For Nugget's birthday, he got a bunch of camping stuff from PaPa, Ma and UP, so after school was out, we decided to put it to use! Hubs was busy working, so another mom friend and I took four kids on a little camping expedition.
We loaded up the car with 6 sleeping bags, 6 pillows, 12 bathing suites, 2 tents, 4 flashlights, a pack of hot dogs, a bag of buns, chips, snacks, marshmallows, Hershey's bars, graham crackers, boogie boards, sand buckets, oh the list went on and on. We took just the bare necessities and still had her car PACKED and my roof pack filled. We hit the road and made it to the campsites just after lunch.
But why pitch a tent when you could play on the beach!
Before finding our site, we unloaded the kids to burn off some energy on the beach. Oh how relaxing! We lost a pair of goggles and my dermatologist would be horrified at my tan lines, but jumping the waves and building sand castles were well worth the peel.
We let the kids play until they wanted a snack and then we headed over to find our spot. One thing about camping at the beach? Everything is sandy.
We found semi-shady spots for both tents, rinsed off the kiddos' hands, unpacked some snacks and started to assemble tents. J's camped a few times before with her kids, so she had no problem setting their tent up. Out tent? Never even opened yet. As I broke the tag thing off the zipper, all I could think was, "What if it's missing poles? Or a section of the mesh?" Hoping we weren't going to be sleeping in the car, I spread everything out and with a little help from Nugget, successfully assembled our little 4 man tent!
After an open fire dinner, we all hit the showers to clean off before bed. Unfortunately, we are at the beach and the beach is in Florida. And it.is.HOT. We got as clean as possible and headed back to our site, but looking at 60 clean piggies and the site full of beach sand and ash made me not want to let the kids touch the ground. Thinking back, most of my camping trips have been in the fall, so everyone's been wearing real shoes. Sweaty feet and flip flops don't mix.
So I said, "You drive, I'll buy!" and we headed to the ice cream shop. The ice cream was delicious, but no one in the shop spoke English and the samples that everyone had before buying our cones? They totally charged us for! We enjoyed the nice breeze and cold ice cream and headed back to the site. We decided the best dessert after dessert would be s'mores and let the kids take turns igniting marshmallows and getting sticky, then made one last trek to the bathrooms before calling it a night.
Me and my two opened the sides of our tent and said, "Good night, moon!" to the real moon. Without lights or books, we made up stories and dozed off. At some point in the night, Nugget stood up and wandered to the door of the tent. Happy I was snoozing in front of it, I got him to lay back down. When the sun, and every bird in Florida, rose, all three of us had moved to a different position in the tent.
We were going to hit the beach again for a morning swim, but the kids were so dirty after breakfast, I insisted on showering them before swimming. Nugget's feet were so dirty, he looked like a different race. After 15 minutes of scrubbing them, I figured the ocean would get the 4 other layers of dirt and we broke down camp.
After a few more hours on the beach, we loaded up our stuff (and about 15 lbs of sand) into the car, passed around a picnic lunch and hit the road.
I miss our old house, our old friends and Chicago badly, but I'll admit, it's nice to wake up one day, decide you want to go to the beach and actually be able to GO. As for the camping? I think we'll hold off on that again until fall when (hopefully) it's a little cooler. And Hubs can come along, too!