Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Annual Cousin's Camping 2014

This past weekend we went camping.  Yep, remember when it SNOWED on Saturday....that happened!  Let's back up a little bit.  Remember when we went on the best RV trip ever a few years back with some of Ryan's cousins.  Well, little did we know, we'd started an annual trip right then and there.  We didn't end up planning a trip in 2012 because, well, who knows why, but I'd guess a baby, a move and life had something to do with it...but in 2013 the cousins were back at it again.  Our 2013 trip was on one of the hottest weekends of the year so it only made sense that our 2014 trip would end up being on the first cold weekend of the season.

It was cold, but I'm super proud of our group of sticking it out and deciding that we were going to have fun rain or shine.  Abby however, was NOT convinced!

Here's the thing.  I have GREAT memories from being a kid and doing big group camping trips like this.  I think there is something to be said for getting used to being away from the TV and spending some time outdoors enjoying what's all around us.  I want Abby to grow up knowing the smell of campfire in her hair and the feeling of not wanting to crawl out of a warm sleeping bag in the morning.  I want her to appreciate that we don't need screens and toys to have fun....playing outside, building fake fires with sticks and just having the freedom of the outdoors is just as fun, if not more!

Back to the trip.  This year we ventured to the Elroy Sparta trail in western Wisconsin.  It's a 30 mile bike trail that runs along an old train track bed and includes 3 tunnels!  We stayed at the Tunnel Trail Campground which is usually exactly the type of campground that I try to steer away from (I've found that the state parks are usually the best) but it was a really beautiful place and we loved that it was right on the bike path.

Everyone arrived early Friday evening and we set up camp.  Friday night was cool but the weather held out and we stayed up late enjoying the fire and just catching up life with each other.  Saturday morning though, that was the hardest part.  Sometime during the night the rain rolled in and switched to snow.  Yes, snow.  Not a lot, but enough to put a light dusting on the cars.  Jamie/Zach and Ryan and I have campers so we were pretty snuggled in, but Brenna/Chris and Sarah/Dan were tenting it with space heaters and warm sleeping bags.  Greg/Meg bunked in our camper and I am pretty sure they didn't regret that choice one bit!

I think Dan had it the worst because he somehow didn't have a sleeping pad under him and spent the night shivering wondering just why exactly  he wasn't at home in his comfortable bed with the heat on.  He was a good sport!

Saturday morning we were all pretty slow to crawl out of bed.  Something about hearing the pitter patter of rain drops on the tents just didn't equal motivation to get up and start cooking breakfast!  Eventually though we got up and got going.  The promise of delicious egg sandwiches with fancy bacon does wonders on a cold morning.  The guys started a fire and we all huddled around keeping warm and chatting while the babies took a quick nap.  By the time the girls woke up the temperatures were raising and the sun was even peaking out every now and again.

We decided that the whole reason we came to this specific campsite was to try out the bike path so we pulled all the bikes off the cars, did a few quick repairs, pumped up a few flat tires and loaded the babies into the Burley for a bike ride.  I'd camped here as a kid and remembered the tunnels being cool and kind of scary.  I thought I remembered they were pretty dark but I didn't want to get everyone all hyped up about them and find out they were a few feet long and really not that cool.  Luckily a fellow camper came over when he saw us working on the bikes and gave us a few pointers on which way to go and confirmed that the tunnels were in fact pretty dark.  So we grabbed all the head lamps we could find and set off on an adventure.  Lucky we did!!  The tunnel we went through was over a 1/4 mile long and DARK.  Of course, somehow we missed the sign that said "WALK BIKES IN TUNNELS" so we peddled through all silently wondering if everyone else was as scared as we were.

We rode for about 15 miles with a stop off at one of the local bars.  We treated ourselves to a warm place, fried everything (curds, onions, sweet potatoes, pickles) and a few beers figuring we'd earned it after freezing our butts off outside for nearly 24 hours.  One thing I love about Wisconsin is that the local bars will NEVER disappoint.  This one for instance came stocked with its very own husband and wife team that managed and owned it.  Tessa and Chet are set to get married in just two short weeks from now with their SIX kids by their side.  We heard all about the other three business they ran including a landscaping company and a wood cutting business.  HA!!  At any rate, they had good beer and decent food and we were entertained by their stories.

After the bike ride we headed back for dinner and another cool night.  Thankfully there was no more rain after the early morning drizzle and we had an easy dinner planned (Italian beef and potatoes).  We stayed up late (and by we I mean everyone else....I went to bed early!) and drank too many beers.

Sunday morning we didn't have much planned so we cooked up breakfast, cleaned up, packed up and headed out.  By this point in our cold muddy trip Abby was pretty much over camping.  When she woke up Sunday morning she said "Mommy, I want go baK home"  Emphasis on the "K".  After hearing me say we have to eat breakfast first she revised her tag line to "Mommy, Abby eat breakfast and go baK home...ok?"  I know she loves being outside and having all the fun adults to entertain her (especially her best friend in all the world "Greggy") I think the cold, mud, and lack of any real place for her to sit down and play had gotten the best of her and she was ready to call the trip over.

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