We’ve been talking about going camping as a family, but I kept thinking of it in terms of how you might talk about doing, say, an Ironman. You know: someday. In a hypothetical future when I have the ability to endure inhuman amounts of pain. Certainly not anytime soon. Maybe when both children are fifteen. Or thirty. Maybe they’ll have their own trailer when they’re thirty.

The weather’s been stunning lately, though, and when the weekend forecast predicted more sunshine and warm temperatures we decided what the hell, let’s give this thing a shot. Worst case scenario, we turn around and drive home, right?

A lesson I keep having to re-learn over and over is that the things I am most intimidated by almost always turn out to be the most rewarding. Yes, it’s true that taking a two-year-old and a 5-year-old camping isn’t necessarily what you would call a relaxing experience, but it was pretty amazing. We hiked and explored and the boys played in the water and got spectacularly dirty and we ate campfire-blackened hotdogs for dinner and it was so summery and wonderful.

Dylan did much better than I thought he would in a lot of ways. We had to watch him around the campsite to make sure he wasn’t doing anything too blatantly dangerous, but for the most part he entertained himself really well. We put a Pack N’ Play in the tent and he was fine with that, lying in there happily singing and talking to Riley before conking out for his nap and bedtime. We even had to wake him up around 10 PM when we got in the tent to change his diaper and he just lay there and chirped “What the—?” once before falling back asleep.

He did throw a fairly epic tantrum in the late afternoon which involved him 1) falling on the gravel camp road loop and scraping his elbow, 2) getting up and being so infuriated by the pain that he ran screaming at full speed down the road before—naturally—falling again, 3) running angrily and bloodily into someone else’s camp in order to whale on their tent, causing the nearby family to stop en masse during their dinner and stare at us, forks paused halfway to their mouths, and 4) having to be carried back to our camp shrieking like a firebell where we stashed him in the truck until he could calm down.

Oh, and also he woke up at dawn and shattered the perfect calm silence of a sleeping campground with his angry howls about god knows what. So our exit was a bit on the rushed side, to be sure.

But really, I’d say the outing was at least 85% fantastic, which is a pretty damned good weekend percentage.

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Valria
12 years ago

DOOOOOOGGG!!!(heart)

Looks like a great time!

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)

I like the rock chairs. It’s like you were the Flintstones.

We haven’t tried camping with the kids yet (they’re 3 and 20 mths). I thought this would be the year but my husband wants to try a backyard campout first.

Melissa C
Melissa C
12 years ago

So good to know it can be done! We are taking our 18-month old camping next week for 6 days. Wish me luck!

Erica
Erica
12 years ago

amazing! I would have to get on a plane for 4 hours to see scenery like that. ahh! Love the family pic. Definitely desk-worthy :D

Emily
12 years ago

Gorgeous pictures!

We think the same thing about camping – frightening, yet so enticing. I guess worst case, you just pack up and leave? I’m going to suggest we practice dismantling a tent in pitch black darkness a few times before we actually commit.

NancyJ
NancyJ
12 years ago

I can just see it – I would have been one of those people muttering “shut that friggin’ kid up already will ya!”

But seriously, bravo for taking them camping because it’s such a wonderful experience to wake up in a tent and cook outside. We took our son for the first time probably around 2 1/2 – 3 (I’m picturing a diaper peeking out of his waistband), and he had a great time and we went many more times after that both in tents and campers.

Of course my favorite picture is the one of all 4 of you – love those kids of yours :-)

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

Looks like Dog had a good time too!

Anne
12 years ago

I have so many great memories of camping with my parents when I was a kid. It was such a cool thing to be outside! all! the! time! even! when! sleeping! I loved every minute of it. I’m glad you and your family did, too!

ZestyJenny
12 years ago

Oooh! Hooray!

This is so familiar looking! Do you mind sharing your campsite find for the locals?

Also, you can avoid the pain of the Christmas card photo shoot this year, I think. That family shot is great!

Carrie
Carrie
12 years ago

Love the pic of Dog! So glad you had a nice time!

Locusts and Wild Honey
12 years ago

You are a brave, brave woman.

I hope someday to look Fear in the eye, as you have done, and not blink.

And that’s awesome it turned out so lovely!

Marie Green
12 years ago

We’ve always camped with our kids- even as babies- and we’ve always loved it. (However, we did have a moment of clarity that hit us like a brick on the head this year that WOW, camping WITHOUT A BABY is MUCH EASIER!!!!) I pretty much love everything about camping- it seems like the perfect setting to just let kids be free in nature and be just KIDS, ya know? However, I don’t love all the bug bites my youngest seems to aquire. And I HATE waking to pee at, say, 6 am and realizing that if I try to exit the tent, the zipper sound (SO LOUD) will surely wake the kids for the DAY.

