Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Memorial Day Camping Trip

Growing up in WY meant that my family went camping on a regular basis.  And because my dad likes to think he could be a modern day Mountain Man, we didn’t go camping in a tent in a camp ground like most people do.  We camped in a tee pee out in the middle of nowhere.  No bathroom, no sink, definitely no shower.  We brushed our teeth in the creek, we washed dishes in the creek, and we bathed in the creek.  Cooking was done over an open fire.  No camp stoves for us.  And we would go out for 4-5 days at a time.

Joe grew up on the beach, but always loved the idea of camping and would do it whenever possible.  As a kid he read the book “My Side of the Mountain” and claims that it changed his life.  From that moment on he was going to be a camping and hunting guide in the wilderness.  He even went as far as to go to a hunting guide training camp one year.  Needless to say, that career path didn’t pan out.  His love of the outdoors, however, is still strong.

When we got married we knew that we would go camping and take our kids camping.  Our wedding registry consisted of all of the items needed to make a camping trip successful…tent, mess kits, sleeping bags, lanterns, travel egg carrier, grilling tools, marshmallow skewers, etc.  We went a few times before Ella was born, but once she made her way on the scene life got in the way and the camping equipment started gathering dust.  We rented cabins a couple of times, and did some backyard camping trips (and basement camping trips), but nothing major.  No REAL camping trip.

It wasn’t her EB that kept us from going camping.  It was just life and logistics.  Where would we go?  When?  What time of year is best?  Then the next thing we knew, nearly 9 years had passed and Ella had never been on a real camping trip.

Well…that all changed this Memorial Day weekend.  Several weeks ago a friend had mentioned that a group of people from our church were going camping and they had some extra spots available on their campsite.  We jumped at the opportunity and cleared our calendar for a weekend of fun and camping!

I spent all day Thursday and Friday morning getting things ready and going shopping.  I did get pretty embarrassed when Ella and I were at the grocery store on Thursday afternoon stocking up on good camping snacks and junk food.  Suddenly I heard someone say, “Hi Ella.”  When I looked up it was Ella’s teacher.  I was immediately mortified!  Here we were with a shopping cart overflowing with more junk food than should be in any house, and I was so afraid Ella’s teacher would think this was how we really eat at our house.  Of course I started explaining the situation and she just laughed and said, “I think I see some fruit in there.”  Phew, so glad I threw in those strawberries, apples and grapes!

We loaded the car up on Friday morning and took Ella out of school early to get on the road.  As is usual in our area, traffic was terrible.  A trip that should have taken 2 hours ended up taking over 3.  Oh well.  We got there safe and sound and had plenty of time to get things set up before nightfall.

When we registered for our tent back in 2005 we chose one that, at the time, was a bit lavish for just 2 people.  It claims to be a 6 person tent with extra space for a “wall” if needed.  With air mattresses and clothing bags it’s not quite that big, but it was just the right size for our family of 4.  It held a queen size air mattress for Joe and me, a twin size for Ella, and even fit AJ’s pack-n-play.  We had just enough room to squeeze in our duffle bags and had a little strip of space to walk.  It was perfect!

The camping trip was a blast!  There were around 50 people including kids of all ages (AJ was the youngest).  Joe and I had a ton of fun chatting with all of the adults, and the kids had a good time being outside.  AJ was completely in his element!  He ran around and played in the dirt the entire weekend.  Fortunately I brought our little travel playpen, so I was able to confine him if needed, but most of his time was spent running around the campsite and exploring all things nature.  I was worried how AJ was going to sleep in this new environment with all sorts of sounds, but he was so tired from playing all day that he went to sleep each night without a problem and slept all night until the sun came up (5:30 am is REALLY EARLY).

There were only 2 downsides to the trip.  1) The heat!  The morning was perfect, when the sun went down it was fine, and sleeping was no problem.  But during the middle of the day with the sun blazing down, the heat was terrible.  It was so bad the first day that Ella sat in our van with the engine running and the AC blowing on her face.  The second day we took the hot part of the day as our opportunity to drive around and see some sights in the area.  Joe and Ella went exploring and took a stroll through the visitors center, we went strawberry picking (which was still hot, but at least we got a iced strawberry lemonade in the end), and Joe took AJ swimming which gave Ella and I the change to get some ice cream!  And 2) the ticks!  Ticks don’t usually bother me.  I’m cautiously aware of them and what damage they can do, but generally they don’t freak me out.  That said, this camping trip had ticks everywhere!  The first day Joe found one on himself, and I found one on Ella.  I have never been more thankful for bandages than when I saw a tick on her and knew that it hadn’t been able to get through the layers to actually get to her skin.  After that I put this thing called a Bug Band on Ella and didn’t find anymore ticks on her.  AJ got a complete tick check every time he got a new diaper.  Fortunately I never found any on him.  Every night we would take our clothes from that day and shove them all into a grocery bag and tie it shut in hopes that any ticks on our clothes would be contained.  When we got home all of our camping gear went into the living room on the hardwood floor where ticks were least likely to travel.  I spent the first 3 days home washing every single item that was on the trip with us.  And if I couldn’t wash it, it was put in the dryer long enough for the heat to kill any hitchhiking bugs.

We had such a great time camping and are looking forward to going again.  We learned a lot and while there are some thing we would modify, it was a great experience and I’m so glad we went!

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