After enjoying our previous weekend's hike and picnic at Mount Charleston, we decided that it was time to take our outdoor adventures to the next level: CAMPING! Using the same "build-up" approach we had taken with the hiking and picnicing, we decided that our first night's stay in a tent should be relatively close to home and plan not to exceed more than 24 hours of camping. We are very fortunate to have such beautiful camping (and a radically different climate) only an hour drive from Las Vegas. We had been "planning" this adventure for a couple of weeks. Of course, we did not make a reserveation for a camp site on Labor Day Weekend. This proved to be both a curse and a blessing. We embarked for Mount Charleston early Friday morning hoping to arrive before everyone else from Las Vegas and therefore claim one of the many "space-available" campgrounds. Unfortunately, every other family in Las Vegas had the same idea. We toured all the available sites (in the hundreds) looking for a spot to set up camp. Only after resigning ourselves to a day trip, did we find a spot to pitch our tent. It turns out, that the "Old Saw Mill" picnic area is also a tent-only campground. Fantastic! We found a place to camp after only and hour of driving around the forest "slightly disappointed" that the entire park was full.
After we found the perfect spot to camp, we setup the tent (Ava was very helpful), ate lunch, and explored the forest. (And, yes, Ava put the pink hat on her head herself, and she did not take it off for the rest of the trip.)
The temperature dropped down into the 40s overnight which gave us a bit of a chill in our tent. Fortunately, the fire was warm and the coffee was hot. Camping turned out to be great fun for Ava. She seemed to really enjoy exploring nature and running around "off the leash." The only toy we brought along was a small plastic bucket and shovel. She spent the better part of the day putting rocks and dirt in the bucket and then dumping them out.