Monday, July 28, 2014

Welcome to the beaver show

I am always astounded by my children's intense love of being out in the wilderness when we are camping.

Not because there is anything about being out in the wilderness that isn't great, but because these are children who definitely enjoy their creature comforts, particularly when it comes to electronic entertainment.  Nooks, Wii, DVDs, Netflix, TV-on-demand -- they're down with it all.  Ours is a household in which I try to carefully monitor screen time, and when the ease of letting them be entertained by electronics wins out so that I can do the dishes or the laundry to even read my own book, I feel like a bad mother.

But then I see how happy they are splashing in a lake or looking for bugs or sitting by the fire, and I realize that I'm doing OK by them.

We went back up to Steamboat Lake State Park this weekend. The drive up through north-central Colorado was, as ever, breathtakingly beautiful.

We set up camp in the dark and in the rain. (I want to give a shout-out to the mountain dwellers of Colorado: if you are having issues with precipitation or drought, invite me to come pitch a tent on your land.  You will be deluged with water in no time.)  We woke up, once again, in a field of wildflowers, next to a lake.

The kids busied themselves finding little pieces of wood and throwing them in the fire.

When the morning clouds burned off and it warmed up, we made friends with our camp neighbors and swam.

In the background is Hahn's Peak, which last year we dubbed "Boob Mountain."  The name stuck.
Consistent with our camping history, the trip was not without its share of drama and adventure.  The people at the next campsite over had their dogs with them - two very sweet, slobbery, friendly Bernese mountain dogs.  Josie loves dogs, but these dogs were big and she's very little and when they started chasing her and jumping around and barking, wanting to play, she misunderstood their intentions and lost her shit.  J scooped her up and brought her to me, and it took about 10 minutes of holding her tightly and soothing her to get her to stop shaking.

Then we headed into town to go tubing on the Yampa River.  We went last year, and it's a fun, mellow float in shallow water, but at one point Zeke went down some very gentle rapids, leaned forward in his tube to get a better look at the water, and fell out.  The water was deeper than normal at that point, and a little bit churn-y, and he got pushed under water and had to grab his tube and make his way out of the churn.  He got himself over to the shallow water on the side of the river, but not without swallowing a bunch of water and being terrified by the experience.

But everyone survived their ordeals.  After tubing, we headed back to camp to chill out.  There was a presentation by one of the rangers about beavers, so we sat in on that and learned about the differences between muskrats and beavers, the way beavers build their dams and lodges, the benefits they provide to riparian systems, and all kinds of other interesting facts.  Of course, because I am twelve, the entire time I was thinking about this:

After the seminar, we went for a drive at dusk to look for wildlife - we saw two moose, sixteen deer, and one beaver lodge.  We then headed back to eat, build a fire, roast marshmallows, and gaze in wonder at the Milky Way.

At one point, I took Josie over to the campsite toilet so she could go potty.  While we were waiting to use it, she saw a family that had also been at the ranger's presentation.

She yelled, loudly, "Mama!!  I know that kid!  We saw him at the beaver show!"

I got some weird looks and raised eyebrows from some of the other people in line.

I just shrugged, smiled at them and said, "that's right, sweetie.  We sure did."

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