I'm lost for a subtitle
This one has been a hard one to write. I've been conflicted. Do I write that I got to camp with friends I've known since I was 5? Or that it was my first time using the camper trailer without Carol (sort of...)? Or do I start off saying its been exactly one year since the last camping trip we got to take with Duncan?
Two stories to tell. Not enough gin or time to tell both with flow and eloquence.
I suppose being eloquent hasn't thus far been a priority so why start now?
I remember it was this weekend that we last camped with Duncan for two reasons.
It was the long weekend in October, and it was our first time camping with Carol's family. We also went with the Pecheys who we absolutely adore, and it was Brian's birthday.
The weekend was cut short because Duncan's back was too sore. It was the beginning that we didn't know was starting.
We all went to Big Riggen. One of those campsites that everyone you talk to has good things to say about (including strangers in the elevator when you're talking to your boss). We had planned a trip with the Pechey's, friends we've known the longest in Brisbane. We all adore them. Duncan and I don't take on new friendships lightly, but we loved Alison and Brian from the first time they came over for a bbq, probably 7 years ago now. Their oldest boy is a grade higher than Alex, and their youngest is the same age as Max. We all get on like we've known eachother since childhood but its really only been since we moved to Brisbane. Brian and Alison are from South Africa via London, and have been in Brisbane about a year or so longer than we have. Alison ran the daycare Alex and Max were in and I knew from the first moment I met her I'd like her, and impatiently waited until the kids weren't in her care anymore to initiate a friendship. So glad I did.
Carol and Will had planned on camping elsewhere but it was booked when they called up. I told them where we were going and to come along! And luckily, but not surprisingly, they got on really well with Alison and Brian, so when we left a day early, there was no problem at all.
On our way to Big Riggen, Duncan said he didn't think he'd sleep well because his back had been so sore. Along with packing ample pain-killers, we stopped at Anaconda on the way to buy a stretcher for the tent. For the Canadians reading this, not an ambulance stretcher. This:
In a previous post I referenced a butane bottle story that Carol knew I'd hold on to for a long time...this is when it occurred. Definitely meant for a different post however, so I won't get into it.
Anyway, without blogging about the whole camping trip, it was meant to be a four night trip (if I remember correctly) and we got away for three, but Duncan's back was so sore that we ended up leaving a day early. We had no idea what was to come, just thought it was a sore back and proper physio was needed. But for Duncan to end a camping trip early and need to be on our bed, I should have known it was something worse. I wonder if he knew, but didn't say it?
And that was the last time we all camped together as a family.
If I think about it too much, I won't be able to write the rest of this. My guess is this is why I haven't been able to write this blog yet. Its been making me too sad thinking of our life before.
ONE PARENT CAMPING
Western Creek Hideaway
Fully booked it only had 15 families! OMG it was heaven!
Not too far from Brisbane - less than an hour's drive from home
Toilets. Not flushing, and not the best smelling BUT you don't have to squat.
Showers. They'd just installed a hot water system - I didn't try but apparently the kinks haven't been entirely worked out yet
Water hole for swimming (if you're game)
Climbing net, small zipline, and the owner's daughter takes the kids around to feed the horses in the morning and evening
Deborah, the owner, was friendly, accommodating, and just lovely
Heaps of open space. Like HEAPS
Dry and dusty - but we haven't had much rain so its not really a con of the campground, just the weather in QLD right now
That's it. It was great. No cons.
Please let preface this blog with a couple of things.
One, it was incredibly dry, and clearly to no fault of the owners. There's been little rain happening in SEQld and their farm was proof. It was dry and dusty, and we were popping allergy tablets like candy. Fortunately (or possibly unfortunately) rain is predicted to be somewhat similar to 2011 when Brissy had the massive floods - this will either improve the farm or destroy it. Hoping its the former. And if it is, I'll be there in a heartbeat.
Two, this weekend was the first weekend they'd ever opened up the farm to the public. Previously they'd had family and close friends, but when they saw the demand for QLD camping over the long weekend, they thought they'd give public bookings a try. So glad they did!
I can't figure out how to get their website to show here, so here's the link: Western Creek Hideaway
They use HiCamp, for those in Aus who haven't heard of it, its the Air BnB for camping. Formerly called youcamp. The new website sucks but the locations people have up on offer are amazing.
My draft paragraph of this blog (since changed) was congratulating myself on not forgetting a single thing on this trip. So glad I didn't publish it, because yesterday I remembered that I had actually forgotten my anti-anxiety tablets and had to turn around 5 mins after leaving to go back and get them. Luckily (and mostly for the kids) I remembered them before the point of no return!
I'd also like to say I was successful in my first camping trip with the trailer without Carol but credit where credit is due, she came by in the morning to help me unlock the water tank lid (roll your eyes all you want its a fucking pain!), hitch the trailer, and just give me a hug goodbye because she's a beautiful soul.
I will note that I also have friends so amazing that they offered to come help reverse park and unhitch the trailer upon my return home. As much as I love them for it, I'm pretty stoked to report I was able to do both on my own. I take the small wins whenever I can.
Aside from the quick turnaround, the drive there was quick and uneventful, and apparently Grandchester used to be called Bigge Camp (as indicated on the sign entering the town), and one day I may actually remember to Google it to find out why.
Our weekend was a fabulous success! Despite the dust and dry ground, we had a big beautiful campground shared only across a few other families, and most of them were family members camping together up at the public area - which consisted of a large concrete slab with corrugated iron roofing and faux leather seating that looked like it once belonged in a cinema or old burger joint.
