Anytime we set out as a family, there’s always an adventure in store. From finding a remote, primitive camping spot, testing some retro gear to exploring an Old West Ghost Town, all while making accommodations for one furry family member along for the ride, this particular trip possessed the spirit of yesteryear.
Initially, we planned to spend two nights in the forest, but when three-fourths of the family contract a cold, adjustments must be made. So, our trip quickly became an overnighter, sans pop-up camper.
We’ve been waffling back and forth between keeping our pop-up camper and selling it to invest in a new family tent. (That’s another blog post for another day, however.) For this overnighter, we decided step back to a simpler time and used a circa 1970 six-man, canvas tent. It was the perfect size for the four of us and Chase, our yellow lab. The tent perfectly accommodated two single camping pads – one each for the kids – and a double-sized pad for mama and daddy.
Sunshine used a 35-year-old, 0* rated, rectangular down sleeping bag, and Ranger used a newer model, 32* rated Kelty down sleeping bag. Our sleeping situation was definitely old school, though, as we didn’t even use sleeping bags. We covered the sleeping pad with a flat sheet and stayed warm with a wool blanket and a hand-made denim quilt. The low was around 45*, and surprisingly, we all slept sound and stayed warm.
“Camp Four Pines”
After driving scouting the forest for the perfect, child-friendly spot in which to camp, we settled on a meadow, as opposed to prior locations surrounded by pine trees. The site offered great exploring options, as you could see camp from any direction. We set up camp under four isolated pine trees in the middle of the meadow.
Chase quickly took to exploring the lay of the land, as dogs will do, and found a puddle big enough to waller in, so it didn’t take long for him to become like Harry, the main character in the children’s book “Harry the Dirty Dog.” Was he a yellow dog with brown spots, or a brown dog with yellow spots?! Thankfully, with his short hair, he didn’t stay dirty for long, and he had an absolutely blast! Of course, there’s also something about camping with a dog that adds to one’s perceived level of safety in the great outdoors!
Storm’s a Brewin’
As we set up camp, we noticed storm clouds forming. We could see rain in the distance, and with dark clouds around us, we knew rain was immanent. About three hours after setting up camp, while the boys collected firewood and prepared our fire, the wind shifted and it started raining.
Primitive camping, as we do, means using the campfire as our primary cooking source. However, we’ve learned from experience to always be prepared with a backup cooking method. (TIP: always be prepared with an alternate cooking source that can be easily used in a vehicle). For this trip, a rainstorm meant no campfire, and no campfire meant no roasted hot dogs. So, our “plan b” was to boil the hot dogs in our Jet Boil. Thankfully, the weather cleared after about an hour, and we enjoyed roasted hot dogs!
Zeolites and a Ghost Town
After we struck camp, we headed back to civilization, but not without one last adventure – driving though the old west ghost town of Chloride, NM. The hour-long drive back from camp was interesting and beautiful. The scenery was different from our initial drive into the forest. We passed – what appeared to be – a secluded bed and breakfast (which will need to be explored and shared in a future post!), as well as the St. Cloud zeolite operation.
According to the St. Cloud zeolite Web site, “Zeolites belong to a family of naturally occurring volcanic minerals with unique physical and chemical characteristics.” St. Cloud Zeolite is the largest producer of natural zeolite in the Unites States, and a quick Google for this mineral’s uses quickly result in listings such water purification, agriculture, construction and more.
We ended our adventure with a picnic in the village center of the ghost town known as Chloride, NM, a “silver” town which got it start in the late 1870s. According to a brochure I picked up in the museum, “By late 1881, Chloride had eight saloons, three mercantile stores, two butcher shops, a item, boarding houses, an assay office, livery stables, a candy store, drug store, law office, Chinese laundry and a millinery store.” In its heyday, the town boasted a population of 3,000 people. About 10 years after the town was founded, the price of silver dropped when the US adopted gold as the standard, thus, the town was abandoned.
Today, Chloride, NM, is an extremely small community, but offers a wonderful stop for consuming a picnic lunch and some history. We learned this small town even has a cafe, which we plan to visit in the future.
Camping/exploring the great outdoors with little ones in tow is something we’ve been doing for more than four years. We are by far experts, but sometimes we have a helpful tip or two to share! We’d love to hear from you on what questions you might have on giving children memorable experiences in the outdoors, and we’ll feature some of your questions in a future post!