Best Impromptu Kid Hike Ever

I love camping with my fam.  We eat, sleep, make fire, bike around, walk the dog, get ice cream, go to the beach, and simply BE outside.  It’s great.  It feeds my soul and keeps my kids happy with the simple joys in life.  No internet. And, this weekend – at Prince Gallitzen State Park – no cell service. 

We got the camper ready and drove up to the park on Thursday.  Zoe immediately wanted to go bike on the ‘bumps’ – a small easy BMX circuit at the other end of the campground.  So, she and I (and Avi in the kid seat) biked off.  She has grown into such a great biker, and amazed me with her ease on the track and instant comfortability with it.  Avi also enjoyed riding along on my bike, but I think his favorite thing is hanging out with Teddy.

Avi really enjoys Teddy and tries to take him for walks all the time; something we have to monitor before he lets the dog go. He finds all kinds of other things interesting, too.  Dead bugs are a favorite to bring and show us, but so are itty bitty tiny frogs, making tracks in the stones, and helping PaJoe with his tools.

On Friday the weather was amazing so we spent most of the day at the beach getting hot.  The water was a bit chilly when the clouds would blow over, but otherwise it was quite pleasant.  Bethany and Nan packed a special picnic lunch.  The kids played.  All was good with the world.  In the evening we joined the campground activity folks for the Wreck-It Ralph movie at the amphitheater.  Avi loves this flick, and thinks wrecking it is also something awesome he should do.

Saturday found us enduring a rainy day.  The kids got some crafting in; Nan brought paint for some birdhouses and stamps.  Avi really enjoyed the stamps – pounding things seems creative to him.  This is also the day Zoe found a fairy house!  No, really, a cute little detailed fairy house built into the exposed roots of a tree.  It was adorable, and led to the two kids building another house, and then putting on a wonderful performance on top a nearby log.  Avi is a showman.  He claps and stomps his foot and sings in tune and on beat.  Zoe likes to be on show; her skills involve interesting interpretive-style dance movements as her singing is not quite in tune or on beat.  She is passionate about her shows, regardless.

In the evening I dropped them off at Nana and Pappy’s house for the night and all day Sunday.  I was going to title this blog “the best nights sleep I’ve had in two months” because of it, but that name seemed long.  Plus, our fun hike was awesome…Monday morning.  They returned after dinner Sunday and Zoe immediately wanted to show Nana and Aunt Cindy her biking-on-the-bumps skills.  I think they were impressed.

Sunday Mom and Dad were able to get in a kayak trip around the lake in the morning.  Teddy had his first foray in the kayak with Nan!  She just paddled him out a bit and back in, but I think he loved it and wants to go more.  He will likely just lull to sleep, like the rest of us that afternoon.  I love naps! While they were out, Bethany and I went on a hike along the “Poems Trail”.  It was a trail, but there were no poems.  Fun nonetheless, as we made up our own slightly inappropriate ones about Teddy who came along.  Later, after some nice bike rides around camp, Dad and I took the kayaks out.  We had a great time paddling up a creek, around the lillypads, and back around to the campground the long way.  It was nice as the wind was at our back; we even tried to use our oars as sails after watching the local sailing club.

Monday morning found us preparing to pack up without Nan – she had to work.  So, while Bethany and Dad putzed a bit I agreed to help Avi and Zoe take Teddy for a walk.  Well, we took the little trail to the lake, and then wandered to the boardwalk over the end of the lake, and then wandered along the swampy land, and into the woods, and started up the hill noticing a sign for the water tower.  Before I knew it these kids were super excited about finding the water tower so we pressed on up through the woods into a meadow and then further up the hill through a “tunnel” (the interpretation) of shrubs and out onto the hilltop with the water tower.  Avi ran to the tower and up the tower and stomped around since it echoes and ran back down.  It was great.  He had no idea he had just hiked a bit over a mile uphill.  The view was awesome, and the kids were so good and into it.  Zoe kept talking about our route back down and how she would tell Aunt Beppy about it when we returned.  I was a bit bummed I hadn’t grabbed the camera; it was only supposed to be a short dog walk, after all.  Then I realized I actually enjoyed my time with the kids more since I wasn’t trying to get pictures.  It was one of the best hours I’ve ever spent with the kids – they noticed the butterflies, the trail blazes, the queen ann’s lace, the rocks, and almost ran the whole way back noting the four ecosystems on the way. 

Of course, Bethany and Dad were concerned since we were gone so long, but it worked out as they got a lot packed up without the kids messing around.  Bethany and I took them to the beach for another hour while Dad finished and then we came home. What a great time!  Bittersweet, though, as it’s our last camping weekend in PA.  Now, …   it’s time to start thinking of final prep for heading back to Korea.

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