It was a week ago at Captain’s birthday party where my dad casually told Nate he was going camping the following weekend - that’s how Silent Valley became our first family camping trip in the sprinter van. We jumped on the member’s only RV park with my dad and stepmom (either you’re a member or a guest of a member…or a mere citizen and CANNOT COME IN).
As first camping trips in sprinter vans go, it was a success; also helping is that Silent Valley is like a learner’s permit for roughing it - literally having everything you need in case you screw up (hookups, personal grills, a restaurant, a bar, an arcade, two pools, a fishing pond, a playground, a dog park, a mini-golf course, rest areas, a chapel, showers, a craft barn, a general store, and an amphitheater for live music). So when we realized we had forgotten paper towels, bug spray, bottled water, and the slow cooker in which to cook dinner - we were covered.
It was also out of The Wonder Years. Exceptionally kept up, it was built in 1974 and felt every inch like I should be playing Ben E. King, Elton John, and Paper Lace on a constant loop - the family pool was 10 feet deep with a diving board; I watched Captain stand in line with a bunch of older kids, get on the diving board, do a double front flip, and win every boy talk about him while he got back up to get in line, only to introduce themselves and ask him if he could do a back flip. The pond was stocked with Bluegills that bit every time my dad threw in a dazed nightcrawler, and the snack bar sold legit half-chocolate-half-vanilla soft serves that were no joke a foot tall.
*Electric Kettle for water + French Press for morning coffee = WIN. I bought a 50 ounce french press and easily had four+ cups of coffee every morning with easy clean up
*Flies suck balls. We found ourselves drooling over camp sites who had these huge mosquito net tents - they pop over picnic tables and become your sanctuary - added to list
*Slow Cooker (had I brought it) = a would have been WIN. Chili, fajitas, pulled chicken, dessert - easy clean up, just need to remember extra storage bowls for leftovers
*Bug Spray is a necessity. I hate DEET. So I’m going to research a ton of oils to bring, buy citronella candles, and possibly even bring some rosemary pants in pots to put around the mosquito tent.
*Photos. I didn’t take nearly enough of the trip which is sad now but also refreshing to think I spent a weekend in the moment instead of behind a lens