Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Single Mom Goes Camping

I’ve conquered yet one more thing from my bucket list of things I want to accomplish…goals I set out to reach.  I have wanted to go camping since when I was married.  Then, it was my husband who stopped me.  As a single mom, it was my own inadequacies stopping me.  I had never camped before and thought I needed to go with another family, so they could show me the ropes.  After 4 years single, it started to look like my camping trip would NEVER happen!  It was then, I made up my mind.  I wasn’t going to wait around anymore.  I decided Hannah and I were going camping on our own.  I can’t live my life waiting around for people to step up to help.  If I want to do something, I just have to do it myself.  This is what I’ve learned over the years.  So, I set out to buy my very own camping equipment.
Thank God for Facebook, where I put the question out there about how to camp?  Where to begin?  What I would need?  I have NEVER had so many responses on ANY post before!  My Facebook friends really came through for me!  They told me what to buy and how to do this camping thing.  I ended up being completely equipped and then some.  I had more than enough for our camping trip!  I bought the tent first.  I was told to buy Coleman and to get it a little on the bigger side.  It appears I went overboard, because I bought a tent that sleeps 8 people!  We called it our Wilderness Mansion!!!!  It was a lot of work to set up and take down, but I was able to do it myself, with a little help from Hannah.  It wasn’t that difficult to figure out, either.  I also decided we should bring bicycles!  Being that I didn’t own a bicycle, I started researching and bought a purple Mongoose bike for myself.  The problem was that it was mailed to me, which meant I had to put it together myself!  Bad idea!!!  I spent a whole night doing that and still didn’t feel it was right.  
Then in order to transport our bikes, I needed a bike rack on my van.  So, I did my research yet again and bought a trailer hitch and bike rack.  Friends helped me install that.  One thing I wanted to do in Key Largo, where we were camping, was to go kayaking.  Another friend suggested buying an inflatable kayak!  Sure enough, I did my research and found one for $130!!!  You pay about $20 every time you rent a kayak, so this seemed like a worthwhile investment, and now I can take it out anywhere I want!  Like the tent, the kayak folds up in a bag and is easy to store.  I didn’t even need to add any equipment to my van to tote it along.  

Hannah was so excited about our first camping trip and so was I!  We were to go for 2 nights in Key Largo at a higher end campground called Key Largo Kampground Camp & Marina.  We had a really nice site with electricity and water nearby.  So, we had electricity in our tent!  I was very glad to have a fan, as it was humid, even though somewhat cooler than usual for South FL.  I used a charcoal grill for the first time, too!  I grilled up burgers, hotdogs, and even pancakes!  We went out to dinner on our last night.  Hannah was “tired of smoked food”.  I think next time I’ll buy a little 2 burner portable stove to include more variety of foods without the smoked flavor.  The only problem we had was my extension cord didn’t work, so we had to buy a new one.  Fortunately, there was a K-mart right down the street!  
I let Hannah jump in the pool after our site was all set up, even though it was already getting dark.  Then I grilled the burgers in the dark, but I had purchased a really nice LED lantern that worked nicely!  We had to go for a little walk to the bathrooms, but it didn’t bother us.  The bathrooms were clean, which is always nice at a campsite!  That first night, our neighbor decided to watch a really loud movie on their flat screen TV in their tent!!!!  Who would have thought?  It was difficult to sleep that night.  Besides that, I went to take 3 Advil, knowing I would be sore from all the setting up camp…but instead I took Excedrin Migraine, which has caffeine in it!  Not good for sleeping!!!  It was dark.  What can I say?  
That first morning, we had to be up early to go on a snorkeling tour on the island.  It was very windy with rough surf.  So, visibility was really bad!  I have NEVER had such a bad snorkeling experience!  That was a wasted morning.  We came back and Hannah jumped in the pool while I showered.  She spent 2-3 hrs in the pool that day.  I found WiFi at the pool!  I grilled up hotdogs for lunch.  That evening we took out the kayak to watch the sunset.  The campgrounds were right on the water, so we had to carry the kayak down to the boat ramp.  Hannah was afraid it would sink!  It turned out to be my favorite thing on the whole trip!  It handled well and was easy to steer.  It was super comfortable!  I wish we could have stayed out longer, but the sun was setting.  We planned to go back out the next morning, but it rained.  So, I had to pack up everything, even the tent in the pouring rain!  That…was NOT fun!  After loading all up, we stopped by the bathrooms to take a shower and put on some dry clothes.  I couldn’t have been wetter had I jumped in the pool!  Then we drove back home, which took about 1 ½ hours.  I returned home completely and utterly exhausted!  But it was all well worth the effort.  I accomplished a big thing as a single mom!  I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me!  He did give me strength!  Next time, I’d like to stay longer.  It’s too much work for just 2 nights.  I can’t wait to take the kayak out again!  

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