First Time Camping – Part 1

(This ended up being so long, that I’m breaking it up in parts.)

This Memorial Day weekend (which also happened to be the weekend of my husband’s birthday) we went camping with some friends down at the shore.  Considering I have only been camping one other time in my adult life, I think I did rather well with the idea and didn’t fall into my usual freak-out, worry, plan everything self.

I had the feeling that a camping weekend would go over well with James, he loves that kind of thing.  It was good that it landed on his Birthday, and we were pretty amazed that we got space on Memorial Day Weekend on such short notice (thank you, Navy).  Though, the weather didn’t  cooperate as much as we had hoped it would.  They recently got back from a deployment as well, which was an interesting one to say the least for a lot of reasons I won’t get into here.  So all in all, this weekend was a good idea, and much needed on a lot of levels for all of us.

I have to admit, I loved being able to do this with some friends.  It helped having people there who have done it often, and with children.  My biggest hangup was doing it with Zoe.  Anything surrounding her, seeing as I’ve very little experience with children, gets a bit nerve-wracking for me.  Sure, I babysat as a kid, but I only babysat one baby/toddler, and the other kids I babysat were already in school.  Add to that being the youngest of three, I had no younger siblings to help take care of.

Definitely learned what things to bring, what things not to bring, what to bring just in case, and how much to research before going.  Though, sometimes it’s hard when you’re going by weather that ends up being a bit farther off from what you thought it was going to be, especially when dealing with really young kids.  Proper clothing, the best and least-space consuming ways to create good, warm and dry sleeping spaces, proper clothing.  It’s really not easy when you’re out in the PNW and not used to it camping in the kind of weather they have out here.  Though, I am kind of excited to be the owner of a rubber-bottomed industrial rug that I am SO going to bring along next time we go camping.  Found it at a little junk shop in the tiny little beach town we stayed at.  I’ve been wanting to gather certain kinds of rug-like things for in and outside of tents.  (Thanks to the Viking Fest and other such kinds of things where there are lots of tents and rugs! Oh, and you can probably blame things like Game of Thrones and other such stories with huge tents with lavish accoutrements – pop-culture reference for some of y’all)  I’ve kind of wanted a big huge tent with fire-inside capabilities (albeit small fire) and rugs everywhere and hand-made furniture.  I’m a strange sort of romantic, I know.

Definitely going to get/have a little stock of tarps and ropes, dig out our no-sided canopy-tent thing (no clue what it’s actually called), might see if I can find any more of those industrial rubber-bottomed rugs that people are getting rid of (and clean them up of course).  I think what was the worst part during set up was the fact that it had been raining already and the ground was ridiculously saturated already.  That made finding even a remotely good spot to set up hard to begin with.  Unfortunately, the rain didn’t go away like we thought it would, considering the initial weather reports.  One night spent in the tents which went well enough.  Could have been worse, but could have been better for all of us, I think.

James and I co-slept with Zoe on the inflatable bed because we thought it was way too cold and damp to have her on blankets and a thermal pad next to us.  Yep, that led to a relatively sleepless night.  I didn’t fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning after much flopping, flipping, moving, waking up, eye poking, nose picking, slapping and kicking and crying by Zoe in between our heads.  I’m going to venture that at most I got about 3 hours of sleep, if you can call it sleep.

Needless to say, I was a bit of a cranky pants in the morning.  Lack of sleep, back pain and no coffee makes for a very, very frustrated person.  As much as I appreciated that there was a set of bathroom/showers in a heated trailer…I absolutely loathe the style of showers in it.  There were no hooks, no benches, no shelves, absolutely nothing to place, set, or hang your stuff from.  Only a dirty floor to contend with.  (Try doing this with a 1 year old.)  Oh, and since there were two showers and two bathroom stalls, people coming in and out with their own kids, including little boys.  How’s that for attempting a little propriety?  The shower itself was a pull-chain, which was incredibly hard to pull and hold long enough to do anything, including getting wet enough to do a darned thing.  Managed to forget the baby wash in the car, so I used a tiny bit of my shampoo.  Bad idea.  Very temporary rash for her, which of course made me feel like crap.  Yeah…the rest of that shower experience wasn’t any better, so I won’t bore you with the details.

