Tuesday, July 12, 2011

camping + baby = disfreakingaster.


I have learned, in this life, that you can divide people into categories. Not based on skin color or religion or economic status or that stuff, because a lot of the time that is a bad plan and also racist, but based more on things they like (and don't like) to do.  For example, there are "TV people" and "non-TV people."  TV people like to talk about the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy and that funny commercial with the e.trade baby.  Non-TV people like to talk about how they save all this money by not paying for cable and the latest article they read in National Geographic and then you feel like you are turning into an American Idiot for watching four hours of Des.perate Housewives last weekend, but you had to because your brain was incapable of processing anything more complex than that and DH was a more dignified choice than, say, a marathon of Bride.zillas.

Can you tell which of those categories I fall into?

Anyway.  There are also "outdoorsy people" and "non-outdoorsy people."  "Indoorsy people," maybe.  And I am unashamedly, unabashedly, totally in the latter group.  I am an indoorsy-kind of gal.  I like the outdoors - it's pretty - but I like to observe it from the comfort of my own home, or car, or possibly a reasonably-priced hotel.  I am not terribly high maintenance.  I mean, the hotel doesn't have to have mints on the pillow or anything, but it does have to have a bed.  And a shower.  (And possibly a TV.  But I digress.)

My brother-and-sister-in-law are outdoorsy people.  Also, they are cheap.  In their case, I find these to be related phenomena.  It isn't always, because I've been to R.EI and that is not a cheap place, but there's no denying that camping out is a frugal way to vacation.  They drove up to our neck of the woods from theirs, and they wanted us to go camping for a night with them.

Let me say, first, that I had my doubts about this.  Because I know a bunch of people that say they like "camping," but what they mean by "camping," is "hanging out in my air-conditioned/heated trailer/camper with a fridge and lights and a toilet and a bed," whereas what my brother-and-sister-in-law mean by "camping," is "tent on the dirt. And possibly a campfire."  I would be okay with version #1, even though a cheap hotel would still be my preferred choice.  But option #2 does not really light my fire.  I mean, nature is beautiful and all, but I don't really want to sleep in it.  If you say to me, "but our ancestors did that all the time, it's natural," I will say, "that's because they hadn't invented the Holi.day Inn yet, and if you gave Cro-Magnon Man a chance to sleep at Mot.el 6 instead of his animal-skin tent, I can guarantee you he'd take it in a neanderthal heartbeat."

Let me also say that I realize I may sound insane to you, especially if you are a Camping Person.  I happen to live in a very camping-friendly, outdoorsy, hiking-adjacent, mountain-biking, all-cool-people-like-to-hang-out-in-nature area of the country, so I am the odd person out a lot of the time.  I don't hike, or ski, or waterski, or sleep in tents, or pee in the woods, or know how to tie those kinds of knots that keep your tent from flying away in a windstorm, or anything particularly useful in the outdoors.  I am a kick-ass knitter and I can read at a ridiculous pace, but this doesn't really do you any good on a camping trip.  (I guess I could read the tent instructions real fast and then knit you a cover for it, but again - not super useful.)

But I'm willing to try it for a night.  It would take too long to tell you all the details and, as you might guess, I am a little short on sleep after this experience, so let me sum it up:
  • boy, does it take a lot of stuff to attempt camping with an 8-month old.  A. LOT.
  • and the drive will take significantly longer than you thought.
  • when you get there during bedtime, in the summer, it will take the baby (previously asleep in the car) a LONG DAMN TIME to fall back to sleep, because it stays light pretty late in the summer and the campers in the site next to you are kind of loud.  
  • also, the baby is distracted by the super fun zipper pulls on the snowsuit you made her wear for fear of her getting cold at night...
  • ...which she does several times so finally, about 1:00am, you think it will be a good idea to put her in your sleeping bag...
  • ...which is good for her, except that it leaves no room for you.
  • and that is a bummer of a time to realize that the self-inflating sleeping pad you bought on the way to this camping extravaganza must have self-confidence issues because it did not inflate.
  • Sleeping on the ground is not all that comfortable.
  • In the same way that "stabbing your eyes out with a fork" would also be "not that comfortable."
  • And it is cold.
  • 45 degrees doesn't sound that bad, but it is when you're sleeping in it.
  • Counting the number of miles to the nearest hotel (68) does not help you fall asleep.
  • But boy, do you appreciate your bed afterward.
Yeah.  It pretty much sucked. 

