This past weekend (yea, that one with the heat indexes in the 100's!), we went camping with one of our favorite groups of friends. This year our destination was Backbone State Park in Iowa. You might remember two years ago when we rented an RV and went up to the U.P. Well, the same group was in when we started planning a trip for this year. We added a few along the way. So, a quick breakdown for you:
10 adults (Greg, Meg, Sarah, Dan, Chris, Brenna, Jamie, Zach, Ryan and me).
1 11 month old
1 dog (the other's went to the kennels)
1 pop-up camper
2 "mosquito free" tents - that in fact turned into fly and gnat catchers
10 coolers (5 with food, 5 with beer)
1 excel spreadsheet (to coordinate the food/supplies)
2 air mattresses
3 fishing poles
2 fishing licenses
1 pocket chainsaw
2 large hunting knives
10 lbs of potatoes
5 lbs of bacon
2 containers of Italian beef (and the crock pot to cook it in)
1 toaster ("forgotten")
1 pack and play
3 power strips
4 extension cords
*lots of stuff that I'm forgetting...
Simply put, this was not a camping trip where we tried to simplify. Comfort and convenience were the name of the game....while camping. We'd decided early on that this was going to be a full on "car camping" trip. Ryan and I are fully outfitted for backpacking...but adding in 8 other adults and a baby = time to add in some comforts. Our list might sound extensive to most, and, if I'm honest, there was some pre-trip complaining about the amount of stuff we were bringing, but, in the end, everyone had a great time and we are already talking about scheduling a trip when it gets a little cooler! Sounds like a success to me!
Back to the trip. You can see that Greg and Meg's air mattress wasn't the ideal fit for their smallish tent. I heard Greg already saying that he needed to upgrade to the Sarah and Dan sized tent. They camped in a nice 8 person tent (must like Ryan and I would have done, if we didn't have the camper). Honestly, if you watched him try to crawl out in the morning, it looked like he was being birthed from the tent. Quite hilarious!
I vowed to try and take some pictures of people that weren't all "look this way and smile" and I think I ended up with a few good ones. After all was said and done I ended up with over 150 pictures from the trip. I didn't want to bore you all to death so I tried to pick some of the best for you here. I might do a second post later...we'll see.
This is my favorite "I'm being a creeper photographer" pictures! I love how you can just tell the Dan loves his wifey!!
See, I even made it into a few pictures!!
Friday was hot. Like really really hot. Well, so was Thursday, but we knew that going into the trip so we all sort of took our time getting to the campsite and by the time we all got there, it was starting to cool down just a bit. Friday though, that was another story! I would guess that it was above 90 before 10 am. We quickly made breakfast and a group of us headed down to the lake/beach area. Chris and Brenna decided to go on a hike for lovers (with Rocky) so they missed out on the lake, but the rest of us enjoyed the only cool place we could find!!
Abby loved being in the water (as she always does), but more than that, she loved having 8 adults around to push her around in her floaty and toss her into the air. After a few hours though it was clear that she needed a nap, so Jamie and I headed back to the sites to put her down, and hoped for a nap ourselves. Sadly, it was just plain too hot to do anything but play cards. The tents were hot because they contained the heat. The camper was cool-ish but Abby was sleeping in there so we sat around hating the heat until I found a water spigot by our camper. We both stuck our entire heads under it and soaked our hair....letting the cold water drip down our backs. It was the only way to stay cool. An hour or so later when the lovers returned from their hike, they had the great idea of wetting some rags to put around our necks and heads. Thankfully that kept us cool until the heat finally broke later that evening. The weather said the heat indexes were in the 100's for Thursday and Friday. We'd tossed around the idea of going later in the weekend and avoiding the heat but I'm so glad we decided to stick it out. We had a great time and after the first two hot days, the weather really did get more tolerable. And! Now we know we can survive just about the worst camping conditions, so it's only up hill from there!
Couldn't resist some baby love!
* I don't like this picture of myself...but Abby just had the perfect "selfie" face that I couldn't resist it.
In addition to the crazy amount of shit I listed above, we also had this contraption that Ryan invented. It worked great for organizing and keeping the 'coons away from our stuff. Oh, and....for cooling after use! If you look really close in there, you'll see the family "deer leg". If you don't know what I mean...its a long story!! It involves a tradition going on 5 years now, along the lines of Flat Stanley, for the Murphy family. That hoofs been all across the country, from NYC to Cali and back again. It's been modified to include a beer opener, a be-dazzled hoof and a "I see whales" sticker. Yep...we're weird!
If finally cooled off enough on Saturday that we could hike. So we loaded up the group and hiked the Backbone trial, checked out the springs, the caves and the local ice cream shop! Here's our group, minus Chris. He was putting on his hiking boots and wool socks :O) Gotta love Christopher!
This was actually my second time at Backbone. We'd camped there back 20 or so years ago with my family. If you've known me that long, you might remember that my parents used to organize a very similar camping trip each year that we called the "RNPCF conference". It's all the letters of our last names, but you guessed it, there were 5 families just like we had this year. As soon as we walked up to the caves I had an instant flash back to the last time we camped here. I immediately made everyone stop and recreate a picture that I instantly remembered.
Here's the old picture from my photo album. If I remember right, there were 21 of us on this trip. 5 families and all their kids. I 100% envision this group of people looking just like this in another 10 years!!! You guys better get on that baby train here soon!!
Look familiar?? I couldn't resist! I look back on those camping trips with such fond memories. I can't wait to give Abby the same memories. We have so much fun with this group of people that its like looking back on my parents 20 years ago. I can just see them laughing late into the nights as us kids snickered in the tents pretending to be asleep. I remember all the 'coons outside our tents (don't worry! They're still there....we got 'cooned on our last night), I remember needing to pee in the middle of the night and waking up Nichole to go with me because it was dark. I remember all the traditions like hole-in-ones for breakfast, tubing down the river, and sitting in plastic chairs in the river one trip when it was over 100 degrees just like it was for us. I remember all of those things as clear as day...and I can't wait to share those same memories with all the folks in this picture!
Whose ready to start planning for 2014??!!!