Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mountain Cave Lake

Or Chapter 3 - In Which we Catch Newts and Gryffin is Sad

(Note: this entry is a few days old, we have since spent a night in the smoky mountains in Tennessee and are now on our way to Mammoth caves in Kentuky)

We left the incredible views of Shenendoah behind and decided to make an early stop on our way to the Great Smoky National give kids time to play with fire at a campsite (& to give me time to write, read, do yoga, have a leisurely cup of tea, anything besides drive and cook and setup/strike camp).  Cave Mountain Lake campground in the Jefferson National Forest of Virginia sounded perfect: "At the very least we know it'll have a cave, a mountain or a lake," Sky pointed out. And driving into the campground we all were excited.  The forest was lush and lovely.  The trees were huge beautiful giants, that Gryffin called "the Kings and queens of trees".  We found a campsite with a log crossing a tiny stream (perfect for playing Robin Hood and little john) and set up camp.  It was only 4;00 (remarkable!) so we decided to take the short hike to the lake, where Gryffin was wanted to swim. And then things got interesting.

We started off through the misty trees, rain coats on 'just in case'.  After a bit we realized that the lake was much farther then i had anticipated...and it began to drizzle.  We discussed turning back, but both boys were determined to get to the lake, so onward we went.  And the lake was worth the walk! Beautiful, yes, but even more exciting the shores were full of newts! And I do mean full.  Like reach your hand in and pull out a newt.  Which, of course, is what the boys did, with great delight...until I heard thunder and insisted that it was time to leave. 

As we started walking back, the rain began to pick up and soon it was a deluge.  It rained so heavily that we couldn't see well and MISSED THE TURN TO THE CAMPGROUND.  Walked right past it, in fact. At this point we were truly miserable.  My and gryffin's jackets had soaked through, and Gryffin was very very sad.  And once we realized that we had been walking too long and that we had gone the wrong way, he became scared too.  Skyler though...Skyler was amazing.  He gave G his jacket.  He kept telling us how excited he was to be having a 'real adventure'.  He was positive and strong and loving toward his little brother...can you tell how proud I am of him?  We backtracked and found our way...I dropped the boys off at the shower to start getting warm ( this point I was a little worried about Gryffin getting hypothermic...that can happen very quickly with children) while I went on to get the car, warm dry clothes and all.   And again, Skyler stepped into a role of responsibility, helping Gryffin into the shower and making sure he felt safe while I was gone.

Whew. Eventually, warmer and cleaner and somewhat dryer, we headed back to our campsite.  The rain had tapered off, back to a misty drizzle but every single thing we had set up was soaked through.  Our tent had puddles on the inside, as did the fire pit.  After a quick dinner, we reorganized the car and made a cozy, but cramped, bed in the back.

"I think we should call this chapter: In which Gryffin catches newts and gets sad", said Gryffin, reviewing the highlights of the day. "I hate camping in the rain", I said, anticipating how I was going to pack up all the soaking wet gear and clothes in the morning and how impossible it is to dry out on the road.  "Well," said Skyler, stealing my line, "If that's the worse we have to deal with, I think we're pretty lucky".

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I knew it was going to be a lot of work.  Camping with two young children is a lot of work.  Traveling with two young children is a lot of work, too.  But traveling AND camping with two young children, as the only's relentless.  Add phone problems, freezing temperatures our first night, rain last night and right this moment is the first breath I've taken in...well...a while.  This morning I had to consciously stop and take a minute to tie my bootlaces...which yesterday I never managed to make happen.  

And yet...and yet...
An almost full moon reflecting on the lake next to our campsite in Pennsylvania...
Singing at the top of our lungs to 'Closer to Fine' as we watch the Appalachian mountain appear...
Skyler insisting on stopping to jump out of the car to 'touch every state', even for the 15 minutes we were in Maryland...
Watching Skyler grow into his young man self as he takes over tent responsibility...
Snuggling with my boys at night reviewing our adventures (deer and bunnies and the heron in our campsite and that funny car we passed)...

And the "wow!!!"

The "Wow!" Makes it is so absolutely worth every moment. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Urban Wild Child hits the road...

Well lovely readers (all two of you!), it is time.  Time for an adventure! Time to see new horizons, take a breath in big open spaces, time for an experience, time to make a new memory.  In other words...time for a ROAD TRIP!  The boys and I (now age 10 & 6) are heading south and then west for a few weeks...and 3G signal allowing, I hope to share some of our adventures with you. Here. Via my phone.  So...I ask your patience with iPhone quality photos (I'll post some DSL camera shots when we return) and tiny keyboard typos and hope you have fun traveling along with us.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Playing Hooky

It’s been an intense and challenging couple of weeks.  For Boston in general, for our family in particular.   So today I called off all our varied plans and activities and instead we took a day-off, a mental-health day.  We played hooky J.    We rarely do this, and I think that there is something about homeschooling that makes it more difficult for me to call the day off then it would be if my children were in school.  Perhaps it’s that our activities and social opportunities seem particularly precious because they don’t automatically exist, but instead need to be planned and executed by me.  Perhaps we rarely cancel our day because what we have planned is so lovely – and our planned activities for today were quite wonderful (a play date with Homeschool Co-op friends, a hike and building project with others).   But isn’t playing hooky in part the very reason to Homeschool?   We Homeschool so that we can have the flexibility, the time, to really listen and respond to the needs of our children.

The beautiful spring afternoon, my children’s need for time just with me, and my need for a view of the horizon led us to Singing Beach on the North Shore.  And there we were, soaking up the sun and the beauty.  Me, writing and taking photographs.  While my two boys completely engaged themselves in the creation of waterways, dams, pyramids, spillways, and mud farms.  For three solid hours.

Really this is a post about gratitude.  I am so thankful for my beautiful, creative children.  For a spring afternoon at the beach.  For my life, my safety, my family, my friends.  For the sun’s return, the flowers in bloom, the constant changing of the ocean, the expanse of blue sky.   I’m grateful that I listened to the true needs of my children and my heart.  And that we played hooky today.