Maddie and I braved the jungles of Golden Ears park last week to go camping! It was Maddie’s first time and my first in a long time.

There we were, driving out to our adventure with a borrowed tent and sleeping bag, a cooler with exactly three items in it and, of course, a bone and cookies for madame. I couldn’t help thinking, as we drove along the long road from the park’s entrance to the campground, that this area looked exactly like Twilight. As I glanced to the side (we were solo on the road), I could see the woods vampires and werewolves supposedly ran through. The trees were evenly spaced and the fern underbrush was a brilliant green. It seemed movie-perfect.

Maddie decides to be the guard dog for our trip.

Maddie decides to be the guard dog for our trip.

Once at our designated spot — which I had painstakingly chosen online from maps, availability charts and a few photos of the areas — I attached Maddie to about 20 feet of her 50-foot leash for some super sniffing and got down to the business of setting up the tent. About 45 minutes, two tries, and some earnest praying that the tent pole not fly out of its sleeve and poke my eye out, we had a home! It was pretty cute too, complete with entrance foyer. Maddie decided to become the guard dog on duty.

After a delicious dinner of sandwiches, we took a stroll around the grounds. I could not believe some of the camping set ups — mini tent villages; dining rooms with table cloths, lights, stoves, and seat cushions; campers with tent annexes, presumably for the kids or for another entire family all together. Kids played board games. Teenagers ran through the forest trying to catch one another. Adults sat around laughing, chatting, and drinking beer.

I dreaded nightfall. There was a campfire ban and I hadn’t thought to bring a lamp. I only had my flashlight. But, when it became so dark that I couldn’t read anymore, Maddie and I stashed our equipment in the car and climbed into bed to read by flashlight. It turned out to be one of the most lovely times of the trip, to be honest.

About an hour after I’d shut off my light, a light rain started and continued throughout the rest of the trip. I love sleeping in a tent while it’s raining — the freshness in the air, the sound of the drops hitting the nylon roof, all while cuddled up in a warm bed roll. So wonderful.

Less wonderful, however, was rolling up that wet, soggy mass of tent and stuffing into my car trunk to get it home. I was hoping the rain would stop in time for the tent to dry out, but — alas — that was just a dream. Maddie stayed dry in the woods while I packed up. In the end, a very sleepy, dirty dog jumped into her car seat for the ride home. She slumped into her chair for a nap while I drove the 30 minutes home — where it had only rained for about 20 minutes. Gah!

Will I do it again? Definitely. Next time, though, I need to remember a ground tarp so Maddie has somewhere clean to lay and eat her bone (which picked up everything but money and boys) and I need a few more layers underneath my sleeping bag. I had a few layers of blanket but it wasn’t enough.

Here’s our camping photo journal. Yes, they’re all of Maddie — who else was there to take photos of?

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