This last weekend we took our final camping trip of the season, and it was the most unique of all of our car camping trips because of Halloween. My wife and daughter trick-or-treated at High Cliff State park last year, but I stayed home. This year, we decided we would camp out if the weather was nice enough, so we made reservations about a month in advance with hopes the weather would be nice. Luckily, Mother Nature cooperated with highs around 60 F and lows of about 40 F, although a steady wind made it feel a bit cooler on top of the cliffs.
We arrived Friday night after dark to find Lorraine's brother and his 8 year old waiting for us. They had planned to surprise us with a fire but were having difficulty since the wood shed (and park office) was already closed and much of the downed wood was wet. Finding wood unavailable at the park, we had previously stopped at a convenient store just outside the park and picked up four bundles of wood. While we set up camp, our guests got the fire going. Amber played really well with her cousin that evening while I sipped on vodka and lemonade and chatted with the adults. I really enjoy having a few drinks while sitting around the fire, but it almost always result in a middle of the night call of nature, which isn't so fun in the fall with cool temperatures. However, it was unusually warm for a late October morning, so it wasn't too bad to crawl out of the tent.
Saturday morning, Lorraine treated us to bacon and eggs while Amber anxiously anticipated the two trick-or-treat events coming for the day. We headed down to her brother's house to join them for their neighborhood trick-or-treat, which felt quite strange in sun glasses and 65 degree weather. We walked around until the kids were too tired to continue, then we headed back to camp for a late lunch. We took some time to look at some decorations on the campsites, but Amber insisted on waiting until dark to be surprised by the decorations at the sites on the electric loop. I'm glad she did because the extent to which these sites were decorated was impressive and surprising. The decorations were far more elaborate than anything seen in our neighborhood. There were makeshift tunnels with creepy display cabinets containing heads and other spooky concoctions. There were lighted mazes full of witches and goblins and skeletons and costumed people handing out candy. Zombies were roaming the campground, mad scientists were creating potions, and frightful creatures were jumping out of dark corners. Quite impressive, especially for a campground.
After trick-or-treating, we returned to our site on the non-electric side and found it a dark contrast to the carnival atmosphere on the electric side. I had prepared the fire pit and started a one spark fire, which was proudly my best fire starting accomplishment of the year. I knew it would be dark and that we would have a crowd, so I put some advanced effort into carefully assembling multiple layers of wood shaving, leaves, tinder and kindling. The kids munched on their candy and roasted marshmallows while everyone chatted and enjoyed the warm autumn night.
By my count that made 30 nights we slept in a tent this year, including our first family backpacking and canoe camping trips, so I consider this season a great success. I look forward to next season, but I admit I am ready to put away the camping gear, rake some leaves and watch some football! Go GATORS!