Of course I was intimidated taking the little one camping for the first time - who wouldn't be? In light of that I reserved a campsite only about 45 minutes from home (effectively, an emergency eject button) .
Berilac and I are notoriously bad at planning vacations in advance, but he and I were backpackers back in the day and I knew I wanted to at least go car camping with Dru (an ever so gentle warm up to rugged backpacking - this should be easy). Back in May we booked a drive-in campsite in early August with a 7 month old. - we thought, a warm, summer camping trip ... seems reasonable, doesn't it?
We planned to leave our house around noon last Friday, but I knew it would end up being more like 2P. On our way to the campsite, we needed to stop by our friends house to pick up from them the Kel.ty baby backpack we'd purchased from them. Yes we were going car camping, so we didn't really need the pack for this trip ... but what better way to break it in? A little after 5PM we finally found ourselves pulling out of the driveway, only to return 5 minutes later as Berilac had forgotten our temp.ur.pedic pillows (yes, we're snobs) and our hot cocoa. (I need to mention here that we all had our packing responsibilities: Berilac - camping gear, Polly - food/clothes, Nanny - Dru's supplies ... trust me, it's relevant.) Because we had to stop to pick up the backpack (which, as we didn't know, was out of the way) we found ourselves winding down the last road to the campsite when Berilac lets out a gasp! .... 'You're not going to believe this - I forgot the sleeping bags!'
I was a little shocked and disturbed, my immediate thought was 'turn this puppy around!' (after all we were 30 mins to Dru's bedtime and he hadn't had his last bottle, his dinner, nor had we set up shelter. But when we discussed making due with our 18 inch air mattress (to keep us off the cold hard ground,) our snobby pillows, the two blankets we'd packed, and of course the clever trick of wearing all our clothes in a layered fashion ... I was more convinced we might survive a 40 degree overnight low and I begrudgingly cooperated.
The night exploded when we arrived. I had to pee, but I couldn't because Dru was STARVING, as I was trying to feed Dru his bottle and solids ... carefully ... in the back of our newer Sub.a.ru ... in his brand new convertible Ra.dian carseast Berilac was wrestling, on the hard ground, with our new tent and air mattress. He brought an extension cord and an AC/DC converter in order to plug it into the idling car, but the mattress only inflated for 2 seconds before something POPPED (either the power converter fuse or the mattress motor - not the actual mattress, luckily) ... the sound was loud, we were disoriented - what was going on? At this point, I still had to pee, Dru was finished messily eating and was starting to squeal in excitement as he'd never been up this late ... I was ready to call it a day and pack it in ... after all, that's why I booked a site so close to home, right? But Berilac wanted to keep on keepin' on. He suggested we sleep on the hard ground, with only two blankets for us to share ... and of course, our pillows ... which upon further investigation ... were not in the car ... turned out we forgot those too ... yes, even after returning to our house once because we realized we had forgotten them the first time. Ouch. In spite of my better judgement, being without mattress/ground-cushion, a warm sleeping bag, or pillows ... I caved ... but not without a fight.
Our power source for our mattress wasn't working, light was fading, and Berilac was starting to manually blow up a Costco-sized air mattress ... chivalrous but not practical. While he was getting dizzy, I hoisted my ornery little boy high on my hip and tried to look as young and dumb as possible (not so difficult, I'll admit) I quickly approached the next campsite and asked if anyone could loan us one of those portable battery operated mattress pumps, the lady responded with 'sure, for $100' ... luckily, she was just kidding. The pitiful young mom bit paid off, I was soon walking back to our campsite with our solution to a tolerable night's sleep.
I still needed to pee but Dru was getting nearly unbearable (I think it was nearing 8:30, 1 1/2 hours past his strict bedtime.) It was time to make progress toward putting Dru to bed, we started layer our clothes when we realized that I didn't bring a sweatshirt for Berilac to wear (whoopsy!) ... did I mention a 40 degree overnight low and NO sleeping bags? Nice. So we layered on what clothes we had, set up the blankets, tried balancing the motor to pump the mattress quietly while Dru would attempt to fall asleep in the tent, you know - white noise and all. Now, Dru took to the outdoors, but he didn't take to being left alone in a strange tent in the middle of who knows where ... the minute I laid him down in his PNP he.started.screaming. So we couldn't proceed with that tactic. I wasn't sure what to do because he goes to sleep so easily at all his naps and bedtimes at home ... I was revisiting my thought of 'what the heck are we still doing here?' when I got the brilliant idea to give him a 1/2 bottle of milk and lay him on his back in his PNP to feed himself (he loves this) ... I slipped out of the tent and Dru was on his way to dreamland.
