cliff with trees above the river

Our first camping trip this summer was early in June.  It was so pretty next to the Van Duzen river. We went for just one night to let our bunnies get used to being left alone. The weather was perfect, a breezy 70 plus at the hottest part of the day.

Not quite hot enough to get me into the refreshingly cool water for a swim. I’m a pretty big wimp when it comes to cold water. But the same could not be said about any of my boys. They all spent most of our non-cooking, non-eating hours paddling about in the river.

Family Man and kids in the sand

While I spent hours lounging on the warm sand, reading or meditatively studying the surrounding trees, they nestled into it just long enough to warm up their bodies for another swim.

Young Son in the water near baby ducks

A family group of six baby ducks was going up and down the river where we were playing. Young Son got pretty close by non-threateningly floating obliviously past them. We collectively wondered about their mother. Had she decided they were big enough to fend for themselves? They looked pretty small still. Had she met a fate we couldn’t bring ourselves to name out loud? Hopefully not…

Some of the local wildlife was even more bold. An enterprising chipmunk chewed through a plastic bag and ate a human bite-sized piece of bagel when we stepped away for just a few minutes. We were more careful with our food after that. And after dark, when the kids were asleep and Family Man and I were sitting by the fire, we had a bigger visitor. I heard footsteps, like a child quietly creeping up to join us maybe, but there was no voice. And I heard it get closer, but I couldn’t see anything much outside of our little circle of firelight, and I said softly, and just a little nervously, “there’s something there, turn on your light.” Family Man switched on the flashlight, illuminating a big raccoon waddling past us just a few feet away. Maybe it was hoping for a marshmallow.

I slept like a baby all night long; came out of a deep slumber twice just long enough to hear the song of the river and slip off back to sleep. It was sunny and crystal clear when we woke up in the morning and rolled out of our tents under the redwood trees.

Our questions about the baby ducks were answered while we made breakfast around the campfire. We watched mama duck fly in from the north and settle onto the water next to her flock. Hooray, she was there after all!

kids sitting at the picnic table

Family Man and Mama sitting at the picnic table

It was so relaxing to have a nice break from ‘real life’ and get in touch with our elemental selves. I can’t say that any of us would enjoy a stay at a four star motel any more than we enjoyed our stay under the redwoods by the river.

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