For those of you reading this who know me well, I'll let that sink in for a moment... I will go camping.
I don't love camping. In fact, I love not camping. I love comfortable hotel rooms and clean towels. I love pillow-top mattresses and balconies. Despite those truths, I did go camping. With my not-quite-two year old, in a tent (on an air mattress but let's not focus on the details and miss the big picture here), and on the ground. All because Leif had decided he and Clio were going camping with our friends and I could not abide by missing my daughter's first camping experience.
We went with our friends Marc and Natalie along with their kids (2 1/2 years and 6 months) for the fourth of July. We packed an absurd amount of stuff; toys and equipment and food and clothes and toys and toys. Just the necessities to make a one night camping trip with two toddlers and an infant possible. So, two cars completely full of stuff, basically.
The campgrounds we stayed at were just 40 minutes SE of Portland in Metzler Park. It is the perfect kind of campground for the non-camping inclined folk like myself. Which is to say there were bathrooms. For me, that is single most important thing to consider when choosing a campground. There was also a playground (an obvious hit for Clio and her buddy Sam), a volleyball net (for people more athletically inclined), a horseshoe (for lawn game enthusiasts), and a swimming hole (a very cold swimming hole).
Most of the first day was spent unpacking and setting up camp and most of the second day was spent in reverse of the day before. We did manage to squeeze in plenty of time at the playground and at the swimming hole. Clio and Sam enjoyed themselves playing together and didn't enjoy themselves playing together, as is the toddler way. After we got the kids off to -sort of- bed we made s'mores and drank really terrible wine. I mean terrible wine, by the way. The term "swill" comes to mind and I am by no means a vinophile. But the s'mores and the company were excellent.
I went into this camping experience with the acceptance that I probably would not be getting any sleep the night we were there. Clio refuses to sleep under any kind of blanket and we just knew that sleeping in a sleeping bag was going to be a challenge for her. I don't know what it is that is so offensive to our child about blankets but whatever it is she will kick and kick and kick (and scream) until all blankets are removed from her body. We had hoped that wearing her out during the day would make her so tired that she would not notice the evil sleeping bag but it did not quite work out that way. The entire night was spent with Clio rolling around in and getting out of her sleeping bag and then trying to snuggle up to me for warmth (and to nurse). But I had already prepared myself for the likelihood that our night would be spent exactly that way so the lack of sleep did not kill my soul the way it would have otherwise.
For all the work involved (I did not do much of the work admittedly) and the lack of sleep and the exhaustion from corralling toddlers, I had a good time. There is something special about being with good friends, watching the kids play, and eating junk food that nothing else compares to. I still don't love camping but I did love that camping trip. Maybe not enough to do it again anytime soon but, then again, who knows? Having a kid changes everything.