As soon as I put Gavin down, he was overjoyed with the feeling of dirt and pine needles between his fingers. If I learned anything on this trip it is that he is a total BOY! I pretty much already knew that bout him, but seriously, give him a stick, some dirt, and a dog to pester and he is HAPPY. It was so adorable to watch and I was pleasantly surprised to see that he wasn't whining and crying about the new, potentially overstimulating environment. In fact, it didn't take him long to find a favorite stick that I let him hold onto and play with for the rest of the weekend.
As soon as we got there and I put Gavin down on his blanket and saw how thrilled he was, I thought to myself "What was I so worried about? This is going to go just fine!"
Once little G was out for his nap, we gathered and chopped firewood (and by "we" of course I mean my mountain man of a husband, Eric chopped the wood - pretty sure chopping wood is a requirement if you have a beard), we threw dinner in the dutch oven (Hobo Stew!) and sat back with our books by the fire while it cooked. One of my FAVORITE parts of camping is being COMPLETELY disconnected from technology - except for my camera, of course - but relaxing, enjoying the peace and quiet nature provides, and spending quality time with loved ones is better therapy than anything you can buy in town - if you asked me.
Ah, bedtime... The moment of truth, the part I was most worried about. Gavin actually did pretty good the first night. Not as good as he does at home of course (he sleeps 10+ hours straight at home!) but overall he did good for a first time camper. The tent heater definitely made a difference and is something I will always have with us from now on - especially for babies because they cant exactly be shoved down into their own sleeping bag (um, have you heard of SIDS?!) and expected to keep themselves warm on a 30 degree night out in the woods.
Even with the tent heater though, he did wake up a few times in the night. I suspect it was mostly because he was in a different environment and he couldn't find his pacifier easily in the dark. The first two times he woke up all I had to do was give him his pacifier back and he immediately went back to sleep. The third time he woke up though (around 4 a.m. or so), Eric pointed out that our tent heater had ran out of propane - so without hesitation, I grabbed Gavin and brought him into our sleeping bag to snuggle up between us for the rest of the night and keep warm. We have one of those large two-person sleeping bags which worked out perfectly.
After breakfast, Little G took an early nap while daddy read in the hammock and mommy started playing around with her camera. I have been taking some photography classes so I try and get as much practice with my camera as I can. Plus I love pictures so even with an iPhone I'm constantly snapping photos - it drives Eric nuts but I know deep down he loves me anyway and the precious moments from our life I capture.
I've been playing around more with manual focus these days and experimenting with light, so please excuse some of the photos that are out of focus or overexposed - like I said, I am learning! But for the most part, I was really happy with some of the shots I got. They're sooooo much better than what you can take with an iPhone. I just love photography for some reason. I'm such a visual person, and I especially like capturing precious, candid life moments.
While on our walk I decided I wanted to try and get a family photo. Unfortunately I didn't bring my tripod with me so we had to improvise instead. We came across a tall stump and decided to give it a try. I lined up the shot, hit the timer button and ran for dear life across the grass. Each time I had barely made it in time but I am really happy with how the photo turned out. We are slightly out of focus but, hey, I'll take it! Better than having nothing but selfies from the whole trip.
Dinner that night in the dutch oven was White Chicken Chili. Can I just take a quick minute and express how impressed I was with ease of cooking with a dutch oven? Especially if you prep everything beforehand - which we did. We chopped everything up before we left, put it all in ziplock baggies, and when it was time to cook all we had to do was dump it all in the pot, throw it on some coals, set the timer and wait for dinner to be ready! I loved it and we will definitely be using the dutch oven for more of our camping trip meals. I've linked the recipes we used this trip and will be sure to post any of our own creations as we make them up.
I guess I should mention that this was the first trip we had our dog, Schizo, sleep in the truck instead of in the tent with us. He has a travel kennel we use with a big comfortable mattress pad and warm blankets, so I felt confident he would be perfectly fine in there. When my family camped growing up, we always had the dogs sleep in the truck, and I am pretty sure they didn't get kennels and fancy Martha Stewart doggy mattresses back then, so I was sure Schizo would be more than comfortable in there. The reason I decided to put him in the truck this time was because in past experiences camping with him, he oftentimes wakes us up in the middle of the night whining, and I didn't want to risk him waking up the baby so it looks like the truck will from now on be his new sleeping place when we camp. Dogs really do become more like just dogs than your "babies" once you have children, don't they?
The next morning we ate breakfast (Huevos Rancheros in the dutch oven), and slowly loaded up the car so we could head home in time for Eric to work that evening. Gavin earned his "Happy Camper" t-shirt I put on him that day (I didn't want to jinx anything so I waited until the last day to let him wear it - haha). Overall, it was a successful, easy-going, first time camping with a baby. We have a big, week-long camping trip comping up in July with my entire family up in the White Mountains, and we wanted to at least have one "test run" with G before then, and we both agreed everything went even better than we had expected so we are optimistic for our trip in July. We may even squeeze another little one in before then, we'll see!