Early this year, Paul planned a June camping and fly-fishing trip with a buddy from his previous law firm. They made packing lists and purchased fly-fishing supplies and were set to go. Except the week before the trip, his friend had a project come up at work that he couldn't get out of. Which was sort of a bummer for Paul, but lucky for me and the girls because it meant that we got to go with Paul instead. He didn't get nearly as much fishing in, but I think he still had fun.
We stayed at an amazing camping (really "glamping") resort beneath Mt. Shasta at Lake Siskiyou. It was awesome and we are already planning on going back again in future years. There were lots of campsites for tent camping only and they were spread out enough that you didn't feel like you were on top of your neighbors (we ended up in site 64 after scouting out the best sites). Which, we didn't even have any neighbors the first night and even the second and third days only brought a handful more people who were at least a campsite or two away from ours.
The lake is absolutely beautiful and the resort has boats and paddleboards and kayaks that you can rent to go out on the water. But the girls loved wading as much as anything. We just rolled up pants legs and didn't worry about them getting wet. Clara is all about family bike rides these days (we're hoping she can give up her training wheels this summer) so we rode all over that place and down to the lake every day, which is why her helmet is on in most of the wading pictures. They threw rocks into the lake and dragged sticks to float or stir the water with and never seemed affected by the temperature at all. It was brisk, but not freezing water, so that was nice too. The resort even has a bunch of inflatable slides and such just off a beach that you can use (for a fee). We didn't try it because the girls aren't big enough but once they are older it would be so much fun.
On our last day there, we put on our swimsuits and went down to the lake for a swim. I ended up deciding to just wade because it was colder than I wanted to immerse in, but Paul and the girls had a blast. They laughed and kicked and swam their hearts out until their teeth were chattering from the cold. Rose was absolutely FURIOUS when we dragged her out of the water and told her it was time to go.
The hardest part about camping is still nighttime when it gets chilly and the girls little bodies just can't handle the cold temperatures very well. Clara ended up in our sleeping bags both nights and I snuggled Rose on her mattress to keep her warm (we had room in the minivan so we just tossed in her crib mattress from her toddler bed, which actually worked out pretty well). They did okay falling asleep each night around 8 or 8:30, which was later than normal for them, but we wanted to let them stay up by the fire for a bit since the sun was still so high and there was so much light that we knew they wouldn't sleep anyway even if we tried to put them down.
Rose loved playing house inside our tent. Whenever we were at camp, Clara would be off gathering sticks or swinging in the hammock while Rose would zip open a slit in the tent to crawl inside and play all by herself, putting her bunny and bobcat to bed over and over and rearranging pillows and blankets. It was fun seeing the girls be so independent in this setting. They would hop on their scooter (for Rose) and bike (for Clara) and zip around in front of our campsite like it was no big deal, then park and find something else to entertain them like the water spigot where they could wash their hands or brush teeth.
Clara was a great little helper gathering sticks for the fire whenever we asked her to. But she hated the smoke. Paul came up with the idea of letting her wear my sunglasses to keep the smoke out of her eyes and that helped her enjoy it a little bit more, I think. But anytime it wafted her way she got grumpy.
We roasted marshmallows and hot dogs and ate our first s'mores of summer. Which I think are every bit as magical as the first snow of winter.
Paul has two hammocks that he strung up between trees next to our tent and they got a lot of good use this trip. Mostly for swinging, but also for some relaxing and snuggling. I was over at the picnic table next to my camera when I saw Rose begging Paul to get up with him and I am so glad I was able to catch these moments between the two of them.
We love camping breakfasts of bacon, scrambled eggs, and flapjacks. Food always tastes so good when you are outdoors.
And we spent some time down on the river watching Paul do some fly-fishing. He went back again later in the afternoon and stayed until dark while the girls and I rode bikes, got pizza, and watched an outdoor movie (also put on by the resort). He said there were a number of other fishermen and not a single person caught a fish or even saw any rising, which really was too bad since that was the whole reason he had wanted to go and the fishing is supposed to be very good there. But at least the scenery was beautiful.
They have one of the best visitors centers I have ever seen, too. It's tiny but there is a cool LED display of the wet and dry season at the falls and how the water flows through the river and rocks to create the falls (the girls were fascinated watching the blue LED lights). And there are all these stations for identifying animals, looking through microscopes at slides, guessing games about animal scat or hoofprints, etc. They loved it.
It wasn't the trip that Paul had planned, but we are certainly glad it worked out that we got to go camping as a family for the first time this summer since we didn't even go once next year. And the girls did about as well as we could have expected them to. So we are already looking forward to our next camping trip in late July when we go to Yellowstone!