Friday, June 3, 2016

It's Raining...Caterpillars?!?

This past weekend's camping trip will forever be remembered as the "Weekend of the Caterpillars." Southern New England has seen a huge increase in the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar population this spring and it was literally raining caterpillars and frass (believe it or not, there is a technical term for caterpillar poop). You couldn't find a caterpillar-free surface and the one time I set up my camp chair, they kept crawling all over my shoes. Enough about the caterpillars for now!

May was a very hectic month. In between several rounds of the stomach bug, severe allergies and finishing the semester, I was also planning a surprise party for my mother's birthday. The party was planned for the Friday night of Memorial Day Weekend. We still wanted to camp for the weekend, but knew we had to stay local. We chose Whispering Pines Campground, a family-friendly campground in Hope Valley, RI, about 35 minutes from our home. We have been to Whispering Pines numerous times and it was actually the site of our "maiden voyage" in June 2014. My husband, father-in-law and the 3 year olds took the camper down on Friday to set-up and the plan was for them to come home and then we'd all go back Saturday morning. When they arrived home on Friday afternoon, my husband told me there was a small problem at the campground. I panicked, thinking there was something wrong with our reservation or site, but laughed it off when he told me the problem was that there were a lot of caterpillars. He did not mention it was more like a plague of caterpillars, so I forgot all about it as I continued to get ready for that night's party.

The next morning, we were at the campground by 9am. We had stopped at McDonald's to pick up pancakes on the way there and were ready to have breakfast in our new screen house. During the night, caterpillars had managed to crawl under the screen house and inside, so we had to do a little cleaning before we could eat. Welcome to the weekend!

Just a few of our caterpillar visitors
Right after breakfast, we jumped into the weekend's activities. The youngest two did a Memorial Day flag craft, then we took a walk to the vendor fair and had a relaxing few hours by the pool. They have a nice in-ground pool and it was a busy place because it was such a hot day. My favorite part was that there are no trees around the pool and we had a reprieve from our furry friends. The one thing that I dislike is that smoking is allowed in the pool area. My parents, brother and his family visited for dinner, a barrel train ride and some more time at the pool. There was a live band that evening and we were able to hear the music while enjoying some time at our campfire.

Sunday was a day full of activities, from crafts, to another barrel train ride, more swimming, a duck race and frog jumping contest. My 9 year old was obsessed with finding a frog to race later that afternoon and my poor husband had to spend the majority of the day with him (unsuccessfully) looking for a frog. The duck race was a lot of fun and the best part was that the profits were going to the March of Dimes, which is an organization that our family is very involved with. At frog race time, my husband and son went to watch. A boy who lent him a net earlier in the day, asked my son to join his "team" and their humongous frog ended up finishing in first place! Not too bad for showing up to the event without a frog. We didn't have much luck at candy bingo, but it's always one of our favorite things to do there.
Cheering on the Frogs

Sunday night and into Monday, we had very heavy rain storms. We were excited at first, thinking that the rain would wash away the caterpillars and their mess, but that was short lived. When we woke up, we discovered that all it did was grind everything in and make a bigger mess. There were events scheduled for Monday, but we spent the morning cleaning and packing up while the kids played in the camper. I have to say that I have never been more ready to head home than I was that day.

Our Home for the Weekend
Obviously the caterpillar plague was out of the campground's control and other than that, we had a good time. Whispering Pines is a medium-sized campground that offers cabins in addition to tent and RV sites. The staff and majority of the seasonal campers are very helpful and friendly and the facilities are clean. It's a great place to visit with kids because it's not too big, but there are a lot of other kids and activities for them. They own two other campgrounds in Rhode Island too and we have a return trip scheduled to their Ashaway RV Resort over the 4th of July.

We tried out a few of our new camping purchases over the weekend and I'll be doing another post soon to talk about those.

Our next camping trip is in a few weeks to Bear Creek Campground at Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT. It can be hot there due to the fact that the trees aren't mature, but I am thrilled that we won't have a second "Weekend of the Caterpillars."

Happy Camping,
Exploring the Campground
Duck Race--the first heat is off!