Hello all! I hope you are enjoying your week so far. The cold temps have arrived, and I’m afraid they might be here to stay. I guess I need to just embrace it instead of fighting it. Maybe we’ll even see some snowflakes soon! When Nathan and I went away in September, we spent a lot of time talking about things we wanted to do with the kids during the upcoming year. One thing that got mentioned was camping in a cabin, and the next thing you know we were booking a cabin for Veteran’s Day weekend! All in all, we had a fabulous time, and I wanted to share our experience here.
We all had off from work/school on Friday, so once we were all packed up we hit the road (around 10:30am). I thought the kids would relax in the car, but it was unfortunately just the opposite. They were both so amped up over the trip that they were pretty rammy during the hour and a half trek. Luckily once we pulled into the park office to check in they settled down a bit. We got our key, and quickly headed to the cabin to check things out.
We spent some time exploring the inside of the cabin before Nathan and I brought our things in. The kids were SUPER excited about it all, and got right to climbing up and down the ladder to the top bunk. It was like their own little jungle gym.
The cabin was super cute, and had a half bathroom and little kitchen area with a sink, refrigerator, and electric stove. I was also very thankful that we weren’t sleeping in a tent that night (the low I think was 12 Friday night?)
The cabin also had this cute little woodstove that was a godsend all weekend. And Nathan did a great job keeping the fire going so we were all quite toasty.
I got right to work getting things unpacked and setting up lunch for everyone while Nathan and the kids were outside (Nathan was splitting some firewood and the kids were exploring). I was just opening the door to let them know lunch was ready when Graham came running up to me – “Daddy’s eye is bleeding!” Seriously?! Sure enough, a piece of firewood flung back at him and hit him right under the eye. Anything in that area bleeds a TON, and we were just happy it didn’t hit his actual eye. Luckily he keeps a fully stocked first aid kit in his truck, so he was able to clean and bandage it enough to stop the bleeding. We had hiking to do!
After lunch and some more first aid, we decided to head out for a short hike before the sun went down. It was ridiculously windy and 24 degrees, so we didn’t last long. But at least we got some fresh air and were able to stretch our legs a bit.
Blurry family photo using my new favorite iPhone feature – timer! And Nathan insisted if he smile his cut would open up and start bleeding again…
Back at the camp it was dinner time, so Nathan and I got right to work assembling some foil packets while the kids played romper room on the top bunk. Here they are ready for the oven. Unfortunately the oven wasn’t too reliable, so it took much longer to cook them (and we actually had to disassemble and finish cooking them in a pan on the stove). They still tasted great though!
And although it was too cold for a fire outside, we still managed to roast some marshmallows and eat our smores. I wonder who came up with the idea of smores in the first place? Genius.
We all got into bed around 8:30pm, and it wasn’t long before all 4 of us were asleep. That’s the one thing I wish was different about camping – there really is no adult time because we all got to bed at the same time. Well, at least we got a ton of sleep!
At 6:30am I woke up to Graham climbing in bed with me. I think he was too excited to sleep! The sunrise out our cabin window was beautiful, and we hung out a bit talking about the adventures of the day while Reagan and Nathan woke up. Then it was breakfast time! I took a different approach this trip and didn’t really meal prep. I had a detailed list with the meals we would eat and the food I needed, but I didn’t kill myself to prep everything. And I tried to go with simpler foods this time (at least for the kids).
Once the kids finished breakfast they were content to play together (and not try and kill each other) so Nathan and I enjoyed a moment of peace with our coffee by the fire. So cozy!
Reagan also enjoyed helping Nathan empty the ashes out of the fireplace. She is never far from any action, and is ALWAYS eager to help. Luckily she has a dad with the patience of a saint (her mom not so much – but I’m working on it).
When we checked in at the park office I picked up a “7 things to see and do at Stokes State Forest,” and we decided we needed to see Sunrise Mountain. So after filling our bellies and putting on a million layers, we headed out. Reagan made the decision to NOT hike at all, and luckily was happy enough riding in the backpack all weekend. She is normally much more adventurous, so maybe she was just tired? Either way she kept Nathan busy and entertained with her constant need for snacks (even though she wasn’t actually hiking) and her songs…
My big boy was a trooper, and hiked the entire 3 miles with (minimal) complaining. I forgot his legs might be tired after our 8-mile bike ride on Thursday…oops!
And here he is showing off his new “crab gloves” that have pinchers. He’s a sucker for cool gear just like his Daddy 🙂
If we are hiking and our kids see boulders, they HAVE to climb on them. And we generally see a mood change (for the better) once they’ve done this. So we never pass up an opportunity to boulder…
The top of Sunrise Mountain was really pretty, so we stopped to for a family photo opp.
Exploring the top – that had a pretty cool pavilion. We were also told this was the 2nd highest point in New Jersey. I swear our state gets a bad rap sometimes – there are so many beautiful places to see!
Once we were back at the car we headed straight back to the cabin for lunch and relaxing. Nathan cooked us the lunch of champions – scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon. Then we all read books and napped (well, the adults napped – the kids played Legos). And I brought a fun snack of Jiffy Pop (anyone else grow up on this stuff?) The kids loved watching this all go down, and we enjoyed some popcorn before heading back out in the car to explore some of the other campgrounds.
Once we got back to the cabin it was dark and time for pizza!
And because our oven once again decided to *kind of* work we had lots of time for cards while we waited for the pizzas to bake. Oh, and a family dance party which I have no pictures of but it was quite epic!
After gorging ourselves on pizza and smores, we all hit the sack for the night. I think the adults needed sleep almost as much as the kids! The next morning meant lots of snuggling and coffee by the fire.
Then we packed lunches, cleaned up the cabin and packed up our truck. Goodbye cabin! Time for another hike before heading home.
This was another “must see” on our list – Tillman’s Ravine. Unfortunately we wound up on the wrong trail, and Nathan pulled the plug on the hike about a mile and a half in when he realized we weren’t going to be looping back towards the truck. The kids were less than thrilled with this “mistake.” Luckily we still saw some pretty beautiful sites along the way.
Any plenty of stops along the way for family selfies and iPhone self-timer pictures.
Once we were back at the car we noticed a trail sign for the trail we were supposed to go on. By that point Reagan and Nathan had had enough, so they headed back to the car while Graham and I explored a bit further. We definitely need to come back and do the actual trail next time!
After a quick picnic lunch on the truck tailgate, it was time to head home. It was a really fun weekend, and so fun to “unplug” and spend quality time together just the 4 of us. And I know the kids appreciate these family weekends just as much (or more) than Nathan and I. And with that, I hope you all are enjoying your week, and getting ready for THANKSGIVING next week!!