We have started camping. I have started camping again. I used to camp all the time with my parents. Since moving out on my own, I didn't have a place to put the camper they sold and it broke my heart to see it go. At the time, it was okay. I was still "camping" somewhat. I was a Revolutionary War reenactor with my ex-husband. When I left him, I stopped "camping" altogether.
Since my son was born, I thought about camping a little bit. I thought it would be a nice cheap way our family could go on vacation but wasn't sure how my son would handle it. Then one day he saw a cartoon with an episode showing the characters camping. He turned to me and said, "Mommy, I want to go camping." That's when I thought about it even more.
I purchased a tent. Now, we had a shelter. I slowly started to acquire other things we would need for tent camping, such as a camp stove, clothes line, tent brush and dustpan, and a rubber mallet. Not much but it was a start. We even had a camp-out in the backyard to see if my son would like camping.
He loved it! He insisted that one thing we needed for camping was marshmallows. "We have to have marshmallows when we go camping, Mommy."
Then, a strange thing happened. It was around my birthday. I was visiting my mom and dad but our visit was over. It was time to go home. My mom had turned on her computer to get onto Facebook but because she owns an ancient desktop, it would take a while to start up so we said our good-byes. My son and I got into our minivan and headed home. On our way home, about ten minutes after we left my parents' house, my cellphone rang. I normally don't answer it but I saw it was my parents' number. I figured I probably left something at their house. I wasn't too far that I could easily turn around if need be. I pressed the answer button and put it on speaker. It was my mom but no, I hadn't forgotten anything, they just bought us a camper. A what? A camper, a pop-up camper from cousins of ours that we used to camp with. I remember when they bought the camper 21 years ago. Yeah, it's old but still in working order. Then I thought, 21 years ago? Man, I feel old.
So, as a birthday/Easter/Mother's Day/Anniversary/Christmas present my parents' bought the camper from our cousin. I hadn't even used the tent in an actual camping setting yet, but I had a camper! We made all the arrangements to transfer the camper to our house by getting a ball, hitch, and wire hook-up for the minivan. They live more than two hours away. It would be a day trip to gather the camper.
Anyway, we got it home. During the next week I set up the camper in the driveway so I could clean it out and sort through all the cooking stuff (pots, pans, utensils, cups, etc.). We kept a some of the stuff but we also wanted to make the camper our own so we added a few things.
My son (3 years old) was ecstatic! It was still early Spring but we slept out in it. We even ate dinner in it that evening.
That's when the planning of camping trips commenced. Actually, it commenced just after my mom told me they bought the camper for us. I planned a Memorial weekend trip and a summer trip.
The Memorial trip was nice and cool. So cool that we never were able to swim in the pool. I chose a state park near where we lived just in case my son got scared and wanted to go home. Yeah, that never happened. He loved every minute of it, especially when my parents visited. He gave them the tour of the camper and our campsite. It was very cute. He even showed his pop-pop how to roast a marshmallow because we HAD to have marshmallows.
We just completed our summer trip. Again, not a long trip, a four day weekend to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Yeah, I knew the information that would be told there would be over my child's head but we went anyway. Unfortunately, my husband could not be with us due to a family emergency on his side of the family. I couldn't cancel our reservations so he told me to go with our son. So we did. It was hot! It was 98ºF but felt like 108ºF. Yeah, heat wave with high humidity. I had to set up camp by myself. I took frequent breaks drinking lots of Gatorade and water. My clothes were soaked by the time I finished putting up the camper. Then, it started to thunder. I immediately threw all our groceries and luggage into the camper with no thoughts as to where to put it but just get it into the camper before we got pelted with rain. Yeah, it bypassed us. Now, I was really hot from rushing around and still had to make dinner over a stove. Not cool, but I did it because I had a whiny toddler asking for food. After dinner we took showers, cold showers. Warm water felt like more sweat running down my back. Let me just tell you that the cool water felt great. The temperature let up a little bit and we went to bed with all the windows open because our camper does not have air conditioning.
The next day we had tickets for the Gettysburg museum and Cyclorama. I loved every minute of that, sort of. I say sort of because, by that time, my son was wanting a morning snack. Again, my child asked every minute for a snack while I was trying to listen to the film and remember what I learned in school and from my dad and brother. Those two men love history. I like history too. I just can't retain it.
After the film and Cyclorama presentation, I went to the bookstore to get the auto tour. I knew sitting in an air conditioned car while driving along the battlegrounds would be okay on the sweltering day. (Yes, we eventually had a snack when we got back to the car. I had brought snacks and lunch with us to avoid paying for lunch out.) We stopped at various locations along the way including Little Round Top and Devil's Den where my son could climb around the rocks. He liked that. I was pleasantly surprised that he was interested in the cannons. So, being a former Revolutionary War (the other war other than the Civil War that took place in the United States) artillerist, I was able to explain how a cannon worked. Every time we saw a cannon my son would say, "It goes boom and then the people die." Yeah, that's what he remembered from my thorough explanation of the cannon. Sigh. He was very animated about his explanation too which made me laugh.
After the auto tour we went back to the museum because it was air conditioned. We stayed there until it was almost closing time (5 minutes before it closed). Of course, I couldn't read about the interesting displays at the museum because my son is three years old. He just likes looking at stuff. The one thing he really liked was the interactive screens they have about the stance each state took in the war and where each army unit was on the field at Gettysburg. He also liked the display of the cannon, of course!
We had a fun, hot day. When we got back to camp, after having dinner out, it was pouring down rain. I had to quickly close all the windows in the camper while my son was asleep in the van. We waited out the storm in the van as well. There was a lot of lightning and I wasn't about to transfer a sleeping 45 pound kid into the camper while there was lightning striking all around. Yeah, not going to do it. It did finally let up and we enjoyed the rest of the night trying to stay cool with fans blowing on us.
The next day we stayed at the campground. We painted ceramics and then went swimming. Late afternoon, my husband joined us. We just relaxed the rest of the day. Finally, we had a fire (the heat had let up enough that we weren't uncomfortable anymore) and, of course, marshmallows.
There were some funny moments during the weekend.
I got one of those flattened souvenir pennies that you make with the crank. They have the machines everywhere. They print a design to commemorate your visit. I got one for my son. I gave it to him when we were in the camper that night after our visit to the battlefields. He was playing with it one minute and then I didn't see it anymore.
"Where is your penny? I hope you didn't lose it." I said.
There was a pause as he put a finger to his cheek. "Umm," he said. Then looked straight at me. "It's not in my ear."
I cracked up laughing so hard. It was nice to laugh after being so hot and bothered all day. We eventually found it under the map I had been looking at.
The following day after my husband came to camp my son found the clean water bucket. At first, he was kicking his soccer ball into it. He was pretty good at it too. Again, I didn't see it happen but both my husband and I look up to find the bucket on my son's head. He wasn't stuck, just being silly. We both took pictures of him with our cellphones at the same time. I then saw my son bump into the camper because he couldn't see where he was going. It was like a scene from a cartoon. He walked into it, bounced back, and then proceeded in the same direction looking as if he would bump into again. He did manage to avoid it the second time.
So, despite our horrendous weather conditions, we managed to have a good time. As I sit here writing this blog, I am furious that it is 70 some degrees out with minimal humidity. Yeah, so wishing I had scheduled our vacation for this week. Today would have been the day I set up camp. Sigh.