Monday, September 29, 2008

Completely Self Inflicted

Let's just start with a well-known fact about me: I am not a camper.

I do not like dirt. I do not like sleeping on the ground. I do not like cooking outside, or cold showers, or hauling tons of equipment and supplies. There is little about the entire process that sounds or actually is fun for me.

That being said, months ago (before I found out I was pregnant) I got a crazy notion that we should take a family camping trip to the beach town where I grew up. I had this foggy notion of the kids running and playing in the tide pools where I played at their ages, and had happy visions of the whole family gathered around the campfire making smores. So I booked it, to the surprise of everyone who knows me.

Even more surprising to everyone (including myself) I decided to go through with this adventure. So, last weekend, at 31 weeks pregnant, I found myself sleeping on the ground at Carpinteria State Beach with six children and a giant beast of a dog in a sea of uncontrollable dirt and sand.

I wish you could have seen the looks on the faces of the nice older (childless) couple in the campsite right next to ours as our trailer-toting minivan pulled up and we all piled out. Although they were nothing but nice, I can only imagine what must have been going through their heads. No matter how you paint it, they must have known their peace was over. And it was.

We had a lovely campsite right on the beach where the kids could run back and forth to the waves with no obstruction, and we were right by the bathrooms, too, which is nice when you have a 3 year old.

All in all, it wasn't terrible. There were terrible moments, make no mistake. But overall, it could have been much, much worse. The kids slept through the night (except for a brief moment when the train went by, woke up the dog, and sent him into a whole-tent tour that caused him to step on nearly every child amid great protest, but happily this was short-lived). The weather was great. The kids had tons of fun at the beach and climbing the trees in our campsite. Our dear friends Lori (frequent commenter on this blog) and Michael came by at campfire time to witness the scene. No one threw up.

Nevertheless, I still don't "get" camping. It was SO MUCH WORK to haul everything and set everything up. I am still washing dirt and sand from our things, a full week later. The wonderful moments could have just as easily been had, in my opinion, from a beachside hotel with a nice shower and restaurant (and perhaps a spa?). And the next time I even think about taking an 18 month old camping, please have my head examined. Sleeping in the same tent with the dog was a treat compared with supervising her around a campsite.

At any rate, I'm afraid we will be going back next year, like it or not. The kids loved it and were oblivious to my personal hell (OK, so that's an overstatement, but not by much). Here are some pictures of the kids at the tidepools, by far my favorite time of the trip...

Our campsite:

Just kidding! This must have been where Martha Stewart was camping, just down the row from us. Ours was the sloppy tent next to the cooler with muddy racoon prints all over it in the morning. I should have taken a picture, but I guess I didn't want to recall it later. (Can you believe some people have the time to set up camp like this? I couldn't believe it!)

Well, here's to the great outdoors. As observed from the indoors, that is!


Michelle said...

I love that beautiful campsite, but I'm happy to see it's not yours. That may be a nice way to spend some time, but I don't call it camping.

I went camping last summer at about 28-30 weeks pregnant. It was brutally hot (100 degress in the shade, and about 85 at night). I lasted one night.

I don't find camping "fun" especially not with little kids. But I appreciate the work involved. I think it is easier to appreciate your food and home and modern conveniences when you go without them for a bit.

Anonymous said...

I know this won't surprise you, but my favorite part of camping is the time away from all the electronics. Our campsite has dirt and lots of it, but not a bit of electricity. Card games, books, naps, swimming and not much else is my kind of heaven. I love that you did it.


nicole said...

We enjoy camping, but it is a lot of work right now. As your kids get older and can help with a lot of the work involved, it will be more of a pleasure for you I think. Our kids are still little, so we just do one night at a state park that is close to home. Good for you for doing it! Did you keep a journal? We bought a notebook that stays in our camping box and we record where we went, when we went, what we ate, and anything else that strikes us as funny or worth remembering. I look forward to filling it up.

NinjaPrincess said...

Wow. You are a brave woman! I've only been camping a handful of times, and it hasn't been something I've necessarily enjoyed. My husband announced last week, though, that he had ordered us a tent. Not sure if it will ever get used, but it may be the beginnings of camping...stuff.

Anonymous said...

you truly are mad! I don't think I could have done it. Especially with 2 little ones and one potty training? I know Mark wants to go camping next year and I cringe at the thought of it......but a phrase comes to mind.....lovingly mortifying. Just keep thinking, this is my pebble in my shoe! :-)

I think of you and the family often and pray that all is well. We miss you guys!

Bianca & Mark