After our camping/hunting trip in November had gone so well and the kids had an amazing time, we knew that we would take the kids again in the Spring. We planned a few months ago to go the last weekend in March and our friends would join us. It almost didn't happen. Thursday night I find out my best friend's husband had a job interview come up unexpectedly and a few other arrangements had not been made for them to go along.
I was bummed. I figured that we could make other arrangements and go on a weekend excursion somewhere else. Friday morning I changed my mind. The hubs had taken Friday off and why waste a personal leave day to sit around the house? We got online and searched the campgrounds, thinking we would change locations and go to a different one than planned. Camping almost didn't happen, thanks to a Parks and Leisure Camping organization.
News flash!, you have to make a 24 hour advance reservation for a campsite. Since this was our first time camping outside of a hunt camp we had no idea. Thankfully the nice lady at Salt Springs Recreation Campground took our same day reservation via phone and we avoided this new policy run by the State.
We hit the road into the Ocala National Forest to enjoy the nature, swimming in the springs and disconnecting from the world. (cell service was non existent for me and the hubs occasionally had one bar) It was such a treat to have running water, more than one bathroom stall, public showers, a wash station to wash your dishes with hot water( that you don't boil yourself) and purchasable wood at the ranger station.
The first afternoon we set up camp while the kids entertained themselves. Miss K and Little E spent most of the afternoon playing with inch worms they discovered on the trees. Those little worms sent my kids into full belly laughs from tickling their arms and legs when they "inched" along.
By nightfall we were attacked by mosquitoes that could carry a horse away and fought them off with OFF repellent and mosquito coils. Of course, even the best efforts did not keep them "blood suckers" from attacking Little E. He now adorns about 20 insect bites from head to toe. Poor little guy. There can be one mosquito in the house and they will only bite him.
The next morning came earlier than I thought, especially since the kids were up late. Cooking and cleaning up breakfast while camping takes so long that by the time you walk to the swimming hole and swim for an hour or so, everyone is already hungry again. You ever notice that? We were watched by a filthy looking turkey vulture while we ate our sandwiches under the oak trees. I thought they only ate roadkill.
We made better time on planning dinner the second night and got started earlier. By the second night you get a routine and know how long you need to eat in a reasonable time. We wanted to roast marshmallows by the camp fire on our last night so dinner needed to be quicker. It was so funny to watch Little E intentionally burn his marshmallows and laugh. He was the cutest thing. What was more funny that he stepped in some of the sticky goo he flung on the ground and then wanted me to carry him to the showers to wash his foot.
On Sunday, our last day, we finally had the routine down to a science and actually couldn't wait to get home. Leaving the outdoors was bittersweet. I couldn't wait to get home and shower to remove dirt from every crevice of my body but I would miss the simplicity of life outdoors. No worries about how dirty the kids got, there is no carpet to worry about vacuuming. We packed up and as the tent came down it seemed so surreal. Some fabric and carbon fiber tent poles were our home for 2 1/2days, not much really.
I had a hard time falling asleep last night when I thought I really missed my bed. I missed hearing the sound of crickets and crackling camp fires. We're already planning the next trip. It was a great family outing despite it not going as planned.