Saturday, October 11, 2008

What a weekend!

Well my oh so strict high protein/low carb diet went out the window - mildly, this weekend. I tried very hard to be good - but on Thursday had pizza (only 2 slices!), Friday had McDonald's "Chicken Selects" (I highly doubt they are healthy with as much yummy junk that is deep fried on them), and on Saturday Del Taco with my second helping of popcorn.

Why did I go off my diet? We finally got to go camping! And it was AWESOME! Steve's birthday is Wednesday and we wanted to use his birthday gift before it gets too cold - so even knowing that there were expected "wind gusts" Friday afternoon, we packed up the minivan (<-- lesson 1) and headed out by lunch time for Lake Mead. We had two dogs, two kids, and two adults. Before I list out our adventure, below are some lessons I learned for next time:

1. Do not take the minivan for off road driving and camping. Thank GOD we did not have any problems - and I mean 200% literally. It is only through His divine Sovereignty and protection that we did not have issues. We had our reasons for wanting to take the minivan over the SUV - looking back now, none of them great. It had been years since either of us had been to the lake, so we didn't think about needing a higher vehicle that was meant more for off road driving than say our minivan.

2. One gallon of water and 8 water bottles are STILL not enough water for 2 adults, 2 kids, and 2 dogs. I don't know why I didn't think of a jug of water for the dogs alone, a jug of water for sanitary reasons, and a jug of water for drinking and cooking with. So atleast 3 jugs minimum next time. I was able to succesfully ration out the water and am proud to say that everything was covered - not excellent, but okay. The kids had something like 14 drink packs and Gatorade to boot, and they barely made a dent in those. So we were okay.

3. Pack two sets of clothes. We were expecting freezing cold weather so I pulled out all our jeans and sweatshirts and everything I could find to help keep us warm throughout the day and night with layers. And when we got there, it was SO hot! I had my pants rolled up and stripped down to my tank top and still was hot.

4. Bring two air mattresses. I got Steve a 7 man tent - so we had room to spare. And I need to exchange our camping air pump - because the VPC pump just is not going to work since we've got a slow leak in our air mattress. We need something that can be in the tent with us and top the mattress off right before we go to sleep.

5. The tarp I bought was like 4 times the size of our tent! So we should have doubled or tripled it up under us and made a entrance so we could have kept more sand out of the tent.

6. REMEMBER THE CAMERA! Our first camping trip, there were so many priceless picture moments - and not a one was captured to share with anyone.

7. Set up the tarp thing that goes on top of the tent BEFORE it gets windy and dark. And, read the instructions - they will come in handy and it will matter later.

Here's our adventure. It took us almost an hour to choose a campsite - it was a little ways from the water's edge, but that made exploring a ton of fun. We actually ended up back at where we went a lot when we were in college. Where all the frat parties were. We made sure to camp away from the major party locations and (or atleast where they were when we were in college) found a place that already had a great looking fire pit in place. Yippie! We let Maya and Sally roam around off leash. They were so well behaved with a few exceptions from Maya who got to go duck hunting at one point and no amount of recall training was working on her. No way. She was fixated on those birds and at another point when we came upon a pack of dogs (like 4) and their owner. Lucky for me, they were all friendly and no problems. I leashed her up and brought her back to camp and made sure to keep her closer to camp (we were hiking when we saw the owner and his dogs) and the water.

The kids loved the lake - they couldn't go swimming - no swim suits since I thought it'd be freezing. But they stripped off their pants and squished their little feet over and over again in the mud and waded a little in ankle deep water playing with grass and whatnot. Sally, the dog of a couple from church, had a BLAST when she discovered the lake. She dove right in, went straight into zoomies when she came back out, and then super rolled in the sand over and over again. Maya could not get enough of the water, swimming further and further out. I was a bit worried so I made sure to pull out the high value treats and she came promptly back (exception being when she saw the ducks). On our way back from the water, the girls raced the boys - Anya and I were leading the way with the boys hot on our tails - so I scooped her up and ran with her in my arms... only to end up with my pants around my knees. That's the downside to loosing weight - none of my pants really fit me right right now. But Paul thought it was the best. He was laughing so hard. Anya went ahead while I struggled to get my pants back up and won the race for the girls. Go GIRLS! :)

We got a fire going around dusk which was surprisingly easy since the wind had finally started to pick up. The day had been warm with a light, barely there breeze all day. We didn't know what the weather reporters meant by "strong wind gusts" in the afternoon. The tent went from warm to chilly, so we finally decided to put the overhead tarp on, but did so in the setting sun with the breeze kicking in. So, of course - it wasn't on correctly. We would regret this later.

