A must read for any parent, this post by Craig W had been on my mind ever since.
Left to our devices
Recently, when my wife was out of town for a week, I took the opportunity to have some one on one (one on two?) time with the girls, spending as much time outdoors as possible. As Craig would say (probably much more eloquently)- nothing epic to see here. Just kids having fun.
Championship hill rolling at a local park after school
The highlight of the week was an overnight camping trip to Nordhouse Dunes.
The hike in
I carried all the gear and the girls carried their personal stuff and snacks. While I skimp on my own gear, I don't bother counting weight when it comes to camping with the kids. I'd rather they be happy than ultralight. Between the princess sleeping bags and the multiple changes of clothes, I was grateful for the expedition pack my wife had bought a couple years ago. I did draw the line at all of the stuffed animals I found bulging out of Rowan's pack. (I knew I'd be carrying it too at some point). "No one needs 5 stuffed animals on a camping trip", I advised helpfully. "Why don't you pick your favorite two". "I need 5 stuffed animals to help me sleep", she assured me.
Nearing the dunes, rest break number 6
One big sandbox
The Lake Michigan shoreline
The girls changed into bathing suits and played in the sand while I set up camp behind the tree line
Running in circles
Heading back toward our campsite
Dubiously studying the bush buddy hot dog cooker
Shared mac and cheese
The well-used princess sleeping bags
Shadow puppets and story time
After making up some stuff sack pillows for the girls, there were no spare clothes for mine. Once the girls fell asleep, I sneakily snagged a stuffed bunny, "Cuddles", and propped it under my head. Guess Rowan was right about these things helping you sleep after all.
A beautiful sunrise
An overenthusiastic headlamp user writes on the beach with a genuine feather quill
Leaving the shoreline
A last look back
Stopping to rest at the perfect rest stop. Too bad we had only been hiking for 3 minutes. "It has a bench, backrest, and footrest, dad!" Fine with me. While my own trips are highly goal-oriented, I try to have no agenda when it comes to hiking with the kids. If their trip is better for taking advantage of the 20 most perfect rest stops on the trail, or studying a deer track, touching a toad, or picking blueberries, them mine is too for getting to watch them light up with unbridled enthusiasm at the experience.
As we drove home, I asked the girls what their favorite part of the trip had been. "Getting to spend time with Daddy", my youngest daughter answered. "When can we go camping again?"