Thursday, June 19, 2014

Camping in the Arctic circle

The title is pseudo-tongue in cheek.  I assure you.

Normally, I don't choose the play-by-play route about our weekends/big events/every day minutia, though I often enjoy others who do.  The everyday-is-the-sameness happens more often than not, and I, rightly so, feel that those kinds of posts get old quickly, like after I would do it twice.  And then I'll lose 80% of my readers...I know who you are.  And sometimes, I write for you, my friend.

Today, I feel like devolving into something of a weekend timeline from our first TENT camping experience with the girls.  This was our 5th annual family camping trip (on the boy's side), and up to this point, we have loved our cabins, since we began this venture (foolishly?) when #1 was only 15 months old.  Admittedly, the 3rd annual camping trip turned into a let's-stay-home-and-pretend-that-we're-camping-but-really-it's-just-a-family-get-together-in-the-in-law's-back-yard when #2 was just a few days old.  Even cabin-ing wasn't going to cut it for us that year, though there are those among us who would have slung the little one on their backs along with about a week's worth of provisions and ventured forth to the Appalachian Trail without flinching.  I am not that person.

So tent camping.  It's been a few years since we have endeavored in a vacation of this nature, about 5 years actually.  One summer, pre-kids, we did what every other member of the family seems to do and spent a week camping in New York-Cape Cod.  That probably won't happen ever again.  Not in tents.  Maybe a Winnebago someday, just for kicks.  But there are these cunning little places called bed & breakfasts scattered around the country, virtually everywhere in fact, and we have fallen in love with them.  I'm good for a lovely little camping weekend, but beyond that, I'm willing to dole out the riches for a bit of space that I don't have to stoop in or while entering and exiting. 

And, hey, did you know that tent camping can be mighty inconvenient when it's hot?  And when it rains?  I did (from experience, of course!).  Now, after this past weekend, I have also become intimately acquainted with camping in the Arctic.  Apparently, we moved there last weekend.  But now we're back in the Midwest because the humidity tells me so. 

I knew!!! that it was going to be cool at night.  And I still packed short sleeved pajamas for the kids and myself because who's to say what a tent-turned-oven will be like at night?  To my benefit, I also packed some (pitifully little) long-sleeved/legged things for us.  But this doesn't keep my nose warm, and as it turns out, I can't sleep well/at all with a cold nose.  And, I also abhor sleeping with my head under things, like a sleeping bag.  Even better, I really just hate sleeping in the cold.  When you can see your breath in the tent while you're adding on the layers, it gives you something of a negative mind-set heading into an attempt at sleep.  Perhaps this isn't true for everyone, but it does for me.  When it's coooold, other elements have to be perfect for sleep to find mine eyes.  That means that the exuberant group at the next campsite needs to go find their quiet voices before 12:30.  And their unnaturally bright lights need to be unplugged before dawn.  And my tent needs to be warmer than my car.

I've gotten in this nasty habit of reading before going to sleep so much so that I  have trouble falling asleep, even when very, very tired, without doing so.  But I was sharing a tent with #2, and I'm betting that she wouldn't have understood my need for a lantern in the tent at 11 o'clock.  So that started my night.  And it was cold.  And the neighbors were noisy.  And bright.  And #2 was having trouble sleeping.  And I was worrying about whether she was warm enough.  And I ended up grabbing her at 3 am along with my sleeping bag and cuddling with her in our car.  She slept pretty well then.  I dozed until about 6.  And others in our camping party, who were farther away from the noisy neighbors and without children of their own to worry about at 3 a.m., found little to be bothersome from the night, to which I say "Good for you, but my story is better." 

Tent camping with two littles was pretty successful overall.  And this family knows how to bring delicious food on camping adventures, so there was (as always) a whole lot of that going on.  Doesn't everyone have red quinoa/barley salad with feta and grape tomatoes, homemade apple/grape/ginger/lemon juice blends, and homemade pita bread as part of their camping fare?  And, some new iteration of the classic S'more has become a must.  This year, there were fresh shortbread cookies and waffle cone versions as well as pineapple upside down cake foil packets for good measure. 

We hiked (moderately), we camp fired it up, we listened to stories from when my husband and his siblings were younger.  We did all the camping type things that you can fit in to a brief 24-hour experience. 

And because I'm on top of things, I still don't have several things put away; it's only been 4 days now.  The boy has been gone all of the week prior and all of this week at a graduate/continuing education class, and I turned a blind eye to the after effects of a weekend away and took the girls to the zoo the day after we got back.  Then life started again, and we've been away essentially for another two days, but I can see the plastic dishes sitting on my counter still and I know that there are some boxes in the garage that need to be cleaned and sorted.  But, we're going camping again in about a month.  Now I know to bring our winter gear for sleeping because camping in the Midwest in July gets cold at night.  Maybe not?