Saturday, September 1, 2012

Camping Cape Henlopen

Framing your life may not necessarily mean that you are paying attention to your life… 
That moment of my Mama tubing down the river? That moment of our four sons side by side eating pancakes in early light? That Farmer-led breakfast and the way he sprinkled berries into mountains in all the bowls? It’s unashamedly true, I am glad it’s framed, I am glad the shutter memorized it for amnesia of the soul. 
Yet the thing is: Lenses can help you look — but it’s stillness that helps you see.
~Ann Voskamp from her blog: A Holy Experience
Ann wrote a great post on her camping trip, but she wrote a greater piece on the importance of living in the now.  And that is the wonderful part of returning to nature without electronic gadgets around, you can live in every moment without any distractions, but wait. . . 

That is the dream experience of being in nature, in the real world, there were electronic gadgets around in the tent next to ours. Some obnoxious Disney flick was trampling on my dream, turning the beautiful starry night into a wheatfield with crows. (Van Gogh) It was hard complaining to our drunk neighbors who were allowing their children to get babysat by the tube so that they could continue in their drunken chatter. They had been the reason we were trying to sleep in our tent amidst the noise they were making and not in the car and we were grateful. Although, we had tried to leave our home earlier than we did, we arrived at the campsite at night trying to aimlessly put up a tent that we had never taken out of the bag before this night. We were trying to read the directions under a flashlight, we needed help and it came as two drunken men with a lamp. So I guess we were obligated to listen to their noise, due to their kindness?

This was the first time I slept in a tent and the experience was amazing, nevertheless, especially with the roof flap open. What was not amazing is sleeping on air mattresses, that, I done a dozen times and have had a terrible experiences each time. They all have a leak somewhere and afterwards when I tried to take them back, the store has a no return policy on air mattresses, just exchange. There must be a better way. A friend that was camping there also had some cots that we will have to think about doing next time.
Not sleeping too well had it's benefits, we woke up for Fajr or morning prayer easily and were ready for a sunrise walk along the beach. It doesn't matter where we are, I will drive to find the ocean (or the gulf). I need the ocean like others need their coffee, it is not a necessary desire but it awakens me and it delights my soul. And unlike coffee drinkers who indulge everyday, getting a yearly fix will suffice. . . but my dream would be to live on the ocean so that I can enjoy God's magnificent creation everyday. I don't have an addictive personality, that is why I don't drink coffee or watch tv or do anything that can take control of me and alter my physical/mental state. When I feel like I can't live without something, I cut it out of my life, sometimes temporary until the control is gone, sometimes permanently if it is bad for my soul. So I know it's good that I don't live on the Ocean, I would get lost there and not be able to do the work that I need to do for humanity. Paradise is for the next world, in this world we must purify our hearts and work for human progress. It doesn't mean we can't visit paradise and recharge, the recharge was in full effect as we took our sunrise walk.

The walk on the ocean was full of delights, my Beloveds made footprints and castles in the sand and found the remains of creatures that time had taken.

Children don't need to be reminded to live in the now, they don't procrastinate, unless it something like cleaning their room which from their perspective, cleaning one's room is stifling more living in the now. Most young children will not pick television over playing outdoors, they are conditioned that way by their parents and older siblings. They can fully pay attention to life, all of it and find joy in the smallest things. Children run, jump, and skip fully using every limb in their body to praise their Lord, not once looking at the couch as somewhere to veg on. They take grains of sand and build cities from it, not worrying about the future of washing sand out of their hair or how it will be fully vacuumed from the car. Living in the moment is part of the fitra or natural & pure state of man, if one has lost it, we must relearn it and we must raise our children to not forget it.

At some point in the day you must return to the campsite, even though we could have very well spent the whole day and night on the beach and enjoyed it better. The campsite was fine, I guess, as campsites goes. We had a nice Mennonite community staying on the other side of us and when I say community I mean Community. There were about 6 or 7 families sharing 3 or 4 campsites. They had set up one space just for food, they ate every meal together and had all their food in one place. They had one campfire that they shared, each family had a separate tent, but they only used it to sleep in at night. They were out together all hours of the day & night. What was interesting about this community of Mennonites is they had people who were not of German ancestry, there were Asian converts, I guess? And these 6 or 7 Mennonite families with 3+ children each were quieter than our closer drunken neighbors. Some of the Mennonite children loved playing with Lil A, they would ride their bikes down to our campsite and talk and smile at her. One mother allowed her daughter to play with Lil A, however another mother kept calling her very determined son back to only ride his bike near their campsite. He would find his way back to Lil A to smile and chat with her. One of the older boys about 9 or 10 would ride his bike up to me and smile and chat with me when he saw me walking by. It made me think about the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), "even a smile is an act of charity" And these children were being trained to give out charity (their smile) generously.

What made the campsite not so fine was the public restrooms, but I wont even go there. I will say that I have learned I am a private camper. I want to be out in nature under the stars with my family with at least a quarter of mile radius between me and the next camper. This way it is close enough to walk to have joint bonfires, but far enough so that I can bathe in a river or stream in privacy instead of having to use the disorderly public facilities or being kept up by some obnoxious disney flick. As much as I wanted privacy at times, my children thrived on the social interaction they had with 6 or 7 Muslim families with 3+ children that were there from our homeschool group. My Beloved sons invented a game that they call "Tree Ball", and it is amazing how they have made it a familiar sport among their friends, more popular than soccer or baseball in this group. Besides playing Tree Ball, they played many games with their friends, they talked and laughed with their friends, they did sparklers at night with their friends, and roasted marshmallows with their friends. They enjoyed the community part of camping, and I must admit so did I, but there were times especially at night that I would have enjoyed silence.

Playing "TREE BALL" with their friends.

Camping Tent from Costco

Our prayer area in front of our sleep area.

I did cook, but I didnt need to.
I was advised to buy a stove and have alot of prepared food, so I did that, however I didn't need it. Camping for each family is different. We didn't need certain comforts of home and yet the comfort of a good night's sleep I longed for. We didn't need eggs for breakfast, and in fact cooking breakfast in the morning would have cramped our style. We wanted an early start to our day, leaving out before the crowd, cooking and cleaning are time consuming responsibilities delegated to the home. Camping to Humble dad and myself meant eating alot of fruit and a muffin for breakfast, making sandwiches or something easy for lunch, and grilling hot dogs, vegetables or something quick for dinner. Fruit should not be brought from home, but bought in a farmer's fruit stand on the road there. We weren't restrained by having to wait for tea or coffee to brew, water was the drink of choice and there was plenty of it. The meal I made was easy, I sauteed some shrimp and heated up the rice I had made at home. If you are going to bring a propane stove, using it to quickly heat up food that was already prepared is the best use for it. My point is food should be simple and not take from your time of experiencing the environment. Smores were simple and fun also with Nutella an already spreadable chocolate.

Cape Henlopen provides Free bikes to ride along the beach and pathways. Our ride up the cape led to a lighthouse and alot of history on the cape.

Bike riding with my daughters was one of the highlights of our camping trip. Another highlight was leaving Cape Henlopen and spending time on the main street of Lewes, DE. It has great history and beauty, yummy food, and a great toy shop that my beloveds enjoyed.

I have never seen so many butterflies in one place.
Lewes and Cape Henlopen in Delaware were definitely ideal places to visit, I just know what to do different next time.  The Buttery was a restaurant I wanted to try and taking the ferry over to Cape May in New Jersey would have made our trip to this wonderful part of the US even better.

Link to Cape Henlopen State Park

1 comment :

  1. We had some nice pictures out of this trip. Al Hamdu l'Allah!


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