our first family camping experience

One of our family’s favorite weekend activities is visiting estate or moving sales in our neighborhood.  Last summer, we got a barely used tent for like $20, and it’s bothered me ever since then that we haven’t used it, so when we loaded up to visit my parents in north Alabama in late July, I decided we’d bring the tent that is supposed to sleep 3-4 people, assuming my dad still has all the equipment we used to use when we’d go deer hunting together 30 years ago (including at least 1 extra tent).  Turns out, he gave the extra tent to my little brother a few years ago.

We started with roasting marshmallows and making s’mores in the fire pit.

camping in Gville

With an extension cord powered oscillating fan just outside the entrance, we put the 2 grownups in the middle of the tent and surrounded ourselves with 3 little bodies.  We slept to the sound of singing (is that what they’re doing?) bullfrogs beside Lake Guntersville and a crackling camp fire, and it was great.  A tent built for 3-4 adults worked just fine for 2 adults and 3 children.

The next day, we enjoyed the lake on my mom’s pontoon boat.

TO on boat

We had leftover Barry’s BBQ, and my boy caught himself some fish off the dock.

TO w fish

The next morning after church, we set about to accomplish the real mission of the trip in the eyes of my 6-year-old boy:  to find his daddy’s old Transformers.  We opened up the extra garage, which is full of boxes from their move to north Alabama from middle Tennessee in 2003, a task I’ve spent several fruitless hours pursuing over the past decade or so when trying to find something I assume should be in there.  This time, we actually succeeded.  In a box marked “transformers” were the dinobots, gobots, autobots, and decepticons my boy so badly wanted to find (based on my assuring him I was once cool like he is).  He was elated.  I also found the photo albums I compiled after buying my first Kodak Disc camera in the mid-1980s, something I’ve been wondering if I’d see again for close to 10 years.  We also found the old cookie tin in which I kept all my GI Joe and Star Wars action figures.  Now all of these items are in my son’s bedroom, where he plays with them nearly daily.

On the way home Sunday afternoon, we stopped in Mentone, AL and ate at the Wildflower Cafe after walking about all the artisan shops across the street.  It was worth the added drive time and was a great detour (and had plenty of shady parking, so I didn’t feel like our dog would die if left in the car during dinner–a real bonus!).

wildflower cafe

We hope to make it back to Guntersville before the summer ends.  It’s one of the most peaceful places an Atlantan can visit within a 3-hour radius.  We may even try out the state park camping ground one night, now that the children have had a taste of sleeping outside in their grandparents’ back yard.  The boy wants to catch more fish, and I’d like to see him do it.

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