Maiden Voyage – Roll On, Poppy Wagon

Maiden Voyage – Roll On, Poppy Wagon

It was the eve of our first official pulling-out-of-the-driveway-and-hauling-it-to-a-different-location camping trip. We researched, we planned, we made lists, we dreamed, we packed, and together as a little team we learned how to outfit our truck and hook up our little camper, Poppy. Poppy Wagon, to be exact.

I catch myself explaining my way through most everything I do, thinking and discovering out loud. I realize it’s what my father did when I was young. It’s as much a learning opportunity for the babes as it is a processing tool for me. The rewarding side effect is hearing your kids regurgitate these bits as their own in the right context and moments down the road. I find the more I share with them and include them, the more ownership they have in, well, everyday living.

I see my son adopting the ways of a boy that just HAS to be much older than mine. He has confidence that comes from hard work, experience, growth, and learning from trial. He is good to the core. I love his balance of sensitivity and strength and I pray he never loses it. Ever. He is my trailer guide and begs for opportunities to help with the whole operation. The visible shift in his maturity in these situations grips me and I pause for a grateful moment.

Little Lady is the packrat, uh packer. She makes sure we don’t forget anything. Not. One. Single. Thing – and that we are set for ANY occasion. We are fully prepared for a tea disco dance office party art contest – and a zombie apocalypse.

The night prior to our departure, as I lay in bed, I imagined myself pulling Poppy down the road with the sun shining on our faces and wind blowing through our hair. It’s my vision and I can add as much cheese as I want. What actually shined the most was the sweat running down my face from hauling all our supplies and packing two kids with gear into the car while they anxiously await our departure.

I had deliberate conversations with Little Lady about the limitations on how much she could bring and that it was important that a handful of the luvies she hoards must stay home to guard the house. I had the camper all closed up, except for the tiny lower portion of the door. When I went to lock it up I found the bright colored stuffing of an owl backpack and three additional luvies peeking around the cabinet corner. Well played, Little Lady. Owl, Panda, Turtle and Elephant had a splendid time.

I invited Sister and her girls on our trip. I found a place somewhat close to home with potential in its description. That website did this little slice of heaven no justice. The little campground was a dream, to us, and we’ll have to aim high to top it. Our spot at the countryside campground was nestled between woods full of winding hiking trails and a picturesque creek overflowing with springy frogs and lightning fast crawfish. Walking through the tall grasses on the edge of the creek set off a wave of frogs leaping into the water, as if choreographed. A beautiful arching bridge led to a playground across the water.

We couldn’t have ordered a more suitable setting or better weather. The clear skies and bright sun left our days full of potential and the cool nights that made snuggling a delicious necessity.

My incredibly creative nieces came prepared with activities for the kids. Miss B created handmade sashes and kerchiefs and sewed individual badges for the kids to earn, based on activities they accomplished throughout the trip. Genius. They melted me, and the kids felt pride in earning their badges, anticipating what the next may be. You cannot imagine my delight in the presence of a little sewing machine humming in the camper. Nanni would have been so proud.

Her little sis planned a carnival from scratch – fishing for magnetic fish from the van roof, magic card tricks, a crown decorating contest, hangman, and more. She set up stations all over our sprawling little campsite. The kicker was the carnival station table she constructed entirely out of paper, which slid over 4 wooden stakes to hold it up. The girl could build a village out of paper and tape. Each child was given a small container of coins to participate and she awarded them with random tchotchkes and treats as prizes. Gah.

We caught temporary pets and gave them names, swam in the lake, hiked the wooded trails, and made crafts from nature. Sister and I took turns stating out loud how unbelievably awesome the whole thing was over the few days we stayed, like a record on repeat. Together, with OUR babes, we took in our blessings.

There was a most amazing dock path winding through the marsh. Reeds two feet taller than us transformed the paths into a labyrinth. As we explored the maze we crossed paths with a slithery little snake. Then we crossed a handful more. Then we crossed their Mama. We used it as a learning experience and channeled any butterflies of fear in our stomachs into bravery as we strolled on.

Each time we passed through, we sliced off a bushel of reeds for crafting and hauled them over or shoulders back to camp. We played with different techniques for twisting and weaving them and made art from nature. We decided this was the way we’d fund our lifestyle once we moved here permanently to live off the land – selling hand-woven crafts to the tourists.

On our last day we had a little time to squeeze in a hike. The trails were shaded and beautiful and the kids spied all sorts of treasures. Treasures that we find along the way – the rocks, the leaves, the tiny buds that Little Lady insists will become microphones for the fairies in our fairy garden – gain new homes and purpose in jars, in crafts, and on shelves at home. We bring home memories tied to these treasures that will help to recall these moments.

Handing over the gold for her pockets.

Auntie helped her fashion a treasure bag to store them all.

The evenings were complete with entertainment. Little Lady had us rolling by the glow of the campfire. She has a natural and easy sense of humor that shines when those loved and trusted surround her. Did I mention that two whoopee cushions made the cut (no pun intended)?

Any such trip wouldn’t be complete without occasional sibling squabbles, overtired legs, and mosquito bites but those are just minutes and here, we concentrate on the moments.

We could have stayed forever – a most wonderful maiden voyage. This place felt magical to us. We were granted a huge blessing and we left full.

It may not be much to many, but this experience from start to finish is monumental to me. It’s personal and challenging and fulfilling. Our future days are certainly unknown but today, we know this:

~We know we can do things that bring us out of our comfort zones.
~We know that the reward we get from working hard, personally, is far grander than something simply given.
~We know that we choose the way we see things – perspective.
~We know that when you chase your dreams hard enough, eventually you catch one.

Love what you’ve got and love it big.

Roll on, Poppy.


  1. What a beautiful post – the photos are gorgeous! The reed flowers are stunning too. A crown of those would be amazing! Happy weekend! xo

  2. What a fun and inspiring blog; I’m glad to have checked it out. Your photos on Instagram are so beautiful!!! I am responding to your Instagram question because i’m lazy and want to type on a regular keyboard. :) To answer your question about Spanish, I am a former HS Spanish teacher. I have lived in Spain 3 times now since 1994 and visited twice that often at least because I am madly in love with the culture, the landscape, the people… We also invite a teenager from Spain to spend a month with us in Montana every summer; although I don’t speak much Spanish as the goal is to get them to practice English. :) I wrote a kinda-blog last year when I took my kids for a half-year stay so they could experience full cultural immersion: If you haven’t been, I strongly encourage the visit; it is an amazing place for families as they are so family-oriented. And the art!!! The parks! The food! It is all so very child-friendly. I look forward to having the chance to look around your blog a bit more. May the remainder of summer be the best one yet! Best wishes, Caroline

  3. You guys are awesome! And I adore your images!

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