This past weekend we went camping. I've wanted to go camping for some time, but first children were sick, then Brandon had weekend commitments for work, and then suddenly it was July. A month seems a really long time until you only have four weekends before it's all over. Brandon had last Friday off for Independence Day, so we decided to head up into the mountains and see how well taking five children into complete wilderness to sleep somewhere other than their own beds would work. And also, using the bathroom in the woods.
I've heard of three campgrounds in Tajikistan, but all of them are on the other side of the Tunnel of Death, which is currently closed to make the potholes only small enough for Ticos instead of full sized cars to get lost in. I was told by a man who has visited over 150 countries that the Anzob tunnel is the worst tunnel he's ever been through in the entire world. I'm proud to live in a country of superlatives.
So all with all campgrounds currently inaccessible, we decided to just find somewhere flat enough for our massively large eight-man (room for one more!) tent, secluded enough to not draw the passing stares of every villager in the district, and close to a driveable road. There ain't no way we're hauling housing, food, clothes and bedding for seven people any further than 100 yards from our car. Sophia and I got into a discussion about why we don't backpack to camping places. Not only are the children pretty lousy at hauling stuff (they probably max out at fifteen pounds), but super lightweight backpacking gear for seven people gets pretty expensive pretty fast. Plus, I've not found any ultra-lightweight backpacking porta cribs yet. I'll have to talk to Graco about that.
So I've been keeping my eye out for a likely spot ever since we started hiking, and you'll be very shocked to find out that there aren't very many that fit the bill. Land is at a premium here, so any flat spot either has a house or a field on it. If there's somewhere particularly nice, someone has already claimed it. And driveable roads only lead to villages, which are built wherever flat, pleasant spots happen to appear in the terrain. Good spots are so rare, in fact, that so far I've only found one. But this one was pretty nice. It had everything we were looking for, and a bonus fire ring all ready for our use, complete with a liberal scattering of bone dry branches, ready for a marshmallow roasting fire.
Everyone had a great time cooking their dinner on sticks (good news - Tajikistan has a good hot dog import arrangement with Canada. Not kidding) and eating outside in the lovely mountain outdoors. My favorite part was doing the dishes - just throw them into the fire.
Eleanor spent the entire trip confined to her pack'n play. I watched her when Brandon lit the fire, completely absorbed with those pretty, dancing things made of light. Whoever invented play pens was a genius.
Everyone slept as well as you can sleep when you go to bed too late, have a completely full moon flooding your tent, and the sun rises at 5 am. Which is to say, not bad for camping. No one had to find the woods in the middle of the night and only Joseph woke up crying because he couldn't find his blanket.
We had intended to stay for two nights, but by morning Brandon's rumbling insides had turned into a more pressing problem. So after breakfasting on zucchini bread and hot chocolate, we packed up and headed back to civilization and indoor plumbing. As we pulled out, the children were already planning for the next time we'd get to sleep in the woods. And surprisingly, I was equally excited. Until next time.