Posts Tagged ‘camping’

August Schmaugust!

August 3, 2012

I’m not real thrilled that it is August. This is the month that school is supposed to start at LAKE Academy… our homeschool.  I am at the lake currently (Lake Tahoe) and I am slightly getting inspired to start thinking about getting ready to begin maybe planning some of our curriculum, being that we are studying a few national parks this year that are also in California with huge redwood trees like the ones I am staring at out the window.  I am the most unready of all 11 of my previous Augusts.  And I am almost okay with that.  Almost.

Guilt tried to consume me last night in the 27 seconds between my head hitting the pillow and when I was actually asleep.  But it was only 27 seconds of guilt and I had the presence of mind to ask God to rid my brain of said guilt.  He did… with sleep.  Today, in the wake of realizing that it is August THIRD, I did break out the coil-bound notebook that does have 2 1/3 pages of notes.  Those two-and-one-third pages are ALL I have planned so far for 10 months of study with my three pupils…. and it’s in outline form, so I do have a bit of work to do.  Only 137 1/3 blank pages awaiting my attention. One thing I have learned in my 11 years of homeschool planning, is that IF I plan all ten months before we start, we will NOT finish what I have purposefully painstakingly planned.  If I plan a few months or units at a time, I am FAR more inspired to be creative in small chunks throughout the year, knowing that we WILL finish what is planned.

Our upcoming school-year will consist of the study of seven national parks on the western side of the United States.  We plan to do between four and six weeks of study at home and then CAMP for a week at each of the parks.  THAT is my kind of homeschooling.  We are schooling with another family who is also close to normal, so it will all be just fine. Yes, it will be two wild-n-crazy homeschool moms camping with eight children ranging in age from 7 to 17.  Awesome!  She is a science geek and I am a history nerd, so most subjects will be covered with some art thrown in for good measure.  Geology.  Astronomy.  History.  Conservation.  Botany.  Dendrochronology.  Eco systems. Nature Journaling.  Art.  Oh yeah.  This is the type of homeschooling that I have only dreamed of for 11 years.  Please stay tuned to see if it’s all I think it’s cracked up to be.

In My Absence

November 8, 2011

The lack of blogging is due to a disturbance in the force.  We went camping and didn’t take the computer…. go figure!  Four families made some plans, reserved some camp spots, packed everything including the kitchen sink (but all forgot ketchup!) and headed out to the lake for four days of wilderness survival.  It was hardly wildernessy or survivally, except for the hurricane that hit with 65 mile-an-hour winds on Friday night.  The boy’s tent blew down flat… broken poles and all.  Two of them moved into the boat (with a canvas cover) and two moved into the van.  Let me just add that the wise man builds his house in the van.  By 12:30 a.m. the boat boys were soaked and texted a plea to the RV, “Please help. Wet.”

Our tent was not handling the gales well either.  A nylon strap snapped and rain was coming in on my head….. I was more worried about getting electrocuted from my electric blanket than worried about being wet.  Don’t judge me.  We also were graciously invited into the 5th wheel in the blowing blazes of the storm.

If the storm wasn’t enough, Keeve’s retainer went missing AGAIN.  This is the second camping trip where the retainer was MIA.  Thankfully it was also the second camping trip where the retainer materialized before his father could wring his neck.

AND…. our friend’s golden retriever was profusely sprayed by our neighborhood skunk.  I’ve smelled city kitties before, but not so strong where it burns your throat.  Wow…. brought tears to my eyes as well.

If all those events didn’t add enough excitement…. our car battery died…. deader than a doornail.  So we used the van as a storage unit until my knight in shining work truck went a bought a new battery.  Wow!

Yes, the water level is extremely low in Lake Pleasant at the moment, but it is filling as we speak.  Many a nap transpired by the lake and we ALL enjoyed the lazy time of not being in the hustle and bustle of home life.

Despite the disturbances in the force, a relaxing time was had by all…. most of the time.

Camping Chronicles

June 1, 2011

Yes, we camped for three days in the dirt.  It was dirty.  But there was a gorgeous creek.  It was freezing… well, not actually freezing with ice chunks and all, but REALLY cold.  There was sunshine the whole time… except for the clouds, which we welcomed with glad hearts… a break from the heat of the day.  This may sound a bit like whining, but we actually had a great time laughing and laughing and laughing. 

Three camp chairs, of antiquated status, were put to rest as the bearer of weight went crashing to the dusty ground.  It was comical all three times… and I was even one of them.  Currently, I’m sitting on the front of my chair for the time being.  A bit of a bruised backside.

