wocket in my pocket

Looking for the unexpected in the mundane.

Top 5 Reasons Why We Camp in State Parks

I know you all want to hear about our winter camping adventure. Here it is, February, so I can finally tell you about it. I have been saving it up. Actually, I have been doing laundry and washing road salt off Rubbermaid totes and spending three days in the company of a whiny stomach bug. Also I have been teaching cursive E and hosting company and reading aloud every day. I have been learning to stop abusing the ellipses. I badly wanted to insert one there, but Grammarly rapped my knuckles.

When I told my friend Amy that we are going camping in January, she said, “That’s not vacation!” I think she may have been referring to the facilities, or lack of them. Here is why we camp in state parks despite that objection, in 5 handy-dandy reasons:

  1. We get rejuvenated in nature. I ask no better form of relaxation than a stroll on a well-maintained, well-marked trail through unspoiled woods. This is something Gabe and I want to pass on to our children: “Alone with God” and all that. Stuff doesn’t scream so loudly, troubles tend to assume more manageable proportions, there is no wi-fi and little cell service, and if you go during off-peak seasons there are no other people.
  2. We appreciate camping cabins. Tents are fine for some seasons, but actual bunks with mattresses, hooks to hang up jackets, shelves for each child’s treasures are fine for other seasons. I don’t sneeze about electric heaters either, and light switches to hit when things go bump. At one time I would have sneered at the poshness of it, but I have opened my mind a bit. The lack of plumbing tends to off set the poshness anyway.
  3. We like affordable things. We just have to face it, the beach is too far away from central Pennsylvania for us to trot there every time we feel like it. (Also, people don’t walk around naked in state parks, a small consideration, surely.) On this recent trip, we spent less than $400 on fuel and lodging for 7 people (3 nights) and it was built to accommodate 12. That is not including the tote full of special foods to cook on sticks (just kidding, we had a stove and fridge) and the tote full of fun activities for middle of January camping, of course.
  4. We value learning about things, any things, all things. State parks have calendars crammed full of educational and low-budget fun. Many of their programs are free, paid by our hard-earned tax dollars, of course. The activities were a little sparse in mid-winter, but there was a snowshoeing class and a large ice rink cleared on the ice for skating. There was geo-caching all around the park, even though the caches were hard to find under snow. But the great thing? Those vacation days totally count as school days because we learned stuff while we were just hanging out with each other.
  5. We like being around nice people. By that I mean family-friendly people who understand that a little boy hatcheting firewood is as natural as breathing. I cannot remember ever meeting a creepy person or even an especially grouchy person at a state park and I watch for them ever since I read The Shack. I did see in the news that a criminal was hiding out in a local campground, but people ratted on him. Apparently all the fresh air and exercise keep campers alert and they look out for each other. 🙂

There you have it, my nice, attention grabbing title and a list. Is there anything you would like to add?

There is also this image, poached off the internet, of the dam at Parker Dam State Park, although when we were there the water was quite frozen and the entire 20 acre lake would have been fine for skating.



See you tomorrow!


Wise Buys

You probably know that I try hard to be thrifty in my buying choices. We are raising our family on one income, and the older the children get, the more I understand why many people say, “But that is impossible these days!” It isn’t, but it requires carefulness, especially if you have a desire to be debt-free.

Enter second-hand stores, yard sales, discount groceries, coupons, and clearance racks. The stereotype of tight-wad plain people may actually have something to do with the necessity to provide for larger than average families, although I know many of them are quite wealthy, yet quickly scarf up free stuff that others need much more than they do, so… Whoa. Major bunny trail there.

Yesterday I had to go to the city to order next year’s school books at an exhibit put on by ABeka publishers. I guess it is probably to their advantage to have early orders, but it always comes at a time when I would rather not think about next year’s school for, oh, maybe about a year. 🙂 They lure us in early with free shipping and discounts, and it works!

I took my Rita-girl along, since she is sturdy enough to skip nap time. We had some extra time to walk in the mall, checking out the clearance racks. I took five articles of clothing into a fitting room, left them all on the rack, and felt very disgruntled. I hate fitting rooms. But I did buy myself a pair of white Nordic-track leggings for next winter. We had checked them out and blanched at the prices this past ski season, so as tired as I am of snow and cold, if I see high-quality, 35-dollar, moisture-wicking, heat-retaining leggings reduced to 5 dollars, I will buy them. When you have a skiing kind of man, you need to be prepared to go along. 🙂

The bookstore was a lot more fun. In less than a month we hope to be celebrating the completion of this school term, which calls for gifts all around, traditionally books. I was so pleased with the ones I found for the little girls. Since Olivia learned to read, her gift will her very own Bible. The only one I found that had large print for small people was a pink Precious Moments one. I don’t even like P.M. stuff, but she would be so thrilled with the pinkness. So I got it. I just won’t look at the illustrations of Abraham and Sarah with large tear-drop eyes.

After I ordered our school books, we took a pass through Aldi’s, where the most thrilling purchase was pineapples, on sale for 1.49. I won’t sneeze at the Cadbury Mini Eggs, either, which is the only Easter candy I would truly miss if I were deprived of it. (Well, I have to admit, I like Peeps, too, but that is not a very adult thing to say.)

When we got home, I put away the groceries, smuggled the gift books into hiding, and proudly showed Gabe my leggings.  Wait, they looked sort of big. I examined the package. “Hon, you will never guess… I just bought myself Men’s size large leggings. Maybe you can wear them.” He laughed. I took them out of the package and they looked really large. I examined the tag. “What? these are not large. These are XXlarge men’s leggings. But what were they doing in the ladies’ clearance section with the CuddlDuds and fuzzy socks? And why were they in this package?”  I tried them on. It was not funny. Not even a little bit.

I felt quite cross and decided to go for a walk. What a washout of a shopping trip! Add to that the fact that I had hurried home to make a meal for friends who, for the second time, were not home when we wanted to take the food to their house. About 1/2 mile down the road it suddenly struck me funny that I (unwittingly) bought (men’s) leggings for myself on the extreme opposite end of the size scale from what my husband wears. Then I had an idea. I wonder how many people would want them if I had a giveaway? It was a deserted stretch of road, so I just laughed out loud for a while. It felt really good. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it just doesn’t quite…