Last weekend, we took our 19 month old twin boys on their first camping trip. Leading up to the weekend, I told lots of friends, who gave me side-eyed glances and said vague things like “You’re completely nuts.”
Steph was also not really on board, having done more than her fair share of camping in the army, but she’s so affable, so she painfully smiled and agreed. In our umpteen conversations talking about the weekend, she’d pepper our conversations with statements like “You realize I almost got trenchfoot and lost both my feet when they made me camp for weeks on end?” or “I had to sleep on a tree root with nothing but my rain jacket to put under my head.” I waved her words aside as hyperbole and stayed firm in my resolve. We were going campin with our youngins!
Once that was decided, I went about researching tents. After copious research that may have involved an excel spreadsheeet, we got the most obnoxiously big tent we could find, from an obnoxious big box store that I try to never step foot in. Rhymes with Schmall-mart. Horrible place. Except when it comes to giant over-sized items that your UPS man struggles to bring to your doorstep.
Here we are setting it up beforehand. It took up the entire back patio!
Camping is always more fun with friends, and we went with two amazing families. Between our three families, we had 5 children and 6 adults. Whew! Almost outnumbered.
Friends at the playground.
While the kids played, we set up Tent Mahal. The setup was perfect! Two pack-n-plays in one “room”, our queen air mattress on the opposite end, and all our stuff in the middle, including a changing area.
This was the left side of the tent.
Old Christmas icicle lights are a great touch! Our friends Sam and Brian brought them and we draped them on our tent. Great when you’re walking back from the bathroom at night! Follow the light.
Of course a big part of camping is beer. August really enjoys Killer Whale Cream Ale. I like this picture, because it looks like all we did was eat chips and beer while camping.
We actually feasted! Since there were three families, we each took two meals. The first night, we had foil-roasted fish with puttanesca sauce (pad thai for me!), and the second night was steak, corn, potatoes and veggie sausages. Breakfasts were “camping cereal” the first morning (sugary cereal that we would never give our children otherwise) and breakfast burritos the second morning with leftover steak, veggie sausage and potatoes. Lunches were huge hoagies with all the fixings. Obligatory marshmallow roasting did occur with my $7 bag of vegan marshmallows. Yum!
It’s a good thing we had 6 adults, because it took every last one of them to keep an eye on Liam. He kept opportunistically walking off the campsite, down the road. I have no idea where he thought he was going, but he did it a zillion times. He’s so stealth, too. You’d bring a beer up to your mouth to swig, and just like that, zoom. Gone. Walking down the road like Tom Sawyer. This is basically what all of my pictures of Liam look like:
Trouble. Take I. Doesn’t he look rotten?
Trouble. Take II.
As an aside, there’s something you should know about camping that is a universal truth. Whatever site you choose, you could have chosen a better one. It’s the wilderness version of keeping up with the Joneses. That first day, we walked suspiciously around the campsite loop, eyeing our neighbors. Coveting their walk-through trails that allowed two sites to be connected. Ours was covered in a thicket. Or size – as mentioned previously, we needed a large level footprint for Tent Mahal. Plus, we were sharing our site with friends, who had Tent Mahal, Jr. Why were other sites so much larger than ours? We took copious notes on our first walk around the loop, circling sites we wanted next time.
Coveting our neighbor’s campsite:
Camping to me is about exploring our natural world. About not being afraid to get a little dirty. About community. About exploring. As I get older, it’s a way for me to keep a healthy spirit of adventure in my life. After all, you never know what’s around the bend when you’re camping. Time stands still, and really you just have to be in the present.
No chores to do.
No errands to run.
No laundry to fold.
Nowhere to be.
Just here, with our little men and friends, exploring our world.
The boys did GREAT! They went down at night better than they do at home. Camping is for ditching routines, so we put them in bed probably around 9pm, and not a squawk from either of them. Just a good solid night’s sleep so that they could wake up the next morning and do it all over again.
In the car on our way back home! We brought half the dirt from our campsite with us. Can’t wait to do it again!
PS. A big thanks to my friend Shelley for taking most of these great pics!