A few months ago I told a friend that I was going to take the kids camping this summer. We hatched a crazy plan to go together, with six kids between the two of us. We pulled it off, and it was a lot of fun! We went to a place called French Creek State Park. It was beautiful!
Here's Rowan, who knows how to rock ruffles, even when fishing for minnows. There were TONS of minnows!!
Katie leading Rowan through the woods. This place had lots of trails, and we just kind of explored until the kids got tired or bored, then went on to the next thing.
These flowers were growing along the dam, and I just couldn't walk past without taking a picture.
This! Marvel of modern society. Seeing this pretty much made my day. How hilarious is this? You put in cash or credit, and you can buy all manner of live bait, which arrives in the slot like a bag of potato chips. I wanted to buy worms just for the novelty of it, but I refrained.
I used my fire building skills, along with my enthusiastic helper Tyler, who asked ALL DAY when we were going to 'match the fire'. I sent the kids to forage for wood in the woods and empty campsites. James hung around and 'wood hardened' about 5 sticks. I don't even think there is such a thing, but he would heat it up, walk it to the water pump, douse it, and repeat. Thankfully I didn't end up being branded.
I asked James and his buddy Hudson to let me get a picture of them. This is what I got: dueling marshmallow sticks.
And goofy expressions. These two pretty much kept themselves entertained, between the paracord I brought, James' pocket knife, and all the critters to catch.
There were tons of these itty bitty little frogs. I am pretty sure we stepped on a bunch without knowing. Aren't they cute?
There were also scads (does anyone use that word anymore??) of microscopic minnows, which were scooped up for bait. The kids' idea of bait is a little sketchy. They alternated between using these tiny minnows, and hanging an entire (shelled) clam on their hook. I think by the end I had properly explained to them that no, the fish cannot fit that in his mouth. Nor will you catch anything with that giant shark hook you found. It helped that they sat and watched the little sunnies congregate around their hooks, AKA the free lunch truck, without getting hooked as they nibbled away on giant oyster steaks.
This kid was in heaven. They all were, really. Here he is with a jar of minnows. FYI: Minnows have a very short life expectancy in captivity.
I caught a turtle! This trip gave me the opportunity to use the skills I honed so carefully in my childhood: catching critters and following the fishing line until you find a hook (or lure..). This turtle was so cool and I wish I could have gotten a better picture. I about got sucked into the mud catching this little guy. He caused a lot of excitement and fighting over who got to hold it next, until Tyler decided that he needed to go back and hurled him into the lake. That poor turtle took the flight of his life and has since developed a nervous twitch. Somewhat like the toad Tyler decided to 'help him fly', except that after his flight there was no twitch, nervous or otherwise. After that, I dusted off the old 'animals are our friends' speech and he made nice with some frogs.
This was the larger of the two lakes there, and it was fun of lily pads! Just off to the side here, we saw lots of downed trees that were sporting the handiwork of some beavers. Katie was the first to spot this. Apparently they have listened when I point out all sorts of things to then, because now they are starting to notice things before I do. They have eagle eyes!
James was really patient fishing. He kind of got the fishing bug while were there, and he buckled down and concentrated. He would sit very patiently with his little homemade fishing pole and wait, and wait and wait. If you know James, you know that he does not yet excel in the patience department but he did good. When we went to the lake the last morning, he told me 'Mom, I'm gonna catch that one fish that hangs out by the boats!' and I told him he had the mind of a fisherman. He didn't catch the rainbow trout he was after, but he caught a sunny and a mystery fish. Although both fish were smaller than a deck of cards, the smile on his face was huge! For the rest of the day, he would look at me and say 'I can't believe I caught two fish! I caught fish!' Priceless.
I'll post a few more pictures tomorrow. I had fun taking pictures! :)