We just returned from a camping trip to Hammonassett Beach State Park with my extended paternal cousins in Connecticut. My family does this trip every year and we enjoy it immensely. There’s nothing like camping with 33 of your closest friends and family. That said, my Thankful Thursday post reflects on this year’s experience:
 I KNOW miracles happen! And, I am terribly grateful for the miracle of the ’95 Viking Pop-Up that FELL INTO MY LAP on Friday afternoon at 3:00 PM!!!! When I gave up on Friday morning on the idea of buying a pop-up camper for our trip on Saturday, after 4 intense days of hunting, I had resigned myself — and my hubby and 3 kids — to another year of camping in the tent… Albeit a HUGE 3-room tent. But, a tent is still ON the ground with nowhere to sit and nowhere to stand upright, sagging air mattresses and indoor morning dew…. and no shelter from the inevitable rain that comes EVERY time I camp. As I shut down the computer lest it distract me from the night of packing I had ahead of me, Craigslist refreshed and this beautiful, if-not-old, pop-up camper literally popped-up on my screen. It was JUST what I’d been looking for and in my price range. The rest is [recent] history… We miraculously got a trailer hook-up installed on the mini-van by 10:30 Saturday morning, made the new neice’s christening with time to kill, and officially got hitched to our new, old camper by 7:00pm Saturday night… Driving straight through to Connecticut and immediately putting it to good use, comfortably housing my family of 5 just 2 hours later and for the next 4 days. There is a God!
 AND, I’m ever so grateful that IT DIDN’T RAIN! For the first time in MY camping history I have a roof over my head and it didn’t rain!!!! How’s that for irony! We had beautiful, sunny camping and swimming weather the entire 4 days. Yeah!
 I’m thankful for every one’s help in making this trip possible: For my brother’s assistance in how to more effectively search Craigslist for pop-ups versus popups or trailers versus campers. For my mother’s and my sister’s care of my dog, Csiba, two cats, Tippy & Willow, and 6 fish (Julio, Gianni, Dotty, Madison, Cocoa and… and… ??? gotta ask the old soul). For the care of our veterinarian, Dr. Foy, and staff, at Terry Animal Hospital, of our other dog, Molly, whose eyes need special and constant care. For our friends, Tammy and Mike who supplied us with camper-gear (being new pop-up campers we were woefully under-equipped), fed us, watched our kids when they invaded their camp and trailer AND entertained us… as they always do. Thanks, too, to my cousin, Steve, who helped with the set-up (being a pop-up man himself) and who lent tools, utensils and beer throughout the trip and to cousin (in-law) John and cousin Sue who lovingly and gladly shared beer and food with us and our friends as well. I’m also genuinely thankful to Kelly, the camper man who waited patiently for us on Saturday to show up to buy his old pop-up at 11:00… no 4:30… no 5:30… oops, we’re lost… 6:30, finally! — all with a smile! And, for the fact that he kept his camper in such good shape for us. I’m thankful too that the mini-van that our friends Jan and Lori helped us buy 4 years ago (off EBay when my beloved Blazer couldn’t fit 3 car-seats across the back for our new twins and old soul) had the power to pull the new camper easily! Yup, God is good to surround us with such good and helpful friends.
 I’m thankful that my children’s and my pre-camping colds were held at bay and did not flourish into anything desperate while we were living at one with nature. Matter of fact, seems the little man and I actually recovered during the trip. Must have been somewhat relaxing then (versus stressful which never helps the recovery process). And, though the old soul and my big man are still fighting the tail-end of a good fight, they’re not in particular discomfort as a result of our foray into the woods. It’s just a cold, after all… and it stayed that way… just a cold. Thank God!
 I’m thankful to Tammy and Sammy for bringing along Sammy’s old 2-wheeler bicycle for my old soul. I purposely didn’t pack her training-wheeler just so she would give the 2-wheel thing a real and honest try. No, it wasn’t a trick. She knew she was going to be trying a 2-wheeler… She just didn’t know her training-wheeler wouldn’t be available. Within half an hour of starting, she was riding all over the campgrounds, literally! Though it did take her a day to master the brakes, her shoes worked just fine until she mastered that skill too! AND, TODAY SHE IS A 2-WHEEL-BICICYLE-RIDING-CHICK! She did it without much help and without a single crash, fall or injury (that’s her way). Hooray!!!!!!
As much fun as we had, I am SOOO thankful to be home. We all are. Truly, as comfortable as the new, old pop-up is… there is no place like home!