Cub Scout Campout at the Sequoia National Forest

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Cub Scout Troop in front of General Sherman TreeAs a Cub Scout family, and as a family that enjoys each other’s company while sleeping in a tent with no television, limited cell phone service and a spirit of adventure, taking a trip up to the Sequoia National Forest was a sweet beginning to the new Webelo 2 year for my oldest.

Webelo 2-boys have a set of requirements to earn badges, and in general, just have to do outings and such to promote to a Boy Scout by the end of the school year next year.

One of the things that my husband and I recognize for our three children is:

This is the time of their lives.

They will never be this little again.

They will never have this chance to be with their parents, at this age, to do these fun things while my husband and I are able-bodied and younger, again.

We are not taking that for granted.

Friday

I took a day off of work on a Friday and we headed up one of the mountain ranges that surround our valley in California.Kids and parents packed

In discussion with the Cub Scout leaders, we knew that Saturday was going to be our big day together as a group, so we worked our meals and our plans around the group activities.

Three days and two nights in a beautiful, mosquito and bug infested setting.

Tent set upFriday afternoon we set up our tent after we arrived and we took a brief walk around the camping ground to see what we could find.

The paved road led us to a small stream, where we were able to cross it at a fallen tree that had clearly become a little bridge for hikers.

The stream had several small fish in it, and the kids just seemed to love hanging out with their daddy, despite the mosquitos and bugs.

There were small fish in the stream running along the campground. The kiddos love hanging out with their daddy!

There were small fish in the stream running along the campground. The kiddos love hanging out with their daddy!

But alas, all good things must come to an end.

Our precious 6-year old got a headache, and right away, I knew she hadn’t been drinking that much water – primarily because of the drive down.  (Yes, we purposely don’t give them water bottles in our vehicles when we drive for more than two hours. Don’t judge.)

She ended up crying when we got back to the campsite.  We started giving her water, and after the crying she sat in my lap about to fall asleep.

We continued to give her sips of water and about forty minutes later she said her headache felt better.  I suggested that she lie down and as she took her shoes off to go into the tent, she threw up.

Now, I look at that as a blessing.

Go with me – she threw up outside the tent.  WHEW!  She felt immediately better and continued to drink water as we sat in the tent together looking up at the canopy.  My husband cleaned the outside while I cleaned her up inside the tent and she was ready to eat after about twenty minutes of hanging in the tent with mom.

Our planned dinner consisted of hot dogs for the kids and steak for my husband and I.

Steak and Hotdogs for DinnerThe meat bees were few (praise God!) and the chips went well with the steak.  As this was a Cub Scout event, no alcohol is allowed, so we didn’t have a drink on this trip – but that’s okay.  We want to teach our children that alcohol isn’t needed to have fun anyway (right?)

Saturday

The breakfast we planned was cereal and milk, and we also brought bagels and cream cheese.  I had pre-packaged lunch bags (just gallon Ziploc bags with granola bars, beef jerky, goldfish crackers, etc.), except for the sandwiches.

I made the sandwiches that morning and although I didn’t take a photo of it, one thing I know to do was to put peanut butter on both sides of bread before putting the jelly in the middle.

Helpful hint: The air in the mountains dries out bread within a few minutes so ensure that for every piece of bread you take out, you close the bag.  😉

DeAndrasCrafts kids on the shuttleThere’s a fantastic free shuttle system in the park that travels from the campground to various locations throughout the park, to alleviate the parking problems during the weekend.  Now that I have experienced it, I have a few general bits of wisdom and observations: ShuttleRouteMap_2012_web-Erika

  • The shuttle goes slower on the curves – this helps for a child (like one of mine) that feels nauseous when on curvy roads.  Yes, this also means it takes a little longer to get from one point to the other, but it’s still convenient to get around.
  • The Saturday afternoon shuttle lines were insane.  We waited at least thirty minutes to get on a shuttle from the Giant Forest Museum stopping point to Lodgepole Market, but the kids went inside the museum while some of the moms saved a space in line.
  • The shuttles are extremely full.  They (ahem) push the limit of passengers in one shuttle, but it also means that a large group like ours was able to ride one bus.

But overall, the shuttle was the easiest way to get around, and certainly didn’t cause any headaches of transporting kiddos anywhere.

