This weekend we went to River Meadows Park in Arlington and stayed in a yurt. We've always wanted to camp in a yurt and were quite excited to do this!
We packed up Friday afternoon. The weather was cool and cloudy, but not rainy.
A tired Elsa, waiting for us to finally leave already!
Our very full car and the excited kids (though Ethan doesn't look particularly excited in this shot...)
Our first vision of the park... Four deer eating berries
We turned into the yurt village and were surprised to find that we could not drive up to the yurts. One had to park in the parking lot, then use a small wagon to tow items to the yurts. If I had known this I perhaps wouldn't have chosen the last two on the road!
The unpaved yurt road
There were two yurts behind me, and these were the last four. Mom and Dad stayed in the very last one, we were in the second to last. Three of the yurts were bigger (20 feet) and #3 (the one closest in the picture) was "luxury", meaning it had two decks, bed linens and additional furniture.
The interior was still new and fresh, since these opened up just recently. It was a bit sparser than I had imagined, and the sleeping arrangements were different than I expected as well, but overall it was pretty cool. We had two kids sleeping on the top bunk, then I got the bottom and J slept on the futon and the baby in the pack and play. We also had a small table. (Note: The yurt was perfectly clean when we got there. These pictures were taken just as we were leaving so it was a bit dirtier :))
A heater and outlets were also provided.
View from the door
The yurt was incredibly light inside thanks to the skylight. It never felt enclosed or claustrophobic. My one complaint was that in the mornings it was VERY bright as soon as it got light out, which woke everyone up way too early.
Elly was a little ham and kept dropping her toys and saying "Uh oh".
Right after we got all our stuff down to our yurt the rain started to fall. We put up our canopies right away and man, were we EVER grateful that we'd decided that Mom and Dad should bring theirs too. Those canopies saved us this weekend and allowed us to cook and eat and visit in sometimes drenching rain without issue.
My Dad has an excellent technique for starting a fire in hard rain. A road flare! Its also very entertaining for the children :)
We'd only been camping for a few hours when BOTH Ethan and Gwen ripped their pants! Ethan wasn't sure where his ripped.... we think he slid over a log and got caught up. We know how Gwen ripped hers though and I wish I'd had my camera to capture it! Gwen was jumping off the tailgate of my Dad's truck and her pants got caught on a piece of metal. She was hanging there by her pants and started calling for help! Jason rescued her before the pants ripped through, but I tell you, it was just like you see in a movie when people dangle from their pants. It was hilarious!
Gwen helping Nanny do dishes
A very very very tired baby finally giving up the fight. Thanks Jenni :)
It rained all night, but thanks to the lovely yurt we were warm and dry. The mattresses on the beds were thick and even though they were a little hard, we could not complain as it was a lot better than a tent!
The early riser crew (thanks Elsa!). I believe this was at 5:15am.
While I was starting breakfast, she broke into the food bin and stole a hot dog bun. This girl is sneaky!
Nothing makes Ethan smile like hot chocolate in the morning
Jenni had brought her bike and we brought the bike trailer. We hooked it up and it gave the kids lots of entertainment (also handy for hauling things to and from the campsite). I took Elsa for a ride and she liked it! I had not ridden a bike for a couple years and this one had a very high seat (thanks to me being the shorty of the family). Nonetheless, I persevered. I'd forgotten how fun biking is.
Later in the day, we couldn't get a very tired Elly to fall asleep. Jenni took her for a spin, and voila...
Speaking of bikes, Mom suggested that we try to teach the kids how to ride without training wheels. We knew Ethan wasn't ready, but thought we'd try for Gwen. She did really good! She was able to go 5-10 seconds without falling. There wasn't a whole lot of pavement at this park, so we need to practice with her on longer stretches.
The weather was much better on Saturday. Though it started out damp, the sun came out later in teh day and warmed everything up and dried it out.
We bought this game called Lasso Golf (also called Ladder Golf). It was so fun! I don't know why we didn't get pictures of it. You throw these things that have a ball on each end, connected by string. You try to wrap them around the rungs and each rung is worth different points. There is actually some good strategy needed! Great fun for all ages. Anyway, Elsa loved the little throwing things and played with them constantly. She was crawling around exploring and next thing I know she's slung a few of these over her neck and is crawling back with her excited crawl (yes, her crawls have moods!), very proud of what she found.
We left our campsite in the afternoon to visit Jordan Bridge Park, which was about 5-10 minutes away. I have to say... it was not very exciting. It was a bridge, yes. There was a small beach, yes. But that was it. Not a thing else! Still, we made a good time of it.
Not too long after I took this picture, one of those swimmers in the background jumped off the bridge into the river. Not very smart.
I found a rock shaped like a heart and gave it to Gwen who was extremely impressed and excited. Gwen has the ability to find joy in the ordinary and that is such a gift!
We returned to our campsite and Gwen and Ethan started playing with the little kids they had met in neighboring yurts.
Gwen and her "girls".
One little boy just made himself at home at our site. He loved Star Wars and came with three light sabers. Ethan and Ben thoroughly enjoyed this!
Notice how Gwen is wearing different clothes from the picture of her with her girlfriends? Its kind of a funny story. Each kid brought a backpack that was supposed to hold 1 toy and a few books. I didn't check the backpacks. Well, midway through the day on Saturday, Gwen goes into the yurt and comes out in clothes that I absolutely did not pack her (I thought dresses would be too cold). She informs me that instead of packing toys and fun things, she packed two outfits (both dresses...) so that if she didn't like the clothes I brought she'd have something else to wear. We hadn't even had a conversation about not wearing dresses, she just had an idea that perhaps I wouldn't pack them. I wasn't sure how to reply to this except to praise her good thinking and cleverness and then have a good laugh with the adults about how funny kids are sometimes.
We knew that Sunday would be a busy day, so we celebrated Fathers Day on Saturday evening.
The kids gave J a gift they'd chosen all themselves.
It was a collection of darling truffles that we'd run across one day while shopping. The kids could not resist buying Daddy these yummy and adorable treats! The picture doesn't do them justice. They were really charming.
From top row to bottom:
Ladybug, ice cream cone
pig, chocolate Lab (just like Toby!)
a turtle, and an oyster with a pearl.
Card and a hug for Grandpa
We woke up this morning to the sound of rain. Rain, rain, rain. Never a good sound on pack-up day. It never really eased up, so we decided not to dally and hurried through breakfast and started getting things together. By the time we were done we were all thoroughly drenched and soaked. I haven't been that wet to the core in a VERY long time! Jenni took care of the kids while us adults hauled load after load up that long dirt road to the cars. We saw the rangers and asked if they would oh so kindly consider unchaining the posts that blocked the road so we could just drive down and load up, but no go. Much to our surprise, by the time we were fully loaded and heading out it was only 9:30am! We were home by 10:30 (coffee stop ABSOLUTELY necessary) and as of now everything is put away, everyone showered and I'm about 3 loads in on laundry. There are perks to camping close to home!
All and all we had a very enjoyable time. In one way, it wasn't a very interesting trip scenery wise. What we saw was exactly what we see all the time. A downside to camping close to home. But on the other hand, how often do we live outside in what we see? That was nice, and of course family time and the fun of cooking and living outdoors is always worth a trip.