So, you've seen the pretty video... now let's get real.
I had no illusions about camping. I knew we'd be dirty, I knew our bedding would smell smokey, and I knew the bathroom situation would be... uh, different. What I hadn't prepared for was...
The baby thing: Soooo... we just very recently managed to crib-train Elliott. He was really beginning to grasp the idea and *gasp* like his crib. Camping kinda threw him off. Ok, it super duper threw him off. It was cold at night, so it only made sense for him to sleep with us. Needless to say- he likes that a lot more than his crib. The first night was really confusing for him and he (and we) really didn't sleep much at all. This was difficult. I'm one of those people who don't function on very little sleep. The next night we brought in a heater, and slept 1000x better. To be fair, I feel like the family tried to warn us about the cold- but we were like... nah. We were dumb.
The food thing: At my mother's suggestion, I over-prepared. WAY over-prepared. I worked out a meal plan for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. I pre-made sandwiches, tuna salad, turkey meatloaf, peach cobbler, pasta salad, roasted potatoes, and grilled tofu. The theory was- the less I have to do there, the more relaxing and enjoyable the trip will be. Right? So I stayed up until 3am the night before "prepping". None of this helped me much in the end, however. Pulling out whole-wheat tortillas, organic, faux pop-tarts, and (what Evelyn told me was "gross") pasta salad, in the face of the Claassen's campfire grilled chicken, big beefy burritos, and eggs Benedict (EGGS BENEDICT, YOU GUYS)... was akin to offering my family one of Elliott's dirty diapers on a plate. Seriously. They were like: "Uhhhh..." and then they ate everyone else's food. We came home with around 80% of the food we took. Except now it's old and water-coolery. And the cheese is wet. And now most of it really is "gross".
The clothes thing: I just wanna say, that yeah- I may have been teased a bit... but my camping attire worked out REALLY well for me. I felt totally comfortable, did not have a single bug bite, and had just enough clean clothing for the entire trip. There are a lot of good reasons people
dress dressed like this to go camping! Thumbs way up. :)
The drive: This was hard. I come from an island that you can't even drive all the way around because the road stops 3/4 of the way. And that 3/4 of road takes a little over an hour to navigate completely. I start out strong- picking songs, singing along, eating snacks, instagram'ing... but somewhere around hour 2.5 it all falls apart. Sitting in a car for 4 hours turns me into a total baby. Please send your condolences here.
The good stuff: The children had an AMAAAAAZING time. We swam, we hiked, biked, enjoyed time with family, ate tons of marshmallows, took tons more photos... and saw lots of cool wildlife! This was a really special experience for them, and I'm so grateful for that. It was also really nice to be completely cut-off from work, emails, deadlines, and *eeep* blogs for a few days. Most of all, it was really fun to see Jeffrey in shorts, drinking a beer. I really enjoyed the sun and the water and the big, beautiful trees. Bringing air mattresses, and fleece sheets was smart. Bringing a big rubber tub was genius! I was able to pack things in it, wash Elliott in it, and lug things around easily. Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap was indispensable. I love it around the house, but I loooooved it for camping. I washed clothing with it, washed children with it, and brushed my teeth with it in a pinch. I also added a few drops to a spray bottle of water and it was a perfect, all-purpose cleaner.
Next time? I'd love to do it closer to home, stick to my meal plan, swim more, bring less, and bundle up much warmer at night. I'd also get a very good nights' rest before leaving. All in all, I definitely didn't hate camping as much as I expected. We had hot showers, good food, and great company. ♥