Yayyyyyyy another wish of mine – checked. We did camping and rafting during last long weekend. M’s colleagues went on camping last year and I came to know about it while chatting with his colleague’s wife on a different trip later last year. I asked her to include our family if they plan camping next time and then we forgot about it. Few weeks ago M’s colleague contacted M with their plan for camping on the Memorial day long weekend. M shared the details with me that evening but we were not sure if we will be able to make it. Both of us had some office work that weekend. It was a group of seven families and we requested them to have us as optional.
With all this confusion around we didn’t buy anything till Wednesday evening with just two more days to go. On Wednesday we decided to buy the needed stuff and return them if we don’t make it to the trip. So, we hit the stores and bought tent, tarpoline, mosquito repellent et all and started the packing on Friday late night. The trip plan was to start on Saturday morning and come back on Monday aftenoon. With food, I was asked to make Idlis/chutneys. So, I soaked rice/urad dal on Thursday morning and prepared batter on Thursday evening. M was saying my Idlis are going to be hard as people will consume it almost after 6 hours of making. I was worried but still I went ahead and made 3 batches of Idlis (each batch made 16 Idlis), coconut chutney on Saturday morning. I also prepared and onion/tomato chutney on Friday evening. Don’t ask me about the time I woke up on Saturday **sob sob** :(. As I was making Idlis, M packed the last minute luggage that is camp chairs/beeg umbrella that we borrowed, comforters, air beds, pillows, dresses, toiletries, sneakers, caps, sunscreen, tent et all. The car trunk was overflowing and we had to use the space in back seat to fill the rest.
All the other 6 families stay in same apartment community so the plan was to meet at a food store near their community at 10am. We planned to step out at 9am as we had to stop by nearby Indian store to buy some food items but managed to leave at 9:25am which is not that bad looking at our records. Reached M’s colleague’s place around 10am and his colleague appreciated us to no end for making it on time when my eyes were already burning with that early wake up. After another one hour of phone calls and messaging all seven families gathered at food store. Guys bought bags of ice cubes, milk, beer cases and other important stuff from that food store and we started the journey around 12pm.
The camp location was at neighbor state Pennsylvania and it was around 2.5 hours drive away from home. The drive was pleasant with greens on both sides except for that ten minutes heavy heavy rain.
the rain – we couldn’t even locate the car in the front. It was so bad.
Our cars were tailgating most of the times and we reached the camp ground around 3pm except for one family who missed the route and their GPS showed another 1.5 hours of drive to reach the place. Unfortunately, this family had the paper plates, cups, napkins and cutleries . Once, we found our spot and parked cars in position. I brought out the Idlis to the center table and it was over within minutes. We all just dipped Idlis o the chutney bowl and finished them off with our hand. Coconut and tomato chutneys were mixed in the process but no one bothered 🙂 Did I mention all the other six families are from north India and they praised my Idli to no end. My lips were paining after a while with all that thank yous. They were praising it till the end of the trip :). They all spoke in Hindi all through the trip and I had no issues with it. I was able to understand most of their conversation and replied back in English. I was apprehensive about the language before the trip but it all vanished away once we started to chat. Language can never be a barrier I say.
Camp ground parking spot right after we landed
Our spot. You see the red umbrella in the second picture below. we had a wooden table there and that was our food court for next two days. The cars were parked around our spot next to the tents and chairs were set out around the camp fire place.
Then, we had pav bhajji, aloo bonda and guys started to setup the tent.
three tents – after final setup. Other four were setup on the sides and other side. It was like a circle of seven tents with cars parked behind them and camp fire/food table in the center.
Then, we made ginger chai on the propane gas stove, explored the area, walked around for a while, setup the food table and started with grilling…
setting up grill
chicken was the first to be grilled – It was unbeatable. We all sat around the guy who volunteered to do the grilling with a bowl/spoon and he kept feeding us in turns. It was so much fun. Another thing I liked with our gang was that some of the younger ones were addressing us as bhabhi. Nno I am not that old but it felt good to be called like that.
camp fire in the night
So, we ate, ate and ate on day one. After the airbeds, pillows and comforters are set in the tent we put the kids to sleep and adults assembled again around the camp fire to continue with the chit chat. We had another round of ginger chai while chating and then was the surprise. It was SY’s birthday next day. So, we made her cut a home baked marble cake at midnight and sang the birthday song for her. This camp site has 11pm-7am as quiet hour. We didn’t realize that and continued with our chit chat. When the guys took a break and ladies were sitting around and chatting two desi guys (might be college going) approached us and said “Excuse me, its quiet hour from 11pm. We are trying to sleep here. Can you keep it low?” and we replied with “Okay okay sorry we will take care”. Man, the guy’s attitude was our topic for next half hour. Then, returned our guys and when they raised their voices we warned them about Mr.Attitude. They were like who is it? who is it? show me, show me.. We continued with our giggles till 1am/2am and then hit the sack reluctantly..
