Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Return From Camping

Whew! What a two weeks!

Sorry to go MIA on the blog front. Our family and Rick's family and Rick's family's friends and families all went up to Door County Wisconsin last week to go camping. There were 15 of us in all including Ada at 20 months and Jayden at a whopping 7 weeks old. Luckily, we had an awesome group campsite with room to spread out in a scenic, secluded area of Peninsula State Park. We had nice weather for the first half of the week, and then some nice and gentle torrential downpours sporadically throughout the remainder of our stay.

What I learned?

It's great to be with 11 other adults who can watch your child so you can sleep in, especially when two of them are grandparents. I didn't really sleep in much but it was nice to have the option and the ability to take a nap whenever I darn well pleased.

Keeping Ada away from the fire pit was much easier than I expected with the help of a ring of stones we placed about 2 feet outside of the pit to form a boundary line she wasn't allowed to cross. Surprisingly effective and so much easier than having everyone jump to save her when she unintentionally got to close when we camped earlier this summer. Highly recommend the boundary ring.

We need to invest in a tent. We've been borrowing a tent from Rick's parents (they have a gazillion it seems). This is probably an 8 man tent. I don't really know what that means but it's big. And when I say big, I mean that you can fit a queen size mattress on each side (it has a dividing wall down the middle) and still have room to squeeze around it to open and close the windows in the back. Ada and our stuff had one whole side, we had the other. It was great, fine and just dandy until said torrential downpour came through and peed on all of our stuff. It just so happens that said tent is a gazillion years old (8 to 10 years for real) and the seals on the seams (they are kind of important in a storm) leak. From above. That normally wouldn't be a problem since we had the rain fly on (it's like a raincoat for your tent) but that was leaking somehow too. Needless to say, we are going to try to capitalize on the end of season sales this month and see if we can't find something a bit smaller and a lot more dry.

Speaking of smaller... we also need some sort of mattress that is less cumbersome. We currently have a queen size blow up mattress that comes in a case on wheels and has this elaborate stand to make it normal bed height, which is really nice. It just takes up a ton of room in the trunk, makes a lot of noise when you get in and out, and doesn't fit 3 all that well. Why should it need to fit 3 when Ada had her pack and play set up on the other side of the tent you ask? Well, because she gets scared during torrential downpours that include thunder, lightening, and sound like someone is hitting our tent with 10,000 paintballs consistently for half an hour straight. I don't blame her.

Car toppers can be made for cars with or without racks. Since our car doesn't have a rack on top, it doesn't help if I borrow a car topper from someone if it's the type that needs the rack. Luckily, Rick was able to fit all of our stuff in the car-- including Ada.

It never fails that someone forgets to take the garbage out before bed one night during the week. Just try to remember not to have the garbage set up near your tent. As it turns out, raccoons are REALLY loud and like to fight a lot. Sounds like cats beating the living snot out of each other and happens just on the other side of some flimsy piece of tent fabric. Not the best thing when you're trying to sleep.

Camping at the end of a meteor shower is cool. At the peak would be frigging awesome. I got to see about four "shooting stars" which was nice. Reassuring to see that there still are stars after living in the city for so long.

After a good storm, there will be puddles. Lots of deep, muddy puddles. Toddlers are attracted to puddles.
If your husband is going to golf and it looks like it might rain, remind him to only buy nine holes of golf at a time. Rick's foursome paid for 18 and golfed 5 holes. Then they skipped their rain check time the next day thinking it would rain more as was predicted. He's just feeling a bit shafted now.
With camping comes the threat of poison ivy. Lucky for me (and Ada), I noticed she was standing about 3 feet into the woods just off the campsite and a lightbulb went on in my head.

"Ding!" "She might be standing in poison ivy in shorts, sandals and a t-shirt. SHIT!" At least the lightbulb still works up there and I immediately called over one of the boy scout leaders that happens to camp with us, and then my eagle scout brother-in-law to reconfirm my suspicions. "Yep. That's what it looks like. Go hose her down with lots of soap and water." Poor Ada. At least it was early on in the week so it was still in the 80s. And she likes baths. And she's too little to really hate cold water. And it's still considered "cute" for her to stand naked near a parking lot while getting scrubbed down by her momma. Can't say that about many people.

With camping comes dirt. Lots of dirt. And toddlers know how to find it all, and eat some of it.

And then there is the beach. There must be a "friend making" gene in my side of the family because this kid just attracts other kids. Dinner at a local restaurant tonight turned into a mini play date. She really knows how to bring people together. Not only did she help supervise the local girl scout troop that was building sandcastles on the beach, but she shared Grandma Ba's buckets, shovels and rakes well too.

Then there is the lake. She got to play with Aunt Terri, Grandma Ba, Grandpa Rich, Daddy, and Mommy all in the water. Grandpa Rich gave her a "dolphin" back ride-- I don't think piggies can swim so it wasn't a "piggy back" ride, technically speaking. She sure loves the water.

I also learned that I should always pack a warm jacket, a change of warm, dry clothes to leave in the trunk in case of emergencies, and to pack things that need to stay dry (clothes, blankets, pillows, me) in plastic bins so that they in fact, do stay dry. And that those bins need to be kept in the tent and used to store said "things that need to stay dry" when not in use in case a big storm creeps up on us and our new tent happens to leak, or we forget the rain fly, or we leave the windows open.

And finally, I learned that camping for a week is a ton of fun. I got to knit (a purple fingerless mitten and get started on the match to it), read a great book (The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larson -- book 2 of 3 in his Millennium series), and play way too much Settlers of Catan (a great new board game that is a bit like Monopoly without the parts of Monopoly that suck). We also went to a petting zoo, ate good food, got to take warm showers, and got to laugh hysterically when Grandma Ba saw a snake that made her scream to high heaven (grass snake anyone?).

Moral of the story: Great time had by all. Highly recommend it -- if you have the right gear and a forecast for good weather.

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