We've just returned home from our customary long vacation at Pacific Playgrounds - our fourth year in a row, and the most times we've ever been back to the same spot. It feels like a home from home.
This time last year, I posted on how the setting has stayed the same, but how the things we do have gradually changed over the years.
The campground itself is unchanged. The pool, the river, the beach. The generous helpings of delicious ice-cream at the little shop.
We meet a lot of familiar faces, too. Some folks have been coming here since the parents were children themselves, which says a lot for this place as a family getaway.
We spent more time fishing this year, and a lot more time swimming in the river rather than just floating down on tubes. The adrenalin-inducing rope swing into a deep sinkhole has gone. Maybe removed for safety, or maybe the rope finally broke - I don't know how many years it was there.
We've been staying longer and longer each time. At the end of last year's trip, the kids didn't want to leave. As an experiment, we booked in for three full weeks this time. I can't afford to use up that much vacation, so we all drove up on the first Saturday to set up camp. I then returned home on Sunday to go to work for a week. That felt strange, having the house to myself, but it was wonderful to be able to hop in the car Friday afternoon at work and head straight up the highway. A three-hour drive and I was there by tea time, and launched straight into my vacation without all the usual packing/towing/setting-up hassle.
Sad news to report. We lost our little hedgehog while we were away. Luckily we took him with us (the dog always comes too, the cats stay home fed by a neighbor, and the other small animals go to a friend to stay). He's not been well, unable to stand upright, and we learned that he had Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome - a well-known degenerative disease with no cure. For a few days, he seemed to improve, and we hoped it might just be an infection affecting his balance, but then he went rapidly downhill and we had to face reality.
Apart from that, it was an enjoyable break from routine. And please accept my apologies for a deficit of photographs. We simply didn't get the camera out once during the whole time!