A highlight, or lowlight as the case may be, was my son losing his retainer.  He plucked the clear plastic guard from his upper jaw right in front of my eyeballs… he was standing in between the fire pit and the picnic table.  He had a banana in the other hand.  The scene was burned into my brain. But what he did next with the clear plastic retainer remained a mystery.  He didn’t let me know that it was missing until nighttime.  Yes, we lit lanterns and donned flashlights searching for the plastic gem… to no avail.  I dreaded the phone call to let his ortho-paying father in on the news.

The next day, he and I carefully dug through the entire trash bag… removing each and every piece to a new trash bag. It was disgusting.  Really.  Half way through the bag, he told me, “If it is in here, I’m not sure I’m going to want to put it back in my mouth… ever.” We also tore apart the boy’s tent… piece by smelly piece. Nada.

An hour later, I was envisioning his teeth moving back to their previous locations… and knew we would need to get a new retainer Thursday morning right after we arrived home.  I didn’t have the ortho phone number in my cell, so I put on my brave face and called my husband.  He was not impressed with my tale of woe.   As it happened, he was in a different state, waiting for his passengers to fly home… and the ortho number was not in his phone either.  As we made small talk I was slowly wandering around one end of the campground AND I FOUND IT!  Yes, that clear plastic gem was lying in the weeds next to the clothesline.  I screamed and yelled in my joy.  Rick didn’t understand a word I said on the phone.  Eventually we all rejoiced.  The retainer was “washed” (term used completely loosely) and installed back in its rightful place…. however a bit more snug than usual after the 12 hour absence.

See, camping went jes fine.

“There is no Camping in Colombia!”

May 27, 2011

Words from my daughter’s mouth upon learning what camping is all about.  Yes, we are breaking her into the American way of life slow and easy…. camping for only three days… only two hours from home. 

The boys set up the tents in the backyard to make sure all the poles and flies were accounted for.  Nora was very impressed with the tents… until she started asking questions about them.  “Where is la house you set them up?”  Well, we set them up outside.  Eyes huge…”On la grass?”  Yes.  “What about monstruos?” (monsters)  I explain that there is no such thing as a monster. “Austin ask me there is monstruos.” (She uses “ask” for tell, say, ask, speak.)  I glare at Austin for terrifying his little sister.  I might have to scare the living daylights out of him on this trip.

Nora was not too sure about this whole adventure, so she followed me to the garage when I went to gather camping gear.  I pulled out the cooking apparatus and she was glad we would eat like civilized people on dishes with utensils.  When she saw the sleeping bags she asked, “Where is la bed for la bag?” Well, the bag IS your bed. “WHAT? You lay on la ground?” Yes, (well, mommy has an air mattress, but YOU lie on the ground.)

Then I pulled out the bag of muddy, sandy and dirty water shoes.  Our entire family, minus Nora, have a similar shoe size within 2 sizes, so our water shoes are first come-first serve.  I mentioned that we need to buy some water shoes for Nora.  Of course this brought on more questions.  “Why no wear my pink shoes?” (flip flops) Because they fall off and float down the river.  “Why shoes water not float down river?” They stay on your feet and protect your feet.  “From fish that bite, yes?”  No.  There are no fish that bite (at least I don’t think there are….) 

We got in the car to go out and Nora was ALL over getting water shoes…. “Now we go Walmart for Nora’s shoes water?”  No, we will get them tomorrow.  “Tomorrow is far away?”  No.  One more sleep.  “I want go to bed ocho not seven.”  (This is an ongoing statement as she thinks she should get to stay up until eight.)  Sigh.

We leave on Monday for Beaver Creek Campground…. I’m sure I’ll have some tales to tell come Wednesday night!  Hopefully they won’t include me not sleeping a wink because the little girl in my tent is eternally waiting up for monstruos!  AUSTIN!

Physio-Fly-Swatter-Therapy

April 17, 2011

Last May we were camping at Lake Pleasant and it truly was pleasant… except for one thing.  BIRDS.  I’m talking about the big, ugly crows that are horrendously noisy.  So noisy at 4:45 in the morning, that their screeching pulled me from my slumber and my from my tent.  I am not a morning person.  Anger comes swiftly and vehemently when I’m annoyed at 4:45 a.m.  Searching for the biggest rock I could find (which isn’t saying much at Lake Pleasant) I took aim and hurled said rock at the pair of crows in the nearby tree.  Thanks to my days in softball, my aim is quite accurate and the birds left the area after the first throw.  The morning was quiet again.

