Last weekend I had the opportunity to haul my family out to Sweetwater Creek State Park for a night of glamping in the woods. What is "glamping", you ask? GLAMOROUS CAMPING. It's a thing, guys. It's where you stay in a yurt - a wood and canvas structure - that has beds, a heater and usually a table and chairs. Bathrooms are shared with the entire yurt village, so you have to trek outdoors when mother nature calls. But it's a great way to take your family and still have a bit more protection and comfort while "camping".
I'll admit, I'm not a huge camper. I love nature and the great outdoors, but I've never had an excellent camping experience. I wish I had those fond memories that everyone talks about, where they grew up camping with their families and snuggling up by the fire and telling fun stories and playing with flashlights. I asked my dad the other day why we never really went camping and he said, "Kristen, I had three girls." Huh. Good point, Dad.
So I didn't grow up camping. I have, however, camped all over this beautiful country in the past 10 years or so. On this epic cross-country road trip, I had the opportunity to camp everywhere from the Grand Canyon, to Moab to Lake Powell to Tulsa to Jackson Hole. And those experiences were awesome... except for the actual sleeping in a tent part. I just always feel COLD. And yes, we have the right gear for that sort of thing. So this is just me, admitting to you, that although I love hiking and being in the woods, I don't prefer sleeping in them.
Which leads me to glamping. I have been working to expand my writing capacity (if you want to learn about my journey on becoming more intentional and pursuing dreams, check out this series), and I was sent on assignment to cover the new yurt village at Sweetwater Creek. If the tiny little article actually gets published, I will share it with you guys :) And oh, what an experience, camping with a 16-month old.
I'm gonna go ahead and be honest with you. Camping with my son. Was kind of terrible.
I love him. I adore him. I would lay down my life for him. But I literally spent the ENTIRE day saying "No, Everett! No Everett!" to pretty much everything. No, you can't walk head first into the rushing raging river. No, you can't walk by yourself while we hike because there is a cliff that you could fall off of if you wander. No, you can't touch the campfire. Because you can't. You just can't, son.
I spent an entire day having these conversations. And he's in this really fun stage where he throws his body on the ground and screams bloody murder, so we often attract attention for all the unwanted reasons. People are making sure that our son isn't being kidnapped or something. Nope. Just a normal day with Everett in this fun toddler stage. He has a will. He's not afraid of exerting the will.
Am I being too harsh?
I'm just being honest.
Once I put him down to sleep in the yurt that evening, he fell asleep in less than two minutes with the lights still on. So all that will-exertion must have tired him out, too.
Once by the campfire, Stevie made me quesadillas over the open flames and we drank beer and made s'mores and it was so so fun. I've got a good s'more strategy, I wish I could show it to you guys. But it was just us, out in the woods. Talking. Mostly about our son. But also about the direction our lives have gone, the journey we're on, the fears we have and the dreams we hope to achieve. What is it about the campfire that draws out the most deep-seated of feelings?
It was the coldest night of the year, the night we laid our heads down in that yurt. Coldest of the YEAR. It figures that we would try to sleep in the woods on the one night when things got frosty. But going to sleep in an actual bed (with our sleeping bags on top!) really, really was the icing on the cake. I just slept so warmly, and SO WELL. Until Everett woke up screaming at 1am. Am I making you guys want to have babies yet?? We tried everything we could to coax him back to sleep in his little travel crib, but he's not so little anymore and he was aware that we were in the little hut with him. So he wanted to be near us. Thankfully, Stevie had packed a third sleeping bag (it was in case I got that cold feeling I was telling you about earlier, he's such a good one you guys), and we pulled Everett and that sleeping bag into bed with us and we all slept for 7 more hours. All of us! We haven't co-slept with Everett since he was a wee little tot, and I'm surprised we didn't all wake each other up sooner. But in the morning, I was the one with the sunlight on my face, and I opened my eyes and looked at my two boys, facing each other, mouths opened, drinking in the most delicious of sleep, and wow. I felt all the feelings. So happy, content, and kind of in awe and wonder. This little family is just my gold. Even after the previous exhausting day with Everett. These two are my world.
We spent the morning eating oatmeal, enjoying the views from our deck, and drinking our happy concoction of half coffee, half hot chocolate :) This is when Everett was his usual fun self, so we had a good (redeeming!) morning with him. Then we spent our time out in the park exploring. Aside from Everett's shenanigans, everything was absolutely beautiful. There was a ton of hiking, and a beautiful creek that leads down to a historic Civil War-era textile mill (which was used and featured during the filming of The Hunger Games Mockingjay!) The stream turns into some level 4 rapids, which is apparently awesome for whitewater rafting during other seasons of the year. We just traipsed around, until Everett's war cry was enough for both of us, so we packed it up and hit the road. And vowed not to take him camping until he's at least another year older.
The consensus? Glamping is pretty cool. Glamping with a baby under the age of 2? Not so cool. But the park and the facilities and the hikes and views and history were compelling enough that when we got in the car and started driving home, Stevie was making a strategy for how we could make it a better experience next time. So who knows. We might be nuts and attempt this thing again.
If you have advice for camping/glamping/hiking with kids under the age of two, please share in the comments! Not only do I need it, but everyone else reading this would probably be interested in helpful tips!
P.S. - Don't miss out on my Christmas giveaway for him, going on now!