Wildflowers blooming, the feel of damp moss on fingertips, the rush of the Big Sur River, children left alone to explore, achieving the perfectly toasted marshmallow, the donuts and quiche and pizza and wine (not all at once) at Big Sur Bakery, sleeping in a cabin and not a tent in the woods, searching for lizards and mountain lions, the view at Pfeiffer Beach, running full speed down a sand dune, clothes shed to run through the ocean, the sunrise through the Redwoods, the colors of dusk through the Redwoods, wine and adult talk by the fire 'til late, the glow of children sleeping by the fireplace, homemade granola for breakfast, no cell phone service, the inventiveness of our children and their friends, the smell of campfires still left in our clothes after we've unpacked, the feeling of being enveloped by green and clean air, a brilliant sun, and the chance for all of us to reconnect.
We are back from our longest camping excursion yet, and the first in an RV, which I must say was pretty sweet once we adjusted to it. There was Matt for one who had to learn to drive what was in essence a whale on wheels. Somehow we managed to return it unscathed which was not a minor miracle I tell you. The boys dug it big time of course as a rolling little home with its automatic step that popped out each time you opened the side door, and the plethora of snacks at their disposal in the cupboards. As for me, I fully appreciated the bed with our featherbed addition and my own pillows. It certainly cancelled out the idea of the well-used, though clean, toilet that was only inches away. That and we could never get the RV level at the campsite. Poor Nico rolled out of his bed almost every night. With RV's it's a give and take existence.
Our two locations, Montana de Oro near Morro Bay, andSunset State Beach near Santa Cruz, were beyond lovely. Craggy beaches, wind-blown pines, crispy clean air, beach bonfires, dozens of blackened marshmallows, and the errant pesky raccoon. It was a break into nature that we all need once in a while. The kind of trip where you're not sure you ever going to get that smoky, faintly bacon-y smell of campfire out of your clothes anytime soon. But this was the kind of trip I hope my children remember for all it's discovery and laughs, it's long languid days, and the huge strawberry farm only a few feet away that we couldn't help pilfer from. Just a few times.
I'll begin my first post here with a trip some said I was brave to take: camping alone with my two sons. Mazi headed to DC to celebrate the impending birth of one of her dear friends, so I headed toLeo Carillowith the boys, and an old friend with his son.
When we arrived at the campsite I was excited and focused. I had rehearsed many times in my head all the things I had to do before nightfall. To me this was survival. But the kids had different ideas. They wanted to explore the campsite, meet people, chase each other around with sticks. I tried to be firm and authoritative, keep them safe. I wanted them in my eyesight at all times, but I couldn't pitch the tent, cook the food, tend to their needs, while watching them like a hawk. After much shouting and angst, I realized that I needed to be more flexible. They were having a blast, and I was the only obstacle. As I sat there struggling, the tent flapping in the wind, I remembered that we were there to forget about the rules and routines. I quickly faded to the background, did my survival thing, and let the kids run and explore every bit of nature they could find.
We ended up having a wonderful time. Survival was a lot of work indeed, but the kids enjoyed every minute, which in turn made me forget about the work. For Mateo, it was a welcomed opportunity to discover new things and test himself in new ways. For Nico, it was learning to hang with the older kids and find his own way in nature. And for me, it was a great lesson in letting go.