May 8, 2013

Adventures in Camping Part I

This technically is an old blog post I wrote - mostly for my family and I to remember what lengths I would go to as a mom.  This was when I was a single mom with the crazy notion that camping is the way to bond with boys - even when camping is something I said I would NEVER do!

I am happy to report that 5 summers later, we still go camping - just the 3 of us.


Date: Aug. 2-4, 2008

I am just returning back from the 2nd annual camping trip with my sons (now ages 6 and almost 3)... after last year (which I may blog about later using past tense) I am shocked at myself that I would venture out to camp again. But I have great kids who are well behaved travelers and I love adventure... so why the hell not? Anyhoo... after learning some things last year (aka: bring an air mattress) here are the lessons learned this year...

THE TENT: Upon arriving to the campground, after our 3.5 hour trek, storms were a-brewing... this year I downsized from the 6-8 person tent to the cozy 2-3 person tent -easier for 1 person to get up... so I set out to get the tent up quick. Luckily, I had former LLBean buyer Mark Libby and his lovely family beside me... he swooped in and got the tent up in 2.3 seconds! Sweet! Usually I would be annoyed, cuz I am stubborn and like to think I can do things on my own, especially ones that I get myself into... but with rain coming... I don't care - just HELP ME!!!! LESSON: 2-3 person tent is perfect... having camper fanatic as a neighbor... priceless

THE AIR MATTRESS: As I mentioned previously, I brought an air mattress this year. Bought one brand new since last year I only got 2 hours of sleep the entire weekend because the ground is hard - and sleeping on your stomach thinking breasts will cushion you is a pharse! So, I am PSYCHED to get this puppy up!! Well, after plugging in the air pump I soon discover that the damn thing needs to charge for 12 hours prior to initial use! WTF!! I attempted to blow it up myself, but at the point of passing out, I stopped. So needless to say, night 1 - a deflated air mattress + major thunderstorm = 3 hours of sleep for Jenn. LESSON: read the air mattress directions prior to leaving your home or hope that you have large enough breasts!

THE CAMPFIRE: Ahh, the great outdoors, sleeping under the stars, cooking over an open flame... Now, I am not a cook over a stove, so why I think I can do this over a campfire is beyond me... but hey, the boys love hot dogs, so put them on a stick, roast and call it dinner! Finish off with marshmallows and you have a meal... However, you have to start with an actual fire to get this to work. So, I set out to the camp store for some fire wood. I buy 2 bundles and lug them back to our site (meanwhile my boys toddle behind me with their mouths watering at the thought of roasting marshmallows). I put some logs on - tee pee style, throw in some newspaper and light... well! I have had candles with a bigger flame! Even the boys were making fun of me! So I muster up a bit of a fire, "cook" the dogs, get some marshmallows out and BAM! rain!!!! Out goes my fire! Night 2... I outsmarted the fire... I bought lighter fluid! And in the words of Sam... "torch it mommy"... hell yah, I did! Sucker lasted thru 2 major rain storms! LESSON: Lighter fluid - the best $3 I ever spent!

THE BOAT RIDE: Day 2... ahhh, waking up (after 3 hours sleep) to sun, fresh air and the promise of a great day of family bonding... Sam's choice? A rowboat ride... Sure! I can do this! 3 life jackets - check, 2 oars - check, 1 boat lock key - check... off we go! We get to the dock, put their life jackets on with no meltdowns and I am thinking this is going to be great! We noticed the 3 inches of rain water in the boat and I noticed the boys in their sneakers and socks. After coaxing them to remove them and leave them on the dock... I "unlock" the boat from the dock and we set out. I get 2 rows away and Mason starts screaming like I've never heard "MY SHOES!!! DON'T LEAVE MY SHOES" (mind you it was 9am)... so I struggle to row back to the dock, where a family has gathered... the dad asks if I want him to hand me the shoes? I politely say yes, thank you. Then he asks " do you want me to unlock your boat from the dock"... LESSON: No matter how hard you row... you can't leave the shoes... or the dock! (side note: the next day, a dad in another campsite we walked by asked how our boatride went - i think I was the laughing stock of the entire campground)

THE KNIFE: So, one of the challenges of being the only adult, is what to do when 1 kid is sleeping, 1 is by the campfire and you need more wood! (or pee, or whatever...). Night 2 brought on that situation for me. As you read, Sam and I had a kick ass fire going and we didn't want the fun to "burn out". It is 8pm, Mason is asleep in the tent and the camp store closes at 9. I do a great debate in my mind of what to do - bring Sam and leave Mason, or leave Sam to "watch" Mason... (please note: the camp store is all of about 10 yards away - and I can see the site from the store). I finally decide on having Sam sit by the fire - at a safe distance - while I ran, literally, to get more wood. Before I go, I "arm" him with directions on what to do if a stranger comes up and protection... 1. a cell phone - who he'll call, I have no clue. 2. my car keys - so he can run them over?!?! and 3. my swiss army knife - to which I tell him to stab anyone if they try to take him - but not our friendly neighbors. He just looks at me and says "just hurry, I don't want to stab anyone". LESSON: While preparing your children for the dangers in life sometimes you need to prepare yourself with more wood!

THE HIKE: After a great night sleep (air mattress finally inflated) and minimal rainstorms, we pack up and venture back home. We travel back the Kancamangas and we stop at a site called the "Rocky Gorge" - part of the Swift River, it is a set of steep waterfalls (clearly the spot any mom should take her 2 small children). We cross over the falls via bridge and happen upon a tranquil lake and a hiking trail. Sam wants to hike... I say "why not"! 3 miles later, I find out from Sam that this is "an early birthday gift from him to me". I begin to tear. As we come upon a rickety plank "bridge" over a small stream... Sam says "oh mommy... this is your dream come true! Walking over a bridge with Mason and I"... dear god! Where did this kid come from!?!? LESSON: You cross a lot of bridges in life, some figurative, some literal... but if you cross with the ones you love, you will always be safe!

One final lesson... (from Mason- age 3)
THE BATHROOM: Most people who know me know, I have stomach issues... well, after a lovely lunch in an old diner (located in the center of Plymouth, NH - home of PSU - alma mater of my mom and dad)... we started to trek back down 93. I get 2 exits down and I have to go... BAD!!! So we stop at a burger king... I have 2 boys who want to play in the playground there and closed up restrooms! I was NOT a happy camper (no pun intended)... so I get them back in the car, sweating my ass of an on the verge of tears and we hit up the gas station next door... I am struggling to get Mason out of his car seat "on time" and he asks what is wrong... I state (in his terms) "mommy has to go potty and the bathroom wasn't working at the burger king". His response "Just poop on the mountain"... LESSON: If you are a boy... you can poop anywhere!

The Boys and I circa 2008

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