Sadly, I was so mad that I threw the rock with all my might without warming up first.  Yes, you guessed it, I pulled or pushed or injured or tore some muscle or tendon in my right shoulder.  Although satisfied that the offending squawkers were gone, my arm hung limply at my side and I crawled back in my sleeping bag and tried not to cry. 

No, I didn’t go to the doctor.  That would have required a “I threw a rock at some birds” story that I was not proud enough to tell.  Each time I got a massage at the chiropractor’s office, I would ask the gal to go easy on my shoulder.  This was ongoing for eleven long months.  Pain in my shoulder stopped me from lying on my right side…. every single eye-opening night… for eleven months.

THEN…. a fly was in my kitchen.  I hate flies, almost as much as squawking birds, but not quite.  I got the bright yellow fly swatter and stealthily followed the fly’s movements around the kitchen.  Death was immanent.  Finally, it landed on the wall above the kitchen sink.  The fly’s time had come.  I jumped and swung the swatter with gusto and killed the fly!  Hooorrayyyy!  However, something popped in my right shoulder and once again, my arm hung limply at my side.  It was a bit different this time as the pain and limpness was accompanied by tingling that traveled to my fingertips.  Wow! 

Funny thing happened.  My shoulder stopped hurting after that.  Physio-Fly-Swatter-Therapy.  It works, people.

Home Again Home Again (too tired to jiggety-jig)

July 24, 2010

Yes, I’m home.  Home and tired.  Tired and glad to be home.  Why did I think that I could do 3 weeks on the west coast, 2 days at home, 4 days camping, one day at home, 10 days at a cabin in the woods, then two days of homeschool convention….. in a row???  I’m so tired even I’M eating cereal for dinner.  Usually that’s reserved for those who can’t cook.

My calendar is basically empty until school starts the end of August… with a few exceptions…. luncheons with several friends whom I’ve neglected in the past months…. two homeschool planning meetings…. and a five-day visit from a college friend with her family.  That is pretty empty for me.  With all those empty boxes on the calendar… (you knew I couldn’t sit still!).. I’ve decided the walls in the kitchen, family room, downstairs hall, upstairs hall and loft need a fresh coat of paint.  Really.  They are quite disgusting.  They were white five years ago.  Mr. Clean Magic Eraser has worn through to the gray layer of sheet rock.  It’s time.  And I have all these willing slaves helpers lying around.  Perfect!

Since I’m planning on painting… why not redecorate too???  I’m not buying new furniture, although I would love to, let’s move all this heavy furniture around and around a few times.  Just for fun!  I do want to add some color to the family/kitchen area.  And I’ve never done cute valances in the family room.  I’m thinking paint, fabric, pillow forms….maybe some framed Greek ocean photos… and I’ll have a new oasis for under $150. 

I already have “before” pictures taken.  So I’ll keep you up on the transformation of the Crosby’s drab living situation. 

On your marks.  Get set.  GO!

Faithful Readers

July 12, 2010

I am in awe of your faithfulness to come to My Sister’s Jar day after day after day.  Really.  I am.  You amaze me.  I’m hoping it’s because I amuse you.  Haha.   I have been MIA for several days for good reason.  We got back late last night from a four-day camping trip up to cool high country here in the great boiling hot state of Arizona.  Up on the Mogollon Rim in northeastern AZ it rains every afternoon in July and I found it splendid.  Really.  I did.  So did my boys.

Today we set up tents in the backyard in stifling hot Phoenix and hosed off all the mud.  The tents were dry in less than 10 minutes.  It seriously is a dry heat today.  110 last time I checked.  Toasty, but perfect for drying wet camping gear.  I’m also engaged in laundry.  There was no white pile today.  It was renamed “Used to be White” pile.  Camping does that to socks and shirts. 

My to-do list today included, but was not limited to:  Post Office, Chiropractor & Massage, Library, Grocery Store, Tire Shop and Bank.  Buuuuuuuuuut, one of my darling offspring found my keys and unhooked the house key/mail key half of the collection in order to retrieve the mail.  The more important half of the keys is still MIA.  The half that is missing includes the van key.  So, I did borrow my sister-in-law’s van to get to the chiropractor, but it is my locked van with no key that needs tires. Also I did not stop at the library because the cd that is overdue is in the locked van sitting in the driveway.  A tad frustrating.

Last month when we were somewhere between San Bernadino, California and Lake Tahoe, Rick’s keys went missing.  They have not re-appeared.  He’s been getting keys cut for two weeks, but still has not accomplished getting his house key cut.  Rick had to get new keys to the airplane, hangar, his office, etc.  It was a bummer, too, because our friends in Mississippi got him an Elvis key for his house key.  So cool.  So, between the two of us, we do have all the keys needed for living, but I’m going to really miss the remote door opener on my missing half of the key ring if it stays hidden.  Please, oh please, God, show me where they are!!!!

