My wife gave me a new tent for Father's Day/ Birthday. I decided on the Big Agnes Big House 4. It is our first, family portable abode. If you have been following this blog, then you know we have a 21 month old daughter. We decided to introduce her to camping for Father's Day, backyard style. It seemed like the safest bet for our first foray. We chose my in-laws backyard, for obvious reasons. Good company and good views.
I had set up the tent in our yard a couple of days prior, enlisting my daughter's "help", so that she would be familiar with it. We played in the tent Friday and Saturday afternoon, before the planned Sunday camp out. Here we are after the first practice pitch on Friday. Psyched!
The plan for Father's Day included hanging with family at the lake, a little kayak fishing for me, dinner with the in-laws, and then our first night in the tent as a family. Then the next day we would float the James River through the James River State Park and I would fish for smallmouth bass. We had the family canoe, a Blue Hole Prowler, and my fishing kayak,the Jackson Kayak Coosa, loaded and ready. The best laid plans.....
I got out on the lake Sunday afternoon. I had little luck as I fished up in the shallows. As I paddled back to the lake house I noticed some good shade cover and downed trees. I cast to it and immediately had one on the line.
Another little largemouth, but that thing was feisty!
After paddling back, we hung out with the family and eventually went to put our daughter down for bed. We had her travel pack-n-play set up in the tent. We read her a pre-bed book, then laid her down. She passed out pretty quickly. I was stoked!
Later that night, my wife and I slipped into the tent and settled in. The humidity was intense and the ground was rougher than I anticipated. Somehow, in the short two years or so since I last camped, I had gotten soft. The humidity led to lots of tossing and turning.
Then the storm hit. It was a rowdy one. Lightening and thundering booms echoed across the lake. I ran out into the deluge in my boxers, unrolling the rainfly and getting drenched in the process. Thirty minutes later our daughter woke up, crying. We comforted her and put her back to sleep with relative ease. It was not so easy for us parents. Our dog kept nosing the tent, refusing to take refuge on his bed, in the vestibule. He is terrified of thunder. None of us slept, save my baby daughter. She was solid.
Needless to say, the next morning was rough. Our daughter was up and perky. Mom, dad and the dog were struggling. The paddle on the James River got canceled. I normally do not handle the cancellation or change of plans well, Â but I was too tired to mount any protest. My wife and daughter headed for a nap, and I headed back to fish the lake. My mother-in-law, in a Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11, came out for her morning paddle as well. It was breathtakingly quiet on the water.
It turned out alright. Yes, the camping was a little tough on us parents, but we'll be ready next time. More padding! ;) My daughter slept in a tent for the first time and on Father's Day weekend. Perfect. We had a great time telling the storm story the next morning over breakfast and I took pride in the fact that we never broke for the house. During the whole ordeal, nary a word was spoken of the air-conditioned sanctuary that lay a mere 10 feet behind us. Further proof of the fact that my wife is awesome and the perfect lady for me.
Monday ended up being a great day, despite our restless evening. We lounged around the lake, soaking in the comfortable company of family. I had a good couple hours of fishing, we dried the tent and we all hung out together. It was pretty perfect. Yea, I missed a chance to chase smallmouth on the James River, but they'll be there next weekend. And while family is more important than fish, this past weekend I got a good dose of both. I'll take a lazy, lake day of family and fishing any time. You get one spin around with those you love and you never know when the ride will end. Â Celebrate it and be grateful for those moments you get, sitting together amidst this world's great beauty.
side note: The Big Agnes Big House 4 tent is excellent! It pitches with ease and looks great with the vestibule. It handled a heck of a storm, with high winds and heavy rain, with no problem. My daughter REALLY likes it. She squeals in delight every time we put it up. I am pretty psyched on this portable abode for my family. Here are my two vestibule buddies, hanging out in the backyard.