Family Camping: Take Three

So it’s a little late, but we just got our pictures up from our annual Fall camping trip. You may remember Take Two last year so now after three years it is an official family tradition to go camping in the fall. Now that we’ve got 3 kids, all under three at that time, you might have thought we’d given up our primitive ways and switched over to car camping. We don’t have anything against car camping (where you camp close to your car and have access to running water and restrooms) but we still prefer primitive camping. We had such a good time last year that we went back to Bastrop State Park again this year.

From November 2008

As we were strapping on our packs we ran into a friend of mine from work and his wife at the trail head. They had been mountain biking and were also primitive camping. They were gracious enough to take our family picture with all of our gear. Then we hiked out about 1.5 miles to where we knew of some good areas to camp. I really like Bastrop State Park’s primitive camping policy. You have to hike out past a certain point and then you can camp where ever you want as long as you are 50 feet off the trail. Most parks have designated campsites or at least a small area, so it is cool to just pick your own campsite.

Once we picked our site, I set up our new tent. Yup, we finally upgraded from my beloved two person backpacking tent. So I threw up our brand new tent, with a little help from Livy with the tent poles, but mostly she just told me what to do. ;-) Then I unrolled our camping mats and sleeping bags and turned my attention to getting our camp kitchen set up. The next thing I know I hear all kinds of laughter coming from the tent. Jenny had Livy and Molly in the tent and they loved it. I suspect that they thought it was bouncy house, you know those inflatable things, and they were jumping up and down in the tent. After laughing, I quick put a stop to that for the simple fact that in a few hours we were going to be trying to get them to go to sleep in there. The last thing we needed was for them to think it was a bouncy house when I was trying to sleep in it. To burn off some steam we went for a hike before supper. When we got back it was time to cook, but there was just one small problem. No fire. As in, I forgot to pack matches, a lighter, or some other source of fire. At that point, you think about watching the contestants on Survivor attempting to produce fire by rubbing sticks together and failing miserably. But not to worry. Whoever gave us the self-igniting camping lantern off of our wedding registry deserves a big thank you! I was able to take the top off the lantern, light it, and then light the stove off the lantern. Disaster averted. We cooked dinner and ended with stories and Livy’s fav camping snack. Popcorn! Yes, believe it or not, you can still buy the cool stove top kind.

I’m happy to report that bedtime was actually pretty uneventful. Red probably got the best night’s sleep and enjoyed having a bit more room than last year. Somehow by morning I ended up with Jenny’s short sleeping bag and was boxed in so I didn’t have room to stretch out even if I would have had a sleeping bag long enough. The upside to that was that I got to snuggle Violet, who slept almost as well as Red.

In the morning we made breakfast, washed dishes, and broke camp. Primitive camping is pretty much about the basics of survival. But the simplicity of just surviving and enjoying nature around you makes primitive camping worth it. You also don’t have any noisy neighbors, barking dogs, or crying kids (except your own, of course). Once we were loaded up, we got on the trail. Livy was super cute wanted to walk and hold Red’s lead and sing songs. She really was a big girl. Molly was just beside herself with glee. She thought she was a big girl (she was about 14 months) and wanted to walk at times. She’d trip on a tree root or a rock and fall down. Instead of crying she would laugh and laugh and play with the sandy soil in her hands. Violet and Jenny were both pretty mellow just enjoying the scenery and the girls (Violet was about 7 weeks old).

A couple of notes on gear. My backpack is one of my prized possessions. I got it in college when I was going to study abroad in France. It’s huge, with a capacity of 6400 cubic inches which is about the biggest you can buy. But it is also super comfortable even under a heavy load. When I bought it, I thought that it would be too big for normal camping, but now when I’m packing for a family of five it even feels a little small. I can’t wait till the girls are big enough to get their own packs. Also, we love our Bob Stroller. We had a single and upgraded to the double. The wider double was more stable on the more technical sections of the trail. Even if you aren’t going off-roading, I’d recommend a Bob. We ended up selling our single on Craigslist and made back 85% of it’s original value.

Spring is almost here. Where are you going camping next?

Don’t forget to check out all the photos here.