The entire group all started out on the climb to Moro Rock. The beginning steps of Moro Rock

Per the National Park website, it’s a 400 step climb up to the top.  All my children (ages 10, 6, and 5) were able to do it, but the little girl did not want to get close to the edge and was frightened of the heights.  There’s a bench at the top that she sat on with her older brother while my husband and youngest and I all took photos at the top.  It was a wonderful view and site.

This is my youngest climbing to the top of the stairs before looking over to the top of Moro Rock.

This is my youngest climbing to the top of the stairs before looking over to the top of Moro Rock.

On the top of Moro Rock, there two "ends" of view, and this is one of them overlooking some of the valley.

On the top of Moro Rock, there two “ends” of view, and this is one of them overlooking some of the valley.

This is the other end of the top of the rock. Behind us is the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

This is the other end of the top of the rock. Behind us is the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

 

The left hand side overseeing the south of Moro Rock  The road to the south valley of California.  The right side of the south valley

One of the best things about this trip was the challenge of the hiking.  The Cub Scouts have to hike a certain amount of miles with a group, even if it’s family, and our scout was able to accomplish all his hiking on this one trip, even though we know he’ll get more hikes in throughout the year.

Going down the stairs was more precarious than coming up it seemed at times on Moro Rock....

Going down the stairs was more precarious than coming up it seemed at times on Moro Rock….  It did go much faster though, as expected.

The next thing we did was take the shuttle to Crescent Meadows.  We had planned on eating lunch there and then dispersing as individual families, but a few of the families stayed together and walked the Crescent Meadow loop.

That was a two-mile round trip hike, that for us included a visit to a tree that the Scouts and siblings were able to climb into.

Cub Scouts in a TreeThe next cool thing was Tharp’s Log, a home built inside a log.  You can find more information about it on Trip Advisor.

My youngest was trying to get out of the photo and instead, ended up being the center of attention while walking in front of the group! Tharp's Log in the Sequoia National Forest.

My youngest was trying to get out of the photo and instead, ended up being the center of attention while walking in front of the group in front of Tharp’s Log.

We also got to see a bear.

That’s right, a bear.  IN THE WILD.  It was awesome, even if you can’t see it in the photo I took.

There's a bear in the center of this photo. It's brown in color, but a California black bear trying to find food, nonetheless. We saw it along the Crescent Meadow.

There’s a bear in the center of this photo. It’s brown in color, but a California black bear trying to find food, nonetheless.
We saw it along the Crescent Meadow.

As I stated above, the toughest part of the whole day was the shuttle ride back to our camp.  After the Crescent Meadow hike, the families went their separate ways and ours chose to have ice cream outside of the Lodgepole store.  We sat around and people watched for about 1/2-hour, which my children have told me that it was one of their favorite things about the whole trip.

<Big sigh.>

Everyone is different, I know.

Dinner on SaturdayWe ate pizza that night that my husband learned to cook on our cast-iron skillet, and all of us enjoyed a restful night of sleep after a big day.

Sunday

My children sleeping in the tent after an exhausting day.

My children sleeping in the tent after an exhausting day.

I had a great night of sleep that night, unlike the first night ~ probably because I was exhausted too!

My children woke up around 7 AM, which is relatively late in the day for all of them.

We packed up camp and had planned to hike to the John Muir Grove in the morning as a family.  We left a little later than we wanted on that hike, but overall, we were able to hike the distance with three children and probably six to seven stops in about three hours.

That includes the time we spent hanging out at the grove as well.  We almost gave up, but ran into some people that passed us and told us it was “around the corner.” It was about a quarter mile away at that point and it was totally worth it!

This is the trail to the John Muir Grove. We started out at Dorst Campground and walked with our children to the grove. I tracked our hike and it was easily five-miles.

This is the trail to the John Muir Grove. We started out at Dorst Campground and walked with our children to the grove. I tracked our hike and it was easily five-miles.

Image source: RedwoodHikes.com

A family selfie on the trail to the John Muir Grove.

A family selfie on the trail near the beginning to the John Muir Grove.

On the way to the grove, we saw one deer, on the way back from the grove, we saw a deer and two babies! They were all around this beauitful, but mosquito infested meadow.

On the way to the grove, we saw one deer, on the way back from the grove, we saw a deer and two babies! They were all around this beauitful, but mosquito infested meadow.

This is where we stopped to eat a snack-type lunch we packed of granola bars, fruit snack, drink plenty of water, and stack some rocks. My daughter is in front of our pile. It's a beautiful overlook where you can see the final destination from the south west view.

