Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trains and the Woods

We are a camping family. It's not that we don't have other interests, or that we spend every weekend camping (though we might if that were possible), but more that it's our default happy place. When there's an opportunity for time off or a vacation, we always think of camping first. I daydream sometimes about travel to exciting destinations (I love roller coasters, for example), or far away places (I very much want to see Australia and Scotland, among others), but if you ever ask me what I want to do for a vacation I always say camping. 

There are certain special places I go back to over and over again (more about those another day), but I also love to try out new spots. I'm very lucky in that I married a man who loves camping as much as I do, and we're doubly lucky that Max loves it right along with us. If you just mention that there's a camping trip coming up it's all he can do to think of anything else (even trains!) until it's time to go. We do mostly car camping these days, but we've got our setup and clean up down to under an hour, which is pretty decent. 

He's quite the little camping helper by now too. He helps set up tents, collect firewood, pack and unpack the car, digs firepits, carries water, etc. He also seems to behave better while camping, which is a pleasant bonus. One of his favorite parts of camping it all the dirt. Max really loves digging in dirt, and it's wonderfully convenient when camping. 

A few weekends ago we set off into Washington state for a weekend of camping, with a train bonus in the middle. I picked a new spot for us, Middle Fork Campground, and boy was it gorgeous. The campground is a good 10 miles down a winding dirt road, so you really feel off into nowhere. It's on a beautiful river and we're hoping to head back later this summer to fish there since we didn't bring the poles this trip. 

Camping is fun in and of itself, but I also love that it helps Max love nature and animals and bugs and trees and really want to take care of them all. He's very conscientious about how we can take care of the planet so there will always be camping, and wants to rehome any bugs we disturb, for example. We also have a family clean up tradition for when we're leaving. We clean up everything we brought, try to erase that we were there, then everyone has to collect 10 pieces of trash so that it's a little cleaner than when we got there. Max takes it pretty seriously, which I love. 

Max and Matt goofin' off in the forest. 

It's not really camping without s'mores.

Enjoying the fire they built. 

Playing in the trees. 

Hugging a tree before we leave. 

But the weekend wasn't only about camping this time. Max loves camping, but he might love trains a bit more. He's been a devoted train fanatic since he was about 18 months. This was our 4th year at the Day Out With Thomas, and he loves it as much as ever. The train ride itself, certainly, but also all of the train-related activities are a major source of happiness. We've gotten into model trains a bit at home now, which only made him more fascinated by the set-ups at the show. And of course the beautiful view of Snowqualamie Falls from Thomas' boxcar is hard to beat. Then we got to finish the day with more camping! Max was over the moon.
In line for Thomas with tickets in hand. 

Couldn't be happier than on a train in the woods. 

Watching the models and taking notes.

What are your kiddos' favorite adventures? Any more camping addicts out there?


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