Harper Family Camping 2016
Are we back already? I seriously did not want to come home after spending 5 days in the woods and at Russian River. Besides our awesome digs, School House Canyon Campground, we played in the river everyday, picked blackberries off side trails, made friends, and even visited a State park in the area. Poppy slept through each night and while Maeve and Gaby bickered daily, they grew tired of the back and forth and by the end of the day they were sharing s’mores and a tent. Here’s the breakdown of our daily adventures.
Day 1 : The drive up was pretty easy-going–we had two bathroom breaks before heading out on the long stretch before we entered the more wooded areas. Our gear overflowed to the brim in our Mountaineer and Gus was in the back being very chill. It took about 2.5 hours to actually get there and check in. When we got there the campground was not crowded–it was fairly quiet with a few families here and there. The kids made friends with Colton, the owner’s son who is the same age as our oldest, Anthony. They also met Sofia from a nearby city in the Bay Area who they hung out with at the river. They even exchanged numbers and we hope to hike with them in the near future. After setting up camp, we walked down to the river close to evening and it was still so hot. We hung out at the water for an hour or so until it started getting dark and went back to camp. We had walking tacos for dinner–our absolute favorite first meal when we are camping. It’s fritos chips, can of Annie’s organic chili, cream cheese, lettuce, and any other fixings. For dessert, s’mores! This year we brought some fancy chocolate and Reese’s PB cups along with our usual Hershey’s chocolate bars. When it was time for showers, we took turns walking to the bathrooms and stalls which were a short distance away.
Day 2: We had a quick breakfast of pastries and bacon and some coffee which was pour-over and in our favorite mugs wrapped in knit cozies. After packing up our drinks and snacks, we spent a few hours again swimming at the river and talking to our camp neighbors, playing tag, and searching for miniature frogs that hopped along the rocky shores. Poppy was having a blast just playing with her rocks and floating in the “deep part” by herself. This “big kid” group corralled together as they swam, linked up on their tubes, like ants on a log in the middle of a flood. One of the fun things they looked forward to doing was swimming out to the giant stump in the middle of the river (which had moved a bit since last year), and jump off it in unison. Our big kids were on their own swimming to a close by beach area, hidden by bushes. We saw them pop back to our area asking for food and drinks from time to time. We left our stuff at our section and walked back to camp for “nap time.” I found time a few days to do yoga and Maeve wanted to do it with me. This helped me have a clear mind throughout the trip. We trekked back to the river, picking blackberries along the way–James also got his “poking stick” or stick he picks out every time we go camping to prod the firewood. When it was time to go, I made hot dogs and beans for dinner. I swear the kids ate a huge can of sweet beans and would eat them everyday if I let them. We ate s’mores and brushed our teeth at the campsite using the rest of our water in our bottles.
Day 3: Poppy slept through the night for the third night in a row! In the middle of the night we heard some small whimpering because she kicked out of her sleeping bag, but we covered her back up and she was fine. James usually fell asleep right next to her and all was well. I got up and got myself ready and made a big breakfast of organic potatoes, eggs, bacon, cheese topped with micro greens. I usually bring along micro greens from Organon Farms (which I picked up from the Farmer’s Market before our trip) and toss them on top of any meal we eat. Getting extra nutrients in is key and micro greens carry a huge punch of energy and nutrients and are easy to pinch off in a hurry. Plus the kids love them and don’t give me a hard time about them like they do plain salad. After eating we went down to the river after a few campsite chores of washing dishes and cleaning up. At night we played Contact, a fun game Anthony taught us–it took a bit to get it down, but it was so fun. We played this game for two nights and even while hiking or on our way back to the campsite.
Day 4: After getting ready fairly quickly, we knew today was explore in town day. We go into Guerneville just a few miles up the road and today I decided we were going to go to Armstrong Redwoods State Park. But not before heading to Big Bottom Market for breakfast and coffee. (We all ordered biscuits or sandwiches of some sort as everything there is so good.) Since dogs were only permitted on the paved areas, James took Gus for a little walk while I took the kids to explore the Pioneer Nature Trail which took us through the grove and back again. It was definitely nap time for Poppy but Dad wanted to treat the kids to some ice cream at The Bank Club. Poppy took her nap for a few hours and we all read our books during quiet time. We heard some new campers coming in around us. After about 2 hours, we saw Poppy peek her little head out the tent door and the big kids shouted “Can we go to the river now!?” After returning from the river for an hour or so, got back to camp but not before picking blackberries that were growing abundantly–we even found a huge patch off one of the side roads just brimming with sweet, plump berries that plucked right off with a gentle tug. Poppy loved picking them off and said, “I love blackberries, all day!
The “all day!” is now the ending part of any phrase and got take out at Betty Spaghetti which included homemade spaghetti and pizza. (Can you tell I was exhausted by now as mom has no energy to cook anything?)
Day 5: We woke up to our bird friends chirping loudly around 6am or so. I dozed off and on until about 8:30 when Poppy climbed on over to my side for some snuggling. One of the things I just love about being outside that you just don’t get when you’re at home are the sounds you take with you.
Some that come to mind are:
-the 4 types of birds that chirped loudly in the morning (and who I desperately wished would be quiet after the 2nd morning)
-campfire wood crackling
-tent zippers going up and down
-steps taken in the dirt
-hammock swinging from the tree
-trees rustling above us as the leaves fell
We packed all our stuff up within 2.5 hours. We do this every year and each time gets easier and easier because we each know what we need to do to collectively get this done in time. One of the things we like to do is give away any firewood to our camp neighbors. We did that then I offered them the rest of our micro greens. We also do many sweeps for garbage at our site. There’s never been a time we’ve left our campsite anything but immaculate and just the way we found it. Leaving was hard to do but we left a little happier, a little refreshed, a little tired, a little darker, and a little more grounded. Camping as a family is tough when you have a big group like ours, but the memory is now there forever. Be sure to check out our other posts in social media, appropriately titled under #harpfamcamp2016. Until next year…Happy camping!