Campers have s'more fun *
We took Nico on his first real camping trip this past weekend, since I don't think last year's swanky cabin trip (awesome as it was) really counts as camping. We went with two other couples to one of my favorite parks, which is about halfway between here and Chicago (home of Nick and J-Dog). I didn't really get nervous about the trip, but I admittedly did have moments of thinking I hope this isn't a disaster. We packed carefully, tried to anticipate Nico's needs, and hoped for the best and it really paid off for us.
We took Friday off work so we could leave in between breakfast and lunch, and stopped at about the two-hour mark to eat and hit up Walmart to replace a forgotten hoodie and buy Nico a cool flashlight and some glow bracelets. Nico happily read books and pointed out trucks until just before we got to our stopping-off town, had a bit of a meltdown at the store when we wouldn't let him keep the flashlight without paying for it, and then slept angelically in his carseat for the last hour of the drive. Once at the campsite, we were able to turn him loose for the most part while we set up the tent and unpacked the car. He did have some trouble with minding the boundaries of our site and not going out on the road that first evening, so I (shame!) stuck him in a baby leash so that I'd be able to sneak up on him and snag the end of his leash when he got too close to someplace he wasn't supposed to go. He didn't seem to mind, really, and the next night he minded the boundaries just fine and didn't need the leash at all.
He didn't want to sleep in the tent by himself that night (or the next), but I can't really blame him for that one. He ended up sleeping on my lap by the campfire for a few hours and then slept through the night beside me on our flattened-out sleeping bags once I went to bed.
On Saturday, we went for a hike after breakfast. We planned to do a three-mile hike that was classed as "moderate to rugged" but ended up on the wrong side of the bridge and decided to go ahead and do my favorite trail, a 1.7 miler classed as "very rugged." I remembered the three near-vertical ladders on the trail, but I had forgotten about the 140 steps. Luckily the steps aren't contiguous, and you get to go down about half of them either way you go. The views were awesome as always, and hauling Nico in the baby backpack turned out to be a lot easier than I expected. Even the stairs weren't so bad, though MB did assist by walking up behind us and boosting the pack a little bit for me. Some of my favorite shots from the hike:
After lunch, the others went on a horseback ride and Nico went on his first pony ride. We weren't sure how he'd react but he loved it, though it's hard to tell from the photos. It went so well that we talked about taking him back for another ride on Sunday morning, but it ended up raining in the wee hours so we decided to just pack up our damp belongings and head home.
There were a few rough moments, but overall it was a really great trip and I'm honestly looking forward to taking Nico camping again. I'm actually kind of bummed that we most likely won't get to camp with him again until next year.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are of camping with my parents, and I'm so happy that we're going to get to build similar memories with Nico. It will be so much fun to share the stars and trees and trails and campfires and closeness of our family of friends with him as he grows. I have a feeling we have a lot of fantastic adventures ahead of us.
(more photos on Flickr if you'd like to see more of my cute kid and the nice scenery)
* Title stolen from an adorable T-shirt that my friend Tamsyn sent to Nico for the trip, which sadly did not arrive until Monday afternoon.