This is where we stopped to eat a snack-type lunch we packed of granola bars, fruit snacks, beef jerky, drink plenty of water, and stack some rocks. My daughter is in front of our pile.
It’s a beautiful overlook where you can see the final destination from the south west view.

This enchanted piece of the hike had birch trees hanging over the trail almost as a beautiful entry to the John Muir Grove.

This enchanted piece of the hike had birch trees hanging over the trail almost as a beautiful entry to the John Muir Grove.

An fallen tree on the trail becomes a fun, adventurous obstacle to go under or around.

An fallen tree on the trail becomes a fun, adventurous obstacle to go under or around.

My children posing with funny faces in front of one of the first trees we found in the John Muir Grove. These trees are amazing and are only found in California.

My children posing with funny faces in front of one of the first trees we found in the John Muir Grove.
These trees are amazing and are only found in California.

Sometimes, the giant redwood trees need no caption. This is my husband in front of one.

Sometimes, the giant redwood trees need no caption.
This is my husband in front of one.

I've been blessed to see these trees over the course of my life here in California. They are impressive and to me, are a testament to the Lord's greatness. Plus, this hike made me feel strong. ;)

I’ve been blessed to see these trees over the course of my life here in California. They are impressive and to me, are a testament to the Lord’s greatness. Plus, this hike made me feel strong. ;)

I have a love for these trees that I can only imagine was similar to John Muir himself. I want to see them again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my comforts and enjoy the advantages of living in a home in the city, but there’s truly an un-tapped component of doing a hike like this and looking up at these trees.  It’s indescribable.

My only suggestion is that if you haven’t gone to see the redwoods, then I hope this post helps you try to plan to see them. I can promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

The tops of the redwoods

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Creating a Hoe-down Background

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Creating a Background for a Hoe-down....

Creating a Background for a Hoe-down….

Oh the things you do for your kids.

Seriously though, I am very proud of this background.  It took me a total of about six hours over the course of three days.

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We started out with a canvas dropcloth similar to: Paint Essentials 9-Feet x 12-Feet Canvas Drop Cloth HW912. I bought it at the Home Depot and I believe it was around $21.

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p1070797I had purchased orange and purple spray paint, and had black paint to start off with.

The one can of orange and purple was just enough, but I ended up sending my hubby to the store to get more flat black spray paint.  He found some at our local Orchard Supply Hardware for $1!  It was great because I used a total of five (5) cans to spray paint the entire bottom half.  In this project, it didn’t matter that one can was a “Satin” finish one was gloss and the remaining cans were flat black.  Those facts don’t matter spray painting a canvas like this.

p1070800Above shows the photo I used to make the background.

The photo is from Oriental Trading Company (I do love them) as they sell the background on plastic.  I had to do the copy/paste/blow-up on screen thing to get it to a size I could mimic on my grand scale.

You can see the one-inch (1″) painters tape in several of the photos to create the edge of the mountain range.

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p1070802Do I look sick?  I was.  Sometimes the best thing is rest.  Mommy can’t always do that.  Thankfully my hubby took the Little Ones and I was able to just concentrate on the painting.

p1070803After day one.

What’s not pictured is the acrylic painting.  I took two containers of orange, one container of white and one container of yellow to add the details shown.  The white was mixed several times with the pumpkin orange and regular orange colors and yellow to make various colors of the gradients.  Just straight white was used right up against the black of the mountains, and I just used less and less white in the mix of the yellow and orange as I went up to the orange spray paint layer.

Any acrylic paint will do, and I use the local craft store (hopefully with coupons) to get my paint.  What I had to buy more of was the 2″sponge brushes!  I ran through at least three of those, but thankfully those are pretty inexpensive.

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img_1822These cute little ones got to dress up western, eat chili dogs, and enjoy grandma’s company.

Look at the cute centerpiece!  It was made out of tissue paper, brown painted toilet paper rolls (as the logs) and a tealight was placed in the center for the “fire” look.  The blue rocks represent the Cub Scout color and it was set on a gold wrapping paper wrapped piece of cardboard.

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I got to square dance with my big boy, while grandma took photos and hung out with the Little Ones.img_1844

One thing I love about cub scouts is the idea that you do things that you wouldn’t normally do with your family.

Which includes square dancing.

My husband wasn’t able to attend due to a minor surgery that he was recovering from so I got to dance with my boy.  He’s really good at it and I hope we can encourage him to keep dancing-it-up.  Thank you grandma who took the photos and helped so much during that crazy time!