My lovely sister, Carrie invited me to go on a last minute 2 day camping trip at Arroyo Seco, in Los Padres National Forest. She was going with her husband and 7 month old daughter. My husband couldn’t go due to work… Should I take our 6 month old daughter and 4 year old daughter camping, without him there to help?… YES!
Part of my decision was realizing that I used to have much more of a healthy sense of adventure. My cynical side would say that car camping is hardly adventurous. But as soon as we got there I was so glad. It was May 1st. The shrubby oak forest was still green, and since it was a weekday the place was nearly deserted.
We set up camp as swallows swarmed the twilight sky eating mosquitoes. (Thankfully, not too many skeeters.) The forest was alive with the songs of birds, insects, and frogs. We saw turkey vultures, hawks, quail, bluejays, woodpeckers, heard doves coo and owls hoot. A granite outcropping loomed across the lake, inviting the imagination. One day a bluejay flew right at me and landed in a tree overhead. Then 2 read headed woodpeckers began a areal display that seemed to be just for me. I relaxed as I felt my consciousness stretch out to feel the spirit of the mountain, and my senses engaged to try to discern individual voices in spring’s joyous cacophony.
The next day we went on a hike, kids and all, and returned to the river to swim in cold clear water. I stood still long enough for ripples to subside, and noticed a fish around 6-8 inches long. Then I noticed another, and another. Small fish were everywhere swarming around our feet.
My 4 year old daughter had a great time of it all, and slept like a rock. It was great to broaden her horizons and get away from electronic entertainment for a while. She enjoyed smores and ghost stories by the fire, and even pee-ed in the woods.
We had our share of crying to deal with, and poop to clean up, but the effort was well worth it. It made me want to get out there again soon.