And the best time to do it is on the "other" end of a weekend. Most folks go Friday/Saturday nights, so we went Sunday/Monday night and practically had the place to ourselves. One other tent with rather bland looking middle aged people in it.
And the park service lady stopped by to warn us of some copper heads living under the rock by where we'd parked our car. Lovely. Fortunately our snake bite kit went unused.
We had a grand time hiking and absolutely foundering ourselves on s'mores and bratwurst.
On our hike, we went down to a creek and played in the sand and the water at the foot of a waterfall. The kids and I hunted crawdads and built a sand castle, climbed on rocks and learned to skip stones. Yes, there was plenty of sand. The rock is sandstone and limestone, and the creek had washed down lots of sand. It was beautiful. Wes took them on a guided tour up to the top of Rock Bridge (a natural formation that required more climbing skills than I posess and longer legs than my youngest, so we stayed behind).
For the first time in my life I experienced the feeling of tiny minnows nibbling at my feet.
And all this with the gentle shade of trees overhead, and no glaring sunshine.
I especially enjoy cooking over a camp fire, gathering wood, the whole bit. There's just something about digging around in a hot bed of coals, and watching the sky darken. In the woods you don't really see a sunset, but you do see stars come out, and on the first night it was a full moon. Of course there were butterflies of many varieties, fungus, and ferns, evergreen trees and rhododendron in bloom.
We were sitting in the dark after the kids were abed and we heard scrabbling under the pic nick table. Lit the lantern and there was a long eared, black eyed mouse eating a Hershey Bar that someone had let drop.
Second night was clouds and I predicted rain. Sure enough, we woke up at 6:30 to spat, spat, spat. So we got up quick and built a fire before the rain got too hard. We thought the worst was over and we did manage to cook breakfast, were sitting around sipping coffee when the rain picked up. It took us not long at all to strike camp and have the van loaded back up. Wes and I were soaked to the bone doing that while the kids waited in the car. It was just easier that way.
By the time we got home, a mere hour away, the rain had stopped. We took showers, set up the tents to dry, laid out the sleeping bags, did LOTS of laundry and went out to Pizza Hut for lunch. We had planned to come home yesterday, just not quite so soon. Checkout was for two and we might have gone hiking. But we were so very very WET.
Currently Reading: Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert H. Bork. Hmmmm. Interesting read. More on that later.