Monday, July 28, 2014

First Family Camping Trip

I had been anticipating camping with my kids since they were born. I wasn't sure what age is the right age to take them on their first trip. My wife and I decided to do a test run by going one day over a weekend. I have fished Stone Mountain State Park several times but never camped there. The day we arrived at the campground I was really impressed with the quality of the campsites and bathrooms. The bathrooms were cleaner than some of the hotels I've stayed in. We made camp and started a fire. This where I started to realize what this trip was going to be all about. Instead of just enjoying everything this experience was going to be about teaching the kids what they can and can't do while camping.
The first was to teach them that fire is something dangerous and not something you play with. This was actually harder than I thought. The kids were constantly getting too close to the fire ring. Especially when they were chasing each other around the campsite. 
I was sure someone was going to be impaled with a skewer but we managed to roast marshmallows and cook hot dogs without any incidents. My wife got these giant marshmallows that were almost too big for smores. They were a meal in themselves. 

The next day we decided to go for a hike. My wife and I didn't sleep that well due to our air mattress not inflating. She did buy some small 1/4 inch foam pads for the kids and we tried those as a substitute. It didn't work and we spent the night tossing and turning. She ended up sleeping in the car. Even with the bad nights sleep we rallied and went for a hike. 
Stone mtn is a impressive sight. The wall looks almost vertical but from a distance you can see the mtn is actually a rock dome. Many rock climbers from the surrounding area come here to test their skills. 
My daughter wanted to climb this so bad and it took me constantly berating her to keep her from attempting an ascent. The plan was to hit a natural water slide after the hike. My wife twisted her ankle pretty bad on the hike back to the car. She could still walk but it was obvious she was in pain. I made a walking stick for her and of course the kids bugged me to make them one of their own.
This seemed like a good idea until the walking sticks became guns and later swords. The walking sticks ended up back in the forest before the hike was over. 
The water slide was part of a small waterfall. The upper falls have a pretty spectacular view.
My daughter begged me to go down the water slide with her but it looked pretty bumpy. I heard from other hikers that people usually bring something plastic to sit on to protect their rear. We ended up just playing at the base of the falls and the kids had plenty of fun.
When we were about to leave my daughter was yelling about an orange lizard. 
I have been looking for one of these newts for years. The last place I'd expect to find one is by a popular swimming hole. The color of these creatures is amazing. You'd think the vibrant color would make them vulnerable to predators. The color actually indicates the newt is toxic. Various times on the trail we came across some mushrooms that had the same color.
I wonder if this is a coincidence or if the salamanders feed on these mushrooms. I think even with our mishaps the camping trip was a success. On the drive back home my kids asked if we can go camping again and stay longer next time.