John Denver was born in Roswell New Mexico, so I'm not sure how West Virginia became home, but after spending three days in the rippling hills of the mountain state, I can see why he might have adopted it in song. We moved into our new apartment on Tuesday night, and spent most of Wednesday unpacking our boxes so we could pack our car for the camping trip. We wouldn't normally take a vacation the day after a move, but we'd been planning the trip for weeks and we couldn't change it when our move date got bumped up. No matter though, we packed up the Ford and rolled out of Athens about 2pm on Thursday afternoon. We drove south on State Route 33 out of Ohio and turned south onto the West Virginia Turnpike, a windy mountain highway that snakes through rural West Virginia, through Charleston, and on South into Virginia. We passed Historical markers of Civil and Revolutionary war significance and this odd looking building that I wish we would have stopped at. We passed country road taverns, leaning trailers, a half dozen FoodLand grocery stores, and the long, cascading Kanawha Falls that curve their way across the Kanawha River about thirty minutes North of Babcock State Park, our final destination.
It was misty when we arrived, and the ground was wet and spongy. Appalachian rain storms have a way of wrapping everything in a cottony wetness that permeates your shirt, the pages of the book you brought to read, the graham crackers in the cooler, and the match box strike plate. It reminded me of camping in Oregon, if Oregon were housed entirely in a seldom used sauna. Not that the humidity was uncomfortable--far from it. The rain kept the humidity manageable, but even if its not hot and humid, you can't escape the wetness.
The Lubecks arrived Thursday night about 10 pm after driving from Roanoke with their ten month old, and since we were all so tired, and since I failed to get a decent fire going because of all the moisture, we called it an early night. However, no matter how early you call it a night when your camping with kids, the night ends up calling you late. Some time during the middle of the night three large dogs wandered into camp and began to sniff around our tents and our picnic table, looking for scraps of food. Jon was sleeping outside his tent under the stars, and wasn't bothered by them at all, but when I peaked out the tent window at the three dogs, I was glad to be in my tent and not lying out in the open. The dogs disappeared, but about twenty minutes later, not very far away, the noise of a dog fight broke out, and the QB and I jerked awake. We finally fell back to sleep when the rain started, followed by the wind, and a little thunder. The whole time the boys stayed asleep, though more than once the Monkey migrated halfway across the tent, at one point ending up completely off his mat, curled in a ball on the hard ground--still asleep.
We almost didn't bring any rain gear because its August and we figured we wouldn't need any, but we were all grateful that the QB through them in at the last minute. We borrowed this great tent from the Scouts at church, and it was quite cozy.
Mr. Baseball stayed up quite late both nights we camped, but stayed in a fairly congenial mood most of the trip.
On Friday night a Thunderstorm rolled in that cancelled our plans to go to the Lake, and almost ruined our foil dinners. Jon, Mr. Baseball, and I miraculously got a fire going in the rain, made and cooked foil dinners, and managed to keep ourselves fairly dry while the QB and Alex played with the little kiddos in the tent. We ate in the tent, had B-day surprise brownies for the QB's birthday in the tent, and the rain let up just as we finished. We spent the rest of the evening building and tending a fire so we could roast marshmallows and sit around and stare into the flames.
The highlight for Friday (our Anniversary--SIX YEARS!) was a mini-date to the Lake before the rain started. The Monkey took a nap back at camp and Mr. Baseball played with the Lubecks while the QB and I took a cruise around the lake on paddle boats. We joked about making paddle boating an Olympic Sport, and I decided a canoe probably would have been a little more romantic, but at least we got to sit next to each other. After our boat ride we drove out to this look out for the photo op. We sat on a bench and talked about where we'd been for all six of our anniversaries.
Year 1-QB pregnant with Mr. Baseball, remodeling Provo House that we recently moved into.
Year 2-The Student in the middle of 16 straight months of School before taking a break to work at Wendy's while QB finish BA.
Year 3-Just moved to Japan with nothing but ourselves and 12 pieces of luggage.
Year 4-Moved home from Japan, stopped in Hawaii--QB Pregnant with Monkey.
Year 5 Moved to Ohio.
Year 6-Camping in West Virginia--QB pregnant, just moved.
We laughed that in six anniversaries the QB has been pregnant for three of them, and we've moved on or within a few weeks of four of them.
Marshmallows were a big hit with the two boys, though they both probably ate enough to make a grown person sick. Why is it that younger stomachs seem to be able to handle sugar so much better than older stomachs? When I was young I could roast a dozen marshmallows without blinking, but now more than a few and I feel like I need a stomach pump. In fact, unless its squished between chocolate and graham crackers, I don't even like roasted marshmallows that much. I can't decide if I should be sad about that or not.
Saturday morning, despite some pre-dawn rain, we enjoyed enough sunshine to hit the lake. Mr. Baseball really wanted to try out the paddle boats, which was fine, except that it really meant that he wanted to ride in the paddle boat while I peddled because his legs weren't long enough to reach the boat.
After the paddle boat, we all got into a row boat. The Monkey wasn't sure about the boat at first, but as soon as we got out there he was wanting to be set down so he could help row.
Despite his curiosity the Monkey only lasted about twenty minutes in the boat, so we dropped him and the QB off and Mr. Baseball and I headed for the far end of the lake.
This is what tired boys look like. They were troopers. They hiked with us around the lake, went boating, played a lot of soccer, dug in the dirt, and ate until the were going to burst. Then they slept. The trip was a success, and when we got home on Saturday afternoon we all went to bed early.