The last time we were irresponsible and lost keys was in 1989.  Rick’s keys AND his Trinity Western University hockey jacket both went missing, never to be found.  Then in 1991, Rick and I watched in slow motion as his keys slowly slid off the dashboard of our ski boat just out of our reach on the Peace River in Northern Alberta.  But that was not so much losing them as it was not wanting to dive and find them.  We knew where they were.  So we’ve been pretty responsible for over 20 years.  I’m not sure what happened this summer?!?

I’m impatiently waiting for my dear, hard-working husband to get home from work to unlock the van…. so I can get a few more boxes checked off my to-do list.   We leave tomorrow for ten days in a cabin up north in AZ… where it is between 80 and 85 all day! (Yes, we will have been gone five of the first seven weeks of summer…. believe me when I say that is GOOD!)  I’m not sure if I will have internet service or not.  Please stay tuned.  Thank you.  That’s all.

Extreme Camp Host… Chuck

May 25, 2010

Yesterday I blogged about the glorious side of our camping experience in Northern Arizona…. well, I purposely left out the Chuck information because I knew his story would require an entire blog entry.  I’m kicking myself that we did not think to gather photo evidence of Chuck’s shenanigans for this unbiased report.

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How many campers can you count??

Chuck’s Info: Married; in the vicinity of 70 years old; Army-shaved-regulation hair cut; blue eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses; no smile; stern; fit; slight build; wears various National Camping Association issued tan shirts, shorts and hats which he changes intermittently throughout the day; Camp Host at Wet Beaver Creek; lives in a motor home; watches Who Wants to Be a Millionaire every day; drives a white golf cart counter-clockwise around the campground with various cleaning supplies standing neatly in the back; keeps an impeccably clean campground; is DILIGENT at enforcing the rules of the National Camping Association….. Extremely Diligent!

We were not in the 13-site campground more than three minutes when we encountered Chuck and already had one infraction against us.  We talked to another camper.  That is not acceptable, as we found out.  (???)  We did arrive under unusual circumstances…. one wife, one husband, both married to other people who would be arriving later, two boys and a 35-year-old male friend….. with a truck and trailer full of enough camping paraphernalia to survive at least 27 days without human contact.  We were in the midst of choosing two campsites when Chuck descended on us… seems we inadvertently drove past his site without stopping to introduce ourselves.  We mentioned, mistakenly, that the kind camper lady across the road had informed us that she was leaving by 4:00 and we could have her adjacent campsite.  Heaven forbid!  That was a BIG no-no.  No talking to other campers!  Might cause a revolt????

We were then told that we could not occupy two sites without two vehicles…. what? Then the story changed…. was he trying to intimidate us??? Chuck informed us that we needed to indeed have all of our camping gear for both sites in our possession in order to claim and pay for two sites.  We explained that we did… minus the second vehicle.  (See the HUGE trailer FULL of camping gear?)  We were then read rule number 353.7 from the Nat’l Camping Association handbook page 27 that there were only to be eight people maximum at each campsite and there were no exceptions.  We kindly explained that we would have five unique individuals at campsite #11 and seven unique individuals at campsite #10.  He assumed we were trying to pull one over on him.  We look so devious!  Good grief!  How did he treat hippy looking, pot-smoking, tattooed, keg toting, loud music blaring reprobates?

Throughout our three days under Chuck’s care, we observed that we could set our clocks by his daily habits… 5 am bathroom hose-down…7 am routine walking tour inspection…9 am routine riding in the golf cart inspection and refilling of toilet paper… (all of this leading up to the all important….) 1 pm MANDATORY check-out time for overnighters.  This was quickly followed by a walking inspection of each vacated site and the necessary raking and emptying of ash from the fire pit.  It was all so predictable, yet comical.  He routinely stopped and counted people in each site, reported high winds and no-fire warnings, and was fastidiously aware of every move made in Wet Beaver Creek… especially if non-paying day users accidentally wandered through the campground to access the creek.  Oh boy!  That was a no-no. (page 35 in the NCA handbook)

Each of us adults made it a point to make contact with Chuck for the purpose of gathering information for this report.  We conspired to have him divulge nazi involvement or at least a military career.  Nope, seems he owned gas stations, has a pace maker, wife had a heart attack two years ago but is OK now, lives in Mesa, has been camp hosting for seven years all over the nation, was retired for ten years before camp hosting and is at Wet Beaver Creek for three more months. If you go, you can’t miss him…. or more like it, he won’t miss seeing you!

