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Hop in the car and go? I am not familiar with that phrase.  For our family to take a trip small or large, it takes quite a bit of planning, preparation, packing, sustenance shopping, etc.  How nice it might be one day to take the simpler route; for now, we make things more difficult than they need to be made; however, without all of the fuss and to-do we might just find ourselves without something we simply can’t live without.

Such was the case for our most recent camping trip.  Days of planning, preparing and packing went into our five-day excursion into the Pisgah National Forest.  Oh, we have camped with less, and probably more, and even though none of us were scouts, we believe in being prepared. We even took steps to ensure on this holiday weekend that we secured a great camping spot which meant two of our five headed out a day early to find the spot, set up camp and be ready for when the remaining Wilcoxs arrived.

Long ago we camped in established campgrounds, with running water and bath houses; what my grandparents considered modern conveniences, but in the last 15 years we have preferred back woods, off-road camping, either off of an old fire or logging road in a marked spot, or just deep in the woods.  This time was no different, we chose a spot we have never used, but off of one of our favorite fire roads, FS Road 1206.

The perfect spot is always near water.  The more free water there is, the less you have to pack in.  One always needs extra water for washing dishes and washing dirty hands and faces; but a camp site near water provides unlimited hours of enjoyment for the little ones in  our clutch.  Official fishing would require licenses and gear, so we don’t usually fish; but there are numerous other things to do in the creek or stream.  Skipping rocks, turning them over, crawdad hunting, traipsing and wandering in the water, we’ve even tye-died camping shirts with creek water. * We only used the water for the process and discarded water was properly disposed of not placed back into the creek.

With Thursday’s crew already established in our spot, Friday’s group, just me and the boys, heads out of the city.  You know what out of the city is, right?  It is when you can driver farther and longer without Wal-Marts, chain grocery stores and name brand drug stores on every corner.  Out of the city is when you begin to see horses grazing on the hillsides, ivy covered silos long out of use and tractors and plows and discs.  Out of the city is when you begin to see layers upon layers of mountains in the far distance, a little smoky looking.  Out of the city is when the road seems to take a few more curves and when more weathered, plank barns with partly rusted roofs appear off the sides of the road.

As the road does curve a little more and the number of cars you pass become fewer and far between we roll down the windows and breathe.  You can smell the country, the mountains, your new home for the next little while.  We know our road, 1206; we have camped it, hiked it and played and explored it.  We know it.  We love it and feel that it loves us being there.  We try to be good to nature in hopes of the same in return.  It just feels like being home, a very comforting feeling, that one can be ones self.  It is where the gravel meets the pavement that the fun begins!

Arriving at our campsite it really does look like a tent city complete with campfire chairs, a kitchen set up with Coleman stoves and lanterns, tin wash basins and enamel perking coffee pots.  Coffee is as essential for us in the woods as firewood and sleeping bags.  I know we pack too much in, but it is such fun, for us and the children.  It is truly an expedition, exploring alfresco, and it helps to make us who we are.  The barren spot you see above is the cleared camp site however we are deep in the woods and within 20 feet in either direction, you know you are not in Kansas anymore!