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 Park...to 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 (honestly...at 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".