Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Camping Part 1

This past Labor Day we took a great risk and went for a great adventure as a family.  We went to our favorite camping spot in Big Sur- Limekiln State Park.  A beach site with a mountain atmosphere, we were  interrupted due to the death of my mom.

However, I thought I would write a bit about the trip, and culminate in some tips and tricks for camping with toddlers and babies.  First, part 1: a general overview of the trip.  Then, Part 2: tips and tricks and things to think about.

First things first-Choosing a camping spot is half the battle.  I recommend that you choose a place you or your friends have been to before.  Nothing is worse than walking into a totally new situation with no idea what's happening.   Things that we think are important- running water and showers, flushing toilets, more than one thing to do in the campground.  Additionally, I don't recommend going more than 5-6 hours from home, and more than 1-2 hours from the nearest town/city with amenities.

Once you get at the campground, you have to set-up.

We are big fans of packing and organizing in large tubs.  They make keeping things bug, bear and critter free much easier.  They also make it easier for larger groups to work together to enjoy camping.

On this trip we had two other families- one with a 2 year old and a baby, another with an almost 3 year old.  We did joint dinners, but decided that everyone would do their own snacks and lunch.  In hindsight, I would have done joint snacks and lunch.  Everyone brought goldfish, pouches, etc.  We had a lot of doubling-up.

The tubs also make it easy to know what's for what meal, and what belongs to each family.

We are also fans of organizing your camping spots together- decide on a community table, a community kitchen and a community fire/fun area.  You go camping not only to get away, but also to enjoy the company of friends.

Camp chairs are totally critical- and thanks to the Goldmans for Ocho's lovely sweatshirt- perfect for the trip!

When setting up camp, I recommend thinking about where the fire/sound will be coming from in realtion to the kiddos.  For us it made the most sense to put the car between the kiddos and the campfire.  The other tents were on the other side of the community table, but not a spot we were likely to be hanging out later at night.

We own a great tent- we had Ocho inside the main tent with us, bundled and sleeping in her car seat.  That worked totally well.  I thought I took some photos of inside the tent, but I guess not.  We had EG sleep in her own little tent outside of the main tent, but under the rain fly.  I realize as I write this that this seems harsh and mean, but the reality is that she needs her own space, and her little KidCo Peapod, does the trick.  She napped in it each day, and then slept in it each night.  It has it's own mattress, and it's a totally great little tent for her.

I don't think I've discussed the crazy drama that took place as we were supposed to be leaving- because if you've seen other pictures of our family, you might remember that we don't have a white car- we have a black Tahoe.  On the day before we're set to leave, Working Dad realizes that there's a problem with his transmission.  Between that and the Tuesday decision to outlaw fires in camp, we had a rough time getting going.

No worries- EG figured out how to get us there....

One of the best things that we did was bring along a bunch of spots for the baby to safely hang out.  Here she is on her bouncer down at the beach.  We had a great time at the beach on Saturday morning- watching dolphins and whales.

It struck me as really tragic that I was having such a good night and a great day when my Dad was discovering my mom.  But I've come to realize that I had to be doing something, and whatever it was I was doing that day will be indelibly preserved in my mind. So it's nice that we were having such a lovely time, because it really was nice.

In this picture you can also see the little sunshade tent that we brought along.  Since this is such a rocky beach we weren't able to let Ocho sleep in there, but it was still a great place for the older ones to get out of the sun for a bit.

One of the best things about this campground is the stream that runs by almost all the campgrounds. It's absolutely wonderful, because it lets you sleep in with the natural white noise it creates.  Additionally it creates an interesting play space for the kiddos down by the beach, where the river meets the ocean.  It's the best of all the possible beach scenarios in my opinion.

The other great thing about this campground is that there is a great hiking trail right in camp.  After spending the morning down at the beach we all walked back to camp, had lunch and let the littles take naps.  Then we geared up to go on the hiking trail to the waterfall.

Some of the other kiddos didn't go in a backpack, but walked the whole trail, so it's definitely doable for a 2-3 year old (if you want to walk really slowly!).  It's a great trail with the water running towards it.  I don't have any pictures of EG there this year, which is so sad because I have this one from her first visit at 1 year old...

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