I was busy with school this year so we didn’t have time to take a fancy family vacation. Instead we decided to go camping. Somewhere I had read that Tony Grove Lake in the Cache National Forest was a decent place for beginning campers so, without ever seeing the place, I reserved a campsite on the internet.
It actually turned out to be a good campground but our particular site was a bit disappointing as it was situated on a steep hill. There was a semi-flat place higher up on the hill with enough room to pitch our big family tent and there was a smaller flat place near the campfire with room to pitch the two-man tent. Emily and Anne occupied the two-man tent while Nancy, Caroline Sam, Diana, and I grouped together in the big family tent.
As expected with an 8 year old boy, the campfire was simply irresistible to Sam. He spent all of his time poking sticks in, taking them out, putting more wood on the fire when we were trying to let it die down, and setting other bits of wood around the fire pit on fire. Notice the burning log outside the fire pit and the look on his face just after getting a tongue lashing from me for it.
We took our dutch oven camping and tried several different recipes from the booklet that came with it. The favorite was Mountain Man Breakfast in the morning. Somehow everything tastes better when camping. I wasn’t adventurous enough to try cooking a fancy cobbler dessert in the dutch oven but the kids didn’t seem to mind as they enjoyed making s’mores each night.
One of the days we took a hike up to Coldwater Springs. Actually, we didn’t know we were going to Coldwater springs – we just decided to hike up the hiking trail a little ways. After about a mile we came to a sign that said Coldwater Springs was 2 miles away. The weather was nice and the kids seemed to be enjoying the hike so we decided to press on to the springs.
The springs were flowing and the water was indeed cold. The water was probably safe to drink but I decided to be on the cautious side and wouldn’t let the kids drink out of it for fear of getting giardia or some other parasite.
Another day we had fun hiking around Tony Grove Lake. Tony Grove is a high mountain lake so it was still chilly at times, even in August, but aside from that the weather was great the whole time we were there.
In general the kids enjoyed puttering around the camp site and generally seemed to have a good time. My biggest problems with camping are the noise at night (the squirrels and chipmunks and other wildlife chattered non-stop all night) and the fact that a tiny camp mattress and a cramped sleeping bag are not the same as a king-size bed. I also don’t like to stink like campfire smoke. If it weren’t for those things, camping would actually be pretty enjoyable.
By the end of 3 days, everyone had their fill of camping and were ready to go. In the end, it turned out to be a pretty fun trip for us amateur campers. Perhaps we’ll making a summer campout a regular occurrence… well, perhaps not.