We got there are a bit earlier than our co-campers (who I'll explain soon). So after a few times around the the particular site we chose, I finally mentally figured out how I'd open up the trailer and made sure the kitchen was situated in a position that I could still converse with everyone while still doing the dishes. It took a few attempts.
Setting us was pretty much like the previous weekend. I tried to get Alex and Max to both set up the bunk beds. Why'd I even bother?! As it turns out, neither of them even like the bunk beds (Max for whatever reason he comes up with that particular day, but Alex liking being on the ground because that's how Dad liked to camp) so this was ultimately the last weekend we'll camp with the bunkbeds. I think secretly Max is happy about that because he's the only one with the initiative to set them up and take them down. Unrolling mattresses is much less complex.
The only difference from last weekend to this weekend was Oscar being a little bit more clever than Mom setting up the gazebo. Word to the wise, if your son tells you the canopy is upside down, believe him.
Camp was all set up and ready to go when Jacki and Dave showed up. I spoke of them in a Facebook post for One Parent Camping but if you don't check that, let me explain again. My situation with the Glibbery's is beyond amazing and unbelievable.
I've known Jacki since Kindergarten (prep for QLDers). I'll have to dig up our Kindergarten class photo because if I remember correctly she had one sock up and one sock down and we are both so bloody cute (I hope anyone who knows me realises that once I finish this I'll be on an all-night search for that photo) (if anyone reading this had Mrs Anderson ??for Kindergarten in Canalta and happens to have that photo on hand, please send me a copy!!).
I've known Jacki's mom Debbie as long as I've known Jacki and can't wait for the next time they're in Aus so I can come up to visit and say hi after all these years. COVID be gone so we can start international travel again.
Her husband Dave I've known since Grade 7. I had a crush on his older brother Adam in Grade 8 (Adam was in Grade 9) and their dad was a hockey (and lacrosse if I remember correctly) referee, and all of them were patients of my dad's as well. Yes, it was a small town.
Fast forward a couple of decades....Jacki and David were in Adelaide when we were in Kalgoorlie, and by some miracle we ended up in Brisbane when they were in Caloundra (Sunshine Coast). Jacki came camping with us ladies the previous weekend for a night and I was so happy she had the second weekend of school holidays free to come camping with us again and spend a long overdue weekend together. I should mention that its also lucky that their eldest daughter is only a few months younger than Alex, and they get along so well!
Since this is a camping blog I should actually write about the camping.
The weekend was great. The kids woke up early each morning to be picked up by the owner's daughter to go feed the horses, and then again in the evenings (which was lucky for Alex because I'm pretty sure she slept through both mornings). There were heaps of kids around (Evan from Logan particularly had no issue chatting it up with the parents, or asking Dave for a ride back from the horses!) and the kids were constantly entertained.
My idea of camping this weekend consisted of the kids fending for themselves at all times with the exception of lunch and dinner, and not harassing me. Dave was clever enough to bring a book (I'm pretty sure he started the same paragraph twenty times) and I made a mental note to bring one along for my next camping trip. We all played cards, crib, some crazy farting game (it was battery operated, not organic) that one of Dave's family members bought for Paisley, chopped wood, started fires, roasted marshmallows, and on the first night, my beautiful lifelong friends sang Happy Birthday for Alex and brought cupcakes with candles on them, for her birthday that was the Wednesday before. How lucky I am to have such thoughtful people in my life.
Maybe watering hole isn't a great description of what it was. A fetid pool of stagnant water with a slimy green coating - a bit more accurate. Its almost painful to know that my kids have swam in the crystal clear ocean waters of Western Australia with pure white sand. And this weekend, all they wanted to do was swim in this.
Then out of no where, some kid decided he wanted a bit of attention and jumped off the rocks into the pool! Thanks bud. Now I have three kids harassing me to do the same. I knew it was deep enough because the kid who had just jumped was taller than any of our four who wanted to do it. So my options were twofold. Do I stick with my usual boring and scared of everything mom attitude and say no and have them think it was the worst weekend ever because of that one thing I said no to? Or do I work on my self-improvement and mom-improvement and let them do the things they need to in order to become clever and risk-taking children that can learn from good and bad choices? That's right, it wasn't really a choice at all.
Since no one in the entire campground other than our kids were game to jump, they attracted quite a crowd, and after a couple of jumps, almost everyone at the whole farm was there watching! Not bad few a few half-Canadian kids!
The last day of the long weekend and it was time to head home. Its great camping with like-minded people, and after breakfast we all just started to pack up. Jacki and Dave had a longer drive home than we did, but it was nice for us to get home early enough to have the rest of the day ahead of us. That ultimately means unpacking and laundry. But still enough time to do it!
I was able to reverse park the trailer on my own. Yay me. It didn't take 18 million attempts like last time, closer to 15 million, but as stated earlier, I'll take all small wins.
My biggest win was the challenge I presented to the kids upon arrival. I said we'd time how long it took to unpack the Prado and perishables from the camper trailer, and set the goal to beat for next camping trip. Lucky I have the world's most competitive kids (how could they avoid getting that gene with both Duncan and me as their parents?!), and they busted their little behinds to make it as quick as possible. 27 mins. The week before took about 2 hours. It seems as though we're shooting for 22 mins next trip!
Now that sport has started again, our camping weekends are limited. Hoping Alex has a bye with one of her water polo teams soon so we could possibly take advantage of her not missing too much in one weekend.
I do however have a trip planned with a few U11 rugby moms (not just rugby moms but great friends moms) and their boys (yes Alex is bringing a girl friend for emotional support!) in early December and hopefully some camping with Marty and Qin over Christmas down in Nymboida. With the closed borders we haven't been able to be back to Nymboida since Duncan was buried and I so desperately want to see him.
Until the next blog.