Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kites and Camping

All of the moves we have made while being in the army have brought us to fairly large cities. Considering that I grew up in a town with only one stoplight (there are two now!) and my husband only had a caution light, the change has been a big one. I grew up camping with my family and loved every minute of it. We've gone in the heat of a FL summer, the cold (c'mon 50/60 degrees is cold to a Floridian) and the rain. I think my favorite trip was one we went on to Salt Springs where we stayed for a week in a pop up camper. I spent the week reading the Yearling for the first time. (You know, it was actually written in that area?) Sure I was a bit of a girly girl back then, I loved dresses and Barbie dolls, but when it came to enjoying the outdoors, camping was the best way to do so.

Since making all of the moves for the Army, I have become increasingly concerned with my daughters' fascination with "city life." They would rather be inside than out and are completely terrified of insects. (Trust me, there have been blood curdling screams over love bugs and house flies. I kid you not.) A lot of this comes from us hurriedly signing leases on apartments so that we can move out of the hotel we stay in upon arriving at a new destination. But no more! We have a beautiful home now with a large backyard where I hope my youngins will learn to love and appreciate nature. We have tiny little frogs, garter snakes, and even ducks out there for them to look at. To say I love this place is an understatement.

Still, bless their hearts, the girls are more afraid of the critters than the critters are of them, so my husband and I have taken up camping again. This past week, the kids and I went camping with a good friend and her kids. We went down to Long Beach Washington and enjoyed the Kite Festival. I'd like to tell you a little about our trip and encourage you to visit as well if you are ever in the area.

Where to stay: Wildwood Campground

We were expecting a much larger group than just the two of us and six kids, so I reserved a site they call the "Back 40." The rate was very affordable and cost less for both nights than if we had stayed in a local motel. It had two picnic tables and one large fire ring as well as ample space for our two tents. We used much of the space as a playing field for the kids where they flew the kites they made at the festival and played all sorts of other games. The campground has two bath houses, a pond for catch and release fishing, basketball, tether ball, and volley ball. The family that owns and runs it is very nice and accommodating, and the grounds are very quiet in the evening- no worries about traffic noise, etc.  The best part about this place is the location! They are situated very near the beach and the town of Long Beach, WA.

                                            Our tent site... So much more behind the camera!

What to do: Beach, Kite Festival, Cape Disappointment
Long Beach Peninsula
Kite Festival
Cape Disappointment State Park

My kids saw glimpses of the Pacific ocean when we went up to La Push in April, but this was their first time being able to actually see and touch the water. The beach out here in the Northwest is very different from the East coast. I recommend long sleeves or sweaters in the morning right up till about lunch time. After the sun comes out, bathing suits are comfortable. (Remember this is August in the NW, we actually do have lots of sunny days in the summer!) The kids got to play in the surf, but because the currents are so dangerous, we didn't let them go past the middle of their shins. There is no swimming at this beach. But oh what a beautiful beach it is! The sand is dark gray with little flecks of black (volcanic perhaps?) There are plenty of opportunities to build sand castles, and if you go the third full week in August, you will get to take part in the kite festival!

 I had no idea there was such a large following in this niche! The town of Long Beach is so accommodating to their tourists. Parking is free just about everywhere, the festival is free, and they have a number of free activities for the kids to participate in during the festival. Ours enjoyed making kites with a couple of veteran kite fliers/makers. Later, they played in the sand at various kids "camps" that people set up on the beach. We watched aerial ballet with kites and music and enjoyed one show the most as it was put on by an 80+ year old man who goes out and flies his kites every day of the year. The sheer number of kites in the air was absolutely beautiful, and from what I understand, the mid week was nothing compared to what they expected over the weekend. The experience of it all is so much more than what I have written here, so if you get the chance, do not miss this!


 The last day we were there, we visited Cape Disappointment and went through the Lewis and Clark interpretive center. You will need a discover pass (state park permit) to park in the parking lot, but they offer paid parking as well. After a steep climb up a ramp to the top (there is handicapped parking available without the climb) we were able to see where the Columbia River meets the ocean. We saw the lighthouse up there, but did not hike to it. Instead, we wanted to visit the interpretive center before nap time. Admission is $5 for adults and $2.50 for kids 7+ This place is great! It includes highlights of Lewis and Clark's journey west as well as what they did when they finally reached the area. There is a 20 minute video downstairs and interactive exhibits that the kids are encouraged to touch. They also have a gift shop and beautiful panoramic viewing of the cape.

            Where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. I didn't think it would be this calm!

Even the ride out and back was great. We skipped the interstate and stuck to the smaller roads and went through some great little towns. All in all, it was a very relaxing trip. One might think it would be stressful with 6 kids and tents plus sand that sticks to everything, but it was actually a much needed break from the every day.

I encourage you to make a connection with the activities you loved to do as a kid. Our moving habits offer perfect opportunities to show them that we weren't always mom and dad. Playing with our kids is one of the best gifts we can give them because it is a tangible way we can show them that we love them.

What's there to do around where you live? What sorts of activities do you enjoy doing with your kids that you used to do as a kid yourself?


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