by brown sugar
Learning to live with the necessities of life.
|Summer is here and the kids are out of school. Nothing to do, nothing to keep them busy. It is the same thing every year, trying to find things to keep them from being bored. They are either playing video games or watching television. It is hard getting them out of the house.
So, I decided to plan a short vacation in the mountains. "Camping, that's it." My husband, Joe, has always wanted to go camping. He hasn't been since he was a child, and of course, I have never been, so this will be good for me and the kids.
My children, Lauren, thirteen and Ian, ten are at the ages to learn some of life's lessons, and no better way than to camp in the mountains, live among the wildlife, hike in the forest trails, see the beautiful river streams and just go back to the basics, where we need to go when all else fails. Just the bare necessities of life.
The fourth of July is one week away, so I don't have much time to get this vacation on the road. Thank God, I don't work or I would not be able to get this going so quickly, and Joe's vacation is coming up at the right time.
When Joe came home from work we discussed our vacation. He was so excited about going, and all the places he would take the kids, so he got on the computer and made reservations for us to stay in tent cabins.
I remarked, "What is a tent cabin?" At first, I thought he made it up until he found pictures of them online, they were really nice. They looked like cabins on the inside, and what do you know, their names were "Bear Necessities."
We called a family meeting after the reservations were made and told the kids about our vacation, that we were going to the mountains, when we were going and showed them pictures of the tent cabins where we would be staying for the weekend.
They just looked at each other, never showing any signs of excitement, but with a little encouragement they decided it might be fun.
For the next few days, we were packing clothes, buying food and drinks, medical supplies and all the necessities needed for our camping trip.
I remember when I was a child, every fourth of July, my mother would buy me and my sister new outfits, little short sets, socks and tennis shoes, to wear to the park, and she would make hamburgers for us to take on our trip, and we would ride the bus to the park.
We would stay all day at the park riding the ferris wheel, the go-carts, the tilt-a-whirl, every ride we could get on. There was a ride called, "The Hurricane," it would ride backward and forwards, playing music as it goes. That was fun.
Then we would ride the train which took us through the entire park and parts of the zoo. We had a ball. We stayed until dark, that was when the fireworks started.
I loved seeing the fireworks shooting towards the sky bursting into many patterns and beautiful colors of red, green and white. You would know when it ended because there would be an amazing white waterfall of fireworks falling over the bridge. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
This vacation has to be perfect. My family needs to feel the same experience with their fourth of July. I want this to be something they will never forget.
Well, today is the day, the fourth, Independence Day. Everyone is in their place and ready to go. Joe and Ian packed the Tahoe, while Lauren and I made sure nothing was left behind. We almost forgot the camcorder.
The only excited people going was Joe and I. We could not wait to get to the mountains and see the waterfalls. This has always been my peace and serenity.
We headed up the highway to Cherokee. By the time we topped the mountain, our ears were stopped up and I was getting a little dizzy. However, not too dizzy to look over into the mountain range and witness all its splendor. How beautiful it was. The majestic mountains.
It was breathtaking to see the precipitation of the clouds lower itself on the mountain tops. This view perked up the kids.
We continued to ride until we reached the National Park. I reflected on my past and present as I saw a spectacular display of wildflowers in such an array of snowy white and pink colors.
The park and campgrounds were found nestled in a lush valley surrounded by nothing but mountains. As we approached our tent cabins, we saw many R V's parked.
People everywhere enjoying life, visiting one another. We met a family from Texas, the Walkers. They have three children ranging from eight to twelve years old. Of course, we met other families as well but this family stayed in the cabin next to ours, so we bonded a little, Joe and Eric had a lot in common, both being in law enforcement.
We got there in plenty of time for the activities before sundown, since we left home before sunrise. Activities ended about five o'clock pm, so we rested about an hour to enjoy our cabin before getting started.
We rented a large cabin that accommodated five people. I never knew there was so much comfort. They were nicely furnished with a dresser and a futon, a double bed for us, twin beds for the children and we had to supply our own bedding. Picnic table with chairs and a grill located outside our tent. Joe had never slept in a tent cabin before.
