Monday, May 05, 2014

into the woods

We took the kids camping this past weekend, along with a few friends. The weather was absolutely perfect - cool enough for a campfire in the evenings, warm but not hot during the days. Other than some dramatics during a hike due to overtiredness (Nico) and some over-the-top but good-natured bedtime sass (Elliott), the kids were well-behaved and seemed to have a good time. Nico was curious and more confident than he was on past trips; Elliott was cheerful and up for everything we threw at him. We went to Shades State Park and got the same campsite we had last time, tucked away on the sheltered end of a tiny loop of road. There were thousands of stars, frogs singing in the trees, an owl hooting and coyotes calling.

On Saturday morning we drove over to Turkey Run State Park and Nico got to make a bird feeder out of a little milk carton. After that we went on a short geology hike and looked for fossils on the riverbank. Nico picked out a few rocks that he liked, I found some crinoids and an awesome tiny geode, and MB spotted a little bryozoan. We went back to camp for lunch, then MB and Nico laid down in the tent for a nap. Elliott was tired, but I knew he would never nap willingly, so I packed him up in his carrier and we went on a hike with Danger, MacGyver, and Evilducky. It was a really great hike, probably one of my top ten or fifteen ever. The land was so beautiful and the company was great and the weather was magnificent and I felt so lucky to be able to share it with Elliott even though he'll never remember it.

On Saturday evening we went to a reptile program and got to meet a gorgeous little garter snake. Nico was charming and chatty and polite to the naturalist and when we went up to talk to her afterward, he touched the snake with two fingers, first on its back and then on its belly. He wouldn't touch the snake that I showed him on his class field trip to my workplace last week, so I was pretty pumped that he tried it. I told Nico that night that we could stop by Turkey Run on the way home Sunday morning and try for a pony ride, and he was all over it. He hadn't been on one since our trip to Turkey Run when he was eighteen months old, but my usually-reluctant child was very keen to go. I half expected him to change his mind once we got to the park and met the pony, but he didn't. He went for it and seemed to enjoy himself very much. The girl running the stable didn't seem to think Elliott was too young to try, but I didn't trust him to hold on, so he stayed grounded. He was mostly patient while waiting, though, and I promised him he could go next time.

I've had a few people (including my own mom) react with surprise that we take our boys on trips like this at their ages, but I'm so glad that we have. It's hard to tell what will stick in their memories and end up being significant in the stories of their lives, but my fourteen-month-old has three tent camping trips under his tiny belt and my four-year-old is already asking when we get to go camping again. I'm sure our success depends a lot on their particular personalities, but even if I can't take credit for it, I'm so happy that we get to have these little adventures.

giant marshmallow, porcupine S'mores shirt

a little fireside chat

exploring the tiny trail next to our campsite

the handsome little garter snake we met

on the fossil hike

wicked cross-bedding

tiniest geode

showing his fossils and rocks to Uncle MacGyver

intrepid explorer with tiny hairs blowing in the wind


  1. That porcupine shirt is amazing - where did you get it?

    I wanted to take the boys camping when Henry was very small but my husband was too worried about it. Now that we've survived camping in the backyard (and more importantly, got all the camping stuff out of the attic) I think we might be more inclined to go.

    1. Oh, hooray! You did get to go backyard camping! I was wondering just the other day if it worked out.

      I found the porcupine shirt (and the explore shirts) at JC Penney not too long ago.

  2. I love the pictures! And you! And your kids!