Today we arrived back from Calvin’s first camping trip. It went much better than I had feared.
Several weeks ago, Jaeger discovered there was exactly one campsite left at Moraine Park Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park. We reserved the site and started planning our first camping trip with Calvin with some trepidation. I spent most of my free time last week getting ready for it. It’s amazing how much stuff I ended up bringing for Calvin but since it was an experiment, I errored on the side of too much rather than too little stuff.
We decided to leave home at Calvin’s nap time, around noon, in hopes he would nap during our drive. To our surprise, this part of our plan went without a hitch. We arrived at our campsite around mid-afternoon. I was entranced by the amenities. I don’t remember the last time I went camping at a site with flush toilets and running water. Our campsite was very nice. It was set back from the road and had a small rocky hill on either side. We had neighbors in front and behind us but they weren’t close and the campsite felt fairly secluded. Also, there were designated tent pads which meant we didn’t have to spend time looking for mostly level ground and clearing it of large rocks and sticks.
Calvin woke up and was very excited to see all the pine cones lying on the ground. Pine cones are just about the right size for him to pick up and toddle around with. He also had fun following Jaeger and I back and forth from our car to the campsite as we unloaded. We set up our new Kingdom 6 tent and got everything arranged to our liking. After feeding Calvin his afternoon snack, we went to the nearby visitor center. I believe Calvin thought the highlight of the visit was walking up and down the stairs with daddy’s assistance. He also found some of the exhibits interesting and insisted on calling most of the mammals “ditty,” which is his word for kitty.
After the visitor’s center, we went back to the campground and wandered over to the outdoor amphitheater thinking Calvin might like to run up and down the steps there too. We were lucky as there were two teen boys who were practicing with their skateboards on the stage. We sat down and Calvin watched the antics entranced. Every so often when he was particularly delighted, he’d clap his hands in approval.
We headed back to our campsite and proceeded to prepare supper and start Calvin’s nighttime routine. Supper took longer than I anticipated so we didn’t put Calvin to bed till almost 8. Even then, he was too excited by the day to go asleep right away though for the most part he didn’t protest too loudly. The tent we bought has a divider so we put Calvin’s Pack ‘n Play on one side and our sleeping bags on the other. We borrowed a child sized sleeping bag from our neighbors and also brought lots of additional blankets just in case. However, I kept popping up in the middle of the night worried that Calvin had escaped from his sleeping bag and was freezing to death. The campground we were in has a strict no-firecracker policy so we weren’t disturbed by loud sounds while we slept. It was very nice, especially compared to the raucous noises I’m sure happened around our house.
Jaeger gave me his cell phone so I could keep track of the time in the middle of the night. However, I somehow managed to turn its alarm on. Thus, we were promptly wakened at 6:45am. After viewing the time, I was astonished that Calvin let us sleep in that long considering how light it was outside. We ate breakfast and then embarked on a short hike to Cub Lake. Jaeger and I were very nervous because every hike we’ve taken Calvin on prior to this experience ended in tears. However, for whatever reason, Calvin did very well on this hike. To my astonishment, he actually fell asleep on the hike to the lake. At the lake, I gave him a banana for snack which he enjoyed. After resting for a bit we started back. We gave Calvin opportunities to walk with us whenever it looked like he was getting restless. However, for the most part he was content to survey the surroundings from Jaeger’s back.
We got back to the campsite quite a bit after his normal lunch time at 11. I tried to feed him lunch but he was really cranky and we decided he needed to take his afternoon nap. I wasn’t sure he’d sleep in the tent since it’s so light so I fed him a bottle while Jaeger bustled around packing up stuff so we could take a drive in the car. We went up Fall River Road and circled back down on Trail Ridge Road. As expected, Calvin quickly fell asleep and slept for the entire car ride. The scenery was quite nice, I kept being surprised by how green it was, but I was tired and cat napped in between Jaeger talking to me.
Calvin woke up as we arrived back at the campsite. The weather was looking ominous and Jaeger and I didn’t have much energy so we retreated to the tent. Jaeger tried to nap while Calvin lunged around the tent. I believe Jaeger gave up trying to sleep once Calvin started banging his pan and a measuring cup together. It hailed while we were in the tent but by the time we had to emerge for supper, the weather had cleared up again. This time, Calvin was obviously ready for bed so I put him in the Pack ‘n Play at his normal sleep time of 7:30. Once again, he muttered and refused to go to sleep right away but wasn’t very cantankerous.
The evening had turned quite cool so I retreated to the tent fairly early and read until it was time to go to bed. I piled some more blankets on Calvin which he objected to. However, since toddlers don’t provide much feedback with regard to temperature, I piled a blanket on him every time I felt cold. Unfortunately, he started getting the hang of wiggling out of the sleeping bag so several times throughout the night I heard him start to cry and found him in only his winter pajamas lying on top of the mass of blankets.
Calvin woke up bright and early at 5:45am, probably because it was so cold. I picked him up and put him in between Jaeger and myself (our sleeping bags zip together). Calvin spent the next 45 minutes trying to convince us to get up and we tried to convince him to go back to sleep. Calvin won.
Eventually, I dragged myself out of the tent and got stuff together to make breakfast. I had planned pancakes for this morning but managed to forget the eggs and the oil I brought leaked so I had less than 1 tbs for both the batter and greasing the pan. I decided it was more important to keep the pancakes from sticking so didn’t add any oil to the batter and instead tried to use it sparingly on my cast iron skillet. Fortunately, I had spent the previous week re-seasoning my skillet so it was pretty oily to begin with and I managed reasonable pancakes. Both Jaeger and I decided that the pancake must be amazingly resilient to be edible after the abuse I had subjected it to. Of course, peanut butter and maple syrup can also solve a multitude of problems
We packed up the campsite and took a quick trip to Sprauge lake. There is a small 1/2 mile trail around the lake that had very smooth trails. Our thought was Calvin might like a chance to walk around a less rocky area but he preferred to ride in my Becco carrier. After our walk, we went back to the car and headed toward Estes Park. Calvin fell asleep on the way. We planned to eat lunch in Estes Park before heading home but arrived a little early. So, we hunted down a playground for Calvin. However, Calvin was too groggy from his short nap and mostly just watched the other children. After giving up on the park, we ate pizza and then headed home. Due to his earlier nap, Calvin refused to nap on the way home but, thankfully, neither did he scream the entire time.
We got home around 2pm excited that everyone had survived the experience intact and mostly sane.