I really like to pull off  a good surprise.   And Jason is a pretty easy guy to surprise.  He’s just ever-so-slightly aloof* when it comes to picking up on subtle clues that might give something away.  For his birthday last weekend I (with the help of several friends) managed to pull off a surprise camping trip.   It was not an easy feat but it was completely worth it when he pulled up to the campground on Friday evening with Jordan.

First I asked a few of our closest friends if they would be game to go camping with us.  Once that was established, I searched (and searched and searched) until I found a potentially good campground.  There is no dearth of fantastic camping sites in the PNW but it’s summer and pacific north westerners tend to get a tad slap happy (we go absolutely crazy, people) when the sun comes out to stay in the summer time and I could not find a single campground in the entire state that was reservable 5 days out.   So I was stuck with first-come, first-served.  I managed to find a good-looking spot just an hour outside of Seattle and decided it was worth a shot.

I told Jason that I was “working on his gift” and that he wasn’t allowed to come into the bedroom, say, when I was packing our clothes or the kitchen when I was packing our food in the cooler on Friday morning.   It took a lot of finagling (read: lying through my teeth) to pack the car up and get out the door but I managed to do it with some serious help (more lying) from our summer house guests, Jordan & Belinda.

We told Jason that Belinda was taking me for a surprise outing with the boys.  I feigned wariness with Jason about where Belinda might be taking us, pretending to be concerned about the boys and nap time and such.   And so with J encouraging me to “just go and enjoy” we made it out the door by about 8:40am, bikes atop the car and all and Jason none the wiser.

We caught the Fauntleroy ferry to Southworth and we were on our way!  We arrived at Illahee State Park around 10:15 and snagged the largest and best campsite just as a thunderstorm rolled in.  Awesome.  We were admittedly a little nervous about the gray skies but Belinda and I were undeterred and we cautiously set up camp.  I then sent a strategic text to Jason telling him that Belinda had surprised me by bringing to Olympus Spa and that there was incredible childcare on site.   He thought this was just grand!  And a few minutes later Jordan popped in to the office to tell Jason that since Belinda had taken me out for a belated birthday surprise, he thought he’d take Jason out for an early birthday bike ride later in the afternoon.

Jason texted a couple hours later to ask if I was bringing the boys home for nap time and I wrote back, telling him that I was going to see if I could put Isaiah down for his nap there at the spa and have Gryffin do a “quiet time” in the daycare’s reading room.  All of this was complete fiction.  I made it all up.  I’ve never even been to that spa and they do not have childcare.   But dude bought it, hook, line and sinker.

I then attempted to put the boys down for a nap in our tent (total fail) while Belinda went in to town.  I insisted that they stay in the tent for a 2 hour “rest” and then got them up and we played in the campground and eventually made our way down to the playground in the park.   The timing couldn’t have been better.  We glimpsed Jordan’s car pulling into the park and had just enough time to grab the boys and hide behind some bushes.  Just as their car started to pull up to the campground entrance, we popped out and shouted “surpise!!”  The look on Jason’s face was the best.  He was SO confused!  “Whaaaat?  You came over here from the spa?  Are we going to have dinner together before our bike ride or something?”  I wish I had a picture of him when I told him that the spa was all a lie.  He was stunned.  He really thought I had been soaking it up all day, getting massages and pedicures and walking around naked at the Korean spa (which, by the way, is reportedly an incredible spa) while Gryffin and Isaiah happily puttered about in the on-site day care.

Shane and Kelly pulled up about 20 minutes later and our campsite was officially set up for the weekend.  Jack and La Verne arrived the next morning and the rest is history.  Here’s the rest of the weekend in pictures…

Remember last year’s camping trip?   It wasn’t much to write home about and this was our first camping trip since. I feel obliged to tell you that the first night was absolutely wretched.   Isaiah slept soundly until about 10pm and then he woke up crying/screaming every. 45. minutes.  Until 4am.  Ghastly.  We tried every possible sleeping configuration (in the pack and play, in his own sleeping bag, in my sleeping bag, on my face, on my chest, next to Jason, on top of Jason) to no avail.  We seriously considered packing it in and foregoing a second night.  But it had taken me SO much work to get there, our friends had come, and I was hellbent on sticking it out.   At one point, Jason had to get out of the tent all together and while he was fumbling with the zipper, he inadvertently stepped on Gryffin’s arm and then G-man was screaming, too.   This is Isaiah sleeping off the rough night.  He napped for almost 3 hours on Saturday afternoon.  The second night both boys slept the entire night without a peep.

Gryffin spent a significant amount of time on Saturday watering our car.

Going for another fill up of water.
Somehow Gryffin ended up without his shorts for the second half of the day.
Not at all surprising.  Kid digs being naked.

Jack, of course, supplied us with some serious eats.   Here he is shucking oysters.  Only Jack shucks oysters on a camping trip.  He also cooked clams and a live crab.

Classic Jordan & Bees

Jason dive bombing the hammock fest

The guys decided to take a late afternoon plunge into the sound.
It doesn’t look high in these photos but it was a definitely a jump

Excellent form, as always

Where’s the famous toe point, Jordan?

Shane, feeling a little nervous!

The gang

Happy Birthday, Pal!  Hope it’s a great year!

*Some evidence of said aloofness…

  1. On Friday morning I had already stealthily packed our pillows and our books/reading materials for the weekend.   When I banished Jason from the kitchen so that I could “work on his birthday present before leaving with Belinda” (pack the cooler), I thought he would just go downstairs and start working a little early.  Nope.  Dude decides to go upstairs.   To read.  I thought my cover was blown, for sure.  How would I explain the absence of ALL his reading options?   But it was too late.  I couldn’t run to the car and grab them and somehow get them up there before he made it up the stairs.  But when he gets up there and doesn’t see his books anywhere in sight, he just shrugs and decides to make the bed.  Make the bed!  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that he has not made our bed in at least 6 months.  I always make it.  But I purposely left it unmade so that if he went up there for some reason during the day, he wouldn’t notice that all of our pillows were missing.   But make it he did and when he asked what happened to the pillows, I just shrugged, avoided eye contact and mumbled something about the boys playing with them.  
  2. When I told Jason in the aforementioned text that the spa had childcare?  He looked it up online.  He wanted to see this incredible childcare set up I was raving about.  When he found NOTHING on their site about childcare, he apparently just shrugged and thought it must be a word-of-mouth kind of thing.  
  3. I should not have asked a 3-year-old to keep a secret but I had no choice.  I had to take the boys grocery shopping for the trip and, of course, had to pack with them underfoot.  Gryffin talked about camping several times, right in front of Jason (“Mama!  The sun isn’t out!  Does that mean we can’t go camping?”)  Jason did not even give it a second thought.   Just figured it was random preschooler rambling.    In Gryff’s defense, he did a remarkable job keeping quiet, all things considered.