Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Camping – More Hiking? and Other Fun

After our pleasant hike-turned-debacle Saturday morning, we returned to our campsite to rest and recover.

We enjoyed a late lunch – hamburgers cooked over our campfire.

Then we headed out to Boggio’s Orchard. Going to Boggio’s has become part of our fall camping tradition. Usually they have pick-your-own apples, but this year’s unusually warm early spring weather wiped out most of their crop when the apple blossoms that came out extra early were later hit with a frost.

But picking apples is really the least of the reasons why we go there. Kai loves going down the big slide down from the “apple tree.”

And he most especially likes going in their corn pit and burying himself in the huge pile of kernels. It is a sensory delight!

Finally, he looked forward to topping off our visit with a taffy apple and apple cider. Yum!

Our evening back at camp was mostly very pleasant. We grilled chicken for dinner, made s’mores for dessert, and played games in the tent.

The only blemish came when the three of us arrived back at our tent after going to the bathroom. The young men and women at a neighboring campsite were very loud, and worse yet, using extremely vulgar language.

I immediately went over there. I politely told them that I had an eight-year old child, and asked them if they would watch their language. Fortunately, they did not give me a hard time. They immediately apologized and seemed very sheepish about their behavior. We barely heard a peep from them the rest of the night.

And that was good because after our extra-long walk that morning, we really were tired and wanted to get a good night’s sleep.

We slept pretty well that night, and even slept in the next morning, not getting out of the tent until it was quite light out.

Over breakfast, I gave Kai the schedule for the day. We would finish breakfast, take down the tent and pack up, and then do more hiking before heading home.

With mention of more hiking, Kai stopped eating. He balked at the notion of returning to Mathiessen State Park. Our bad experience getting lost the previous day had soured him on the idea of ever hiking there again.

My wife and I explained that we would go to a different part of the park, and that we would pay close attention to the trail so we would not get lost.

That did not appease him.

“Lets’s go hiking at Starved Rock instead.” Kai wanted to go where we had been to the previous two years, a place where we had not gotten lost and where he was very comfortable.

It was a reasonable request. And I knew it would be easier to agree to that. But I never seem to take the easier approach when it comes to parenting.

I insisted to Kai that we would hike at Mathiessen.

I never like to leave things on a sour note. I believe in the old “get back on the horse that kicked you off” philosophy. I felt that if we did not go back to Mathiessen that morning, it would send the wrong message to Kai – that the place was inherently bad and that we had not learned from our mistakes.

But Kai kept saying that he did not want to go there.

“I’ll go to Starved Rock by myself! Okay?!”

I tried to stay calm and reason with him.

But after a long back-and-forth tussle, I resorted to a threat. He was due to get a booster pack of Pokémon cards for his good behavior at school last month. We would stop at a store to get them on our way home, but if he did not go hiking with us, I told him that I might not want to do that.

I hate having to resort to threats to get him to do something, but too often it seems like the only way to get him to cooperate.

After much consideration, he reluctantly agreed to hike at Mathiessen.

So we drove there, only this time to a different part of the park, a place called the Dells Region for its canyons.

This time, we carefully looked at the map before embarking on our hike. Though we quickly found out that there was no way we would get lost here. The trail is more clearly marked, and the natural landmarks are such that there is no room for confusion as to which way to go.

And we found out that this area is even more gorgeous than where we were the day before.

Kai was a very happy boy as we made our way through the canyons…

And stepped across the mostly dry bed of the stream…

And tightroped across a fallen tree with Mom…

And climbed up onto a ledge…

Yes, walking through this beautiful place, all of Kai’s anger and fears from the previous day’s hike had dissipated.

We had found serenity, in more ways than one.

This time, we easily found our way back to our car. There was still time to do more hiking. There was one more area of the park we would like to see.

But we thought we would leave that for next year. We wanted to end on a high note.
And now Kai can’t wait to go back there again.


  1. Beautiful park! What a great experience your family had. The rolling around in the corn must have been especially fun for Kai.

    I fully understand that sometimes tactics must change. I have been having to raise my voice at Alex lately. After so many times of explaining and direction...when he absolutely refuses to do an action...I have to up the ante some. He then does it. I explained to him that it is he who is making my actions necessary. I simply cannot allow him to take a wrong tact and have him think it is ok. It tears me apart to see him tear up...but he realizes later that for me to not correct his incorrect behavior when all else fails...is to actually desert him.

    Good for you in your endeavor in enforcing correct and moral behavior.

    1. It's a pretty nice park by Midwestern standards. :)


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