Monday, August 30, 2010

Downhill Slide Before the Start of School

This was the last weekend before Kai goes back to school this morning so we wanted to do something special.  We went camping.

Last summer, we tried camping for the first time as a family.  I had gone a few times as a kid and always enjoyed it.  It was another one of those things that I did as a child that I wanted to pass along to my own family.

I was pretty sure that Kai would have fun as he will take any excuse to sleep in the same room/tent with Mom and Dad.  But, I wasn’t sure about how my wife would like it.  Actually, that is not true.  I knew she would hate it.  She hates bugs, mosquitoes especially, and getting dirty is not her thing, and let’s not even get into the whole public bathroom/shower thing.  There was no way she was going to like camping. 

It came as no surprise that Kai loved camping. He liked helping to set up the tent, making a campfire, and eating outside.  But, I think his favorite parts were just playing games in the tent with Mom and Dad, and getting to stay up late with us.

What did surprise me was that my wife did not hate it too much. I don’t think it was her favorite thing to do, but she had fun sharing in the experience as a family, and saw how much fun Kai had and even wanted to do it again for him.

So, on Friday, we packed up our car and drove out to the northwestern end of Illinois and set up camp in Mississippi Palisades State Park.

Now, getting ready to go camping with Kai is not easy.  In addition to packing up all the usual camping equipment and food, we also have to take Kai’s supplements and special GFCF (gluten-free/casein-free) foods, which take up a couple boxes by themselves.  Keeping on schedule with his supplements can be challenging enough at home, but it is more difficult when you’re working out of an ice chest and tent.  My intrepid wife deserves all of the credit for keeping so organized with that.

When we arrived at the park, we were surprised at how empty it was.  We had the pick of almost any campsite we wanted.

The mosquitoes were much worse this year.  As I sit here still scratching all the bites I got, I am reminded that it was almost more than I care to tolerate. 

But, Kai again had fun.  One of the highlights was making s’mores.  My wife had found the makings for GFCF s’mores.  (Kinnikinnick, Cracker Smoreable Grhm Wf, 8-Ounce (6 Pack)) Of course it’s always fun to roast marshmallows, but I was surprised how awesome the s'mores tasted.  I thought it tasted even better than ones made with regular graham crackers.

The first night, Kai was so excited that when it was time for bed, he kept talking and talking and would not fall asleep.  I was grateful that the campground was so empty and that our tent was far from the next nearest one.  Kai does not understand the concept of speaking in a soft voice, particularly when you really want him to be quiet, and he was quite the loud chatterbox that night.

On Saturday, we went for a hike in the morning and then drove over to nearby Chestnut Mountain ski resort in the afternoon. In the summer, they set up an Alpine Slide that is 2,050 feet long and runs the length of the longest ski hill.  It looks like a long, curvy toboggan run, and runs on parallel tracks so two sleds can race each other.  Riding on three-foot long sleds with wheels, you can go quite fast if you don’t apply the brakes. 

It’s funny that the boy who is afraid to ride on a bicycle with training wheels loves the Alpine Slide.  Kai kept yelling “Wow wee!” the entire way down and wanted to ride it again and again.  He rode mostly with me, but switched over to Mom for one run after she beat us down on her next-to-last run. 

We were tired by the time we got home on Sunday afternoon.  The fun of the camping dissipated as we all thought about the beginning of school the next day.  Kai expressed anxiety about going back to school.  My wife and I did not express our own anxieties, but could feel the OWIGTHISTS stress beginning to creep in already. 

I don’t know what today will bring.  I’m sure my wife and I will be a bit on edge until 2:30 when she picks him up at school. 

But, for one last weekend, we had a “wow wee” carefree, exciting time.  It was the perfect way to cap off the summer.

For more information about the Chestnut Mountain Alpine Slide, click here.

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