Monday, May 19, 2008

Our "not quite camping" camping trip

To call our weekend trip to Rancho Cicada "camping", is an insult to true campers. Here are the reasons why I don't think it qualifies as camping:

- We were met in the parking lot buy one of our hosts, Bill, with an ATV to tote us and our stuff down to the "campground".
- We slept in tents that were already set up for us. Some people slept in wood cabins, but we decided to "rough it" in the tents.
- The tents had real beds in them (not aerobeds).
- There were two great cooks who prepared all our meals for us in the working kitchen (our food included: pancakes, frittatas, curried chicken salad, tri-tip sandwiches, cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies). We ate outside on a nice covered deck.
- There were refrigerators and freezers where we could store any snacks we brought along.
- There were bathrooms with toilets, sinks and showers with real hot water! And did I mention the hot tub?

And this is why it's called camping in my book:
- No private bathrooms.
- Lots of mosquitoes.
- It's out in the sticks, about 15 minutes off the main highway.
- No "general store" where I could buy more insect repellent when I misplaced mine.

Nevertheless, we had an amazing time. It's a private campground so the only ones there were the people we came with. Aside from the river, hot tub, and rattlesnakes (more on that later), everyone felt safe letting their kids run freely. There were 29 adults and about 20 kids, mostly around 5 years old, so there were lots of kids for Lucas to play with.

It was HOT, nearly 100 degrees, but there's a river that runs alongside the campground where you could go in and cool off. Lucas and Kevin spent most of the time in or around the river. (Do you see Kevin? He's the one pulling the raft for Lucas and his buddy.)

Me? I spent most of the time lounging and reading on the grassy area next to the river. There were huge shady trees and a bunch of hammocks. This was my view from one of the hammocks.At night we made s'mores at the fire pit. And in the morning, we woke to the sounds of geese and the rushing river. At one point, as I was relaxing in the hammock, looking around at the kids running around playing, I thought, "This is how those utopian societies start, minus the crazy religious freaks."

We knew just one other family going into this trip, but everyone we met was so nice. It was so re-assuring that we could just go on this trip with a group of people we don't know and find so many interesting folks to talk to and spend time with.

On Sunday morning, our hosts, Bill and Dave, took some of us up to see their antique cars and Abe, a 250-pound tortoise. Here's Lucas and another boy inspecting an authentic Hudson Hornet (just like Doc, from the movie Cars).The whole time, we were made aware of the rattlesnakes that were in the area and were constantly reminded to be careful and stay on the paths when we were up in the brush. Unfortunately, one of the kids went off the path, climbed over some rocks, stepped on a rattlesnake and got bit in the leg. It was very surreal and scary as I saw this boy being carried away quickly, past all of us toward the cars. He was rushed to the hospital and is now doing fine.

This was a trip that Lucas will probably always remember. Luckily, plans are already in the works for next year's trip to Rancho Cicada.

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