Friday, July 23, 2010

camping with a one year old: worth it?

we made these camping plans months and months ago as a chance to meet up with tim's long-time friends, jere and jen, from the island, and their kids (ages 5, 3, and 16mo.). we had reservations with them for two nights. our reservations were at rathtrevor provincial park. then we figured, "we paid money for the ferry, maybe we'll go find some other campsites and continue camping for the week!". now, all the times we've gone camping before, we've headed east on the #1 into "wilderness". once you get to your campsite, you're staying. there aren't stores close by that you can go to to pick up what you've forgotten. you'd have to drive at least an hour. so in thinking that we might be camping for a week, i packed enough food and provisions for a week and a half. it was a lot of stuff and a lot of organizing. a couple of coolers. a ton of loose food in boxes.

when we'd made the plans 6 months in advance, we'd planned to tent. then about 3 months in advance, we wussed out and asked tim's dad if we could borrow his truck and camper. phew. no tent. we'd be inside. so we may be camping for a week AND we had the luxury of throwing all our stuff in the camper so we packed a LOT of clothes. three suitcases - one for each of us. you just never know, right? we might go hiking - brought the baby backpack. we'll deifnitely be walking - brought the big stroller. throw it all into the camper.
us and our rig

off we go on saturday morning. we aimed to leave at 8:30am. we actually left at 9:30am. we thought we might make the 10:45am ferry but no such luck - traffic. we got there in time for the 11:15am ferry and pretty much drove right on. nice! ben was exhausted seeing as no nap had been taken yet but loved having the run of the ferry. he met many a child and their parents at the kid's playroom as he waved and smiled at all the parents who would come and go from the room. when we put him in the car to get off the ferry, he was asleep in minutes. he slept for the short drive to parksville/rathtrevor park. on our short drive, i began to realize how silly all my food packing was. we were minutes from a store to buy whatever we needed. well, now i know for next time.
on the ferry

we got to our campsite - super awesome, pretty private, forested but a minute walk from the beach. the campgrounds had beautiful bathrooms with warm, clean showers and there was also a nature house with daily educational activities for kids (for anyone with older kids). the nature house also sold coffee...perfect... i would highly recommend this place despite it's higher camping fees.
our fantastic space

too much detail for you so far? you might want to quit reading here as the details only increase from here...

so, tired baby goes to bed early at 6pm or so (well actually, he usually goes to bed between 6 - 7pm at home so it's not that early) and doesn't like being alone in the camper in his little pack and play: cries for a good 20 minutes. we eat dinner and listen to him. he finally falls asleep and we realize all the things we forgot to take out of the camper before putting him down. well, we definitely weren't going in there to get them out. when we go to bed at 11pm, we sneak in quietly in pitch dark. ben wakes up, frightened looking and starts to cry. i whip out a bottle and feed him while i can see his eyes wide open, darting around the camper in the glow-stick light (yes, glowstick - you should totally buy them before going camping...your personal nightlight - i was glad our friends shared theirs!). once the bottle is gone, i put him back in his bed and he begins to scream. i pull him out and try popping him in the bed with us. he crawls all over the bed laughing. i put him back in his bed - screaming. but hey - what can we do? we let him scream at 11:30pm at night even though we have friends right outside our camper with their kids in tents. sigh. he didn't cry for too long but it was high stress. finally, he falls asleep. i'm trying not to roll around too much because my sleeping bag makes that sleeping bag noise. then i hear a car near by - someone has just arrived at their site across from us at 12:15am. they are drunk-sounding. talking supe loud. it's like they're in our camper. blasting music. for at least an hour and a half! so now, i'm losing out on precious sleep time. we lay awake listening for a long time. finally they seem to go to bed. now i have to pee. i cannot get up. i finally fall asleep. and all of a sudden, it's 5am and ben is stirring. he wiggles and wiggles, moaning and groaning in his bed. i don't move a muscle in hopes that he'll go back to sleep. he quiets down for about 30 minutes but i'm awake the whole time. 5:30am, he is awake and ready to get up. grr...i get up, get his bottle, pop him in our bed to drink it. i was hoping it would remind him that he was sleepy and he'd miraculously fall back to sleep. that hope is dashed the moment he finishes his bottle. he's everywhere in the bed - crawling from one side to the other, peeking out the windows, laughing. at about 5:50am, i get up, get dressed, put ben in his stroller and go for a half hour walk along the beach. beautiful. but i could just barely appreciate it at that time of day with only a handful of hours of sleep under my belt. i return at 6:20am to a still, quiet campsite. i put him back in our bed in the camper to ensure that tim deals with a little of this sleep deprivation (ha) and let ben run around. could this morning be going any slower? finally, our friends awaken at 7am or so and we escape the confinement of our living quarters.