As we were SILENTLY preparing our dinner ... enter: the loud campsite neighbor who we'd borrowed the mattress pump from ... who LOUDLY asked us if he could have his pump back - we hurried him away from the tent and told him we weren't done with it yet, he was a little anxious as he still hadn't filled his own mattress yet. When he left Berilac and I listened for the pump ... but we couldn't hear a thing. Oh crap. We ran this guy's battery out, he still needs it, there's not a replacement battery for miles, and he's going to want $100 to replace it ... and he might even get belligerent without a cushion under him on this hard ground. I was really stressing out at this point ... and yes, still needing to go pee.
After gaining our courage, we sent Berilac into the tent to retrieve the pump and the wallet ... we learned that the motor had turned itself off and still had battery ... WHEW!!! (No $100 ransom and potential ruckus with the generous neighbor pump guy). But even that didn't cushion the blow of the next few minutes ... the mattress was completely EMPTY. Just like I needed my bladder to be. (I won't go into the details, but it was late and seemingly dangerous to be wandering the park on my own and thus I urinated in our campsite - classy.) It was at this point that DH tried to encourage me 'honey, try not to get too frustrated, I promise you this will make a great story later'
Berilac unremarkably returned the pump and we were able to climb into the tent, onto our cold, hard bed, in hopes that if we spent more time in the vertical position the more sleep we might actually get - sheesh - wishful thinking. We cuddled up with one blanket below us, one above us, and a receiving blanket each to use as makeshift pillows ... where's Mac.Guyver when we need him?
- ENDLESSLY tossing and turning in order to re invoke the blood flow to my shoulders and hips
- 12AM: inserting hand warmers into my socks (forgot I had these in the diaper bag - for battling Mastitis - go figure!)
- 1 AM: placing towels over Dru's PNP to keep out the COLDER than 40 degree weather!
- 2 AM: stealing all of my son's clean diapers to stack under my "ground blanket" in hopes of providing a bit of cushion (hey, at least the Nanny held up her end of the deal - the only one of us who didn't forget to pack SOMETHING!)
- 3 AM: being painfully aware of the overnight low temperature and worrying about DS.
- 4 AM: a near confrontation with what we think were some frightening R.O.U.S's
... somewhere I squeezed in 1 1/2 hours of sleep and was singing the Lord's praises come 6AM when Dru started stirring. Now at home, I would let DS fiddle-faddle away in his crib until 7AM (the timing of his breakfast bottle) or sooner if he started crying, but I tell you at that first sign of movement - I swooped!
I announced that I could handle this no more and needed to head home to get back to my temp.ur.pedic bed (and missing pillows). But of course, not before we woke the ENTIRE campgrounds with DS's portable SIDS monitor alarming because I had dislodged it while excitedly pulling him from his PNP for his morning bottle ... as if the screeching and crescendo-ing siren wasn't enough a screaming baby had to jolt nearby sleepers from their deep (and likely air mattress cushioned) sleep. But I'm not bitter.
... we squeezed in a cup of warm soup and a walk before we headed out. And no, we didn't get to use the Kel.ty that perpetuated our late arrival ... but we didn't head out of there empty handed, heck, we now we have this lovely story to recant.
So yes it might not have been the best idea to take a 7 month old on a camping trip (people told me at this age, crawling in the dirt is NO fun!) ... but not because he didn't behave, sleep, or nap well ... it was because there is a reason for the "camping supply" isles at stores ... it's because SUPPLIES ARE NEEDED FOR THIS SORT OF THING!
And now a couple more pictures for enduring that long (but mildly entertaining) story:
*Special thanks to Jeny for suggesting we bring a warm fleece hat for little one for the cold mornings, or in our case - the cold ALL.NIGHT.LONG's!