On Wednesday morning (after the car window was repaired), we loaded our three granddaughters in the Subaru and headed for Ensign Ranch to camp with Polly and her family.
Having so many people in the car meant that we had to figure out another way to carry all the car-camping gear. Sweet! Mark remodeled our canoe trailer into a camping trailer. What a clever fellow he is. I know we'll be having fun with this little trailer for years to come.
Then it was into the car for the 4.5-hour drive to Ensign Ranch. It's about 1.5 hours east of Tacoma, Washington, and only about an hour away from Polly's house. It's owned by the Mormon Church, and for much of the summer it's used for LDS Young Women camps. Once all the YW camps are wrapped up, families are free to rent the cabins, teepees, and tents. Fun!
We camped in an area that requires cars to stay in the parking lot, away from the actual campsites. Perfect. No need to worry about little ones being hit by a car. And the kids love loading the gear into the resident handcarts and then helping push it to camp. Go, Grandpa!
Soon Polly and family arrived. They brought one of the Incredibles (aka Seth) with them. It was comforting to have a super-hero in our campsite.
Maleena and Max came too, so we had more fun cousin time. Just look at all these future backpacking-boys. Seth, Anson, and Hunter had a good time together. Well, actually Anson preferred being with his mama or another adult. But Hunter really did seem to be content in his stroller, watching all the activity.
Of course we had marshmallows and s'mores. Sarah and Katie are pros with a stick and a marshmallow.
Kat's shirt cracks me up. She says it's really her older brother's shirt. Because, of course, she is a twin!
Sweet cousins - Becca had fun entertaining Hunter. I think she likes being the bigger one. And Hunter is a little more interactive right now than Anson.
More sweet cousin time with Sarah and Becca.
The next morning we paddled canoes in the lake. Kat helped Uncle Eric paddle...
At this point our camera battery died, so that's it for photos. We had so much fun at the slip-n-slide. Grandma Kathy even tried it out! Becca got brave enough to slide down on her own. Little Hunter went sliding with his daddy, Max. Kat and Sarah had nonstop fun with some girls their age, and Seth never stopped once. Katie was a whiz, sometimes on her own, sometimes with older cousins, and sometimes with Auntie Maleena. Oh yes, Maleena loved the slip-n-slide, too. We just won't say anything about the time she popped her swim ring! I'm sure it wasn't her fault.
Funny slip-n-slide story. Becca was brave enough to go down by herself, but she wanted someone to hold her hand as she walked up to the top of the slip-n-slide hill. To give you a little perspective, I'll go ahead and post two more slip-n-slide photos that show how big this hill is:
A long way up...
Becca had a certain place she always liked to start sliding down. It was about 2/3 of the way across the top, toward the left. Eric had taught her that if she started there, she wouldn't land in the big splash pool at the bottom.
Ok, so I'm walking along the top edge with Becca, toward her special spot. We've probably done this 4 or 5 times together. And I think to myself, hmmm...this top edge is a little narrow. I sure hope Becca doesn't slip. So of course she DOES slip, right down the BACK side of the slip-n-slide. It's covered with the same rubber stuff, so it wasn't like she got hurt on some rocks or anything, but it doesn't get much of the sprinkler action, so it's dry and scratchy and steep.
Becca landed safely at the bottom, but she was a little shook up, and she looked up at me like, Now what do I do? "Hang on, Becca," I called to her. Then I handed my swim ring to Seth, who was standing nearby on top of the slip-n-slide, and then I tried to figure out how I was going to get down to Becca. Like I said it was steep. Becca wasn't crying yet, but I knew that I didn't have much time to get this figured out. It was way too steep for me to walk down it. It would take to long to walk back down the carpet and all the way around the back, and besides, if I did that Becca would be all alone at the bottom. So I did what any good grandmother would do...I sat down and slid down the back side of the slip-n-slide on my bottom, just like Becca had done. Then we walked together through the prickly weeds at the back, around to the carpet, back up to Seth and my swim ring (Becca had been holding tightly on to hers the whole time), and then we slid down the front side, none the worse for wear.
The last morning we were there, Grandpa Mark and Uncle Max took three of the girls (Sarah, Kat, and Katie) fishing. They came back with two fish! Katie and Kat were both successful. We cooked Kat's fish on the spot and she ate every bite. Katie cooked hers the next day while visiting her Uncle Ben.
Ensign Ranch has its pros and cons.
Pros: It's very clean, you never have drunk neighbors, the huge big tents are already set up for you, the kids love the slip-n-slide, it's a quick drive for Polly and Eric
Cons: Even though the camp is clean, it's also very dusty. The dust gets old. It's also a long drive from Oregon City - it would be nice to go camping with Polly's family at a middle point for both of us. But they have little kids, so a long drive is more difficult...but then Maleena and Max joined us this year, too, and they also have a little one. I just don't know of any good camps (yet) that would be at a midpoint for our families.
All in all, our Ensign Ranch campout was successful this year. It really is fun to have a place we can go camping with our younger grandchildren. And I'm glad we can set it up so that Mark and I bring most of the equipment and food. We want to make it as easy on the younger families as we can.
In fact, the most difficult thing about the whole campout happened after we left. Unfortunately, we hit Tacoma freeway traffic about 3:00 in the afternoon. It took us 2.5 hours to go 30 miles. Took us 7 hours to get home. That's the last time we'll take that route on a weekday afternoon.