the amount it's been used in the 8 years we've had it), so he was happy.
The river flows past bluffs and heavily wooded areas, so it the scenery is absolutely beautiful (sorry, no river pictures...our camera isn't waterproof). Most beautiful of all, though? The sight of my teenage sons (wait for it) GETTING ALONG. These boys who are usually at each other's throats were instead laughing together, messing around on the kayak together, torturing me together (OK, that's the one time you can always
count on them working together), and playing cards together. It was wonderful.
|Look, ma...no fighting|
I ended up taking my mountain bike but didn't do too much riding. I had planned to ride from the campground to the visitor's center at the park entrance. It's only a couple of miles point to point, but it includes some nasty hills. The last time I tried riding it (probably before Jeff and I got married, so we're talking about 10ish years ago), I couldn't even make it up the first hill and was terrified to ride downhill, so I basically walked my bike almost the entire distance. I was determined to do better this time.
Well, I did better. I made it a little more than a mile and was almost at the top of a long climb when my chain slipped off. All of the sudden I was pedalling like crazy and going nowhere. Since we've already established my lack of unclipping expertise, I knew I was going to crash. All I wanted was to make sure that I fell onto my right side (my left shoulder is still quite sore, a situation which was probably not helped by three days of paddling). Thankfully I got my (right!) foot out with no problems at all, but it scared me.
I got my chain back on the bike and started walking it to the top of the hill, but as I did my inner wimp was talking up a storm. You know you're going to have the same kind of climb coming back. Do you really want to do this again? What if the chain slips again. You don't have to do this, you know. It's so hot...it's probably stupid to be doing this anyway.
And that's the voice that won. I guess my SuperKate voice was too busy trying to catch its breath to muster an argument. Not only did I turn around, but I wimped out on screaming back down the hill, too. I never let my bike hit 30 mph before hitting the brakes. Hill-2, Kate-0.
I didn't quit riding once I got to the bottom, though. I didn't want to have brought the bike for nothing, so I spent about 45 minutes riding around the campground and practicing getting out of my right pedal (I'm much more comfortable getting out of the left first) and starting with my left pedal (more comfortable starting with my right). Besides my practice, the older boys both used the bike several times to ride up to the bathrooms, so I guess it was worth bringing it along.
Oh, and the coolest part of the weekend? (Well, second to my boys getting along, anyway). I got to run with my nephew. He's been making a real effort to lose weight -- he's lost about 40 pounds so far -- and has been interested in starting running. I've been preaching the gospel of Couch to 5K to him for a couple months, and on Sunday night I told him, "We're going to run tomorrow!" He looked at me a little nervously but agreed, so Monday evening we did the very first workout of the C25K program. He rocked it.
This is where it's so nice that running didn't come easily to me, because I can totally identify with the struggle. I remember what it was like for those 1-minute run intervals to seem like an eternity. I did my best to keep up a steady stream of chatter to distract him from thoughts of collapsing and dying of exhaustion, figuring that if he was contemplating ways to shut me up he wouldn't be thinking about how hard it was to breathe. On one of our last few walk intervals, he asked if we could "cheat" and walk through the next run. I told him we could if he needed to, but when it came time to run again, he went for it instead. I was so proud of him and really happy that I got to be there to run with him. Definitely a highlight of the trip.
Um, Kate - that little camper is bigger than my house, I think!! Camping is on hard ground and you freeze to death at night like I did on Mt. Whitney!! :) Nevertheless, despite your "comforts" of home, I am glad you got away for some quality family time. As you know, they grow up so fast and are gone away in the blink of an eye and these times together are priceless. The river float would be so awesome...we used to do that for years and year when we used to go to upper Michigan. Fun times!ReplyDelete
I cannot believe it is August...awk!
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Next time invite me!!!! Sounds like my kind of family vacation. I'd even bring my running shoes - or buy some at least....ReplyDelete
Lol. My kids say it isn't camping, too...but no matter how many times we offer to bring them a tent, they never accept. :)ReplyDelete
I'll be roughing it in a tent this coming Friday for cub scout family camp. Stay tuned...
Camping with air conditioning. I could do that. I am camping in Em's living room!ReplyDelete
That is such a freakin incredible camping set-up! I want to go now! And I have only been camping once in my adult life :P This makes it look and sound like a ton of fun.ReplyDelete
What amazing memories!!! My kind of camping. :)ReplyDelete
The river is KEY on hot camping trips! BTW, I like that pop-up camper. My sons have been begging for one. It is better than a tent, right? Much better? Worth the money?ReplyDelete
Looks like a blast! We're going to do a family camping trip in the fall, when it's cooler and no bugs.ReplyDelete
Ah Kate... I've missed reading your blog and seeing your family! :) You always make me smile with your thoughts that sound a lot like mine sometimes! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing your memories with us! Maybe one day... I too will try running... maybe not but it's always an ambitious thought! ;)
Camping looks like so much fun! Both of my brothers and one sister do the whole camping thing in the summer. They love it and so do the kids. Your pictures are fantastic! Makes me want to purchase a really pimped up camper:) I am sort of a princess...LOL!ReplyDelete
Looks like a super trip. Reminds me of camping with my parents. I love camping! We camp very often and prefer the tent approach. We often go camping when I do my trail races in the mountains. Luckily we all love bugs as well.:)ReplyDelete
Looks like a nice trip in a wonderful place. I never went camping. Once, long time ago (1977), I planned it with other 2 friends but few days before I joined the Navy.....ReplyDelete
Beautiful post, I love the photos.
Grew up camping in a pop up. Also I have been to Meremac Caverns back when I was a weee laddd.ReplyDelete
Nice job bringing your bike.
I cannot believe those 2 giants guys are you sons!!!! wow!ReplyDelete
they must think they have one cool mom! right?
I notice you now have 100 followers, congratulations! I have added 2 followers in the last week, I am now up to 14.. get in!ReplyDelete