Each summer, for the past several years, my boys and I have taken an annual  mom and sons camping trip. We used to all go as a family, but one year a few summers ago, when he was just too busy with work to go, my husband encouraged us to venture without him. A tradition was born.

So last week I packed up the car with all the necessities, and two pre-teen boys, and we headed out to experience this summer’s adventure. We traveled to Dosewallips State Park on the Hood Canal by way of the Kingston Ferry.

WA State Ferry

Don’t they look excited? Smile boys!

Boys on ferry

As we waited for the ferry to dock, I tried to catch up on some reading.

Waiting on the Ferry

But was a little distracted by stinky teenage boy feet – ugh! 😉

Teenage Feet

We usually camp in a tent, but the last couple of years we’ve tried some of the cabins Washington State Parks has to offer and have been very happy with the upgrade. The cabins come outfitted with beds, electricity, heat, and usually have a table and some chairs.

This year though, we stayed in one of these babies.

Platform tent Dosewallips State Park

A platform tent! We just loved it! Open the front flaps and you have some luxury while still really feeling like you are in the great outdoors!

Campsite Dosewallips State Park Platform Tent

I cherish these memory-making times with my (not-so-little-anymore) guys so much, especially now as they are getting older and desiring to spend more time with their friends and their video games than with their mom.  It’s a great way for us to reconnect with each other. I love the exploration of  nature, and beam at the sense of appreciation for the natural world that I seem to have instilled in them.  I adore the nights lying in bed, making shadow puppets on the heavy canvas walls,  no other sounds but the crickets chirping, and having sweet conversation; dreams of the future, reflections on the past… Just such fleeting moments that make me want to reach out and physically hold on.

And of course,  I love the food! The cooking outdoors, the snacks, the picnics! Oh my!

I try to keep it simple when we camp so I’m not spending all of my time cooking, but I usually end up overdoing it. The first night we ate healthy and enjoyed salmon and garlic bread cooked over the fire. But on night two, we went with junk food!

Roasting Hotdogs

Of course we roasted hot dogs and hamburgers.

Smores

And we made s’mores! We used those GIANT marshmallows for even more sticky goodness! Have you seen those? They make the best s’mores I have ever tasted! My son likes to stuff his marshmallow with chocolate, and a bonus – gummy bears! Though they do make a mess!

Eating Smores

The boys’ favorite camping snack though  is “snake on a stick” – have you heard of this? I didn’t make it up, but  saw it online a few years ago when searching for some new camping recipes to add to my repertoire. It became an instant hit with the boys, and we have been making it ever since. And it is so easy!

The fun part for the kids (and the part that keeps them occupied for a little bit while you get everything ready for dinner) is finding the perfect stick – long enough so that little fingers don’t get burned, with a thickness that allows for whatever length snake they desire. My kids have always enjoyed whittling their own sticks, but if your child is too young, you can do it for them. Just make sure you get as much bark off the stick as you will need to fit your wrapped dough (“snake”).

Then you take some pre-made bread dough (you can pre-make your own and bring it, but for ease I just pick up a can of crescent rolls from the grocery store) and roll it into a long, thin, rope.

Spray the stick with cooking spray, or coat with oil or butter, so that the bread doesn’t stick. Coil the dough around the stick, pinching the ends so that it doesn’t fall off, and roast over the fire until it is golden and cooked through.

You can eat it plain, or brush some butter on it and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar for a dessert-like finish, or parmesan cheese and fresh-cut herbs for a more savory treat.

Snake on a stick

Snake on a stick

Yummy!

Later in the evenings,  bringing our camp-stove-popped corn with us, we spent time in our “tent” playing board games!

Monopoly

Aside from eating, there is also much to explore at Dosewallips State Park! On the scenic Dosewallips River, in the Olympic National Forest,

Dosewallips River

it is also just a short hike to the saltwater beach. (Next year, we’ll be bringing clamming supplies!)

Beach Trail

The kids had a blast skipping rocks,

Rock Skipping

hunting for crabs,

Crab Hunting

Crab hunting

Crab

And beach combing…

Boys on beach

Uh, I guess they got a bit worn out…

Driftwood

But I found this great piece of driftwood – wonder if it will fit in my car…

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