Also, all of your photos are beautiful, but I especially love that family one!

P.S. If you don’t already, it’s totally worth it to sleep on air mattresses. So much more comfy!

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

The photo of your sweet old girl curled up under her blanket made me all weepy. She looks so peaceful and content. How special that you brought her along. You’ll treasure these photos someday.

MichelleH
MichelleH
12 years ago

This is so inspiring. I miss camping so much! We are actually going to take my two-year-old in September. It’s 3 hours from our house so we won’t have the quick getaway option…but it’s also pretty secluded so I won’t have to feel like my kid is disturbing the peace (just mine! haha) if he melts down. I’m glad this went well, I have had exactly the same fears about it. But I guess, the little guy is going to be a rollercoaster anyway, right? At least I will have some pretty trees to look at instead of being in the grocery store or something :)

You guys look so relaxed and happy. Summer is looking pretty good :)

Laura
Laura
12 years ago

Oh how awesome are those stone chairs????? Your pictures are always so good. Thanks for sharing your camping adventure!

MichelleH
MichelleH
12 years ago

One fear I have of the camping is the problem of my two year old wanting to eat everything. I don’t really mind dirt and all that…but I feel almost like I need to be some kind of botanist or something or at least an expert on all the poison berries in the area if they even exist. I feel like it could be stressful to be constantly vigilant in regards to fishing crap out of his mouth. The reality is, the stuff in the woods is probably much cleaner and safer than the stuff he is normally putting in his mouth, but still….this is the stuff that goes in the anti-camping column for me.

saly
12 years ago

We keep kind of thinking out loud about going camping with our 3 kids aged 2 thru 6. That’s about as far as we’ve gotten. We may try camping in the back yard before the summer is over though. We have understanding neighbors.

Glad you had fun; the photos are great. I especially like the chair-like rocks.

Jennifer
Jennifer
12 years ago

Looks like a beautiful, fabulous trip.

So I usually read your blog and giggle from your “terrible two-year-olds” stories, feeling sorry for you and thanking GOD that I have such a fantastically easy-going 23-month-old. Until last week. I swear, you could be writing stories about my baby boy, Tanner. Holy shit – where did this mean, shit-spitting, fire-breathing, mood-swinging kid come from?? It was like the shitty-switch was turned on and I can’t find it to turn it back off. Not turn it off, but rip that fucker out of the wall!

So, just now I read your latest and thought, she’s coping, she hasn’t murdered him yet…there’s still hope for me – and my baby boy. How incredibly alike Dylan and Tanner seem to be all of a sudden. YAY me. :)

Lena
12 years ago

Holy hell, your description of Dylan’s tantrum was HILARIOUS.

Oh, and you have great gams, woman!

sarah
12 years ago

oh, it looks like SO much fun!!! I keep trying to get Husband to agree to camp, but so far he is not budging. I never got to camp as a kid b/c my dad always said, “I spent a year camping–in Vietnam. I’m done camping.” Can’t argue with that.

But I would love for us to experience camping as a family; it sounds lovely (aside from the epic tantrum, that is….)

Irene
12 years ago

Oh wow! That place is gorgeous. My family wants to go camping again and I keep putting them off because we don’t live near anything green and the thought of camping in the desert is just…yuck! But this place, those pictures…I may just have to look into finding somewhere close by and soon.

adequatemom
12 years ago

The pic of the four of you = just pure awesome. I haven’t yet taken the plunge into camping (and I only have ONE kid!) so I admire your bravery. Perhaps I will let your success inspire me. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

Lindsey
Lindsey
12 years ago

Thanks for the info. We’re local with kids of similar ages looking to camp for the first time. Looks like a great place that we’ll be making reservations for in August!

Lola
12 years ago

So cool and just ‘back to basics’…you know?

And I love that JB and kids are usually wearing plaids. :o)

It is absolutely gorgeous there.

Christine
Christine
12 years ago

This? Is awesome. We are going to try a backyard campout with our bunch before venturing forth. Mine are almost 3, almost 5 and almost 12….should be interesting. I am waiting til the heat index climbs back down out of the triple-digit range here in VA, though.

Christine
Christine
12 years ago

Poor Dylan. I guess being a kid can just be too much sometimes.

Love, love, love that shot of Dog. I just want to pat her on her head. What a sweetheart.

Deb
Deb
12 years ago

Those boys look just like their daddy.

Angella
12 years ago

That photo of the four of you made me smile huge. Dylan’s expression is fantastic.

Donna
Donna
12 years ago

Pic of the family-awwww
Pic of the chairs-wooooow
Pic of dog-you’re killin me.

I LOVE camping!!! It is my favorite thing in the world!