breakfast. kids play. kids whine. kids get dirty. after a long morning, jeremy says, "why don't we head down to the beach. it must be about 10am, hey?" we check a clock. it's 8:30am. ben's a little monster since he was up so early so i put him back down for a nap. he goes down with no problems. phew. we wait an hour and bit for him to wake up then we pack a lunch to go to the beach. beach. sand. playing. attempted sharing. sand in our clothes. ocean. driftwood fort. sand. sunscreen. sand. time for afternoon nap. both toddlers and us two moms go back to camp and put our kiddos to bed. no problems again. so at least we had that going for us. a couple hours later, more playing at camp. pinecones. dirt. ant hills. dirt. snacks. back to the beach. a mouthful of sand cuts it short as ben has no more desire to play. back to camp. whine whine whine. dinnertime. ben actually sits in his chair for all of dinner. i think he liked having another kid there also confined to a chair. they bonded. then it was 7pm and it was bedtime. i was not looking forward to it.

ben was out like a light. yay! when we went to bed, he stirred but didn't get up. yay! when i heard him wake in the morning, i was sure it must be 7am because i'd actually gotten sleep and wasn't feeling too bad. it was only 6:15am. i pushed tim out of bed to take ben for a walk and i got an extra half hour.

we ended up only having those two nights and the three days (which were both super similar to the one day i described here) and then we packed it in and headed for civilization. we set up "camp" at jere and jen's house and stayed there for a couple more nights before heading home.

okay - so it wasn't as bad as my facebook status lead people to believe. in fact, this sounds like a great trip to many of you. but you see, i don't like sand. and i really like sleep. i don't like whining. and i really like ben's usual 8am wake time. a day trip to the beach could have given us the same type of enjoyment minus the lack of sleep. however, it was definitely worth it for the time spend with our friends and their kids but if we'd been out there camping on our own - there would have been no reservation in packing up and heading home after that first horrible night. for a camping trip that ben won't even remember? give him a couple more years, we'll be back and it will be a whole different story...oh, i know it'll bring new challenges and probably the same lack of sleep but at least it will be a good time that he'll be able to remember in years to come.


theRachel said...

Love the new banner. And the informative blog post. Love you.

LaelDyck said...

thanks for breaking it up with pictures, they are great! i loved hearing all about your camping trip!

rachel said...

when you scrapbook the photos you can conveniently forget all the sand and not sleep and just eat up the beautiful pics of Ben on the beach. ;) And that's how history is re-written.

Hanners said...

i love the ferry photo. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are pretty optimistic considering the circumstances. Now keep this in mind... I come from a family that never went camping - we stayed at my grandparents lakeside cabin in Osoyoos every year - in fact we still do that! I have been camping with friends on many occasions though.

There are parts of camping I love and parts I absolutely hate. I love being with friends, being outdoors, getting into the wilderness and there's never a time where you appreciate food better.

I hate dirt, cold, lack of convenience, the cost - I rather pay more and stay somewhere upscale. I think about how much work it is to camp with just myself and Rick and think, I don't think I will ever camp with a baby! Kudos to you for actually doing it!

PS buying groceries was a good call - they are more expensive on the island!

dawn said...

Loved it...and what about, in a few years, you'll have a few more kids...????