Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Camping and VSP Trail Quest at Bear Creek Lake

Yippee! Our first family camping trip of the year turned out to be a great one!

I had reserved our camping spot online (VA has a great online reservation system) at Bear Creek State Park and in the process found out about the Virginia Trail Quest program. That's it, I'm hooked. We will now proceed to visit every State Park in Virginia over the next couple years.

How could I not have known about this great program? You simply visit a State Park, hike a trail, write down the "secret" code for that park (available at the office or at the new electronic kiosks) and then enter the code online when you get back. For the first park, you get a very nifty pin in the mail, and very quickly I might add! I signed me and the two boys up for the program. You also get pins for the 5th, 10th, 15th, etc parks that you visit, with a special pin if you go to EVERY State park in Virginia. Free stuff just for doing what I probably would be doing anyway? You betcha! And the pin looks great on OS's newly made Cub Brag Vest. :)

But, back to the camping. Bear Creek Lake was a nice park, complete with playground and lake with swimming beach, two things a parent highly prizes when looking for a campground. Then again, most VA parks do offer those things. Just another perk of this State's beautifully managed Parks system. Since it was before the "busy" season that begins with Memorial Day weekend, there weren't too many other families there, so we had a nice feeling of solitude and privacy. there's really not a large number of camp sites anyway, so even in the peak season I doubt it feels very crowded... except maybe for the beach area.

It felt good to get away just with the family. Camping with the Cubs is wonderful and the boys have a great time running amuck with their friends, but this more laid back family camp weekend was just what I needed to take a step back and reconnect with myself. No schedules or super-planned activities. Swim, hike, eat, sleep, swim some more. That's about it! Funny how the kids get so excited about doing something that can be explained in just a few words. I smile in my heart every time my little one asks when we can go camping again. Kids were meant to be outside and they sure know it at that age!!!

In preparation for our big trip to Yellowstone later this summer, we have been trying to get out on more hikes, walks and bike rides as a family. So, while we were at the Park we decided to do a 2 mile hike along Channel Cat Trail. I believe this is the farthest my YS has ever hiked on his own, and he made it the whole way with only a few minimal complaints about being tired. He's only 3.5 years old, so two miles sounds like a pretty good accomplishment for him to me! At least now we have a benchmark on how far he can hike on his own on our vacation. We're still undecided about bringing the toddler hiking backpack to carry him in, so sightseeing may be limited to what he can manage. Good to know now just what that is!

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