Bachelor Girl
12 years ago

If I had been a member of the family whose tent was on the receiving end of the Wrath of Kid, I think I would’ve spent the rest of my trip doubled over, laughing.

Cheers to Dog and her infinite patience!

Trina
Trina
12 years ago

We have been kicking around the idea of camping with the 5 and 2 year old. I am glad to know that it’s possible. ;)

I just love the last picture of dog.

Kelli
12 years ago

I love that you brought Dog along with you. Looks like a gorgeous place to camp and “85% fantastic” is a great percentage when camping with little ones! Hope you have many more fun camping weekends with your boys!

bj
bj
12 years ago

Oh, so fabulous. I too talk about camping as I would about the ironman.

And, I too am commenting because of the picture of the four of you. It’s an absolutely fabulous family portrait. I hope it’s going to grace your holiday cards.

Brenda
12 years ago

I’ve been camping since I was about 18 months old.I have a wonderful scar on my second toe on my right foot, where the hatchet landed. That was when I was 3 and my brother thought we should chop wood. ya I missed the block. mom didn’t dare take my shoe off, for fear that all my toes would be gone. $8 later at the dr’s in Yellowstone park and I’m good as new and we went on camping.
beautiful pictures.

Meggish
12 years ago

Forty-five minutes! It beats the 30-hour drive I’d have. Is it wrong that every time I see wilderness like that all I can picture is sparkly vampires and werewolves dashing out of the underbrush? Stephenie Meyer, I shake my fist at you.

SJ
SJ
12 years ago

We just went camping ourselves, over the 4th of July weekend: 4 adults, 4 kids and 3 dogs. Yeah, talk about stressful. If the kids weren’t doing something crazy embarrassing the dogs were but hey, we had a wonderful time and everyone around us was cool and friendly. We had lots of fun – going again this weekend maybe! Your photos are gorgeous, looks like you guys did have a good time – so win!

And dude, I’m totally going to have to build chairs out of rocks, those were awesome!

Danell
12 years ago

For that picture of the four of you, I have this visual of Dog holding the camera and going “say cheeeeese…”

Man, I KNOW the dog hair totally sucks and the *g-damn* noisy-ass ear flapping at JUST the wrong moment is a constant pain-in-the-ass, but really-IS THERE A BETTER ANIMAL ON THIS EARTH THAN A LAB?? (Nope.)

bouncy
bouncy
12 years ago

Dog! What a wonderful pic.

victoria
victoria
12 years ago

Nice legs.

telegirl
telegirl
12 years ago

I haven’t read the other comments, will go back and do that but had to share our Fourth of July horror… with a 3 1/2 and a 9 month old.

First night: Swarm of tiny biting flies. Ate my poor dog so badly, his face swelled up he was unrecognizable. I was actually worried about his ability to breathe. Infant did not sleep, thus, neither did we.

Second night: Sudden drop in temperature and an unexpected hail storm. Temps dipped into the low 20s that night. Finally got infant asleep in my bag and was afraid to join her for fear of waking her up. Slept on ground with dogs with a blanket and two pairs of my husband’s socks on for a little extra warmth. Note that husband snored through all this.

Third night: husband hurt his eye. Friend gave him meds to help out; he spent the rest of the night puking. Another bad night with infant.

Next morning: packed up.

We are campers and outdoor enthusiasts through-and-through. I was even planning to camp with my husband and family in September for hunting camp. No fucking way. Not now. Give me a few more weeks and maybe I’ll laugh about this…

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karion
karion
12 years ago

I am nutty in love with that family picture. What an amazing, amazing shot.

H
H
12 years ago

Ooooooh, Dog! I’m glad she was there to share your fun. Were the rock chairs comfortable?

It looks like a beautiful place and I’m glad you had fun.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

I love that family portrait shot. Perfect!!

MizzM
MizzM
12 years ago

I took my kids camping when my daughter was only 18 months old and my son was 2 1/2. My biggest fear was how we would get them to sleep–and KEEP them asleep–because both my kids were Night Owls and Night Wakers. Imagine my surprise to find that they conked out early and stayed dead asleep, without waking once, until morning! Must have something to do with running around in the sunshine all day, fresh mountain air, and pure, dumb luck! Great memories! Even now that they are older (11 and 13), I would love to take them camping, but now they are so addicted to the internet and video games and their friends, I’m not sure how well it would work out! But I’m still willing to give it a try!

Kelli
Kelli
12 years ago

Great post. I was laughing out-loud about your tales about Dylan. LOVE the photos.

Garnish
12 years ago

You totally have your Christmas card with that fantastic family self portrait!

elz
elz
12 years ago

God woman, but you are brave. We keep saying “one day” but are banking on our girls both being at least 6 before we take them camping…we do the ranch though!

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