Some of my earliest, fondest memories are of family camping trips in the Colorado woods.  Drinking Tang and building campfires and hanging out along the river, playing with worms while my dad and brother fished nearby.  And so I was pretty thrilled when Shane (warily) agreed to book a weekend at Beckler River Campground with our friends.  We were doing it!  Becoming a camping family!  Jules was going to love it!  We would go on beautiful hikes and eat delicious meals cooked on a camp stove and spend our nights snuggled warmly together, snoozing soundly in the great outdoors!  My mind swirled with exclamation points.  Shane bought us a big new tent and I made a grocery list that included marshmallows and graham crackers – we were due to head toward Skykomish on Friday morning.

And then…

I checked the forecast.  RAIN.  So. much. rain.  Dang, I was bummed.  More than bummed, actually – I was a wreck.  In the wake of the Orlando shootings, I was desperately needing a breath, a chance to get away and soul-share with some of my nearest and dearest and to rejoice in the beauty of summer in the PNW.  We were on the verge of begrudgingly taking a literal rain check, but regrouped with the gang and decided we’d try our luck at a campground further south with a slightly better forecast.  Shane stayed true to character as the skeptic, but he decided to go with the flow after watching me weep over the thought of throwing in the towel (seriously, folks, I was a mess).  We would give it a go.  Owhi Campground for the win!

And then…

Juliette woke up Friday morning grumpy and complaining that her ear hurt, so I called her doc right away and got her in for a 10 am consult.  The pediatrician said it looked like she had the beginning of an ear infection.  We could still head out for the weekend, but it was suggested that we pick up a round of antibiotics for Juliette, to nip any chances of fever and full-fledged infection in the bud.  I cleverly had the doctor call in the prescription to Costco in Issaquah, so that they’d have it ready and waiting for us as we swung by on the road to Cle Elum.  We could still make camp by noon and have our pick of the first-come first-serve sites!

And then…

Three hours later, the prescription was finally ready – the Costco pharmacy was insanely slow and held us hostage in Issaquah way past our target departure time.  But hey, at least we’d be landing at Owhi about the same time as everyone else – we’d be together to pick a spot or form another back-up plan if things were full!

And then…

Nance texted – she was sick.  Really sick.  Their clan was out.  Brian was stuck at work.  They wouldn’t make it till evening.   Josh and Jess weren’t coming until Saturday.  And the weather forecast was looking gloomier by the minute.  If not for Juliette chanting “I want to go caaaaaaamping!” from the backseat, we might have high-tailed it back to Seattle and let her overdose on Daniel Tiger while I sulked and Shane very secretly breathed a sigh of relief.  But we pressed on and rolled up to Owhi, 40 minutes north of Cle Elum, in time to snag the last of the lakefront sites.  We pitched our gigantic new tent, rolled out our sleeping bags, and settled into our camp chairs.  Shane poured me a cup of wine, Jules slurped on her apple cider, and I patted myself on the back for my pig-headedness optimistic persistence.  Things were looking up.

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The Hickory’s joined us just in time for dinner.  Juliette and Stella haven’t spent much time together recently, but they took to each other immediately and within minutes had claimed this log as their special spot, as I heard Stella ask, “Juliette, wanna go to our spot and play dinosaurs?”

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Eden is the sweetest little photo-bomber ever.

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We chowed down on bratwursts and veggies and then pulled out the marshmallows for dessert.  Juliette’s first toasted mallow!  Oh, the wonders of burnt sugar!

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We felt the pitter-patter of raindrops as we were cleaning up and headed to our respective tents for bed.  Juliette was pretty excited to crawl into her new purple sleeping bag and do books with Mom and Dad.  So excited, in fact, that she tossed and turned until 10:30 pm.  At least, that’s what Shane tells me – I was out cold by 8:45!

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There was one midnight rearranging of sleeping pads and blankets, but for the most part, we slept soundly until 7 am, at which point Juliette’s eyes popped right open and she exclaimed, “I wanna see Stella!”  We piled on coats and hats (it was cooooold) and made our way outside to join the Hickory’s for oatmeal and coffee.  In the rain.  Thank goodness they brought their pop-up canopy.

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Eden looks thrilled to be in her full-on winter gear in the middle of June, doesn’t she?

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These girls are for-reals thrilled, though – ain’t no rain gonna get them down!

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Thank goodness for the ridiculously large tent Shane splurged on at REI – it turned out to be a pretty great play space!

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The rain showed no signs of letting up, so we all decided to drive into Roslyn to find a dry place to grab a warm beverage and plan out the rest of our day.  We found refuge at the Red Bird Cafe, thankful for their good coffee and cell reception (Owhi is off the grid) and their kids’ area, where the girls whiled away the morning playing in the little pretend kitchen.  Three hours later, as the woman behind the counter began to wonder if we were ever leaving, the rain let up and we ventured out into the streets of Roslyn.  FREEEEEDOM!

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The break in the rain was short-lived, so we decided to drive down to Ellensburg and spend the afternoon at the movies – I’d been wanting to take Juliette to Finding Dory, anyway.

And then…

The dang movie was sold out.  Gah!  We got back in the car and headed toward camp, a little defeated, but consoled by the fact that time in the car was time out of the rain.  The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing around camp, venturing down nearby trails with the kids when the rain let up and then ducking back under the canopy when it started to pour.

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The Howells made their entrance before dinner, Josh in shorts on his mountain bike and little baby A snuggled into her puffy red rain suit.

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We ate dinner in the drizzle and did our best to keep the campfire going.  It really started coming down just as I was about to settle into my camp chair for a cup of wine and a s’more.  I looked up at the sky and dramatically shouted, “Whyyyyyy???!!!”, at which point we all just laughed.  Turns out there’s a special kind of camaraderie that comes with camping in the rain – come hell or high (high) water, we were going to make the most of the weekend.

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We all turned in early that night – Jules drifted off without much trouble and Shane and I capitalized on the opportunity to catch up on some reading.  The rain continued throughout the night but proved to be a pretty soothing soundtrack, as Jules didn’t move a muscle until morning.  We left the cocoon of our sleeping bags at Juliette’s urging and layered up again (38 degrees out there!) to join the group for breakfast just as the skies began to clear.  And wow, did they clear!  By 9 am we were peeling off jackets and taking turns on Brian’s paddle board.

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THIS.  This is what I had been waiting for.  I paddled out into the middle of Cooper Lake and just let myself drift for awhile.  Thanks, PNW, for coming through in a clutch.

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We slowly packed up camp, letting the kids romp in the empty tents as we trekked sleeping bags and coolers up to the cars.

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The weekend certainly wasn’t ideal as far as weather goes, but I’m still glad we pressed on.  We got to catch up with friends we’ve seen far too little of over the past year.  Jules had a total blast.  And after enduring the elements without crying or freezing or checking into a hotel, I’d say we’ve officially earned our badge as a camping family!  Already lookin’ forward to next time.

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