Make camping go a long way — without going far away.
By Scott Klepach Jr.
What I’m about to divulge may stir up some controversy.
I’m not a happy camper.
I mean that literally. I’m really not a camper at all.
Sure, sure, I may have had a bad experience, or maybe I didn’t give camping a chance. I can enjoy staying in a cabin – or even being under the cover of a makeshift structure for shelter.
But tent camping? Gasp!
I want to like it. I’ve tried, even though last summer was only my second time.
As I wrote then, for me camping conjures up images of tics, murderers and bears. Oh, and cougars, too. Or as my daughter Elise calls them, “poogars.” Not so cute when they are staring at you hungrily — in your imagination.
Growing up, my family never went camping. Not once.
In fact, the closest we came to camping was staying in an Embassy Suites hotel in Bellevue – you know, with all those plants and the jungle décor.
Oh, but I’ve sacrificed — or compromised — my comfort for the sake of family. What’s the compromise? Tent camping in our backyard. (My wife assures me we will go “real” tent camping again later this year.)
The Backyardigans had it right. Why spend all that time and effort packing and traveling to some distant location when you can bring “the wild” to the green space at your back doorstep? (Now if only I could make this argument work with my wife.)
This experience was grand. It helped, sure, to have a fenced-in yard, a familiar setting and our house several yards away – which I retreated to several times (Hey! It was a cold April night!). It also helped having an airbed and an extension cord running from the house to power the Christmas Story leg lamp that lit the tent inside.
I mused that Mark Twain would be proud, and by the light of the leg lamp I read his travel memoir Roughin’ It—rather than experiencing the real deal.
You think I’m lazy? A wimp? A bore? Call me what you will. But we did have fun. Our family roasted s’mores over our fire pit, slept in a real tent, shared scary stories and snuggled to keep warm.
And you know what? I learned some things about our neighborhood because of this experience. Traffic was not the biggest problem keeping us awake. Instead, it was a combination of other sounds: mating cats, a noisy donkey, a persistent rooster and the incessant chirping of birds (and we live within the city limits!).
So if you want to go “roughin’ it” in your own backyard, get ready for adventure of a tamer kind. But be sure to have these items with you:
- Sleeping bags, pillows, blankets
- Christmas Story leg lamp
- Fire pit
- Branches or sticks for marshmallows. And marshmallows!
- Graham crackers
- Chocolate squares
- Hot dogs and hot dog buns
- Glow sticks—fun!
- Board games
- iPad with Wi-Fi connection
- Toy fishing poles for the little ones (attach a magnet and go “fishing” for aluminum cans)
- River rock (in case you want to do some arts and crafts. Pet rock, anyone?)
- Imagination (good for creating spooky stories and pretending you’re not in the backyard)
Moses Lake Water Park
Summer usually means road trips, and you don’t have to go far if you’re looking for a real water park adventure.
Moses Lake is home to Surf ‘n Slide Water Park, which attracts visitors from all over the area. There are plenty of attractions for the brave swimmers, but there’s no need to be shy; the water park offers fun options for all ages and abilities.
There are plenty of ways to make a splash at the park. Some highlights include two 200-foot water slides, a 300-foot “river,” an artificial surfing simulator, volleyball courts, pools and diving boards, and a tube slide.
This year’s early season opens May 26 until June 7, when operating hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. weekends, and 4-8 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Regular season commences June 8 until Aug. 28, when the hours expand to 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Late season spans Aug. 29-Sept. 3, when hours go back to 11 a.m.-7 p.m. weekends, and 4-8 p.m. Monday-Friday.
It’s advised to call ahead of your trip to make sure hours haven’t changed.
Cost: $9 adult, $8 student (ages 13-17), $7 seniors and children (ages 5-12), free for children under 4. Call or check website for season and family passes.
If you go:
Surf ‘n Slide Water Park
401 W. 4th Ave.
By Tysa Kihn
My pregnancy was all about the numbers.
I was comparing early blood test results, discovering that my conception date was exactly two years after the date of my tubal ligation.
At that time, I learned that the chances of my pregnancy were 5 in 1,000.
Now, I saw that I was going to have two babies.
But the numbers that meant the most: our boys had a 100 percent chance of dying from Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, if left untreated. Treatment offered a 95 percent chance that one boy would survive, and a 70 percent chance that both boys would survive.
It began at the end of February 2009. Something told me that, in spite of my tubal ligation, things weren’t right. Two blue lines confirmed my suspicion. The next two weeks were spent in and out of the lab and waiting for those numbers to tell us if it was a viable pregnancy.
