Camping Under the Milky Way

A couple of weeks ago we were headed up into the South Hills together as a family on a Sunday afternoon when Jed asked if we could go camping.  I could see Bron mulling over the request in his mind.  He passed the idea by me later that evening.  I was all in; it sounded fun!  But then we debated on where.  Do we keep it simple and head up into the South Hills or travel a little further and discover some place new?  I am so glad we decided to put in the extra effort at the last minute to camp in an area of Idaho none of us had ever visited before because... It. Was. Epic.

We left the house on Friday afternoon, three days before school started; one last summer adventure.  We found a large camping spot in a grassy area near a creek under some beautiful mountain peaks.  The place was like a dream!  We hardly saw or heard other campers all weekend.  The place felt so remote.  It was wonderful.    

 ^^You bet you-know-who was throwing rocks into the creek as soon as we arrived!^^
^^"Mom, look at this rock!"^^

We kept it simple all weekend.  We ate hot dogs and brats for dinner followed by s'mores for dessert!  It turned out to be the perfect time to have a simple conversation about the birds and the bees with Jed and Levi.  You see, we took the dogs along and Tyke was chasing Misty, and she's currently in heat.  Yup.  Time to explain what's going on there.

 ^^Bron re-teaching the boys how to build a fire.^^
 ^^Shoeless already, Conrad?!^^
 ^^My men doing manly camping things around the fire.  Seriously, the testosterone in this family is very apparent.^^
^^Look at those dirty fingers and that sticky face!  All three boys looked similar.  But I secretly love it.  It's what camping is all about!^^

We let the boys stay up later than usual to give the stars ample time to shine.  Bron and I both knew the star show was going to be good, but I don't think we anticipated just how impressive it was really going to be!  We lucked out with a clear and windless night and a late moon rise.  Camping doesn't get any better than that!

As the fire died down, we walked the boys to the tent in the middle of the grassy area and turned off the flashlights.  We told the boys to look up.  As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, the milky way seemed to glow brighter.  Just the sheer number of stars was incredible!  I think it was the first time Jed and Levi had ever truly witnessed the majesty of the night sky.  They were impressed.  Bron tried pointing out the little dipper and North Star to the boys, but there were just too many stars for them to really follow along.  Wow!  We tucked the boys into bed and then Bron wandered the camp site with me, helping me capture a few long exposure pictures of the night sky.  I forgot my tripod, but no worries.  I used everything from a picnic basket to some rocks to a stick to prop my camera up just right.  Improvising at its finest.  

 ^^View looking up from the front door of the tent.^^
 ^^Can you believe the colors?!  It doesn't look quite so colorful in real life, but the colors are there.  I just brought them out a bit more in post processing.^^
^^A picture of the Big Dipper I promised to capture for Jed.^^

It was a cold night!  I hardly slept, but stayed warm between Bron and Conrad on the blow up mattress.  Jed and Levi were up early.  They proudly made a fire all on their own.

^^Morning scenes of the campsite.^^

Above is Levi telling me all about how they started the fire.  Apparently, one boy held one button down while the other boy pushed the other button on the lighter.  Haha!  I wonder how much gas they used?  Nah, I'm actually proud they're doing boy things and stayed safe.

Breakfast was muffins and Donald Duck Orange Juice!

^^Conrad found a stump, perfect for a little seat and breakfast table.^^
^^"Cheers, Mom!"^^
^^I love this scene of my boys doing boy things.^^

After breakfast, Jed and Levi started burning marshmallows for fun!  Then Levi ran the burning marshmallows to the creek to cool them off.  It was quite the silly game for a while.

We packed our mountain bikes along for a mountain bike ride!  We rode about four miles round trip with the boys late Saturday morning.  Then we ate lunch and hung out by the creek before packing up to head home.

I love how camping brings us closer together as a family and with nature.  I love how being outdoors encourages my children to explore and get dirty and act like real boys!  I love the quiet.  I love the peace.  I love the sunshine.  I love that my long list of chores to do is far, far way.

Apparently the kids do too because even Conrad asked when we could go camping again.  This might have to become a thing.  I can't wait!

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