Breaking the Camping Curse

So I had this idea, and when I get an idea, I usually don’t let it go until it reaches spectacular success or spectacular failure. This idea was to have a proper camping trip.

We went on our first family camping trip a few months ago, I posted about it here. While it was a fun adventure, it wasn’t the relaxing-in-nature kind of trip I’d envisioned. After that excursion I figured we needed to try camping again soon so that it won’t seem like an insurmountable task come next summer.

Also, I have to admit I’m going through a phase where I’m trying to eek out every minute of fun because when Bean is born in January, I know life will never be the same. But the kicker is I don’t know what that life will look like. So I might as well get to crossing items off my To Do list now, while I’ve got a good grasp on how things are.

For the past two months our weekends have been booked with out-of-state trips, parties, work-related functions and more. But I tried to keep this weekend open. When looking for a place to camp, I saw pictures of Starved Rock State Park and fell in love with it as the closest, perfect spot to camp with great hiking trails. Then last week the weather forecast made its last promise of summer, so on Thursday I decided, yes let’s camp. Hubby was all for it and we began preparing. There were new To Do lists, Googling on hiking with a toddler and being pregnant and a fun REI run. Come Friday my family was ready.

The only problem is we had no place to go. That weekend was Starved Rock’s big weekend because of some local festival and they’d been full for ages. I remembered my dentist telling me about Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin. I called them and they said they weren’t accepting reservations, but that I should “c’mon up … we’ve got tons of space … see you this weekend!”

Saturday morning, my clan headed out. About an hour from Kettle Moraine, per the state park woman’s directions, I called the place to see which of the three campgrounds I should head to. A different woman told me they were full and had already turned away well over 50 people. Nice. Now what?

I started to freak as I’d packed up my entire family, carted them to Wisconsin and we had no place to stay. Would the Camping Curse continue? My heroic hubby hopped on his phone and searched for nearby state parks. We were a mile away from one that said they had plenty of space.

As we pulled into Big Foot Beach State Park, the check-in booth was blanketed in beetles. This well-coifed park ranger came out and was unphased. They buzzed around her curly locks and one crawled on her cheek. She never swatted it away. I barely wanted to roll down my window for fear of letting the swarm inside.

Once through Bug Gate, we chose a shady spot atop a small slope. Hubby pitched the tent with minimal help from me and Logan, which was a huge upgrade from the last time when I had to put it up in the dark because he was too freaked by the abundance of monster bugs.

After we got everything settled, we just relaxed. Logan and I snuggled on a blanket and admired the yellow, burgundy and orange leaves while having an esoteric conversation about who created the trees and why. He then gave the park his seal of approval: “Mommy, this place is boootiful.”

He was right. The fall foliage was great and we got a good look at it while going on a 2ish mile hike. The trail we took was fairly well-worn, so he rode his little bike, but after about 45 minutes, I was glad it wasn’t a tougher trail as my body reminded me that I am seven months pregnant.

Many folks thought I was crazy for wanting to go camping with my 3 year old and baking my Bean. I totally see where they were coming from. But in a clichéd 3 a.m. pregnant lady run to the outhouse, I reveled in the silence. While walking back to the tent, I could only hear the rocks crunching beneath my feet and I looked up and saw Orion’s bow. It’s been years since I’ve seen that. His belt? Yes. His bow? No.

Growing up my dad and I had a hobby of studying the stars and living in the city, I don’t see constellations like you can in the country. And it was breathtaking. This, I thought, is why I’m doing it. There’s no e-mail, no phone calls, no TV, no cleaning, no laundry, no RSVPs, no work, no nothing, no expectations. Just me, my family and nature.

And it was perfect.

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17 responses to “Breaking the Camping Curse

  1. Now I want to go camping! I’m so glad you had a great time.

  2. Hi Melanie!

    You write really good, and it is a pleasure reading your blog posts.
    I am really happy to read that you had a great weekend out in the nature.
    My wife, Laila, has never been a great camper, but this summer the four of us slept in a tent together for the first time (Jens Ivar is 11 years and Martin Olav 8).
    Despite a lot of rain and extremely little space inside the tent, we all thougt it was a nice thing to do together as a family, so I hope we will do the same thing again soon (hopefully with a *little* bigger tent).
    Looking at the stars in a place not polluted by light is fantastic!
    One side of our house is heading towards the fjord, and gives us the possibility to see the bright stars like the big dipper, polar star etc.
    But it can not be compared with the view you get out in the nature.
    Last year, I took my family out for a walk a place where there is no nearby houses. And we looked at all the stars and we saw the milky way strong and clear. It can not be described with words…
    Give my regards to Jørgen and give Logan a hug from me!

    Regards from Einar

    • Funny thing about the tent! We were in a “four man” tent and have an air mattress as well as a “family sleeping bag.” (J bought that.) I was wondering how four folks sleep in a tent like that. We did see some pretty sweet ones at the campground with vestibules, different compartments, swanky stuff. For now we rent our tents, but we may actually buy one next year. We’ll see.

  3. Yay you guys! SO glad that the trip was a success. Just think, next time, you won’t even want to hit the outhouse… you’ll just pop a squat behind your tent, look up and see the beautiful no-city-lights-starry-sky, take in the beautiful air… really really happy that everything went well ;)

    • Thanks B! Actually I prefer to tinkle behind the bus to the outhouse. The last time we went camping outside was wayyy better than the outhouse, but these actually weren’t bad, and I honestly worried with my not-so-great preggo balance, I could end up tipping over/misfiring or something dreadful. Yikes!

  4. Great!! So glad it went well!! Brings back lots of memories!! Much Love,
    Mom

  5. Wow! Good for you for trying it again! Sounded awesome! And just think, next year @ this time you won’t have to be getting up to pee every 11 minutes! (We camped 2x this summer w/a 2 & 1/2 year old and an infant. 1 hit and 1 miss. :P ) Anywhoo, I’m glad it worked out for you guys! And Big Foot is beautiful! Yay for fall camping! :)

  6. So, so glad you had a wonderful time!

  7. I love this. I want to take our kids camping so bad. This is really inspiration because if a pregnant lady can do it then I should be able to handle it. LOL

  8. There is something that happens when you’re pregnant that causes you to make lists of things to do before the new one comes – it’s not nesting but something different. I did it with all of mine. I obsessed over all kinds of things – I guess because it was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. How wonderful your adventure was perfect!!!

    • So glad to hear I’m not the only one! What kind of things did you do? There’s more I want to have taken care of, but I know it’s unreasonable to conquer it all and maintain my sanity!

  9. Pingback: Expecting a Little One? It Must Be Time For a BabyMoon | She'sWrite

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