Truth: wanderlust is infectious.
Since returning to Charleston I have felt like an ADHD child fidgeting in their school desk. I pester my husband constantly about the airstream progress, but don't worry I rephrase the pestering so that he won't catch on, "is it ready yet?" "when will the airstream be ready?" "sooo... if you had to guess, when do you think the airstream will be close to road ready?". I don't think he has noticed.
I miss the west coast air. The crisp, clean feeling from simply breathing in-and-out, simply existing in nature. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Charleston; however, mid-summer in the lowcountry with its stifling heat and drowning humidity can make me feel as if I am melting into a glob of mush. One day I had had enough and proclaimed that we were going camping, yes tent camping.... with young children. Easy enough right? Prior to our trip out west and the addition of the teardrop camper we had ventured out tent camping from time-to-time and it had been an overall enjoyable experience. Plus I would hate to think that we have become such camping snobs that we would abandon our nomadic ways simply because of a little hard ground.
The issue with Charleston camping is that it is brutally hot. We did not even entertain the idea of finding a local spot and spending the nights sleeping in a pool of sweat, and instead decided on a cooler destination and an all-time family favorite, Grayson Highlands. The nomads had visited Grayson Highlands only once before when we were a mere family of 3 and had a few friends that were mid-hike on the Appalachian Trail. The highlands went above and beyond our expectations and we have been waiting impatiently for a reason to return.
This is from our trip in 2013, Georgi met a friendly pony she named "Sushi".
While packing our bags I had that panic that all mothers packing bags for 3 human beings understands. I suddenly realized that I had no earthly idea what type of clothing to include, will it be hot, cold, or a mixture of both? And on a scale how cold and hot will it be? My wonderful husband was insistent that it would be hot, no need for warm clothes, we will just throw in a few blankets, let's pack light, the lighter the better!
Once we arrived at the campsite my first observation was hmm.. it is a bit chilly.
The next thing that occurred to me was hmm.. we forgot pillows.
Nothing some extra layers and a few rolled up towels won't fix!
With our glasses half full we decided to trek up the trail and catch sight of some magical, wild ponies. Half-way up the trail a blanket of grey clouds began to roll over our heads, the wind began to howl, and the temperature began to drop. I am a rather stubborn person, and when the day has been crummy and all my childhood heart wants is to have a nice hike with some wild ponies I say "get outta here weather, I am hiking this mountain!". My wonderful husband tried to convince me to turn around but my mind was set, and there was no stopping me. We caught a glimpse of the wide open space and the beautiful rolling hills in the distance, I expanded my lungs and filled them with that rich, mountain, impending rainstorm air and in that moment I was completely content.
Then the rain came.
We started running down the trail. The youngest nomad, in the arms of her papa, thought that running in the rain was the most hilarious adventure and was giggling up a storm (pun intended). On the contrary, the oldest little nomad was not as thrilled and was drudging along, slipping on rocks, with a look of shattered hopes and dreams. I maintained an upbeat personality and tried my best to convince her that this was the most fun, EVER, but her eyes filled with tears and she stared right through my high-pitched, fake-excited, mom voice.
Finally we made it back to the car. My wonderful husband delivered the news that even though he held the car keys in his hand, the key battery was deceased and would no longer open the car with its handy sensor, we were in fact locked out of the car. The campsite is approximately 2 miles away. It is pouring. The children are soaked and shivering in their only slightly warm clothes that we brought. I had to convince Alex out of picking up a rock and breaking the window of the car.
The state park ranger was able to break into our car, we enjoyed a warm campfire that night, and Georgi met a few friends. All was forgiven.
That night we had the worst night of sleep in the history of our lives. It was miserable. The wind was incredibly powerful, and my mind had the vision of a tree smashing our little tent on replay. Did I mention already that it was miserable? And it lasted forever.
We woke up, hiked amongst the wild ponies, enjoyed the sunshine and had a wonderful day. All the bad was worth this good....
But I needed sleep. I couldn't go another night on the cold, hard ground. I needed a very strong coffee. I am a camping snob, it is official. So we hit the road earlier than planned and headed towards a warm bed in Asheville, NC.
While traveling and camping with young children there is always a certain expectation of bumps in the road. The little nomads set off knowing that it would be far from our adventurous western glamping, but would hopefully immerse us in the great outdoor, nomadic lifestyle and satiate our wanderlust until the airstream was ready. Umm darling when do you think they airstream will be ready?