Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Camping at Westmoreland

Our first family vacation! Just the four of us, not a trip to the parent's or a wedding or any other event. Three days in the woods as a family.We almost didn't know how to begin.

That might be why we procrastinated choosing a tent site. We had every option to chose from because we have not visited any of them. So we pussyfooted.

Our hesitation chose for us. The first half dozen campsites we looked into were booked full. Westmoreland State Park was low on our list; I felt a bit let down before we even packed the car.

But I was wrong. Wrong, wrong. All those "no vacancies" everywhere else led to this moment:
Juvenile Bald Eagle fishing

Joy. At sharing beauty with my family. At the majesty of creation. At white cliffs plunging to the bay and eagles fishing overhead and all 2 hours from home. At sun and dirt and feeling like the adventuring me that was confined for pregnancy and raising infants was finally breathing real air.

The art of camping is well practiced between us. We don't need to talk through who will do what. We have our areas of expertise. Set up camp together. Hubby builds a fire while 'wifey' starts dinner. The ritual of temporary homesteading.

It's a little more complicated now that we have to take turns with the girls. Small one was channeling the spirit of Pocahontas, ready to trail blaze if a watchful gaze happened to stray.

I don't know the maximum number of pictures recommended for one post, but I'm probably exceeding it today:
 Prep work - Small one made sure those jet-puffs were legit before we headed out.
 Our "tent palace" blew my mind after sleeping in two man backpacking tents for nearly a decade. With a full air mattress, pack n' play and bed for big one, I felt like I stepped into a J.K. Rowling creation. That didn't mean big one was going to take a nap in it. Instead, she passed out in the pack.
The rangers forgot to replace the "Trail closed for storm damage" sign. Made the hike more interesting.
 We crawled over and under, bushwhacked, broke fallen branches. Hurricane Irene with its herd of tornadoes left a huge mess for the park staff and volunteers to clean up. It felt like a verse in "Going on a Bear Hunt." Big one slept through a 1/4 mile of this, until this moment when she woke up, saying, "Daddy, you dropping me."

 We found a blaze...
 Then we found the beach...
And what a beach. Small one couldn't contain her excitement.
Sifting for shark teeth. The beach has thousands hidden in the sand.

Found one!
"I'm an otter!" she grins. Something clicked in this tidal pool. Our girl too scared to get her feet wet last week floated on her back like it was her natural state. 
I know we look crazy letting small one swim in water this deep. I could feel my hair graying {maybe her middle name is prophetic}, but we could not keep her out of the deep water. She's part fish, splashing and swimming and blowing bubbles.

 Bald eagles and osprey flew over all weekend. I was giddy with bird of prey watching.

Tired, cold baby. Long snuggle to warm up. Momma in heaven.
 Our limited casualties:
A brazen raccoon carried off the falafel chips while Tim was tending the fire. A squirrel tried to chew through the cooler {they must have radioed that we were coming}. And big one bruised her foot hiking. As injuries go, it didn't need to be recorded, except that big one seems to have inherited a dramatic streak from any number of relatives. She refused to walk, dragging herself along like a third world amputee and claiming a spider bit her. She's already forgotten, unless it's time to go to bed or clean up.

So much fun. Now I just have to clean up the mess!

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