This past weekend, we went yurt camping. I never heard of yurts in relations to camping either, so if you are imagining nomads and Mongolia, you are on the right track. Apparently, camping has gone more luxurious in the past few years and the one in yurts is now called “glamping”. Ever the adventurer and looking for fun stuff to do for us, I booked us a yurt in Pine Mountain RV outdoor resort for 3 nights. Back home, camping used to be very bare and raw – you just built your tent in a grass with no ants, in the middle of any woods and that was it – hopefully there was water in the river or creek – everything else was bring your own or use nature. In the US, even the tent camping is pretty sophisticated – camp sites are urbanized in the sense of family bathrooms, showers, every spot has electricity plug, fire pit and water plug and you pay a fee. We opted for the even more sophisticated one, at an outdoors park that has pool, game room, dog parks and playground. So here are my impressions:
Really fun, spacious, air conditioned (!!), relatively bug free, with bunk beds which was a huge hit and wooden floor which was perfect for the dogs – and yes pet friendly ! The only person who got bitten was me as mosquitoes adore me, so while I had 30+ bites, rest of my family had none. Sleeping in one large room proved challenging as our waking up habits vary, yet we obeyed the ones of the early risers. It is not the best idea to go to a yurt if this is the first time your a) 2 years old sleeps in large bed and b) your 3 months old puppy sleeps in a crate and c) boys sleep on top of the bunk. Between Mia falling off the bed, boys needing to use bathroom and Ruby squeaking for bathroom – our first night was a disaster. Got much better 2nd and 3rd time around – as we knew what to anticipate and planned ! Nevertheless, 6 am was our wake up time.
There is a whole underground culture around recreational vehicles (RVs). This place was packed with them – and it was an interesting crossroads of America. You had luxury vehicles with luxury RV buses, you had very simple, cheap things and the middle of the road. These things are moving houses – they have TVs, bikes, chairs, refrigerators, air conditioners – it literally is a house on wheels. People park them in these resorts and hang out all weekend. The pool was awesome, playground new and the dog parks spacious. The whole place was very clean, the staff was extremely helpful and everything ran smoothly. The resort was full of Floridians, Georgians and Alabama folks so intersection of accents that I did not understand a bit – there was some serious butchering of English with my kids correcting their grammar. Once, a young man asked me what language I am speaking and I was tempted to answer that mine is an actual English. But everyone was polite, friendly and client experience focused – they really wanted you to have a good time and enjoy your stay. A/C stopped working, someone was there in 10 mins to fix it!
Clearly, we were the amateurs and novices. We didn’t know what to expect so didn’t pack much. Others had lanterns, gorgeous lights, skillets, table clothes – we were glad we packed plastic dishes and utensils. Mind you, we packed in 30 mins on Friday after work so didn’t give it much thought – figured we would rough it or buy it. Well, the buying part didn’t work out as much – Pine Mountain is in the middle of southern Georgia and a grocery store (Piggly Wiggly) was 45 mins away – but if you like barbecue or Waffle house – it is the place to be. It really made me think about how urban we are, the diversity of restaurants we have, and the food we can choose from – eating healthy is not simple even though there are farms everywhere. Getting breakfast on Sunday morning close to impossible – everyone is in church and everything is closed. The boys made some new friends though from Pensicola, FL. One thing I loved about the park/resort was the free range parenting. Every kid had a bike, every kid was driving around alone and exploring, boys were doing the boy things they should be doing outside: throwing rocks in pond, looking for bugs, chasing dogs. They really loved the independence they had and felt so important when they were visiting their friends’ RV and went to the playground on their own. I did have an interesting conversation with one of the boys as he approached me that Lucas said a very bad word – the god d word. I myself gave him a blank look as to what exactly was bad, but he was genuinely worried about him going to hell. Well, so much for the clashes of religious cultures – I did promise I’d talk to him. I did and was told that Joe (new friend) can believe in his own God, and we can in the one we don’t have – and can say damn, he can just cover his ears. Ouch and hmmmm… I honestly didn’t even know the exact translation of the word myself – had to consult Brian, my not-so-catholic-now-but-almost-became-priest-husband.
Lots of things to do around. Wild Animal Safari was a hit as we rented the worst possible van you have seen to drive through bunch of buffalos, giraffes, antilopes and zebras. Boys in heaven, Mia very cautious, Brian licked by buffalo all over his head, hot like inferno – but fun by all.
Next stop was FDR State park, the largest state park in Georgia. This was really a gorgeous place, right next to Warm Springs where FDR went for his spa days. We saw a reptile show with snakes, turtles and then did a minor hike. Mind you, the average age of our midgets is 4.3 so hiking is relative.
Despite a few hurdles, we all had a great time. Boys didn’t want to leave – I was ready for our house. I’d definitely recommend for family weekend away – no electronics, all nature and outside activities. It was a great exercise to readjust expectations too – all 3 kids expected the same level of “home luxury” away so had to have an expectation setting discussion that we are camping so not everything will be the same. They got it – and adjusted – and want to go back next weekend – hence see our dinner below.