June 4th, 2008

Terah, Jacob, and I went camping last weekend. Terah had asked me what I wanted for Father’s Day. I thought for just a second, and said “camping!” She looked like she regretted asking. But it has been a year since our last camping trip, so off we went.

We went to Marion County Park and Lake, a nice park built by FDR’s CCC program in the 1930s. It is on the National Register of Historic Places thanks to all the stone buildings, bridges, etc. that were built back then and still survive.

The reason we like it is because one side of the lake has the park office, rentable meeting houses, RV hookups, a swimming area, and really all the things you expect at a park like this (albeit on a small scale). The other side of the lake has gravel roads and fire rings. No power, no running water, but the occasional stone outhouse every half mile or so. Which means that the RV owners are not going to want to spend the night on that side of the lake. So, unlike far too many parks, it is possible to pitch a tent a good distance from the RVs. It’s so annoying to go to camping and find it to be noisier than home because of all the TVs and generators running.

Jacob wasn’t so sure about the first evening, but he was having a blast all day Saturday. His favorite thing was the campfire. He called it “fie” (rhymes with “buy”). He watched me gathering up brush and preparing the fire, carefully placing the small sticks first, then the big ones. So he picked up a small stick, and carefully laid it inside the fire ring, too. Then he’d watch me light the fire, or blow on some embers, and he’d blow on it, too. Fffffffffffffff! As hard as he could. At one point, I was kneeling next to the fire ring, inspecting the kindling. Terah noticed Jacob kneeling next to the fire ring on the other side, with the exact same posture and expression as I had. It was a perfect Father’s Day, I think.

Once the fire got going, he’d walk up towards it, say “HA!” (hot), and then run away. Educational, this camping business. He now knows what “hot” is all about.

Jacob also loved the lake. We would walk the few feet down to the beach, and he’d (holding on to one of us) walk just far enough into it to get his feet covered by the water, then pick up sand and throw it into the water to watch it splash. Or, he’d point at a boat (“bope”) in the water (“wah”) going past, all excited — Bope! Bope!!! BOPE!!!

One of my favorite things while camping is sitting outside and watch the sun set. Terah and I did that while munching on banana boats we cooked in the fire (a banana and chocolate concoction that you sort of melt in tinfoil). Or we could sit in the shade on the ground and just relax and enjoy the scenery.

Terah didn’t say that she enjoyed camping, but she did agree that there were good times and we could come back. Woohoo, I guess.

We’re not really camping pros, and we learned a few things. One is that it would be nice to not have three meals in a day that require a fire. I’m fine with eating fruit, canned stuff, and other no-cooking-needed stuff when camping, but Terah likes more traditional food. And that’s fine, and we had some great stuff to eat, but building fires is hard and hot work.

Over the first few days after we got home, Jacob came up to me and said, looking rather sad, “Fie? Fie?” I said, “Jacob, we don’t have a fire here. There is no fire here.” He would look so sad, and just repeat to himself for a few minutes, “No fie. No fie. No fie.” So I asked him if I should build a little fire. “Yeah!” So I got a match and lit a candle. Oh, was that exciting, and almost as soon as it showed up, he tried to blow on it. By today he has learned how to blow out a candle.

A great Father’s Day for sure, but we hadn’t really tried to sow the seeds of a fascination with fire on the trip.

Categories: Outdoors

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  1. cliff

    I think I’m with Terra. Pack a Dutch oven, cooler, charcoal, lighter fluid, plates, plasticware, skillets, spatula’s, and etc, and then see how hiking more than 10 feet from the car goes!!!
    And also, I refuse to spend the night in anything that I can carry on my back for a couple of miles.

    jgoerzen Reply:

    And I’m the one that will have the backpack on my back, too… :-)

    cliff Reply:

    I’m having problems again commenting on Terah’s blogs. Have a good time camping or welcome back as the case may be.

    jgoerzen Reply:

    Thanks for letting me know. FYI, even if your comment doesn’t show up immediately, it’s never “lost”… It’s just in the “system thinks it’s a spam” box, waiting for one of us to manually fish it out. We usually check over that box once a day or so.

  2. terah

    Well, maybe not *two* years. The absence of raccoons was a plus!

  3. kirklin

    It is usually good to be corrected if you are wrong :)

  4. Joey Hess

    I like camping at national parks — state parks are the ones with the worst RV problem.

  5. Carl Cravens

    “Propane stove”. There’s no shame in it. :)

  6. Carl

    Yes a propane camp stove is definitely more enjoyable for cooking than a fire. Full size of course (two burners, the size of a large synth keyboard). I love the fire for sitting around and always have one, but it can be difficult to cook with a fire (especially when fire restrictions prevent fires completely). If you feel you must cook in a fire I recommend looking into dutch oven cooking. Great way to make a fruit cobbler, pizza, biscuits, pretty much anything you would make in an oven.

    I love the fire note — I never thought that would be a good way to expose a child to the meaning of hot. Sounds like a good way to relate the hot of a fire to the hot of a stove.

    Also, I’d say dinner is the most important meal to cook. Usually the rule I have is to cook breakfast and dinner. Lunch can be sandwiches or something equally easy to make but never cooked. This allows you to do whatever you want and maybe make a lunch you can pack (like sandwiches) so you don’t have to worry about being back at camp until dinner. Breakfast should be cooked (good way to start the day) unless you’ve got plans to start early in which case you should have something quick and hearty like granola bars or something you can carry. Or just have oatmeal cuz that’s quick and easy.

    I’ve been camping since I was little and I’ve always been in scouting so I know planning goes a long way and mostly takes experience. Aside from what I’ve told you I imagine most you will have to learn on your own (or read about some of it the scout handbook).

    Sorry for such a long comment but your post just reminded me of all my great camping experiences. Hopefully you have many, many more. :)

  7. cliff

    I’m a pretty good camper. It’s rare to find someone who can do something well that he doesn’t like.
    I probably hold the same view as Terah on this trip.

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