We bought a tent.

I grew up in a family of day-hikers. We like to go out on adventures, with a pack full what my dad calls 'soggy sandwiches' to some beautiful hike - a lake, a waterfall, the largest tree of its kind in the US (a lot of those are in WA.) Then we'd return to our cabin and sleep on real beds.

We never camped overnight.

Well, we camped overnight once. I was about 5. We went to a place called Trial Lake.

If you don't really know how you feel about camping, why would you go a place called Trial Lake? That seems to just be asking for trouble. Of course, I had a great time, but that could have also been mostly due to my awesome sweatpantsuit and suspenders:

Anyhow, we never camped as a family again. Not for lack of enthusiasm on some people's part - Anders raised his hand and pleaded, "I want to go camping!" every Monday during the Family Beeswax portion of Family Home Evening until he was 18. He even slept in an Ikea tent on the floor of his bedroom every night for about 4 years. My parents were unmoved by his desperation...such was the impact of Trial Lake. As a result Girls camp, Scout camps, Youth Conferences - they were all delightful novelties for my siblings and I. Camping! Real camping!

 Jeff and I have camped here and there since being married, but I wouldn't have really considered us campers. We got a little tent when we were first married - a tiny two-man tent. We went to a ward campout, and as we drove through the site we pointed at one tiny little tent and snickered at it's puniness. We regretted this immediately when we put our tent up for the first time and discovered it was about half the size of the one we were mocking. In fact, I think the tent Anders had in his room was larger than the one we tried to sleep in that night.  Luckily we weren't camping at Trial Lake, so we recovered from that embarrassment and just borrowed my parents tent for any subsequent camping (they obviously weren't using it.)

Anyhow, last month we bought a tent.

Our friend James profoundly reflected the other night that you're never exactly the person you think you are when you buy a tent. I mean, really you're never exactly the person you think you are while shopping at REI or Cabela's at all - but it's nice to envision yourself as a mountain man for the duration of the hike around the store, though.

However, I am happy to report that in the first month of tent ownership Jeff and I have ventured out into the wilderness not just once, but twice!

First we explored Shenandoah with some good friends:

Wildlife report: saw a black bear. He crossed the road right in front of us and hurried into the trees. This was exciting because I really love bears.
Best camping moment: Making s'mores with Reese's peanut butter cups. Amazing.
What we can learn from: Shenandoah doesn't allow outside firewood, we got there too late to purchase any. Firewood, it turns out, is fairly crucial to having a decent fire.

Then a few weekends ago we drove out to Tuckahoe State Park:

Wildlife report: Saw turtles (I also have always had a deep love for turtles) while canoeing. They were sitting out sunning themselves all over the place. Also saw a great blue heron, and a few red winged black birds.
Best camping moment: Canoeing! Tuckahoe State Park has canoes to rent and the lake is so fun to go around on. Also, Peter and Kate brought hammocks and Jeff and I are now convinced that we need our own.
What we can learn from: Trying to build on our s'mores experience of the time before, Jeff attempted to melt the peanut butter cups on the graham crackers over the fire while I painstakingly roasted our marshmallows to a golden brown. Then he put it all together and promptly dropped both s'mores into the dirt. Next time I will handle my own s'more (with care.)

Canoeing pictures courtesy of Jason and Savannah:

Every time we leave we say, "Next time we go camping we'll have to remember to bring ___________" and every time I try to remember what it was we said all I come up with is a giant blank, just like that.

Also, I'm looking for a sweatpant suit with suspenders in my size now, to make these trips really complete.

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