Sunday, June 27, 2010

Camping: Harold Parker State Forest

Keeping with the tradition of our new and improved "extreme Happy Hours" we decided to take it on the road and try a group camping trip.  We started planning awhile ago and by go-time had 6 families comprised of 12 adults and 11 children.  We decided on Harold Parker State Forest because it's pretty low commitment.  It's located in Andover, only about 30 minutes from Somerville and the state forest is pretty much right in the middle of civilization - very easy to pop out in the morning for a Dunkin Donuts run or whatever.
All this beauty - just a short drive away

The trip started out for us with the usual level of "argh! why is it so damn hard to leave the house" followed by a nice dose of "crap! why did google maps recalculate the destination and send us to the middle of nowhere North Andover when it transferred my link to the iphone."  But once we got through the hurricane that is me trying to pack for any trip never mind one during which I need to LIVE OUTSIDE and after we determined that navigating by the sun and stars would have been far more effective than trusting in the combination of google and our iphones we arrived at the campsite ready to go.   The upside of getting completely lost trying to get there is that we felt like we had gone much farther from home then we actually did.

We had sites that were located right next to each other - except for the poor couple that somehow ended up with us on either side of them.  We used one site as the main "group site" and mostly ate/hung out there.  I was definitely nervous about the trip before we left, but it turned out SO. AWESOME.  The six families worked together pretty much perfectly.  Elizabeth and Bob are "camping at music festival veterans" and came equipped with a screen house, pop up kitchen area and other fun camping toys.  Bob played his steel guitar for us - and boy is he good at that.

Bob and his awesome steel guitar

Gordon manned the grill and kept the food moving along.  Lauren and Roger brought S'mores and kept the kids entertained with some fishing.

 Lauren with Jane, Ella and Zoe

Stephanie kept the kids entertained with plays and stories and a ton of other child-entertaining talents that I do not possess while Joe kept the rest of us entertained with his dry? quirky? sense of humor.  Ted went hiking with Quinn on his back, Wyatt in the Bjorn and little girls holding on to either hand, while Kristi kept us snacking with a bunch of yummy lunch goodies.

 Ted and Wyatt

Al brought along a kayak and took the girls for rides on the lake and went out each morning to forage for Dunkin Donuts coffee to go with the scones I brought along.   It was teamwork and community child-wrangling at its finest.

Al and Marlena in the kayak

Marlena entertaining Lily and Gail with tomato puppets

One of my favorite moments of the trip was on Saturday morning - Quinn fell asleep at his morning nap time on Ted's back in the hiking backpack.  I transferred him to the Ergo and sat down on Gail's cool anti-gravity chair.  He decided to keep sleeping for nearly two hours.  Pretty much everyone else had gone off to hang at the beach area and play in the water, so I was there alone.  I lay back with him on my chest, looked up at the trees above me and just enjoyed the stillness.  It was so wonderful to feel the weight of his no-longer-so-tiny body lying on my chest and the cuddliness of his pudgy arms and legs.  I listened to his breathing, closed my eyes and tried to hold on to the moment as long as I could. 

We also managed to have great sleep karma while we were there.  We set up our 9'x9' tent and it fit our air mattress, Q's pack and play and Lily's pea pod travel tent.  So we were all in the same tent, but everyone had their own separate sleeping area.  (I know - we weren't exactly "roughing it", right?)  Last time we went camping - when Lily was about 18 months old - sleeping was somewhat of a nightmare.  I'm convinced that bringing the pack and play this time was the magic that we needed. We'll test that theory when we go camping again at the end of July (stay tuned!  ooo how exciting....)

So let's see - what else happened..  We were visited by a family of geese - not very shy geese.  At one point Lily was sitting in her camp chair by a tree and the geese got between her and the rest of us.  It was a little creepy, like they had some nefarious plan - so I ran over to rescue her.

Stay away from my babies!

We ate a lot, played a lot and lounged around a lot.  Lily and I went for a walk in the "Pointless Forest" with her dog Arrow.  We were careful not to fall in any holes and did manage to find the Rock Man - but sadly he was asleep.  We listened to a concert/puppet show about recycling.  We sat around the fire at night once the kids were asleep.

It was a little challenging with Quinn on the trip because of his age.  He was nearly walking and doing a ton of cruising so he was all over the place.  He got so dirty crawling around in the dirt and rocks all day.  He spent most of his time in search of food and scavenged it whenever he could.  He discovered cup holders on camp chairs and thinks they are the coolest invention ever (I sort of agree).  He soon learned to check all the camp chairs for half-eaten apples and other goodies that may have been left behind in the cup holders.  I think he ate like 3 apples this way.  Eventually I gave up trying to keep him (or the food he was eating) clean and focused instead on just keeping him out of harm's way (I'm looking at you geese!)  The work was totally worth it though - he had a great time.

More.... apple....

More... scone....

Before we knew it Sunday morning had arrived and it was time to head back to the 'Ville.  We all had such a great time - I think the consensus is that we'll definitely be doing this again as a group next summer - and maybe even in the fall.  Bring on the outdoors!

Jane and Elizabeth

Just as we were packing up in the morning on Sunday Lily suffered a fall from a climbing structure on the playground there.  She hit her chin on the way down and bit her lip pretty badly. There was a lot of blood and some tears, but she was okay.

Nothing like a fat lip to give you some camping cred

1 comment:

Mike said...

Cool, that's our backyard! We've been on a couple of walks but had no idea they had all that going on. We'll have to check that out some time!