I grew up camping – my parents took me on my first camping trip when I was 10 weeks old. Johnny was two and a half on that particular trip, so not terribly far off from Hazel and Eliza this weekend. I obviously have no memory of the trip, but I have always loved the picture of me and my big brother passed out in the tent. And the older I get, the more I appreciate that we spent so much of our childhood outside.
Me and my bro, simul-napping in the tent on my first camping trip. I’m 10 weeks old, and I like to bury my face in pillows whilst sleeping on my tummy (still true).
We took the girls camping at Mt. Rainier this past weekend, and took Eliza kayaking on the Columbia the weekend before. Kayaking was pretty great – the whole excursion only took a few hours – the kayak place is 15 minutes from our house – so we had a babysitter for Hazel. We got a tandem kayak with a jump seat for E. She was totally psyched for about half an hour, a big grin plastered on her face and she just kept exclaiming about the kayak and the water. We weren’t doing point to point – just paddling around on the Columbia near the kayak place, because we (rightly) figured she’d get bored pretty quick. Once she did, we went back to the shore and let her wade around and throw rocks, which were excellent activities in her book.
Camping was also fun, but a little more fraught. Rainier is about three hours away, which is a lot of car time for both kiddos. I brought all manner of toys for the car for Eliza (magnets on a cookie sheet! books! crayons! stickers! snacks!) and crossed my fingers that Hazel would sleep. It went pretty well, but man, entertaining a two year old in the car is mentally exhausting.
Once we got there (Ohanapecosh was full, so we stayed down the road at La Wis Wis) and got set up, we tried to get Eliza down for a nap in the tent, but she was having none of it. She loved camping last year, but we hadn’t gone since October or so, and I was anticipating having issues with napping at least. We talked it up a lot – calling the tent a fort (she loves to make forts in the living room) and talking about fun it would be. Kevin tried lying down with her, but she just wouldn’t settle, and didn’t like being zipped in. Eventually we put her back in the car and headed up to Paradise to poke around. She passed out immediately in the car and got a short nap. She had a great time riding in the kid backpack on a short walk to Myrtle falls, and lost her little mind over the waterfall (“Wooooow! Wahfall! Whooooa” all in hushed tones of amazement).
We got back to our campsite around her normal bedtime, but figured there was no way she would go to bed without major help from us, so we just made dinner and hung out for a couple hours. She did pretty good about not touching the fire pit, or the fire once we made it. She had her first marshmallow (she approved). Then I took her and Hazel into the tent to try to get her settled. I laid with them both, nursing Hazel and trying to calm E, for an hour or so while Kevin cleaned up. Eventually E was so wound up that I had to get Kevin to come in to the tent as well – she was full on tackling me and Hazel and I couldn’t deal with both kiddos. Kevin laid with her for probably another hour and half before she fell asleep finally.
… and then she woke up around 1:00 am, FUH-REAKING OUT. Girlfriend wanted OUT of the tent. She screamed and thrashed for probably an hour, on and off (mostly on). That was pretty rough. I was already awake because Hazel was still doing her night time cluster feeding thing, but I couldn’t feed her AND help Eliza. Not being able to help was pretty frustrating, but oh well. Eventually she fell back asleep, and we all slept till 7:00. Made some breakfast, broke camp, and ended up just heading home. We were all pretty damn tired.
We are now solidly in the Type Two Fun phase of adventuring with children. Most excursions have the potential to blow up in our faces, and they do, about as often as not. But we go anyways. We smile, we take pictures. And we hope that one day soon, we can look back and remember fondly. That it won’t even occur to our kids, looking at the pictures, that we barely slept, or that they screamed on the long car ride. That they will just think it was awesome, growing up outside.
- Documentation of Hazel’s first Rainier trip. (Eliza’s is here.)