Friday afternoon, Ronnie and I, along with another couple, Zach and Nicole, went camping.
Now, I must begin by stating that each of us had BEEN camping before. However, none of us had even been in charge of the preparations for camping.
Nicole and I started this plan a few weeks ago, and wanted it to be a surprise for the boys. However, by two weeks ago, we realized that this wasnt going to work, so we included the boys in the planning. We got tents ($25 ones from Wal-Mart.... our first clue that this was a problem should have been the day before we left... Ronnie and I saw them on SALE at Wal-Mart for $11.....hmmmm... we will call this mistake number 1) - We planned the trip - well, Nicole planned the route, and did a good job of it. We planned the food, along with a travel grill for chicken, pancakes, and sausages. We had firewood... enough for several hours at night time. (Not enough for a morning fire tho.... mistake number 2). We had flashlights.. (but no lantern... mistake number 3.. as I will explain later.)
(a.k.a. mistake number 1)
As previously mentioned. We got a GREAT deal on our tent! We went to Wal-Mart, and got the smallest cheapest tent we could find. How wonderful to have a tent for only $25! A 4-man tent (which we all know really means a 2 person tent) would be PLENTY for us right??
Well, we had plenty of space, however, it seems that the cheap tents have LOTS of ventilation. Which is wonderful in the summer I am sure. However, we were camping on the top of a mountain, in the blue ridge mountains, IN OCTOBER! The tent probably protected us from a few bugs, and maybe a critter or two during the night, the tent did NOT protect us from a BIT of wind that might blow through at less than 40 degrees!
(a.k.a mistake number 2)
Zach did a great job getting cheap (free?) firewood for us. We thought, as we left home, that we had too much. It took up so much space in the jeep! But we took it all with us, and built a GREAT fire Friday night while we were setting up camp. We sat around the fire, ate dinner (chicken on the grill, pasta salad, and baked beans warmed over the fire), and toasted marshmallows for S'mores. It was great! The fire kept us so warm and we were so thankful for it. Since we only had one night, we wanted to stay warm as long as possible, so we used all the firewood that night. Ummmm.... We obviously weren't thinking that it would STILL be cold the next morning! We had no more firewood for the morning. We spent the morning gathered around the grill and looked longingly at our camping neighbors... you know.. the ones who had a nice warm fire that they were gathered around!
THE LANTERN.... or lack thereof
(a.k.a. mistake number 3)
We didn't have a lantern. Normally, this might be ok. But since we couldn't leave until 6:30 Friday evening, we didnt arrive until almost 8 at our campsite. 8:00+October+Eastern Timezone=DARK! We left the headlights running, and used our two flashlights, for the first 10 minutes. Maybe it was the loudness of our arrival, maybe it was the statements of "have you guys even opened your tent yet?" or "I hope all the parts are here" or "who knows how to start a fire?" that led our camping neighbors to think that we weren't prepared. Whatever the reason, those two gentlemen saved our tent settup up... One came walking over with a Coleman Lantern in his hands and asked if we needed it... "YES" Thank you so much!!!
TO SLEEP? OR NOT TO SLEEP?
We brought lots of extra blankets to sleep on... not enough... I have camped once on an air-mattress... I have also decided that for the rest of my camping life - I will camp on an air-mattress. It may be flat by morning, but at least for PART of the night I will sleep without my bones digging into the frozen ground!
We decided that next time, these lessons learned would be helpful! We also decided that we would need better tents before next time. We do know that there will be a next time... we have to get better at this! We don't think that next time will be before the spring time. We actually had a great time.
We spent Saturday driving along the BlueRidge parkway stopping to hike and "view" all the scenic overlooks that we wanted to. We sat and admired God's creation, we laid down and looked at the sky, we grilled our lunches sitting on the side of a mountain viewing the city of Roanoke from above.
God has a wonderful creation. As we looked up into the night sky on Friday night and saw more stars than I have seen in a long time (its amazing how many there are when there are no other lights around....) As we drove along and watched the velvet mountains rise and fall to the right and left of us as if they were rolling along like the ocean...I could not help but wonder how it is that they say there is no God. That beauty like this could come from an accident makes no sense to me. I took several moments to do as I wanted to do on Friday. I thanked God for the moment. For the moment to cuddle with my husband, for the moment to stand alone on the edge of a mountain, for the time to spend with wonderful friends that God sent to us, and for the mistakes we made that make for a good story and good bonding time.... I was thankful.(There are more pics at http://picasaweb.google.com/allegro425/CampingInOct)