On our way out - we picked up last minute things for our cooler, one of which was supposed to be hot dogs and hot dog buns. Well, I remembered the buns - but forgot the hot dogs. So, luckily - I had packed lunchables for the kids - that was their dinner combined with the Chex Mix I had packed and juice. Not a great dinner. We had a can of chilli (I was trying to stay to my diet) with some extra red kidney beans. It came out funny - not sure why. :( So I didn't eat much of it and chowed down on a protein bar instead. The kids got to roast marshmallows for their first time. It was PRICELESS! I wish I had had my camera to catch their reactions to the crusty outside and sticky inside.

The wind kicked up so we let the fire die out and took the kids inside. They were so excited to play with their flashlights and then we played a game of Candyland. Finally, it was bedtime. Once the kids were asleep - Steve and I snuck out of the tent and got the fire going again. We popped some popcorn (I've always wanted to do that over an open campfire) and had some snuggle time as we looked up at the night sky. It was beautiful. The moon looked huge, and the lights of Las Vegas illuminated the horizon in beautiful - bold yet blended and subtle colors. The stars were clear and since the wind was only breezy at the time, the weather was perfect. All very romantic.

As I was drifting off to sleep, I look at the shadows on the tent and was utterly convinced there was a snake climbing up the tent wall. So I freaked out and made Steve go outside and investigate.

About an hour later - if even that long, the wind gusts picked up. Looking online at weather reports for yesterday - I found that the maximum wind gusts were up to 36 MPH! When I woke up and couldn't back to sleep, I wiggled out of the bed as Paul was snuggled against me on one side, Maya on the other, and Anya asleep at my feet on the other end, and stole a peak out the tent window. I unzipped it slowly so as not to wake anyone up - it was freezing in the tent. I was suddenly glad that I had packed and dressed the kids in warm layers for the PJs. I thought I could see the sun's light from sunrise on the horizon and tried to snuggle deep under the covers and go back to sleep. But I couldn't. The tarp was flapping so hard against the tent and the tent itself was shaking and moving around. I got nervous and finally woke Steve up and suggested we break camp and head home. I figured, with the sunrise happening - by time we broke camp and everything, it would be daylight and it'd be easy to get out of the valley we were in. I cleaned up the car and organized everything, then packed it all away as best I could. The kids woke up and played another round of Candyland with Daddy while I was doing this. We got them all bundled up and then put them in the car while we broke down the tent. After everything was said and done and we were in the car ready to go, I was really confused as to why it wasn't light out yet. Then I looked at the clock - 2:20 AM. No freakin' way. Yep - I had dragged us out at 2 in the morning. AH! Looking at the play by play hour by hour weather report, the wind calmed down by us around 3 am until almost 7 am. We could have totally waited until light.

When we drove into the valley for our campsite by the lake, we had to drive down a super steep and kind of scary road to get there. So I was beyond not thrilled that we were doing this again - in the dark. Steve got out and would scout ahead on foot to make sure we stayed on the road and didn't get lost, at one point hearing the rattle of possibly a rattle snake. He made his way back to the car FAST. :P When we came out of the valley area, we realized we had come out a totally different way than we had come in - it was super steep, more so than when we came in on, and I felt very blessed by God for His protection and our safety.

We got home around 3:30 I believe, we dragged in what we needed to - perishables, the kids' blankets, and such. And then Steve and the kids' finished the camp out in the living room. I've no clue how long they stayed up, but I went up to bed.

Today we got a lot of errands done and then relaxed with a movie and some popcorn (2nd helping this weekend for me). We got some new clothes and shoes for the kids for the cold weather. Paul's cold weather clothes have mysteriously vanished from our house. Tomorrow will be about getting things done.

Watched The Happening on Thursday night with Steve - great movie. Very disturbing, but my kind of horror movie. Light on the gore (but not too lite). I totally recommend it for anyone. :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

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