Tuesday dawned warm and humid, and the day heated rapidly from there. The kids ran gleefully amok, and I passed the time easily taking care of their needs and taking in the beautiful day. There is so much for them to enjoy, so much to do and imagine and examine.
Babyman especially enjoyed living outdoors- this was a constant sight during the campout:
I tried one more time to get the park rangers to see reason about the tents, or at least to offer some credible explanation of why I needed to move them. It was fruitless, however. I encountered a great deal of sympathy but the oft-repeated phrase was "Well, I don't make the rules." Before long Billy arrived, and since there really was no good place to pitch a tent on our site's driveway, he helped me move our camp to a new site. This one had a level tent pad, and we raked the large gravel aside before pitching our tents on it (ruining several stakes in the process). By evening we were all set, and the rest of our party had arrived.
We settled into an easy routine of camp life and visiting, swapping food and stories. The fireflies set the woods afire and the cicadas buzzed in time as I leaned against my brother's truck, passing a flask of fine scotch back and forth between us. It was an easy moment, a fine way to wrap up my birthday, for birthday it was (Billy's, too). My brother was heading home for the evening ("Wuss" I said), but would return later in the week. So ended Day 2.
We started Day 3 with our annual group picture. Cloudland Canyon 2010!
We did some smaller family shots for good measure,
and then headed out together for a hike along the West Rim.
The trail was great, alternating fantastic rock formations and wild blueberry thickets with canyon-hugging vistas.
I carried Babyman, which is usually a welcome workout. However the heat and humidity combined with my relative lack of practice was kicking my butt. Babyman fell asleep, and when we all stopped for a snack, I was glad to lay him gently down and take a break. He slept on, oblivious to his surroundings.
We turned back at this point, and by the time I reached camp (approximately 5 miles of hiking behind me) I realized I had overdone it. The heat and exertion had caught up with me. After lunch everyone else set out for the waterfalls down in the canyon, but I decided to stay behind. Billy took the two older boys and I did my best to relax by myself with Babyman. We had a quiet time together until later, when the intrepid adventurers all returned with evening's cooler temperatures, ababble with excitement over the first waterfall. They'd spent the whole afternoon there, climbing on rocks, splashing in the swimming hole and building "monoliths" and monuments of stones (all activities strictly forbidden, of course). It was a must-see, so everyone planned to visit again tomorrow.
The boys fell asleep quickly, exhausted. Billy and I snuggled in our tent together, bathed in bright, silvery moonlight which poured down through the open screened roof. It was the kind of camping moment that transcends everything, that makes camping a cherished part of my existence.