When we got home, my husband and I were discussing the trip and what we would have done differently, and he said, "well, I guess we learned that next time, we should bring a third sleeping bag."  And I said, "what I learned is that there is NOT GOING TO BE A NEXT TIME."

If you are thinking about going camping with a baby, here's what I've got for you:
  • If you are a Camping Person, go for it.  Let me know how it goes.
  • If you are a Non-Camping Person, get a hotel.  Go hiking in nature the next day.  Take photos.  Then go back to your hotel and sleep in a bed.  And take a shower.  And enjoy the temperature-controlled air. 
To all my Non-Camping peeps: stay strong.  Make hotel reservations.  Learn from me.  There is no need for the suffering to continue.   The Camping People will keep our nation's parks system running.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go run all the electrical appliances in my house whilst doing laundry and taking a nap in a bed.



  1. this was a great post! :)

    funny, back in the day, i was a camping person. loved it, did it several times of year, had all the gear.

    now..? not so much. i would pick the holiday inn option every time! :D

  2. Heheheh. I AM a camping person, but haven't even begun to imagine how desperate for the great outdoors I'd have to be to make camping with a baby sound like fun (or even doable!) Kudos to you for even making the attempt!

  3. Ha Ha Ha....all this is hillarious!!!!! I am totally a camping person...love the outdoors, have all the gear, we own our own raw land in the Tahoe National Forest just so we can camp without neighbors....BUT....the minute we decided to bring KIDS into the camping family....we bought a trailer that had everything I needed....hot water, showers,flushing toilet, heat, A/C and even a microwave(thank you built in generator)....and it still SUCKS to camp with babies!!!! It is just plain hard to pack up all that shit needed for the baby...haul it to the trailer...set it all out for easy access and then still get no sleep cuz baby is in a new place with all of you in the same little 10x23 foot box and every move shakes the trailer and the sound of the gas heat flipping on and off all night wakes you in between the times when the baby wakes you and your freaking husband sleeps through it all and wakes up in the morning to proclaim..."Isn't this great? What a great way to spend time together as a family." And then off he goes to go fishing and enjoy the great outdoors while you stay back and take care of a cranky baby and a 3yo who is hell bent on killing himself on all the sharp crap said husband has left lying about! Yes....Camping is GREAT!!!.....for husband who play, for kids who love to dig in the dirt oh..and don't forget the dog....but for the mom's...even the one's who LOVED to camp before having kids....it is just one more sacrifice we make because ultimatley your kids will look back and have fond memories (like I did) and eventually when they are schoolage and they go off with Dad on adventures and fishing all day....it will all be worth it and you will have paid it forward and earned your lounge chair and that good book and your cocktail of choice to occupy the long and breezy days at camp. But until then....STAY HOME or GET a HOTEL!!!!

  4. Oh my gosh, I am so glad I read such a funny post before bed! This reminded me so much of a camping trip I got suckered into during college. Without a child! So, I take my hat off to you for suffering through such an experience and surviving it. And thanks a ton for reliving it for all of us to enjoy in our air-conditioned homes. :)

  5. We camped with Petite when she was 10 months old for a week in a tent. It went pretty well all in all, if you don't count the first day when she was trying to figure out what the heck was going on. :) And, in about two weeks, we're doing it again. The only difference this year, we have a bigger tent, we'll bring the bigger play yard for her (as she's taller and walking now), and we're going to invest in a life jacket because our tent is lakeside and she LOVES the water. Crossing my fingers it goes well again this year. Or at least... better than your experience! Oh my, I'm so sorry it didn't work out!

  6. LOL! I can't imagine sleeping in the same tent as an infant/baby. I like camping, in theory, but in practice i think i'm more of the indoorsy type. and sleeping in a separate place from my squirmy baby.

  7. And this is why when my husband suggested going camping I laughed at him (for a long time) and then said, "No." I have done the camping thing many many times before with my parents, who are in fact Camping People. I learned from a very young age that I am NOT. I like B&Bs. Even sometimes cabins (though that is pushing it). But camping? In a tent? With a BABY? Oh I imagine it would go about as well as your night went....... no thanks!!!!

  8. lolol!! I wondered if camping with Davie would be fun. Now I'm pretty sure the answer is 'not.' I'm so glad I can learn from you! :)

  9. LOL! I am a camping person...but never attempted it with a baby. Your post had me laughing out loud!!!