I was grateful to have enjoyed an adventure this weekend with my family. It's true that we all swore we would never spend another Fourth of July in Beijing (see my note in my last posting about last year's untimely cloud seeding.) But we humbled ourselves and now here we are with great memories. God knows best where we need to be.
Friday morning we packed and packed and packed a bit more for our one-night campout. Sam reminded me of the book we read when he was little about the lady that takes her piano to the beach, insuating that I was over-prepared. We met up with several other families from the embassy and church at McDonald's for lunch then started on our drive. We were following our friend/camping trip organizer to uncharted territory, a section of the Great Wall we had never visited (there are many.)
The adventure always begins when we try to drive our monster of a van through village streets.
I love it when the farmers spread their grain (in Ecuador they did this with cocao beans) out on one side of the street and expect the rest of traffic to go around them. I think it would have been a great element in a chase scene in Mission Impossible 3. This time, as we neared the wall, our caravan headed up a long, narrow street lined with dried fruit, nut, shoe, plastic water gun vendors, and met up with a big green gate. We had to wait for a half hour or more while the better Chinese speakers convinced the guards to let us drive our caravan through, if only because there would be no other way to turn it around. When our special permission was granted we drove up winding hills toward the wall. We reached a bridge. Our friend got out and said "okay so here's where we take the boat to the campground." Very romantic..but very daunting with nine children...and all the stuff.
The campground was beautiful and well-worth the effort. The kids had a great time catching frogs, swimming, cooking-out. I chased Grant around. Will was happy, as long as he had his bottle. Thanks, Will. Ben got out the guitar and played the The Clash songs he's been practicing. It was great to spend time with other embassy families too.
I absolutely love the idea of breakfast on a campfire. Pancakes are beautiful on a grill and taste extra good with a little ash. I couldn't find my camera to take a picture of the pancakes, but here are Rob's eggs and the hot-water pot for the hot-chocolate...that was my job.