When I told people I was going camping this past weekend, the most common response was "So who's watching the kids?"
As if camping and kids don't mix.
As if kids don't dig dirt and trees and rocks and hiking and running and playing. And dirt. Did I mention dirt? I think kids really like dirt.
And my kids really love camping.
When we first arrived, Bjorn grabbed his dump truck and shovel and spent two hours shoveling dirt from end of the campsite to the other. Peanut had all her toys laid out in a row on a 9 foot x 20 foot mat and literally rolled from one end to the other, grabbing teething rings and tagged blankets as she went.
They entertained themselves. With no Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Lightning McQueen. With no bouncy magic chair or tummy time playmat.
They entertained themselves the way God and Mother Nature intended. By eating rocks.
This past weekend, we took our Hotel-Motel-Holiday-Inn pop-up camper so that I could finally see one of the sights of Arizona I swore I would see while I lived here. Tombstone.
It lived up to all my wildest expectations. It was cheese, pure cheese. And I love me some cheese.
Women wore bustles of lace, and high, feathered hats Princess Beatrice would be proud to don. Men had a pistol on each hip and a wicked glint in their eye. After the OK Corral showdown, Wyatt Earp winked and tipped his hat to me.
It was a wonderful day of Wild West glamour, which we followed with a big spaghetti dinner back at our campsite. Both kids ate heartily (Peanut chowing down on some milk and sweet potatoes), then watched Wall-E on The Hub's tablet and settled down to bed.
The next day we went to Kartchner Caverns, these amazing caverns near Tucson that were discovered in the last 30 years or so. They are living caverns - we took the underground tour and the cave literally dripped around us, creating little pieces of stalagtites and stalagmites that may show up thousands of years from now.
Only one of the cavern tours is accessible to children under the age of 7, so that is the one we went on. Beforehand, we were warned by about 3 dozen volunteers that normally children don't do so well underground, and if that occurred, we would be escorted out of the cave. Apparently, these volunteers don't know my children, because they rocked it.
An hour and a half of walking through a dark, humid underground cavern where you absolutely cannot touch anything, and my kids totally rocked it. Peanut, in a front carrier pack, fell asleep after 15 minutes and stayed asleep throughout the entire tour. Bjorn walked part of the way and was held by Daddy part of the way, keeping all hands and feet inside the ride at all times. He didn't touch anything, scream, or make a scene.
It was as if both my kids could feel the magical work of nature around them.
I was going to use either of them as my excuse to leave (I don't do so well in claustrophobic places) but they were doing so well, and the cavern was so magnificent, I took a few breaths and tried to forget that there were 3 tons of rock and dirt above me, and a fault line right over there in those rocks to my left.
The weekend was a blast. By the end of the third day, we all smelled like dirt and camping. Again, the way Mother Nature had intended. We were tired and sore and sunburned and. . . . happy. The whole family was happy, from the big Daddy in charge of all pop-up camper repairs all the way down to the little munchkin who turned 6 months old (and got her first tooth!!) in a state park 50 miles west of Tucson, Arizona.
And who says you can't bring kids camping? Not I.
Definetely Not I.