Typically, our first camping trip each year is on April vacation but we had decided to go away for February vacation this year and then did a staycation in April. Our next camping weekend is typically Memorial Day weekend but this year my company took us to Mexico to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Our next trip is typically 4th of July...which was our first camping trip this year. It has been 9 months since we camped - hard to believe. Needless to say, I was excited to get back into preppy camper action.
I forgot how much work it is to initially get ready for the first time. Everything needs to go back in for the season - dishes, silverware, beach towels, shampoos, conditioners, blankets, pillows, clothes, lanterns, and food galore. Oh the food! I spend days thinking through a menu, then go grocery shopping the weekend before, and then make whatever I can ahead of time. It just makes it easier. We typically spend all day at the beach and by the time we get home and showered, the last thing we feel like doing is making a gourmet meal, but we do love to eat well.
And eat we do! I made "good morning" muffins - a recipe from the Pioneer Woman, fruit salad, tacos, I marinated chicken, made sweet corn salsa, black bean burgers, and strawberry shortcake. Let's just say we didn't go hungry.
We started our adventure on Wednesday. By the time we got set up, we were 30 minutes away from the office closing to get our annual beach pass so we drove there as fast as we could. Then we took our first ride out into the dunes. The green of the grass against the turquoise blue sky with the sandy dunes is just spectacular. Ahhh....it makes me feel home each time I see it. To be honest, just crossing the bridge and smelling the salt air makes me feel at home..but I truly feel the most comfortable on the Outer Cape. If you have never been, you need to go. Call me and we'll arrange a trip. Once on the beach, we hung out for about an hour - playing wiffle ball and searching for beach treasures. Then it was back to our camper for dinner - grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and salad.
Sounds idyllic, doesn't it. Insert sound of screeching tires here. I should just mention that on the way down I asked Jack why he had an attitude. First, welcome to the teenage years. Sigh. But beyond that, it was obvious he was not as interested in camping. And that's just what he told me. He told me that he didn't want to ruin things for me because he knew I was looking forward to the weekend but that he had "outgrown" camping and wasn't what he wanted to be doing. I get it...he's about to turn 15 and it doesn't hold the same appeal anymore. We had an honest conversation about it, with the end result being that we understood how he felt but we were going to continue to camp and if he wanted to bring a friend along for one of our trips to make it more fun he could do that. Insert my crushed heart here. I knew this was going to happen some day...and no matter when it came, I knew I would never be ready. And I was right. I'm not ready to stop camping, at least not yet. I also know that he does have fun in the end.
On Thursday Tim and I woke up early and went for a walk. We checked out the view from Highland Light (amazing) and then walked halfway to Coast Guard Beach in Truro. We then hustled back to get ready to meet Tim's cousin Kelley and her adorable family at the Wellfleet 4th of July parade. It was crazy hot, but always a fun time. After that we went back and had lunch and then packed up for the beach. I had been spearheading an effort of getting a bunch of family together since many people either live, were vacationing, or visiting the area. We used Thursday to scope out a good place to set up with about 30 people the next day. We found a great spot and spent the day there. We played wiffle ball, corn hole, paddle ball, swam, read, soaked in the sun, and rested in the shade. All in all, it was a very relaxing day. I asked Jack that night, wasn't that fun? Yeah....I guess. Huh? How could all this be bad, I wondered?
Then it was back to the camper for some rest - most of us read...and some of us, who are teenagers, had their noses in their phones....they almost got taken away. I'll be honest, the constant connection with Facebook, Instagram, and texting is just out of hand in general with kids. I know it is different than when I was growing up but I had to draw a few boundaries with the electronics.
We had our taco dinner and strawberry shortcake and then played BS and Crazy Eights. As usual, Jack was the first to turn in, then me, and then the card sharks eventually turn in after staying up late trying to beat each other in whatever card game they are playing.
Friday morning arrived and I started the day with a walk to the beach. It took 20 minutes each way but was totally worth it. The sun was coming up and there were tons of seals swimming along the beach. They made my day...those darn seals are so cute. When I got back we all started packing for the big get together. We were all really looking forward to it. Hanging with cousins, aunts & uncles, grandparents, and friends...what could be better? Some people got dune permits and drove out in their Jeeps and then those people shuttled everyone else out. Let me just say that 18 adults and 15 kids bring a lot of stuff to the beach! Corn hole, volleyball, wiffle ball, beach chairs, a beach potty (essential and also my contribution), towels, diapers, coolers, grills, and enough food to fill a small grocery store. I'm pretty sure we could have survived a week on the beach with all that we had.
The best part of the day was just seeing all the cousins playing together. From toddlers to teenagers, everyone played together and had a blast. And I got my baby/little kid fix with all the little ones. From little Amelia who just wanted Mimi and I to hold her in the water and play, to my skipping stone buddy Lucy, to listening to Ryan's knock knock jokes, it couldn't have been any cuter. And the adult cousins and family had a chance to catch up, which was great. With everyone being so busy with their families its often hard to find time to connect. For me, the night ended too quickly. There were so many more things to talk about, so many more memories to make.
At the end of the night Tim's parents came back to the camper with us to spend the night. We shared the rest of the strawberry shortcake and then hung outside reliving memories of when they used to camp. It was such a great night...and Jack even said he had a great time.
The good news is that the weather throughout the weekend was fantastic. The downside was that it was so hot that everyone needed a break from the sun. So, on Saturday, everyone got to sleep in and we took our time getting out the door. Jack's choice was to play mini golf at Arnold's in Eastham. Afterwards we went back to the camper for a late lunch of appetizers and just hung out a bit. Then we headed off to the beach around 3 just for a little bit to say our temporary good byes to the National Seashore since it will be awhile before we will get back down there. When we got back, the boys had burgers and the girls had black bean burgers with leftover sweet corn salsa. You must try this recipe: http://www.simplyscratch.com/2013/06/grilled-sweet-corn-salsa.html! Dessert was bomb pops and the game of choice was Crazy Eights once again.
Sunday dawned - another sunny day - but it was time to pack up. We let the kids sleep while we started packing up. Then we took off to the Wellfleet book sale - apparently the ENTIRE town comes out for this - we got a bunch of great books tho. When we got back we finished packing up and then began our trek home. And what a long trek it was....it's been a long time since it took us 4 hours to get home from the Cape.
Reflecting on the weekend, I was so happy to be camping again. And even though Jack's interest in camping is waning, I know he had a good weekend and we always enjoy our camping time with the kids. Someday I really do think he will look fondly back on these times and maybe he'll even want to share the same kind of adventures with his family. Insert crossed fingers here.
I told the kids that when they go to college, Tim and I will spend the nice weekends in the fall enjoying the dunes of the Outer Cape. They were more concerned with who would be feeding the cats. But that is likely the place we will spend our retirement....and we'll bring the cats with us.
I know a lot of you talk about going camping but keep putting it off. GO camping TODAY! You won't regret it.