This past 4th of July weekend our family enjoyed a camping trip with Uncle F (owner of previously mentioned Chuck Wagon) and MamaRose's family. Clay is now almost 2 and Tyler is 2 1/2. It was their first time camping together. There were moments that I felt like I might need a t-shirt that said, "I went camping with a 2 year old and survived". Clay and Tyler ran, climbed, played with trucks, rode in the sidecar of a bicycle, slept on a hike to a waterfall, blew bubbles, sang songs and tracked down squirrels. Everyone had a great time, including Baby Zoe who received a lot of kisses from Clay. It was my first time camping on a holiday or busy weekend for that matter. I have come to the conclusion that your expectations for holiday camping need to be different from mid week or low season. Laying down with Clay in the tent for his nap I came up with some pros and some cons. First the cons so that I can end on a good note.
- Traffic, traffic coming and going and at the site. Expect it when traveling on a holiday. The drive for us was fairly steady until the last 7 miles where the road was closed due to construction and the detour was a one lane road where a trailer had got stuck and was waiting for a tow truck. By this time Clay was done with sitting in the car seat, so we turned back and walked around the nearest town for awhile (not all was lost).
- The place is busy, the trails are full of people, the bathroom has a line, you have to do a people shuffle for popular scenic sites. I thought nature was an escape from the hustle and bustle.
- It's work! I constantly felt like we were policing the campsite edge near the road for cars, the back of the site for the steep edge that lead to a creek and the grumpy dog next to us that was not friendly but of course the wee ones constantly wanted to say "Hi" to him.
- Is the holiday a drinking holiday? Loud, obnoxious campers who holler into the night are a real possibility. Thankfully we did not experience this! We did have a drunken group parade into our site and demand to know who had built the Chuck Wagon. Uncle F got a high five for his work. The next morning at the restroom unveiled that someone had sung to the porcelain god and missed! Hmm, wonder who that could of been?
- Last but not least the noise level is to loud to hear the wind in the trees. I had been so busy that it did not strike me until night fell and the noise level fell with it, at least 5 decimals. I really noticed it when I lay down for that nap with Clay and could not escape the noise!
Now, with every gray cloud there is a silver lining so here is my list of pros for holiday camping:
- Families first! We were surrounded by families. In fact in our campground there were two different large family groups of campers spread out in the sites. So, I may of not been able to enjoy a relaxing nap in the middle of the day but I also did not have to stifle any part of my son's experience. He could be a toddler in all his toddler glory and it would not infringe on someone else's camping experience. In fact I did not have to worry that he would wake up and cry in the middle of the night because other children did the same. We were all families with children.
- It was packed! Which meant lots of different nationalities, languages, faces and food smells! I did not expect camping to be such a cultural experience. Our ears were filled with laughter and languages, and our eyes meet other smiling that differ from the ones in our own mirror.
- Small town celebrations were happening all around. So the campground was full and trails were sluggish with people and the auto traffic could be heard from them. Embrace it! There were many community celebrations happening around the area. Pet parades, 50's carnival games, parades with floats and a marching horn band, midnight hikes, community picnics, petting farm and music everywhere. Going out of town on a holiday means you get to join other celebrations, see what else is out there!
Chances are with my husband's work schedule we will go camping again on a holiday. I will not expect a relaxing union with nature. However, I will look forward to being with family and friends. I have accepted that holiday camping is not exactly camping. But rather a family experience to share with the ones you love where you just happen to sleep in a tent and share a bathroom with a lot of other families. I can do that!