By my count, The Flynns have gone to White Lake State Park 20 times. The first time we went was when Thane was hardly 9 months old. We had been camping only a handful of times in our misspent non-parenthood. I suddenly had some sort of fit when I realized that this was actually my life, and if I didn’t go camping I would be a person who never camps. We put a pack and play and some miscellaneous junk into the car, picked a campground and random, and started a family tradition.
My dearest husband has this great t-shirt from White Lake that says, “Extreme Outdoor Adventure”. Less true words have never been printed on a t-shirt. White Lake has an excellent lake with a sandy beach, two camp stores, coin-operated showers, playgrounds, perfect cell phone access and near immediate access to a Dunkin’ Donuts. You can get pizza delivered. It’s a pretty fantastic place to go with your three year old and six year old. If you read my last musing on Mt. Rainier, you’re likely to accurately guess that it doesn’t QUITE scratch my itch for wilderness.
So this year, for our third and final camping trip of the year, I decided to get crazy and try (GASP) a new campground. On one of our prior visits, on our near-traditional “Car Walk” across the Kankamagus, we scoped out several of the National Forest campgrounds as possibilities for our “level up” camping trip. I settled on Covered Bridge. I liked how much more space there was between the sites – enough to feel like you weren’t actually in the pockets of your neighbors. I like the boulders for climbing and woods for exploring. It’s near the scenic Swift River, enticing with it’s clear running water and scrambly rocks.
Climbing into the car on Friday noon, headed north, I wondered how much resistance I’d get when it dawned on my children that we were not going to White Lake. Would they wail? Would they spend the entire time talking about how much better White Lake is?
I am, this very moment, sitting in a gracious beech forest at the foot of a granite mountain – which we climbed yesterday. Behind the camp site 15 feet, in the woods, is a six foot mound of granite that has made for a perfect castle for the laird and thane. There’s the slightest rain tapping on one of Adam’s exquisitely hung tarps, and a roaring fire in the firepit preparing to be excellent cooking coals in an hour. (It’s not a Flynn New Hampshire camping trip if it doesn’t rain. This one is mild – there have been no extreme weather alerts yet!) My sons and I spent a cheerful two hours in that rushing Swift River, pretending to be the lords and ladies of Michisle (Think Mike-Isle) and finding the magic stones that will grant us the power to protect our kingdom. (We liked the Heart Stone so much we brought it back.) Adam got in a first rate nap. It’s been excellent.
I even got my level up on camping – the toilets are pit toilets and the water is a glorified rerouted creek. There’s even a rather creepy cemetery at the entrance with ominous 19th century inscriptions.
I asked the boys (currently reading/playing Legos in the tent after a very active day’s play) what they thought of the campground. “We should definitely come back again!” We’ll still head to White Lake – I’ve already gotten our Memorial Day reservations. But I’m excited for a future where I can get my sons to join me on the slopes of mountain adventures!