I was tossing on my
bed airbed all night and woke up to the birds sound around 5am. I couldn’t enjoy it fully as I was half-asleep and had little sleep for past two days. Then, we woke up one by one around 6:30am, brushed, took bath, had ginger chai , had breakfast ( bread butter jam, nutella, banana, matri, bun, rusk) and got ready around 10:30am. The guys then enquired in front desk about activities and came to know that rafting can be done by only 7+ years. Adi was the only kid who was 7+ years so everyone forced us to go ahead when they all will go for biking. We were in dilemma for a while and then decided to go for rafting as its not something that we get to do often. I should thank the old lady at the front desk/store who helped me to charge my mobile, who returned my purse that I forgot in the store while charging mobile. I totally forgot about the purse and when I went back after 3 or 4 hours to pickup my mobile she gave me the purse. She helped me to get the rafting tickets at the last minute which usually requires advance reservation. It was expensive and time consuming. We were put into a group that was leaving in ten minutes.
For rafting, a bus takes us to the rafting spot that is 30 minutes away by drive, we do rafting at the dam released whitewater river for 3 hours (7 miles) and then return to camp ground via the same bus. It takes a total of around 5 to 6 hours. We are not allowed to take anything with us except lunch and water bottles. The couple who joined us in our raft were awesome. We went for rafting with zilch knowledge and the couple helped us with streamlining the raft and row harder in rapids. Our group had around 10 to 15 rafts and three guides. The guides were kayaking along our side helping us when we struggled. When people in other rafts were having fun splashing water (I mean in gallons) on each other we were the last to start and first to finish. Adi named our team as “dry-first-ones”. She was little scared while crossing the rapids but the couple put her at ease projecting as if only all her rowing and hard work had made us come first. We rowed 7 miles and crossed level II and III rapids. No wonder arms were pleading rest end of the day. It was once in a lifetime experience that we would have never done. I doubt if we will do it again but it was an awesome experience. We bought this picture from the store for posterity as we were not allowed to take camera or any other stuff. I mean we can take but should be ready to donate it to the river.
We returned to our hut around 5pm in the evening and guess what ginger chai was ready 🙂 Unfortunately the other guys couldn’t rent bike as per the plan. So, they explored local areas and did Zipline. Then, we had bhel puri, guacamole dip with chips, other homemade snacks and continued with our chat. I was interested in doing the Zipline too and luckily that day they were open late. So, with other ladies encouraging me to go for it I braved the Zipline. Man, climbing to the tree top was difficult than the actual zipping.
Can you see me there climbing the tree? The ladder was there only till a certain point and then we have to climb through the iron rods nailed on the tree. Climbing the tree is not my cup of tea. It was scary but I am glad that I tried it once 🙂
Then, we had aloo paratha, grilled chicken, grilled fish, puri, paratha, veggies for dinner and was ready to start the camp fire. Today, the guys decided to buy woods for the camp fire as we had planned to sit around and chat for longer time. As the woods were getting into the fire mode and we were all ready to sit around there came the Varuna bagawan much to all our dismay. He didn’t budge to stop for next 2.5 hours and we all spent the time sitting inside the tent and watching the fire from inside. By the time Varuna bagawan decided to take a break all the woods turned into ashes :(. I was even looking around to see if RM has come here somewhere 🙂 She is famous for the rain effect no? 😉 The 2.5 hours inside the tent was well spent as well with word games expecting the rain to stop anytime but it didn’t and we went to sleep.
Woke up around 7am the next day, brushed, had ginger chai, breakfast and started packing our stuff. It was time to leave 😦 😦 The last night rain made the packing even worse with mud and dirts everywhere. We ended up washing the tent, tarpoline, chairs, umbrella and took double the expected time to leave the place. Then, we reached home around afternoon and while I cooked lunch, M sorted all the stuff and cleaned the items taken for the camp. We just finished all the pending work before relaxing and went to bed early. I know if we decided to relax first then we would have never got up to cleaning. We have got a nice tan from this trip that people are now asking “where did you go for this long weekend?” instead of “did you go anywhere?” :). Camping has been a longtime dream for me and I am happy it was fulfilled with rafting and zipline bonus. All the people in the gang were awesome. I want to thank SY for packing those extra chapathi’s for me so that I don’t have to make more for this week. This is a trip to cherish for rest of my life. I know this ended up as a pretty long post. Thank you for your patience if you have reached this point.