This weekend we took Israel on her first camping trip...and it was a doozy. My whole family packed up and headed south to Great River Bluffs State Park near LaCrosse. Twelve adults, four kids under the age of two, and a dog.
The first surprise of the trip occurred when we pulled up to the site and realized it was a walk-in site. A very long, muddy walk. We opted to drive our car down the "hikers only" trail to unload our stuff at the site, but the rangers weren't too happy with us for that. On the way out we had to carry/drag/wheel all of our stuff out. The rangers informed us that the park was designed to give campers a "rustic experience." I wasn't planning on bringing my 4 month old baby on a "rustic" adventure, but I guess that's what she got! I wish I was still in diapers so I wouldn't have had to use those outhouses...*shudder*....
The "group" campsite was too small to fit us all, so my younger brothers and their girlfriends ended up having to pitch their tents at the next site down, which really subtracted a lot from the experience. Also stealing our joy were the myriads of mosquitos swarming the densely wooded site.
Thursday night was fine and Israel did great sleeping through the night in a tent...then on Friday, the rain came. Everybody was running around, frantically trying to assemble a shelter from the downpour. The guys ended up rigging a 30x50 foot tarp over half of the campsite so we'd have a place to hang out.
On Saturday afternoon the rain cleared for a bit and we made it out for a hike. The views looking over the Mighty Mississippi were really amazing. Israel really liked the ride in the Snugli...and I guess the hiking motion was enough to lull her to sleep.
The rain persisted Saturday night (thunderstorms by then) and continued into parts of Sunday. Thankfully our shelter held up the whole time. We really did have a great time just being with family, talking around the fire, and watching the kids discover bugs and leaves and trees.
Camping with family is my all-time favorite thing to do, and even if this wasn't the most enjoyable of the trips we've taken, it will definitely go down in the books as on of the more memorable ones.
Here are a few more pictures:
JP and Israel in their matching bandanas
Off for a hike
Keeping warm by the fire with grandma
My mom has more cute pictures that I will probably post once she sends them to me.