Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One night of camping with my son that I will never forget

So last weekend was a Cub Scout camping trip that Dylan really wanted to attend. However, Grandpa was out of town on business and he is the camper ... not me. Knowing how much this camping trip meant to Dylan, I said that I would go Friday night and then my dad would take over on Saturday.  How bad could one night be?

We arrived at Irvine Regional Park around 5:30 pm and made our way up to the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center. Looked nice. Buildings, lodges, parking lot, orchard ... but we were camping.
In a tent. On the ground.

As we walked the 1/3 mile up a steep incline to our campsite, carrying our gear, I remember thinking "What have I gotten myself in to?"

This is dirt with lots of cactus and bushes. Up in the mountains.

Well, with the help of one of the other parents I managed to get the tent set up and air mattress inflated. Hard part done right?

This would be my home for the next 18 hours.

As the boys ran around and played I settled in. This might not be so bad.

I love nature and the surroundings were beautiful. Why did I not bring my camera? At least I had my phone for a few pictures.

The sunset was gorgeous - this picture doesn't do it justice.  Oh, and the moon coming up over the mountain was awesome. It was so close to us, I wanted to reach out and touch the moon with my hand.

So now that the sun had set and dinner was cooking I started thinking about where I was. And how it was getting really dark. And how if I needed to go to the bathroom I would have to walk up the hill and across the dirt road ... with a buddy since we always use the buddy system for safety.

Time for s'mores. This will be fun and will get my mind off the idea of what animals would be coming out of hiding during the night. Wood fires are not allowed, so the campsites have these really cool propane campfires that look just like a campfire, but without the smoke in your eyes or any flying embers that could start a fire.

We had a visit from the ranger who informed us of the rules. Most were common sense and of course the be courteous to your neighbors rule of quiet time between 10 pm and 7 am. Great, this meant bed was at 10 and I could sleep. The faster I went to sleep, the faster morning would come and I could go home.

Oh wait, I almost forgot the best part of the ranger talk.

"You are out in the wilderness. We do have mountain lions and bobcats. We do have coyotes. We do have rattlesnakes."

Um, hello? Why are you telling me this at 8 pm.

Long story short. I laid in the tent from 10 pm until 3 am awake. Listening to the coyotes howl and the wind blow. Listening to the footsteps outside my tent that were not proceeded or followed by the sound of a zipper, which meant it wasn't someone getting up to use the bathroom. Wanting to look outside, but too scared too move. Oh, then there was the low flying helicopter that circled the area around 1:30 am. Talk about your imagination running wild!

I think my favorite part was at 3 am when I realized I had to go to the bathroom. Yes, my son was not too happy when I woke him up to be my bathroom buddy. I believe his exact words were "Really mom?"

Since it had been a full moon the night before, it wasn't that dark outside. We saw a few bunnies and even some frogs around the edge of camp. I will even go as far as to say that it was quite peaceful. Once back in the tent I fell asleep. Not sure if it was from pure exhaustion or because I had seen that there really was nothing outside. A few short hours later I was awake - along with most of the camp - thanks to the peacocks down the hill at Irvine Regional Park. Those are some very loud birds!

I will admit that waking up to see this was incredible.

 ... watching my son sit outside our tent and whittle with his pocket knife at 6:30 am was pretty cool too.

I may not be the coolest camping mom, but I sure did enjoy watching my son. He really is growing up and I am so proud of him. Rather than me taking care of him, he took care of me that night.

Breakfast was great. There is nothing like a good breakfast burrito with lots of fresh bacon cooked over a camp stove. I was amazed at the kitchen set up these dads had.

Oh, and we had Starbucks too -  thanks to a Dad who made a coffee run at 6 am.

The day would be filled with adventures and all things Cub Scout. On the agenda was zip lining, archery, BB guns, and a night hike. I would stay until lunch time and then it was time for the boys to bond.

I can not tell you how happy I was to see my reinforcement arrive. Grandpa to the rescue!

Once my dad was there, Dylan wanted to have nothing to do with me. He actually told me that I could leave.
He really does like spending time with Grandpa on these camp outs.

I stayed just long enough to watch Dylan go zip lining a few times and then I was out of there.

The last time I went camping was when I was a Girl Scout. That was 30+ years ago.

So my famous last words "How bad can one night be?"  Well, let's put it this way ... I won't be camping any time in the near future. At least not the kind of camping that requires me to sleep in a tent.

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