We arrived on Thursday evening in the rain. My parents and my sister and her husband and kids were already there with their tents set up in the parking lot because of the wind and rain. JP and Pete set up our tent, which got drenched in the process, and the rain continued to come down harder and harder. Finally we decided to get in the cars and drive to Brainerd for dinner, since we couldn't really unload our food and cook in those conditions.
By the time our food arrived, we were in the middle of a full-blown thunderstorm with lightning, tornado watches and all. JP made the executive decision that we would spend our first night camping at the AmericInn Hotel. It was a good thing he did, too, because when we got back to the campsite to pick up the terrified dogs (they were in the tent the whole time), part of our tent had given out under the wind. So instead of braving those conditions like the rest of my family did, we slept in a two-room suite with cable and a sleep number bed. :)
Friday was still a little drizzly and cool through the afternoon, but we were still able to enjoy time outside. And thank you Jesus, Saturday and Sunday were BEAUTIFUL and warm and sunny!
On Saturday, JP, Rae and I hopped in the car and went searching for the house that JP's grandparents used to live in on Round Lake in Brainerd. JP and his family used to go visit there all the time until they moved when he was about 12 years old. We did end up finding it, which was very special to JP. We also drove into the small, quaint town of Nisswa where they used to visit when he was a kid. We looked through some of the old shops and got ice cream at the candy store -- it was a lot of fun.
I mentioned the mosquitoes: our site was very nice, large and spread out, but it was right between the Mississippi River and a swamp. So the bugs were horrendous. Thankfully, both dad & JP brought their bug foggers! My poor nephew Elijah had bug bites ALL over his face, legs, back and even on his bottom! Somehow Israel made it out with only one bug bite the whole time -- I have NO idea how.
The other funny part about our campsite was that it was right across the river from Fort Ripley. From 8 am to sundown we could hear gun fire and tank blasts of all sorts. We found shells to some sort of small missile on the river bank and heard tanks or trucks of some sort so close we thought they'd plow through the trees and onto our campsite.
In all, the trip was a lot of fun. The kids had SO much fun playing with each other and being outside 24/7. Israel did GREAT sleeping in the tent, too. The only complaint I could offer about the trip was that it was hard to get out and "do" anything. With 5 kids under the age of 3, it was nearly impossible to find a time when all of them were awake, fed, and happy enough to go for a hike or anything. Then by the end of the day, we parents were all so tired that instead of staying up late by the campfire (my favorite part about camping), we all went to bed early knowing we'd be up with the kids again first thing in the morning. Camping with kids is very different from what camping used to be -- in both wonderful and somewhat disappointing ways.
Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the weekend: