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.