We originally thought that the campsites had electricity, so the afternoon before we had to find a way to get our mattresses blown up, meaning we had to borrow a extra power cord and a power plug from the building nearby since our two extension cords wouldn’t reach.  So that also nixed the electric kettle for any hot water or coffee.  Though, we did scope out the RV side of the park which had a pavilion with grills and power.  We did cook a few of our meals over there.  That morning it was breakfast burritos.  Oh yeah, I should probably mention James made some killer fish tacos the night before.  The one thing I have to say is that he definitely knows how to prepare fantastic food for a camping trip.  I have to admit between him and my brother in law Jason, I’ve been converted in the realm of  breakfast burritos.  Though, the heavy meats would have to be a special occasion kind of thing.  We used linguisa for these and oh em gee.  (Yes, I went there.)  They were fantastic.

We packed up the chitlins and headed out for the beach after breakfast.  I recalled as we were making our way onto the beach in our vehicles that almost exactly a year prior to this, James and I had taken a trip with a 2 month old Zoe to Astoria, Oregon.  There, we had driven onto a beach and took a few photos as the sun was setting.  This time, I was the one doing the driving and I have to admit it was a bit awkward at first, but really ended up being a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, as we found our spot only then did we realize that we should probably head back into town and try to find a tarp and some rope to string between the vehicles so that we’d have some coverage from any rain or drizzle.  Which actually came at a good time since Zoe had fallen asleep as we were heading onto the beach.

So, into town we headed, after going even farther down the beach (instead of back the way we came) and I started worrying whether or not we were even going to find another beach access.  Thankfully, we did find one, right at the limit of how far vehicles were allowed to go.  But I suppose the scenic route wasn’t that bad of an idea with a napping child.  Off to the weird little junk store we found the evening before (while looking for a few forgotten items).  That was when I had originally spotted the rubber-bottomed rug near the front door and had made an off-hand comment to our friends how something like that would be a good idea for future camping trips.  Out the boys come with a tarp and ropes.  Hubby gets back into car and I ask him if he’d at least seen the rug near the front door so he knew what I had been referring to for future trips.  To which he replied “It wasn’t by the front door anymore.”  I shrug in my less-than-normally-caffeinated state and off we caravan back down to the beach and to our previously chosen spot.

I’m quite amazed at this, but Zoe remains asleep as we stop, shut off the car and get out in order to put up the tarp across the vehicles.  She actually stayed asleep for a total of about two hours, which was actually quite nice.  I knew she needed it, and well…we just didn’t need to juggle her AND trying to set up our little chill spot.  We got the tarp hung, and stuck the beach umbrella under it’s middle to give a little height to it (and better water run-off) and WHAM!  A certain rubber-bottomed run slaps the sand.  I cackle with amused laughter as James just smirks and says, “Well, that’s why it’s not by the front door anymore.”  It was nice to see his old sense of humor resurfacing.

Not long after getting the tarp up, of course the wind picks up and creates a heck of a racket.  We did manage to get a nice little fire going, the older kids romped in the sand for quite a while, we toasted some sandwiches (I had to capitalize on that idea and toasted some poptarts).  I have to admit, despite the early season and the fact that it’s the Pacific, the shallows weren’t nearly as cold as I was expecting.  The walk from where we were parked on the beach was rather long as it seemed to be low tide when we showed up.  I love the darker sand out here, though I can see it possibly being crazy during the rare super sunny, no-cloud bits of summer.  Lots of pretty things to look at, and lots of sand dollars were gathered for future projects.  I did find two rather nifty little pieces of driftwood that I’m going to dry out and seal and craft into fun little additions to our front garden.


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Wife, student, new first time mother. Crafter and creator. Animal enthusiast. I had a miscarriage in March 2011. But we tried again. March, 2012 was the birth of my first child. Off and on I have been dabbling with small business, trying to get it off the ground since, every so often changing direction.

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