My first child, a daughter, was very calm and quiet. However, when my son came along he was a rip snorter of a boy and had to have room to run so we turned to camping.
We decided to go up a little north of where we lived in Texas to a nice state park. When we arrived we thought it was a lovely camping park full of beautiful trees, on a lake with good fishing, and lots of places to hike and find adventure. As we were setting up camp my son wanted to go down and check out the lake so we let my daughter walk down towards the lake with him. It was not far from us, not far at all, especially when my daughter came back and reported to us that there were alligators sunning on the edge of the lake! The people that worked at the park told us if we left them alone they would leave us alone. I gave them my solemn word that we would indeed do that.
When we first started camping we did not really understand the correlation between our food and the local wildlife. Well, somewhere after supper when it began to get dark we realized that the critters were hungry so we put everything up in ice chests and in the van.
Sometime in the middle of the night we had a visitor clawing and knowing at the side of the tent near my daughter. We kept kicking at the tent and I even ran out with a flashlight doing a quiet sort of Indian shoo away chant. It did not seem to help. We fought this animal most of the night off and on and in the morning discovered that they had eventually made a small hole in our tent. We also discovered that we had left a bag of cookies in the corner under the blankets and that is what it was after. These critters are determined and do not give up. We learned it the hard way.
One other time my kids and I were going camping on our own but had decided to get a cabin at a state park a little farther away from where we lived. We left a day early and decided to spend one night in a state camping park on the way. We had a small dome tent that we pitched but our site was kind of on a hill and had a ton of roots popping out of the ground. We had our two little dogs with us also because there was no one to watch them for us and they were allowed in the cabin.
We did not want them barking at everything they saw so we brought them into the tent with us.
It was a typical humid Texas night, on a hill with roots in our backs, with two dogs that were a little antsy. I think we finally passed out from exhaustion and then sometime around four in the morning a dog started barking very loudly and crazily as if something was going on. A gunshot rang out, the dog stopped, and we all stayed perfectly still for a minute. I piped up and said, “Do you think someone shot a wild animal or the dog?” We were never sure and wanted to leave but it was so dark that we just laid there until the sun came up. I never saw two kids pack up a car as quickly as my kids!
When we made it to the cabin we were extremely happy to be there. Four walls, real mattresses, and an air conditioner and we were in heaven. We did not have any fire wood that first night but had found these really neat tin grills filled with charcoal and a grid on top that we thought we could cook up a few dogs or hamburgers on. We set it on the picnic table and lit it up. We started smelling wood burning and discovered we had managed to set the table on fire.
You may be thinking all our camping trips were horrible and you are probably right. But, no other vacations have brought us closer together than these camping trips and no other vacation has been reminisced as much and caused such hysterical laughter. We will have bonded together as a family in many ways and have shared lots of laughs, but as far as fun family trips go, our camping trips win, hands down.
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