Quality Camping

photo (13)

Applefest cider and parade candy spoils. Yum!

photo 3

Harper in the driver’s seat…is it legal to drive with shoes on the wrong feet? With that smile? YES!

photo 4

Packed up to pack out…full trailer, full hearts, can’t lose.

photo (15)

Fall afternoon paddle boat ride (here might be a good place to note that despite the lack of adults in these photos- no child was actually allowed to operate or drive a moving vehicle…photographic purposes only)

photo 2

Andi girl in the driver’s seat…with a roasting stick seat belt…a safety paradox I let slide.












Drew and I spent last Friday evening trying to get low…as far down into our house as possible, seeking cooler temperatures and less humidity. The thermostat in our house mocked us with its 83 degree interior temp…it was only 78 outside at the time (8:18pm) and also outdoors, a breeze! We couldn’t bring the wind inside so we plugged in a fan and sat as still as possible.

Why? you ask, did we not just turn on our AC? We didn’t turn the AC on Friday night because we knew a change in weather was coming. We went to bed windows open, without a sheet, and sure enough, woke up clamoring for blankets and furiously shutting windows at 4am. The temperature Saturday morning was 35 degrees cooler- God had turned on the AC out of doors.

All of this is just to say, drastic temperature changes and a sneaky head cold that stole my voice but would not thwart my fun, could not stop us from a wonderful weekend adventure: Weston Apple Fest and Fall Family Camping with the Sollars.

We sweated through the pack-up Friday night, digging out winter clothes bins for all three children, while sweating in shorts and a tank top. I packed gloves, hats, and extra socks for kids who haven’t spent a day out of shorts and Crocs since last April. We prepared and packed and panicked a bit but were ready and on the road in the crisp cool sunshine of that 50 degree Saturday morning.

At 9:15 Saturday morning, we dropped Oakley off for a Castaway reunion with Michelle, the Nanny, Graves, and Miss Carol. His crawling, eating off the ground, small, immature body-temp regulating self, was going to have to sit out the camping and enjoy a weekend indoors with people who love him dearly.

By 10am, we were parked in Weston, MO piling on whatever warm clothes we’d managed to dig out,  and walking towards the warm, friendly, nostalgic stage that is downtown Weston on AppleFest weekend.

We found a spot along the parade route; the kids readied their candy bags. Bands, flags, shiny old cars, colorful old tractors, and friendly old people, shared candy, waves, and goodwill for almost an hour. Cups of apple cider, buns of brats, dogs, and pulled pork, and the epic apple dumplings with ice cream filled our bellies and expectations of greatness. Eli and Andi had great memories of Applefest 2012 (which happened to be my due date for Oaks and a cold cold day spent with Maama and James and Laura), and were once again overjoyed to spend the morning in all things fall and apple with friends.

We left Weston and headed north to St. Joe, to the land of Peaceful Valley and the hopsitality of Jim and Janeen Burnham. The fourwheeler was hitched up to its trailer and the ponds shimmered with sunlight. We had everything we needed (except pillows! which Ginny Orf would heroically provide within the hour) and the day before us.

The camping overnight was wonderful. Very relaxing to have kids in open space with no worry of disturbing camping neighbors or running into the campground road. They played freely and creatively with all nature had to provide- pulling mussel shells out of the pond, riding in the paddle boat or kayaks, and swinging the hatchet at any available, unsuspecting stump.

We ate yummy black forest ham, provolone cheese and apple butter sandwhiches toasted over open flames for dinner, had 2 smore’s each at night fall and awoke to eat eggs, sausage, bacon, and pancakes with coffee and cream (or OJ (Drew) and Capri Suns (kids)) for breakfast.Everyone slept cuddly in the cold and all the way until 7:15am! Brave and giggly, Harper Kate and Andi Girl had their own little tent and needed no interventions all night! Way to go girls!

I love camping and the trip this past weekend is up there with some of the best I’ve experienced. As one who has camped for over 30 years of my life, I offer this recipe for camping success to anyone interested in adventuring.

A Great Camping Trip:


a site with trees
open space on the calendar
a willingness to work- before, during and after


-sleeping pads (we love our Thermarests)
-sleeping bags and pillows
                                                                           –camping box components:                                                                                                                           propane stove, propane, pots, pans, plates, silverware, cups, napkins, ziploc                                                                                                       baggies, dish soap, tongs, spatula/turner, large spoons, one sharp knife, simple spice                                                                                      collection, PAM spray, foil, bungee cords, dish towels and wash cloths, clothesline,                                                                                          table cloth, large mixing bowl, mugs, tea kettle, dishwashing plastic tubs, lighters,                     french press for coffee

food-gathered from a strategically planned list
**first shop the list, then prep as much as possible at home, then make another list of everything you carefully bought and prepped that needs to be grabbed out of the fridge and cabinets and put into a cooler!
drinks– of all varieties for all ages and times of day- more is more!
camp chairs– one per camper at minimum and arm rests with cup holders are best
wood and fire starting kindling
fun– books, games, footballs, frisbees, bocce ball, boats, bikes, hammock, etc..
shoes for hiking and slip-ons for anyone going in and out of the tents
teamwork- as a husband and wife team especially, and between families as well
flexiblity – intentionality – playfulness – grace -stillness – ways to mark the moments

 I was blessed to be exposed to camping as a kid (Colorado style- still the best!) and love the memories of my family camping trips- just the six of us Sustads or the whole Sustad/Buchan and Grammy and Granddad shebangs!

Here’s to camping “vacations”! – as in vacating modern conveniences such as toilets, mattresses, stoves, microwaves, and sinks, and grabbing a hold of gifts: less noise, having nothing else to do, family time all together, quality conversations with friends, laughs and hugs, walks and wood chopping, going to bed without washing your face, and waking up sore, still sleepy and so grateful to be outside, under the expanse of blue sky.

Girls...just an afternoon of chatting lakeside.

Girls…just an afternoon of chatting lakeside.

photo 1

Boys 1- Stump 0 Dustin’s rule: You must be twice as long as the hatchet you wield.



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.