Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Camping at Pinnacles National Monument

One of my favorite things in the world is CAMPING.
Who DOESN'T love camping? It's fun to get away from everything (with no phones, computers, or distractions) & just have fun with your family & friends. And then there's the
Yup, I love camping.

We decided to go camping with our friends from church. They are moving next month so this was our last hoo-rah before they leave.
(I'm already crying thinking about them going away.)
So after 3 days of being told ALL CAMPSITES were FULL, I FINALLY found 3 campsites right by each other for us in Pinnacles National Monument. They were the perfect campsites too. They were all underneath a HUGE tree so we had shade for our tents. Adam had a huge camp stove for us to cook on (since NO campfires were allowed). And there was plenty of room for the kids to play.

We were told that campfires WERE allowed, but when we arrived the area was too dry for any fires so we were forced to "improvise" tin foil dinners, roasted hot dogs, & dutch oven cobbler. We used my dutch oven to cook the insides of the tin foil dinners & then roasted hot dogs over the flame in the stove. Dinner was GREAT.

After dinner I made cobbler in my dutch oven OVER the stove
(so it didn't turn out as wonderful as when there are hot coals, but it was a yummy dessert).
Then we broke out the

Have you every played "CHUBBY BUNNY?" Try playing them with the new "campfire sized" marshmallows. You'll throw up after 1 marshmallow for sure!

Unless you're Tylee whose mouth can fit a giant marshmallow in with no problem whatsoever. What does that say about Tylee? ha ha ha.

We just got a 10 man (3 room) tent a few months ago so this was our first time trying it out. It's SO nice to have a tent that FINALLY fits our whole family. All 9 kids loved playing around the tents.

We roasted the marshmallows over the camp stove. There just isn't anything in the world like hot smores. Mmmm.

Bladen isn't a smore fan. But he LOVES setting marshmallows on FIRE & then blowing them out. I think we have a Pyromaniac on our hands!

After eating all the delicious eats, we let the kids run around & play while the adults talked. Tylee was having a blast with all the kids. She really is a fun Auntie.

The tent was great. We all fit with LOTS of room to spare. Tylee slept in the front room with the 3 girls. Trek & I fit in the middle area, & the boys slept in the back room. Bladen & Craiger didn't sleep all that well, but the girls slept like rocks.

For breakfast I made goulash in our dutch oven while Kiona made her famous wheat pancakes. Her pancakes trumped my goulash by a long shot. They were DELICIOUS. The goulash, not so much. We had ruined the dutch oven cooking on it over the stove the night before. It was so bad inside by morning that it made our goulash taste like burnt cast iron. Bummer. We'll have to buy another one because I love dutch oven cooking.

The kids loved being around the camp area. They could run, jump, & play to their hearts content. They love that kind of freedom & I LOVE to give it to them.

Trek is a total "TANG Junkie."
He always brings Tang on campouts & I'm afraid he's ruined our son. Bladen drank almost a full 1/2 gallon of Tang in a 24 hour period. We would turn around for 5 seconds & when we turned back, he had more TANG!

He even developed a mini Tang mustache before we left. Silly Boy!

Trek's friends couldn't believe there was such thing as a 10 man tent.
(They all have really small families.)
So he promised to take pictures of it. Then they told him that there was NO WAY he'd be able to get the tent back into it's original bag again. Trek is CRAZY when it comes to packing his camping stuff. He can get the tent & sleeping bags SO SMALL it amazes me. So he made me take pictures of every step of taking down that tent so he could PROVE to his buddies that he was VICTORIOUS!

The sun started to come out as we were packing up camp. In our pale little family that means
SUNSCREEN & lots of it.
The kids got theirs on with no problems. . . but leave it to Trek & Tylee to start a WAR with SUNSCREEN! GROSS!
I guess some things never change.

The kids found a fun little area with a log bridge. They played there for HOURS. We couldn't help but take a few pictures of them because the whole area was just BEAUTIFUL.

The kids were upset that we were packing up camp. I swear my kids would live in the wilderness for the rest of their lives if I let them.

Bladen managed to drink the rest of the TANG while we cleaned up.

After we packed up our camps, we hopped in the vans & drove into the mountain about a couple of miles to the hiking trails. What's a camping trip without doing a HIKE?

The trails here led straight to a cave. We couldn't wait to explore the caves with the kids.

Inside the caves it got darker & darker. You actually had to use a flashlight to get through the entire thing. It was SO MUCH FUN. There were also several bridges over a creek throughout the caves. I think the kids really enjoyed it.

The full hike was a little over 2 miles. I still can't believe my kids survived without whining about being tired. It was a strenuous hike too. We had a BLAST. Along the trail we found a LARGE tree & at the top was a
beehive with honeycomb.
It was BEAUTIFUL. I'm so glad we were able to slowly enjoy & observe our surroundings otherwise we would have never seen it.

Halfway through the hike we stopped for homemade jerky (made by Kiona) & homemade trail mix (made by me). I love ENERGY FOOD!

When we got back to the cars we ate LOTS & LOTS of WATERMELON.

There were woodpeckers all over the place. We had a ton of fun teaching the kids about the different birds in this region as well as the plants they should avoid: that mountain was COVERED in POISON OAK.

We arrived home safe & sound around 3:00 Saturday afternoon. The kids were completely worn out. But we had a BLAST.

We'll miss the Moore family. Thanks for a WONDERFUL weekend.

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