We decided that wherever Chuck is hosting we will stay.  It will be a clean and orderly campground, albeit the feeling of Big Brother did permeate the camp.

Wilderness Survival

May 24, 2010

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All photos courtesy of Barny Mo.

Yes, we camped in the great outdoors again.  That’s twice in 30 days and we have another adventure on the calendar for July. It’s almost time to start filming a reality wilderness show. Two days before our departure time my throat started getting hot and scratchy.  Not good.  Echinacea became my new best friend.  I figured I could be sick at home with no one to take care of me or sick in the woods with my family and friends.  Last time we camped at Lake Pleasant I was by myself with the kids for three full days before Rick showed up.  I would not have done that with a hot and scratchy throat.  But alas, Rickey was coming on the SAME day as me, albeit, nine hours later than the boys and I.

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It’s the first time EVER that I went to bed in my tent wearing my wool socks and flannel jammies before the mandatory campground quiet time commenced.  Sadly for my non-camping times, but happily for camping moments, my air mattress is more comfortable than my bed at home.  Earplugs were inserted and a blissful night was had in the fresh creek-side air.  Mornings come early outside and breakfast was consumed by 7:00 am.  By 7:30 am I was headed back to the tent for nap #1.  Nap #2 was after lunch.  Despite my throat, continual sneezing and nose blowing, we did have a relaxing time.

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Wet Beaver Creek was recently stocked with 9-12 inch rainbow trout… that were delicious!  The boys fished and fished… caught trout and crawdads… rode their bikes… hiked….. gathered fire wood…. swam…laughed and laughed…. and ate.  Then they did it all over again for two more days after that!

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Austin invented an ingenious way to keep the soles of his water shoes from bunching up at his toes.  Duct tape is the BEST!

One of my favorite moments of the trip was when all the kids climbed into the back of a truck for a quick trip up the creek for a better swimming hole.

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But Keeve was asked if he wanted to ride in the trailer behind the truck all by himself….. not knowing that the trailer had been unhooked from the truck.  The look on his face was priceless when the truck pulled away and there he sat with all of us cracking up.  He took it like a sport and laughed with us.  Good times.

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More tomorrow with my report for the National Camping Association on Chuck, the Nazi camp host.

Damping… Camping in the Rain

April 25, 2010

 

I made that up myself.  The creativity must stem from four straight days of fresh air stimulation.  A friend called on Tuesday and asked if we wanted to go camping for the rest of the week at a lake that is only 22 miles from our house.   “YES!”  And thus brings you up to date on our week right until last night when we dumped loads and loads of campfire-smelling articles into piles in our garage.  They are still there.

Funny thing was, I checked the weather report for the week on Wednesday morning AFTER I had shopped and packed and hauled and directed.  It reported “Major thunderstorm warning!  Avoid outdoor activity!  Stay indoors!  Unplug electrical appliances!”  Does anyone really do that?

So off we went to the lake.  All seems pretty normal, well, for homeschoolers who spontaneously school at unpredictable locations.  Why not the lake?  I read somewhere that camping is nature’s way of promoting the hotel industry.  HA!  That’s true for my mother, my sister, my sister-in-law and many others, but not for me.  Camping promotes wonder and awe at God’s creation…… wonder in the dark inside a flimsy nylon tent that is your only protection from those strange noises…. and awe that Lewis and Clark did this for a living (minus the nylon tent)!  I truly feel at home in front of the Coleman stove with recently caught and be-headed fish in the cast iron frying pan.  My kids have never caught fish while camping.  So I didn’t leave openings in the meal plan for freshly drawn bass.  After my sons snagged seven scaly specimens the first day, I casually mentioned to my friend that I had never cleaned fish or lit a Coleman propane stove before.  Proudly, I can check those off my bucket list now.

The thunderstorms didn’t materialize… however it did rain three times for 27 seconds each time.  We had a daily wind gust that blew anything and everything not tied down toward the lake.  The clouds made me wish, more than once, that I had a folded copy of the Cloud Formations poster that my husband memorized in flight school.  Cumulonimbus…. uh….. stratus….. cirrus…..

Wildflowers bring joy to my heart.  God made them especially for nature lovers like me.  Pink, yellow, purple, orange… LOVE IT!

This was my first vacation ever where I actually read through every book and magazine I brought and still had a day and a half left over.  I didn’t stress about it…. I just stared at the lake.  The kids stayed busy kayaking, swimming, fishing, riding their bikes, gathering wood, building fires, playing games and laughing.  I never once heard, “Mom, there’s nothing to do!”  What an awesome week!