We got back yesterday from a long weekend of camping at Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. We’d wanted for a long time to go camping with my Uncle Peter, an avid outdoorsman from Durham, so we decided to meet him at this spot near the North Carolina border. Jon took a couple days off work and we made the six-hour drive on Thursday, arriving in time for a late dinner.
Travel of any kind with little kids is hard work, and camping has its own set of challenges. Getting everyone packed up is a huge pain, and there is just so much that can go wrong. But to our pleasant surprise, the last couple trips we’ve taken have been remarkably smooth. This drive was the longest we’ve done with both kids, and it was – dare I say it – almost easy. (I know, I know. I can hear the groans of parents remembering car trips that left permanent emotional scars. I’m not trying to rub it in, I swear.)
Grayson Highlands was, true to Uncle Pete’s word, an absolutely gorgeous place. There were several hikes of a manageable length for young legs, complete with wild ponies and rewarding views. The campground itself was lovely, and we took advantage of a couple programs they offered over the weekend: a welcome bonfire with s’mores on Friday night and a salamander hunt Saturday morning. We ate some fantastic camp meals, everybody slept relatively well, we had a little down time to relax, and it was generally one of the nicest camping trips we’ve taken. (There was the Shower Horror of 2015, in which an attempt to bathe myself and the toddler in the campground shower resulted in wailing heard the next mountain over – hers, not mine, although I admittedly felt like joining her. Needless to say, she just stayed dirty the rest of the trip.) The kids had a blast, which makes us feel like perhaps we can achieve our goal of teaching them to really appreciate the outdoors. I call that a win.
And now we’re home, with kids in need of catch-up sleep, adults with a bit of sunburn, and mounds of camping laundry to fold. Oh, and some really great memories, too.