There was a large wall tent that is set on a sturdy raised wooden platform. The tent was quite secluded. The restrooms and cold water located near the cabins.
Lauren and Ian just stood there, looking at us and laughing. "Are you serious, are we really going to sleep outdoors?"
Reassuring them, I said, "No, honey, we are not sleeping outside exactly. Once you step inside, you'd think you were in a regular cabin."
"But mom, there is no bathroom or refrigerator."
I replied, "The bathrooms are located near the cabins along with cold water, and we have a small refrigerator inside that's the right size for our needs. The General Store is down the way and we're only going to be here for the weekend, so lay your worries to rest and have fun."
Both Ian and Lauren pouted for awhile, but soon got through it. I explained to everyone that we are here to have fun, enjoy nature and see how well we can do without the video games, television, computers and cell phones. "We are here to renew our relationship and connect emotionally as a family."
To Joe and I, this was a touch of paradise.
Eric informed us that this was Bear country, and to be careful how we store our food. Because bears are curious and have an amazing sense of smell, and if they frequently eat human food, they will lose their fear of people. A park ranger informed Eric and his family of bears after they met one.
I sent Joe to the general store to see if they sold food lockers. Lo and behold, he came back with one, and the kids helped us store the food.
After we rested, we looked over our activity schedule. Listed was hiking, horseback riding, biking and fishing. It was only ten o'clock in the morning, so we decided to get a few activities in before we started grilling.
The first thing we did as a family was to go biking. No one wanted to hike, including me. On the bike trail was something called, "the loop," which is the road that hikers and bicyclists travel on.
Drinking water and restrooms are located at the beginning and the end of the loop. I was worried about this because I had just finished drinking some bottled water, hoping I would not have to use the bathroom before coming to the end.
We rented the bikes and helmets and were on our way. As we rode along the road, we noticed how the trails crisscrossed through the park. From a distance, at the lower end of the road, we saw a waterfall. Even though we do not hike, we found it invigorating to park our bikes for a brief moment and walk to where the waterfall was.
We walked down a few steps to a bridge, crossed over it and came to an intersection. We continued walking down a long flight of stairs to where we could stand to view the magnificent site, getting a closer look from the boulders to see the base of the falls.
We actually sat on one of the boulders. It was breathtaking. Lauren and Ian could not believe what they were seeing. "Mom, its lovely here, and to know that we are in a forest with a waterfall," Lauren remarked.
The water came crashing down over the rocks, what a thrill it was to feel its mist all over our bodies. Patches of rhododendrons on each side of the waterfall and through the forest. Its blossoms were pure white that hang like individual bells. What a site to behold.
We returned to our bikes by same route and continued our biking.
As we rode on, there was something moving among the trees. Joe whispered, "Look, there's a brown bear peeking out from the leaves."
The bear did not see us, and she was at a distance, but we were close enough to watch. We eased off our bikes. Pacing ourselves, we eased closer. There were two of them. It looked as though it was a momma bear and her cub. They were something to see. The children were in awe.
We forgot the binoculars, but we did think to bring the camcorder. The baby bear had the prettiest eyes, and his coat was silky brown. He followed behind his momma until they came to a running brook, then he started trying to hold on to her back part, as if to say, "Carry me, momma."
The two bears walked in the brook and appeared to be fishing for food. They walked along frolicking and interacting with each other.
We dared not let them see us. It was so serene to see them playing together, seeing how she cares for her cub to make sure he eats, and at the same time teaching him to look for food so that he will never go hungry.
We took in every aspect of what the Bear family was doing. Momma bear finally caught a trout, she ate a little of it and fed the rest to the cub. Other times she would help her cub feed himself, much like human mothers, which is why it was so astonishing to watch.
I told Joe and the kids, "These are the bare necessities of life, and the bear, the deer and other wildlife never worry about food or shelter because they know it is being provided for them. Therefore, they live with just the bare necessities, and we need to forget about our worries and strife, and trust God to give us our provisions, after all, that is one of his promises."
By watching those bears I realize there are so many things we can do without, all we need is just the necessities of life.
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