The Success of Backyard Camping Depends Entirely on the Location of Your Yard

Free Entertainment and Staycation Month came to an end this week. (Chuck and I are in agreement that this month was all-around fantastic.) Prior to this week, we had success with a tropical staycation, hosting a potluck, backyard movies, cheap music festivals, drive-in movies, and our questionable decision to crash the kids' event at the local fire station. All wins! The final week didn't disappoint. Here's a run-down of our final experiments with low-cost entertainment:

STAYCATIONS PART II: BACKYARD CAMPING

The first half of this Staycation was perfect (minus the fact that the summer heat has already killed our lawn—a minor inconvenience). We pulled out the grill and made kabobs, played lawn games, built a fire, made s'mores, and set up our tents. Glorious! It was all the best parts of camping without battling our way through weekend mountain traffic, fighting for a good campsite, or worrying that we forgot something at home. 

However, the "staycation" article failed to mention that sleeping in your yard may NOT be a good idea if:

  • You live next to a road with substantial traffic
  • Your yard is bordered by power lines that audibly crack and sizzle (Should we report this? I think maybe we should report this.)
  • You have a dog in your tent that must respond to every noise with a low growl or outright barking
  • Your next-door neighbors play music until all hours of the night
  • You live next to a little punk kid who decides to practice his skateboard tricks at 11:45pm
  • You have a pair of owls that get together and have a chat in your backyard around 2am
  • Your local weather report says it's going to rain, but you ignore it and don't stake down your tent (Because why would you? It's safe in the serenity of your back yard.)

We ended up abandoning the tent at 3am and came inside (just before the downpour) only to find out our bedroom had been taken over by mosquitos when we left the back door open during our barbecue. So maybe a Backyard Picnic Staycation is a safer bet than a Backyard Camping Staycation. You've been warned.

PLAY GAMES WITH FRIENDS: CHECK!

Over the course of this month, we've played as many of the games we own as possible: Battleship, Mousetrap, Pente, Blockus, Jenga, Bananagrams, Mastermind, Scrabble, etc. This week, we rounded out the list with: Monopoly, Golf (the card game), bocce ball (the mosquitos in the park were killer), cribbage, and pinocle.

NOTE: PLAYING MONOPOLY—EVEN WITH YOUR ADULT SIBLINGS—LEADS TO A FIGHT EVERY TIME. AVOID MONOPOLY AT ALL COSTS. There were no fist fights, but there was palpable tension and anger over some shady property trades. (However, I'll still classify this as a "win" because I ended up racking up cash and properties and winning the game. Hehehe.)

The only real "fail" in this category happened when I tried to play cards with my friends. Their 8-month-old took control of the table. (Babies and cards don't mix.) But watching her try to crawl on top of the cards was definitely free entertainment. So maybe this is still a win.

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GO BERRY PICKING: CHECK!

I didn't think this one was going to be possible in Colorado. There's nowhere where berries grow wild around us. But nature must have known this was on my list for the blog this month. Because when I woke up yesterday, the sour cherry trees in our backyard had exploded! (Last year I only got a total of 5 cherries off this tree. Now look at it!) Picking all the cherries made me feel like a kid again--a total win! However, it did take me almost an hour to pit all the cherries before I could use them. (So maybe opt for pit-free fruit if you can.)

GO TO A LOCAL FESTIVAL (WE FOUND ANOTHER ONE!)

The best part of this week, by far, was scoring free tickets to the Denver Artisan Flea Market with two free beers included. "Flea Market" may not sound enticing, but there were hundreds of booths full of local art, local food, and other local crafts. Best of all, there were free samples of local goodies EVERYWHERE! Definite win. And now we have a great list of local businesses that we would love to support. (Christmas shopping just got a lot easier.)

The Flea Market trip was only bitter-sweet because on the way there, we accidentally ended up here (because we thought it was the entrance to the flea market): 

Turns out that this was not the flea market. Nope. This was TACO FEST. They were offering Lucha Libre Wrestling (whaat?), chihuahua races (whaaaat?), tacos, and tequila tasting for the low, low price of $14 a ticket. We were tempted to skip the free flea market and just do this! But in the spirit of free entertainment month, we had to opt for the free event first. We were planning to come back to this after the flea market, but sadly, it was already ending when we left the flea market. I am SO DEEPLY SAD I DIDN'T GET TO SEE CHIHUAHUA RACING. Fail! I'm booking my tickets now so I don't miss out next year.