Last weekend, we had a family camping adventure. We camped at Black Canyon, in the Santa Fe National Forest, just a few miles north of Santa Fe and an easy one-hour drive from Albuquerque. If you're ever looking for a campground in the area, I recommend Black Canyon highly. It was high up in the forest, shaded, cool and unexpectedly quiet. I appreciated the amenities offered, such as drinking water via spigot (we brought our own 20-gallon water jug to fill), and vault toilets in a clean little building. I enjoy camping very much, but would prefer not to go totally primitive if I can help it. Our campsite was really nice too - there was a paved area with fire pit and curved rock wall for sitting around the fire, and a gravel tent-pitching area.
Do you enjoy camping? It's a fair amount of work, but I think it's worth it. There's a lot to be said for the outdoor life. The fresh air in your lungs, the wind whispering through towering, ancient pines. Yes, there are downsides too, like bugs and dirt and snoring, flailing bedfellows, but I can overlook most of the negatives because it feels good to get away and do something different together. We did the standard camping things: made Jiffy Pop popcorn on our Coleman stove, built a fire in the pit, grilled hot dogs and made s'mores at night, sat around with guitars, books and crafty projects, traipsed back and forth with a child to the toilet hut about a million times.
One of my favorite things about being in the woods during high summer is the plants. There were a few wildflowers and a lot of berries around our campsite. I really liked that they left things growing. As nicely maintained as the campground is, you're still in the forest. Birds and insects are everywhere, there are lichens and mosses on most of the trees. A dry creek-bed meandered past our campsite, detritus from countless springtime runoffs resting at its bottom. There was a lot to see and we all have the bug bites, scrapes and bruises to prove it. But we also had: singing, scary stories, hatchet lessons, endless cups of cocoa, new friends (with a cool hammock) three campsites over and the chance to be vaguely, giddily concerned about bears (the woodsy kind).