We've talked forever about going camping--my wife used to go with her parents when she was a kid, and even occasionally camped herself in her college years, on road trips and whatnot. Me, I can't recall ever truly camping when I was a kid, but much of my childhood was extremely rural, so being out in the woods was the name of the game. We thought it was an experience the kids should have, at any rate, and they were interested, so we recently bought a tent and some other gear we lacked, and decided to go for it this past weekend.
For our first time we didn't want to go far in case anyone freaked out or we found we were missing something critical, so we went to Kelly Park in our home county, only 20 minutes or so from home. It's a park we've been to plenty of times before, but the main draw there is Rock Springs and its run, which is huge for swimming and tubing in the summer. We'd never checked out the campground or the hiking trails, so it seemed like a good opportunity. And it's fairly cheap for county residents, which was a plus in case we needed to abort as well. :)
So after waffling a bit due to rain chances, we spent Saturday morning shopping for food and other last-minute necessities, and packing the van full of stuff. Camping means hauling around a LOT of stuff, I discovered! And mid-afternoon we headed to the park. The campground was indeed nice, as online reviews had led me to expect. The sites were relatively well spaced, with some trees between each, which was nice. Water faucets at each site, along with an electrical hookup, picnic table and fire ring. We set up the tent, and took a hike on the trails before we headed back to get the fire going and cook dinner. We kept it simple, just hot dogs with some snacky stuff on the side like cheese and crackers. And then it started raining, naturally.
So we retreated to the tent for an hour or two, while the rain moved past. It wasn't a heavy rain, and I guess it was a nice test to make sure the tent was waterproof enough! Once the rain finally let up, I got the fire going again so we could toast marshmallows for Smores. And then we turned in, and discovered that we really need to invest in sleeping pads to go under the sleeping bags before we try camping again. :)
We also discovered that other campers are assholes. Well, maybe not. But we're generally quiet people and thought we might find some quiet in camping, but no such luck. There were a couple of larger groups who were extremely loud--talking, shouting, screaming, loud music, fireworks (including a few that sounded like freaking bombs), you name it. Eventually they settled down, but it made crystal-clear the trade-offs involved in the endeavor. You can have facilities like running water and actual bathrooms nearby, or you can escape the hell of other people, but apparently not both. Something to keep in mind. Maybe earplugs would be another good investment for next time!
Not much wildlife to report, really. On our hikes we saw a raccoon, a pair of deer, some woodpeckers and hawks, scads of squirrels, and.. that was it, really. At night we did hear some owls after everyone finally shut the hell up, which was nice. After we woke up Sunday morning we took a short early-morning hike back to the springhead, and were pleased to have it all to ourselves, which would probably be unheard-of at any other time of day. And it's a gorgeous spot indeed--I don't think I'd hiked to the springhead since I was a kid myself!
So all in all, pretty good experience. Learned some stuff, for sure. Could have done without the rain, and the loud fellow campers. The important thing it that the kids all seemed to enjoy the experience, so I think we'll do more of it in the future. But not in the summer!
Some more photos below the cut. :)
( Clicky! )