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We missed last year, but each summer, for many years, I have taken my kids camping – just mom and the boys.

But now that the boys are getting a bit older, with one teen and another on the verge, and after having missed a year, I debated whether these trips would soon be just a distant memory.

I am so glad I decided against that.

This spring I booked our camping trip – without telling them first and allowing them the opportunity to balk and make me think better of it.

But, as I told the boys about the reservation, I realized through their nonchalant, “That’s cool.”, that each of them were looking forward to it too.

We returned this year to the cushy platform tents at the campground we loved so much (and that I blogged about here) two years ago, Dosewallips State Park.

Plus, there is also an awesome clamming beach at Dosewallips and the last time we were there I had promised the boys that we would come back and go clamming.

At the campground, my oldest kept himself occupied by working on his latest bead project.

A lizard mask! Ah yes…teenagers! 😉

And my youngest discovered the camping facial! How nice a warm washcloth can feel on the face when you are out in the dry, dirtiness of nature.

Of course, we did some campfire cooking…

“Snakes on a Stick” again.

Read my description about how to do this here.

And a brand new campfire recipe I made up just for this trip and will be sharing with you very soon!

While we were there, we visited the nearby Whitney Gardens – one of my co-workers had told me about this place and since we were in the neighborhood, we thought we would take a quick look.

So beautiful! Seven acres of azaleas, rhododendrons, maples, magnolias, conifers. It even had a nice little pond and a stream running through it.

But I think the thing that impressed my 14 year old the most is that they had wi-fi and he could finally check his text messages!

One morning, down by the river we spotted this herd of elks – is it a herd if there are only four?

I think they’d had enough of us snapping pictures of them.

Finally, we headed down to the beach with all of our clamming gear (yes, this newbie, clam-diggin’ mama had done her research!) to see what other wildlife we could find – in other words, clams!

There were jellyfish.

And baby crabs…

BUT – *heavy sigh* – no clams!

Guess I didn’t do my research as well as I thought. (Okay – Seattle people. I have the itch. And I need your help. Anyone know where can one go to find some clams around here?)

Though we didn’t get to go clamming, we didn’t come up empty handed.

Away from our everyday lives and handheld devices, we allowed ourselves the freedom to take every moment as it came, connect with each other and just be.

Pretty good haul, I’d say.