Camping after quarantine

While the world is not COVID free and safety precautions are not finished, we are seeing life begin to change. We ended up not being able to camp for a prolonged period of time because we simple could not get reservations! Everyone was outside, everyone needed that relief, everyone wanted a place where they could be without their mask.

And I don’t blame them.

So we played in our backyard, we camped in our living room, and we waited.

I’m happy to tell you that we are back at it and this semester has been full of camping. I feel like everyone is getting back into the habit but it has been glorious. Their most favorite thing?

Exploring.

The best thing about camping with little people is that there are less “nos” in the world and much more “yeses”. I have no idea if I spelled those correctly. Can I climb on this fallen down log? Yes! Can we go on a hike? Absolutely. Can I have some trail mix? Go nuts…pun intended.

While we did go camping at Sam Houston State Park earlier this year, it was…not our favorite. It is a smaller park and did not have much hiking for us to do. Since this is our kids’ favorite part, it left us a bit high and dry.

We had every intention of going to Lake Somerville State Park in February but you have heard that our area experienced a snowpocalypse and the park incurred some damage so our reservation was cancelled. Honestly, without power or water for almost a week, we felt like we had plenty of camping for that month.

This brings us to March and a new park for us – Village Creek State Park.

One of our goals for 2021 has been to try new parks and venture a bit farther from home now that our little people are getting old enough to handle a longer car ride.

We also accidentally tried another new thing – hike-in camping.

While we have done this type of camping before as adults, we have never brought our children along. Little did we know, we booked a primitive campsite and had to hike in to our site…with all of our stuff…and our three children. It was a blast. And by blast I mean it was a bit of a mess. The first day, I got in over 18000 steps just helping bring all of our stuff in from the car while also setting up camp. The good news is, our kids were champions!

I will definitely do this style camping again, but I would bring an all terrain wagon instead. Another family of campers near us also did not know they would need to hike in and ran over to a local Walmart to get a wagon for day two. They were smart! I have already started researching these wagons for the future.

This was only a one night endeavor but was still a really great park that we would go back to. The campsites were closer together than I would like and we had an entire boy scout troop surrounding us but there was plenty of hiking and places to get some quiet.

There was one point that was truly the highlight of the whole weekend — I went on a hike all by myself.

This may not sound exciting as I usually get time by myself regularly but in the last year time alone has been at a premium. We are spending more time as a family than ever and part of me deeply loves this. We have learned to play board games, read books, camped, gone on walks, worked on riding bikes, and more together. At the same time, my husband and I (as well as thousands of other grown-ups) have struggled to find time for quiet, time for peace, time alone.

I had one particularly hard time while we were camping because some kiddos wanted to hike and one really wanted to sleep. You heard me right! They asked to sleep. Who am I to deny a kid who wants to have nap time?

But guess who didn’t nap?

So then things got a bit contested, we struggled together to find them a way to enjoy themselves without the entertainment of siblings, and I realized that between the lack of sleep and all the stress that I’ve had lately, I was running out of steam. The others got back just in the nick of time and the husband could tell that I was struggling. He not so gently let me know that I could go on a walk by myself if I needed to. I knew I needed to. He knew I needed to. My kid probably knew I needed to. And yet, I still hesitated.

Mom guilt is so real. Even in this place that is supposed to be about unplugging and feeling grounded and connecting with Creator, I found myself feeling guilty for not being present at every moment if I took this hike. Thank goodness for husbands nudging you onto the trail. I got a certain distance away from the campsite and realized I could not hear anything. I heard an occasional bird and the sound of my own footsteps but those were the only sounds available. It felt like calm settling over me like a warm blanket.

It felt like reminding myself that I was human.

I remember sitting in therapy at one point during an extremely stressful time in life and continuing to spiral into the what could have beens and the what ifs and she gave me advice. She told me to sit in a chair or on the floor or near something with a texture. She told me to rub my hands over that texture and remind myself that I am right here, right now. That I can bring myself back into the present moment this way. That I can keep from stressing about the past, reliving difficult moments, or panicking about the future.

So, I took a minute to breathe. To listen. To feel the air. To feel the sensation of my feet in the sand. And I reminded myself to be in this present moment.

I needed to let go of the stress that I’ve been holding onto this past year while also not staring in panic at the possible future. The pandemic has put more stress on me than I was prepared for and I can admit to you that I have not always handled it well.

This was a moment of reminder and a moment to pull me back to the now.

While I don’t have a picture of the moment, there was a place where I came across a fork and had to decide which way to go. In the calm, this poem came to mind and I can only thank my sophomore English teacher for having me memorize it. She was always an incredible woman who knew what we needed.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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