Hour 1 (6:30): We arrive at the campground. We unpack the car (every square inch of space had been utilized!) and set up camp! We are all excited! Daddy sets up the tent and I figure out how to set up the camp stove all by myself! I am so awesome!
Hour 2 (7:30): Daddy and the older kids go on a wood-venture to obtain wood for our campfire. The urchin, baby and I stay behind and blow up the air mattress -or attempt to run away -or impede all air mattress progress, depending on if one is the mommy (who does not want to sleep on the ground) or the urchin (who likes to wander) or the baby (who needs to eat). We have chili for dinner and get a campfire going!
Hour 3 (8:30): We eat banana boats for dessert and X-man spills hot chocolate on mommy. On the one hand, it is ok as it was more ‘warm chocolate.’ On the other hand, this is not ok. Now my only jeans and only sweatshirt are sticky and getting cold. And it is cold outside!
Hour 4 (9:30): We get all ready for bed and play the guitar and sing songs in the tent. The older two start to think maybe camping isn’t all that fun: “This ground is hard. I want a real bed.” Z-urchin is crying and wandering all around the tent bumping into things- and people- because his eyes are closed. I pick him up and grab a blanket (after changing into sweatpants and Daddy’s only long sleeved shirt) and head to the campfire. Z-urchin sits quietly in my arms and falls asleep near the campfire. Now this is the life.
Hour 5 (10:30): Now it is time to feed the baby again and get settled into the tent for the long (and cold) summer’s night. The air mattress makes this adventure seem luxurious!
Hour 6 (11:30): Everyone is asleep. This is good.
Hour 7 (12:30): Sleeping mostly, but holding the baby does not make for super comfy sleeping positions.
Hours 8-9 (1:30): Man oh man, it is cold. Why am I doing this again?
Hours 10-11 (3:30): Sleeping mostly, but Z-urchin wakes up and is cold. Daddy pulls him into his sleeping bag but there is now not much room.
Hour 12 (5:30): Time to feed the baby again.
Hour 13 (6:30): It is light outside now- though gray- and it is still quite cold. The kids wake up and want out of the tent! They think camping is super fun again!
Hours 14-15 (7:30): We make a delicious breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, and eggs. The kids play in the trees, draw, and play hide and seek. The fire is going and even though it is cold, this is fun!
Hour 16 (9:30): Now it is time to wash the dishes in the very cold water. It is all part of the experience, right? Z-urchin decides to step in rock pit where I am washing dishes and gets his socks all wet (where are his shoes???) and then picks up the clean dishes and throws them in the dirt (thank you so much). Where is daddy? Playing guitar? Z-urchin dumped into daddy’s lap and dishes are finished.
Hour 17 (10:30): We discuss our plans for the day. It is gray and way too cold to go play in the creek. We’ll go to Roaring Camp Railroad– it is a special weekend- Thomas is there today, pulling the trains through the redwood forest! Let’s go see Thomas! It starts to sprinkle. What?!?! Now I am wet and cold.
Hour 18 (11:30): It stopped sprinkling, but apparently it might sprinkle “on and off” today. This has me quite concerned. I’m not so sure I’m having fun anymore. If it continues to rain, I promise you, I am leaving. We make sandwiches and get ready to go see Thomas.
Hour 19 (12:30): We are in the car on our way to Roaring Camp. We turn on some good music and I am willing myself to have fun again. The kids are pretty amazed to see Thomas pulling the train, though they are quite sad to learn that they won’t be taking a train ride. They find a little western scene with holes for their heads to stick through. They have a lot of fun climbing on it and looking through the head holes.
Hour 20 (1:30): We have lunch in the beautiful redwood grove. We see very large trees and a skinny little Dawn redwood. Daddy makes Princess K an aluminum foil rose and she is delighted with it!
Hours 21-22 (2:30): Naptime for me, baby, and the urchin. The urchin does not sleep and when he finds the maglight and begins wielding it near the pack-n-play where baby is sleeping, I send him out to play with daddy and the kids so I can get some sleep. It is so nice and cozy warm in my sleeping bag.
Hour 23 (4:30): Daddy and the kids take a nature walk while I begin making dinner. It is a little warmer, still gray, but not sprinkling. I guess I can stay a little longer. They return before I’m ready so they snack on grapes and cuties and do crayon rubbings with tree trunks and leaves.
Hour 24 (5:30): We have “tacos in a bag.” (taco meat, beans, shredded cheese and lettuce, and sour cream in little personal Doritos bags) Tasty and very fun! Of course the kids pretty much just eat the chips. We grill corn on the grate over the campfire and it is absolutely delicious!
Hour 25 (6:30): S’mores time! Princess K toasts marshmallows but will not touch it to her mouth. Daddy eats hers quite happily. X-man loves the s’mores. Z-urchin takes a single bite of everything that ends up in his hands and then drops it in the dirt. Then I get him cleaned up and ready for bed and hold him at the campfire. He falls asleep in my arms. This is a perfect moment in life. The kids are happy and sticky (or asleep) and this is fun!
Hour 26 (7:30): Z is cozy in his sleeping bag under a couple of blankets and we get the other kids ready for bed. We discover poison oak on X’s hands and wrists. Uh oh. We scrub his hands with a special soap. And then Daddy and I scrub our hands and faces and arms with the same soap… just in case. Once the kids get into their sleeping bags, they fall asleep quickly.
Hours 27-28 (8:30): We have hot chocolate and some spills on daddy’s arm. On the one hand this is alright because he is wearing a short sleeve shirt (I am still wearing his long sleeved shirt- it is still pretty cold!) and so nothing gets sticky. On the other hand, he gets pretty scalded as this is “steaming chocolate.” Poor guy. We talk and play some cards. I have phantom poison oak. I keep getting prickles of itchiness all over the place.
Hour 29 (10:30): Time to get ready for bed. It feels a little warmer than it did last night, hallelujah.
Hours 30-34 (11:30): We sleep and I am nice and warm in my sleeping bag.
Hour 35 (4:30): Z-urchin wakes up and cries because he is cold and cranky. Daddy pulls him into his sleeping bag again and again, there is not much room. Oh well, this is ok with me because at least he has stopped crying.
Hours 36-38 (5:30): Sleeping again. At least I am; I’m not sure about Daddy and Z.
Hour 37 (7:30): The kids are awake and raring to go. They want out so they can go exploring! I get ready and check in the bathroom mirror for poison oak. None to be found, thank goodness.
Hour 38 (8:30): We have instant oatmeal and bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. We toast the bagels with our marshmallow skewers. So fun!
Hours 39-40 (9:30): We get packed up and the kids decide that they no longer are interested in playing in the trees. They want to walk over the tent we are folding up or track mud into our car and pretty much find all ways to get in the way or otherwise impede progress (Z-urchin was fascinated with wandering into the road). X’s poison oak looks much better. Yay for that great soap! Finally I strap Z into his carseat and for the first time, he is absolutely contained. Why didn’t I do this earlier?
Hour 41 (11:30): We are packed up and ready to go home. We are filthy and tired, but very happy! We did it! We went camping with four small children and didn’t permanently lose one of them! The kids, all buckled into the car ask, “When are we going camping again?” Shudder. “Next year. Maybe.”