happy campers.

I come from a long line of camping enthusiasts.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of weekends spent in the family’s AirStream, wasting the day away floating around on a barely-inflated inner tube covered in duct tape, with my only care being what we’d be having for lunch.

A lot has changed since then (except maybe the part about caring what’s for lunch) including my thoughts on this whole idea of “the great outdoors”.

I don’t know what I’d call it (lazy? old? too comfortable with indoor plumbing?) but I can’t seem to muster the same childhood enthusiasm I once had for bucking the crisp, clean, modern conveniences of home in exchange for, well, dirt. And since we live in the Pacific Northwest, oftentimes, mud.

Don’t get me wrong, I pull it together and rally with the best of ’em, but it’s just a bit more internal pep talk than spontaneous excitement that finally gets me going.

We just spent the weekend at a lovely spot with all the fresh air, chirping birds, green trees, and ….. dirt that you could ask for. And? It was a lot of fun.

Here’s a little re-cap in photos, since I know you were about to ask:

Once the campfire gets started, it’s really hard not to turn your frown upside down. I should probably go ahead and tell you that I am obsessed with campfires. It might border on pyromania, I can’t be sure. What I am sure of is that once that puppy gets started, I get all Carol Anne from Poltergeist on that thing. I just can’t look away.

In other news, why yes, we DO in fact kick it Eurovan style. For those of you who do not think this is too cool for school, we are going to have to agree to disagree. We worked hard to score this thing sight-unseen from eBay and we are not afraid to use it.

I’ll admit it. Camping is also a great time to relax and do all kinds of things you never do at home. Like beating your 60-year-old mom at dominoes and not rubbing it in one single bit. (Sorry, Mom. For telling everyone your age AND crushing you at dominoes. I take no satisfaction in this. AT ALL. None.)

Also, it’s great to be able to read a book for exactly three minutes before your 5-year-old asks if you’ll take her “just one more time” for a loop around the park on her bike.

Sure, I would have loved to make it through an entire chapter of the book I just started, but if this type of unbridled joy isn’t worth the interruption, I don’t know what is.

Camping is also the perfect setting to reenact scenes from The Blair Witch Project. Remember that movie from 1999? Whatever your opinion is of the film, you’ve got to admit it was really an impressive early display of social media.

It totally went viral. Unlike this blog post. Moving on.

Another great thing about camping? The FOOD.*

*Disclaimer: alright, fine. You already know that I think the best thing about MOST situations is the food. There’s no need to point out the obvious here, people.

Seriously, mac n’ cheese from a box with squeeze cheese will NEVER taste better than out in the great outdoors. This I can promise you.

My waistline wasn’t the only thing I fattened up this weekend. I fattened up my brain, too.

Manchester State Park used to be a harbor defense installation, then later a fuel supply depot and Navy fire-fighting station. The park contains a former torpedo warehouse built in 1901, a mining casement and a gun battery.*

I totally learned all of this on the tour and did not copy ANY of it from wikipedia.*

*Disclaimer: totally not true.

Olivia thought the bunkers were “neat” and wanted to reenact her own Blair Witch scenes:

Your local state parks are also a great place to find all kinds of fun signage to keep you entertained during any slow points in your weekend.

Just to be clear, I don’t think that these messages themselves are funny. I totally support noise ordinances, tsunami zones, and recycling, but the delivery? Come on. In the event of a tsunami, jazzercize your way to safety?

Also, what’s up, Popeye? It kind of feels like he’s sending a mixed message here. We buy our spinach in plastic bags. Thanks, Popeye, for causing my brain to explode from all of this confusion.

Last but certainly not least, I wanted to put your minds at ease and assure you that my pink polka-dot pajama pants were NOT left behind. They love camping and go great with my blue sleeping bag.

Speaking of sleeping bag, I will leave you with an interesting little tidbit: this bag is over 25 years old. It was John’s childhood sleeping bag and has plenty of camping stories to tell.

Hopefully none of those stories begin with, “This one time at camp I wet the bed.”

Anyway, besides its obvious vintage charm, I think it is so cool that “back in the day” these bags were made with such care that each one was personally stamped with the name of its creator:

Impressive, no? Does anyone know if they still do this?

In summary, I have “A day of detox” on my to-do list. For tomorrow.

Do you like camping? I’d love to hear from you!