Monday, September 12, 2005

Camping with the Kids

This weekend was our long-awaited trip to the Yurts of Champoeg (pronounced sham-poo-ee) State Park. A Yurt is an Oregon thing. It’s a round wood frame building with canvas walls and a teepee style roof. The center of the roof is a plastic dome that can be raised and lowered for ventilation and the walls have three screened window openings that are covered with canvas flaps that can be rolled up and tied out of the way. There is electricity – one power outlet and a set of lights – and a heater. Each Yurt is furnished with a futon and a bunk bed where the bottom bunk is a double and the top is a single. There is also a table and two chairs. As far as camping goes, I think Yurts are the best. They are like tents, but you can stand up all the way and you have beds and – best of all in mid September – HEAT! It was really very comfortable.

Our Yurt trip was planned early in the year by Rachel. She invited us and the Roses to join her in the trip and reserved our Yurts for us. Since that time the Roses moved to Virginia and Rachel and Josh had scheduling conflicts and couldn’t go. We canceled one Yurt and invited the Binghams to use the other one. Luckily, they were available. So, Friday afternoon, we packed up our cars (their one car and both Killpack cars – there was too much to fit in one Nissan Sentra with two adults and two kids in car seats.) and headed for Champoeg. We got there about 7pm, unloaded the cars and settled in.

Our first activity that night was to break in Kip’s dutch oven. He filled it up with grease; we mixed up some dough and had fry bread. It was really good. Then, we headed into the Yurts, turned up the heat, and settled in for the night. Even with both Sentras, we hadn’t had enough room to bring Anna’s play pen, so I decided to make up the futon as a bed for her to share with me. Kip slept diagonally from corner to corner of the bottom, double-bed bunk and William slept on the top bunk. It worked out OK. I kept Anna on the top back corner of the bed bundled in a blanket with a warm hat on. When she needed to eat, I fed her either there in bed or on one of the chairs close to the heater.

Saturday morning we made another Dutch oven creation. Kip cooked sausage in the oven, then took it out and cooked hash browns in the fat. Finally, he topped the hash browns with eggs and the crumbled sausage. It was delicious! Plus, it wasn’t done until 10:30, so we were all starving by that time. Unfortunately, the yellow jackets were starving, too, and were not at all disturbed by our attempts to keep them away. They wanted our food and they would do anything to get it. I think lack of sleep may have made me a little irrational and I got a little touchy about them. Luckily, that afternoon we had a small thunder storm and the rain drove the yellow jackets away so they weren’t as annoying the rest of our stay.

While we were getting going that morning, William disappeared. Kip wandered off to find him and realized that William had discovered a blackberry patch. The poor boy was standing at its edge trying in vain to reach the tempting black fruit and nearly toppling into the ditch in front of the bush. Kip picked him some berries and brought him back. William begged and begged for more, so Heidi and I headed back to the bushes with him. The strip of blackberries ran the length of the yurt area – probably about 75 yards. The best berries were all up higher than most of us could reach. They were even a stretch for Kip. And as we picked we frequently got tangled in the loose branches that reached out from the main bush like arms intended to trap the unwatchful. While I picked, William got himself completely ensnared. When I went to free him, I found myself pinned in, too. But the berries were good and we managed to pick quite a few. William wanted to eat them all, but we tried to keep him under control.

So, after being home from Israel for over 2 months and longing for the cool weather and rains of autumn, they finally arrived on the weekend of our campout. On Thursday it was in the 80s. On Friday it was in the 60s. Saturday, it rained all afternoon. We canceled the walk through the woods we had planned and moved into the Yurt to play games. William and Isaac (18 months) played with the toy cars we had brought. They did OK except that Isaac tried to interact with William and he found that threatening. Of course, sometime that interaction did involve taking William’s toy, but William reacted just as unhappily if Isaac attempted to give him a toy instead. But our card game went well and we had plenty of snack food, so the afternoon was a pleasant one.

The rain stopped around 5:00 and we headed back out to give the kids room to let off energy and to start dinner. Kip made us a Dutch oven BBQ chicken dinner and we ate it with potatoes baked in the coals of the fire. It was great. We had a calm dinner and then cleaned up and put the kids to bed. Of course, I managed to miss all the cleaning up by slipping off into the Yurt to nurse Anna by the heater. I really felt bad about that…That night we (the parents) ate smores by the fire and talked until late about fun things like school and playing the flute.

Sunday morning we all got up and cleaned up our Yurts (I helped this time) and packed up to head home. We picked a bowl of blackberries to take with us so we can celebrate our return with a Dutch oven blackberry cobbler tonight. We got home Sunday just in time to shower, put on church clothes and head to church.

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