Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Family that camps together...

Finally - the long awaited saga of our first camping trip - May 9 - May 12, 2008

Friday, we went to pick up our new/used camper. I spent the day getting ready and had high hopes to leave around 3 when Ben came home. Of course, that meant we left closer to 5. The camper was a little over an hour away, and by then time we hooked it up, got the papers in order and started home, it was nearly 7:30pm. The babies needed to eat, it was a 4 hour drive to my uncle's cabin and we weren't sure the lights were working correctly. So, we headed home and decided to head out the next day. The up side was that we took the extra time to clean up the house so it was spiffy when when we came home.

The First 24 hours
All loaded up and ready to go! (Nat in foreground)

Saturday we had a great early start (about 8:30am) and we were eager to get on the road. The babies were fed and we were hoping they would sleep most of the way there. We must have forgotten to tell them.

Our first (mis)adventure occurred when we were trying to find a place to pull over and feed the girls - or at least take them out and give them a break. We went up a dead in road which ended in a field. Unfortunately, the turning radius was rather small and backing up and turning with a camper is not easy. Let's just say it didn't bring out the best in us. I finally had the idea to just unhook the camper, turn it around manually, and hook it back to the truck. While we were doing this, the owners of the property actually came and asked us what we were doing. Where they came from - who knows?? Ben explained our camper was stuck, our babies were crying and we were losing our minds. They kindly said we could hang out, picnic, and feed the girls.
Stopping to give the girls (and Mommy and Daddy) a break.

We finally arrived in West Jefferson and were very glad we had waited a day to come. We got very, very lost. Google maps failed us miserably. We ended up down a dead end road that ended in a person's YARD which involved yet another turning around fiasco. Thank goodness for cell phones. We were able to call Uncle Wayne and get the right directions - which is what we should have done in the first place.

By the time we arrived, the girls were pretty fussy and we were hungry. Just to give the girls a break - and get food - we stopped at the grocery store before we went out to the cabin. The little break was good for us - and meant we could have sandwiches as soon as we arrived.

Our Campsite
My aunt and uncle's cabin is in a beautiful spot in the West Jefferson mountains. There is a wonderful little cabin situated on a beautiful piece of property. We parked our camper on a flat section down a small hill and just out of sight of the creek and made camp. After feeding ourselves and the girls, setting up revealed a few "must-haves" that sent Ben on a trip to Walmart. The girls played in their pack-n-play while I made a campfire ring. That night, we cooked rib-eyes on an open fire and had baked potatoes cooked in the coals. Yum, yum, yum.

The night was actually quite cool. Thanks to the heavy duty, really, really long extension cord Ben got at Walmart, we had electricity in the camper which included a heater. We layered the girls and bundled them in their warmest pajamas and tucked them into their brand new PeaPods.

*** We pause for this commercial interruption and product placement. PeaPods by Kidco are my latest and greatest find. Our biggest challenge in camping was where the girls would sleep and how to keep them from crawling out of the beds. We only have one pack-n-play and even if we did have two, there was no where to put them. I did a little research and discovered PeaPods. They are basically little personal tents that zip up and contain the child while giving a comfy, safe place to sleep (or play). Genius. I found them for about $50 each and I think they are probably one of the smartest purchases we have ever made. We can take them to hotels, grandma's and even the beach. They are big enough for the girls to use a good 2 or 3 more years. If you have small children - you must check them out!,5 *** We now resume our regularly scheduled blogging.

Once they settled down, the girls actually slept very well in their little tents. Ben and I settled into our side of the camper and fell asleep to the sounds of the creek beside us and the great outdoors.

Our nighttime slumber was disrupted, however, in the middle of the night, with a loud crash right outside our window. Ben and I both sat up, grabbed each other, and said a few choice words. My first thought was, "BEAR!". I was certain there was a bear right below us. Ben was sure the camper was collapsing. Fortunately, we were both wrong and it was just the screen tent that had been blown over by the wind.

On Sunday we were very grateful for the cabin for shelter, warmth, and the restroom. It was really the best of both worlds. We had our cozy little camper and our own personal bathhouse with fridge, stove, wood stove, bathroom, and beds. Sunday's weather left much to be desired. It was rainy, cold, and windy. Somehow the day passed by and we finally decided we should at least try to hit the parkway. The "Scenic Lookouts" looked something like this:

We traveled down the parkway a few miles and finally found a spot where the clouds were clear. Our first official family vacation photo overlooking Mount Jefferson.

It was a very short excursion on the parkway. It was apparent that the fog was settled in fairly well. So, we headed back to the cabin. With the cold, wind, and rain, we were very grateful for the warmth of the cabin. We stayed in it Sunday night and were cozy and warm. Despite the fact that it sounded like a tornado roaring down the mountain, shaking the cabin, knocking things off the porch and blowing open doors, we slept fairly well.

Oh - Sunday was also Mother's Day - my first. I blogged about it already. You can find it in the older posts.

Monday we decided to pack up and head home. Oh...if only it were that easy. Remember all that rain I mentioned? Remember the small hill I mentioned? Well, let me also mention that Ben's truck is not a 4-wheel drive. Can you see where this is going? Oh dear. We couldn't get the camper up the hill. To be clear, by hill I mean a VERY small incline that only barely missed qualifying as flat. But, the rain made it slippery and we were most assuredly stuck. Needless to say, this was less than ideal. Sure we could leave the camper, but my dad and step-mom were planning on staying in it that weekend during the party celebrations. Plus, coming back to get it meant an 8-hour round-trip and $100 in gas. But, after several futile attempts, we were resigned to Ben returning on Thursday to fetch the camper. As we prepared to leave, I called my Uncle to check on the procedures for closing the cabin and mentioned our predicament. He suggested we "go down the road" to ask his neighbor for help. If you know Ben, you know he would rather have teeth pulled than talk to strangers. But I encouraged him to go. The man he talked to didn't seem to know who Uncle Wayne was, so we gave up on the idea and prepared to leave. We were literally getting in the truck ready to leave when the neighbor's son came up the drive with his 4-wheel drive truck. We were saved!! At least out camper was. Ten minutes later, our camper was up the puny little hill. The neighbor kindly pulled it to the end of the very long bumpy, gravel driveway least we get stuck again. Soon we were on our way home - camper in tow. He was just wonderful and really saved us a ton of trouble. Thank goodness for good neighbors.

The trip home was uneventful. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner and the girls enjoyed some mashed potatoes and gravy. The family at the table next to us had a little boy who was also turning one the day after Natalie and Abby. Of course, he came in walking and was twice as big as the girls.


Overall, our trip was great. It wasn't exactly how we'd planned or imagined, but it was fun all the same. We loved our new camper and are excited about using it more this summer. The girls did well in their PeaPods. The only problem was they got a little bored just playing in the pack-n-play. They would rather crawl around. But, it was a positive experience and a good first vacation. It was nice to do "normal" family things.

We are definately looking forward to more vacations and more camping. I would personally love to hit the road and travel across the country visiting national parks. We might need a bigger camper for that:-)

A few more pics: Cooking on the fire

Playing in the cabin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wish I could put my thoughts into words like you do! You are a great writer. I love the pictures of the girls playing with their kitchen...true girly girls!