Finally, an ultrasound confirmed that we were having a baby. It was a big adjustment, and even more so when at nine weeks an ultrasound showed two babies.
Life became busy after my husband Dana’s eye surgery and recovery. Distracted by caring for him, I ignored how my belly seemed to have grown rounder and heavier almost overnight. Walking became difficult, and my back was so sore. I attributed it to being over 30, and carrying two babies instead of one. I reasoned that it wasn’t just because I was having twins; I was working full time, chasing around two older kids, so my body was complaining.
We went in for the big gender ultrasound at 18 weeks. We couldn’t wait to find out whom we would be meeting that November.
It was during the ultrasound I began to realize something was wrong. Baby A measured right on. But Baby B was measuring behind in growth. The ultrasound tech couldn’t get many measurements; my baby hardly moved. She couldn’t even find his bladder.
With each measurement, the words Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome came to me. I’d read that it was a risk in identical pregnancies, and that it wasn’t good. I didn’t want to believe that’s what we were seeing, but when Dr. Rowles came into the room, I knew by the look on his face what he was going to say.
It was a Tuesday, the day before our ninth anniversary. All of a sudden the world seemed to be crashing down on us. The babies that we never expected, and never thought we wanted, were now so dear and we could lose them.
Two days later, we were at the University of Washington with a full day of examinations. I was scheduled to see Dr. Walker at Eastside Maternal Fetal Medicine in Kirkland first thing Friday morning, one of only a handful of doctors that perform the surgery to treat TTTS. I didn’t know then how lucky we were not to travel several states away for surgery, like many parents.
TTTS happens only in identical twin pregnancies when the twins share a placenta. Due to the shared placenta, there are often blood vessels in the placenta that cross each other. In TTTS, one baby begins to get too much blood and becomes the recipient twin. The other baby doesn’t get enough blood, and is called the donor. The donor becomes malnourished, while the recipient begins to have heart issues from the stress.
The fear that we had for the lives of our sons lessened once we met with Dr. Walker’s staff. They went through a huge binder explaining the surgery, and were very clear on the numbers. He determined the boys were in stage 2. Stage 4 means death. Dr. Walker was committed to saving our babies, and surgery was scheduled for Monday, June 15, 2009.
I thought I would be a wreck that weekend, but instead I was filled with a calm spirit. Monday morning, we watched on a screen as a fetal scope was inserted into my belly, and methodically each shared vessel was lasered. Once they felt that they had separated all the vessels, and drained a liter of fluid from Baby A’s amniotic sac, they turned the camera on the boys. We were able to see our boys’ faces and elbows and feet. It was amazing. The next day I could already tell how much lighter I was, and how much smaller my belly was.
The next few months were full of doctor visits in Seattle. Once I had reached 32 weeks I was considered in the clear and my appointments were moved back to Yakima. On October 15, Bryce Walker (Baby A) and Brendon Quinn (Baby B) were born. They were 6 pounds 3 ounces and 5 pounds 6 ounces, respectively. The delivery was a recommended C-section, and after the doctors and nurses checked out the placenta, still bearing the marks of surgery, it was packed up to be sent off for study.
Too many parents lose their twins to TTTS. Their obstetricians don’t know what to look for. The moms don’t know what to look for. By the time it is determined something is wrong, it is too late. If I had known some of the warning signs, I may have been able to request an ultrasound earlier.
If you learn you are pregnant with twins, ask the doctor if they could be sharing a placenta. If so, regular ultrasounds are a must. The near overnight growth of my belly was a sign of TTTS. The extreme lower back pain and exhaustion were signs of excess amniotic fluid weighing my belly down. I didn’t know that, and if I’d had another doctor, we may not have known until it was too late. Instead we had the best medical care all around, and two fantastic boys to prove it.
Video of the surgery and the boys can be found on Tysa’s blog, dtkmkihn.blogspot.com.
Don’t settle for the humdrum … use fun and usual ingredients to give your backyard campfire S’mores that little extra kick.
Use a dark chocolate bar for this one. Then put a dollop of raspberry on the chocolate, then smush your ‘shmeller in between.
This one requires special marshmallows, so if you’re in the mood to get really fancy, you can order your own off of websites like >>>>>. Just replace your regular ol’ marshmallow and impress your tastebuds.
Nutella and banana S’more
Get your two regular graham crackers, slice some bananas on one side, then spread the other with Nutella. Add marshmallow if you really want, but we think it sounds delicious without.
Petit Ecolier S’more
Easy peasy. Put a nice warm marshmallow between two of these European chocolate “biscuits.” Yum!