I set the "goal" for our first camping trip as a family of 4 (or 6 if you count the furry ones) really, really low. My goal was to leave during naptime Sat. and returned during naptime Sunday, bringing back the kids, dogs and most of our gear in similar conditions to when we left. We didn't have plans to really hike or explore, just set up and take down camp while caring for the kids seemed like enough of a challenge and any nature appreciation that came with it would be a bonus. We went into it knowing we were not above aborting the trip at 2am and peeling out if needed for everyone's sanity. I'm not certain if I've mentioned it (a billion times) before, but Matthew is a crap sleeper which is why I've avoided camping with him like the plague. Regular travel where we have beds, cribs, white noise etc. can still disrupt his sleep for weeks. However, we've now had 2+ years to make our peace with this and learn to work around it. He's getting more flexible now that he's older but travel and new noises still set him wonky so to keep his first camping experience positive (and James and I sane), we kept it pretty short with two semi-guaranteed car naps.
We picked Delmoe Lake outside Butte because it was close but new to us. I'd guess it gets used kinda like Hyalite reservoir just outside Bozeman so it was definitely busy, only there were far fewer mountain bikers, hikers and climbers than we're used to and way more dirt bikes, 4-wheelers and jet skis than we've ever seen up Hyalite.
Catherine was unimpressed by the lake excursion:
But when we headed back up the hill to the campsite she had her shoes and jeans on ready to romp around if needed, though mostly she just hung out under the trees.
Between the boy and the dog, I'm not sure who enjoyed the lake more.
When I passed through the area the past few times the rock outcroppings on the interstate reminded me of Vedauwoo, one of our family's favorite camp spots when I was little which was another reason it became our destination. It's amazing how many memories camping always brings back of my childhood and how appreciative I become of all of mom and dad's hard work to give us so many amazing experiences. While Matthew may not always show his appreciation right now, he certainly appreciated the chance to have hot dogs and s'mores again, as well as play in the dirt and find sticks and rocks:
After all the fun and dirt of the day it was eventually time for bed. We read stories and rocked just like at home and Matthew requested to sleep in his little yellow tent. It just so happened to fit in the big tent so I put it in and he crawled right in, shut the door and I left thinking we had made rockstar progress in the "camping is just like home" routine. I was even silly enough to believe that James and I might get to enjoy some alone time around the campfire while the kids snoozed. Long story short, James and I ended up going to bed at the same time as Matthew on a deflated air mattress, Matthew flopped between us all night waking up every 2 hours and at one point insisting on a diaper change (great news for potty training, terrible news at 2 am in a tent) and Catherine snoozed soundly with a mattress pad in her own tent within a tent. She definitely slept the best of all of us. Maybe I should have swaddled Matthew for the evening. For the first time in a long time she actually woke up before Matthew, so I snapped some pics with camera phone as proof to myself that some sleep did actually occur:
****As an aside, here's the only other worthwhile picture ever taken with our camera phones. Verizon doesn't seem to want to make it reasonable or easy for us to get pics off our el cheapo phones so I retrieved this picture and I'm done trying to retrieve pictures from our phones. Thanks however to the nurse who reminded James he could use his phone to capture Catherine's first bath since we were more worried about my having a baby in the parking lot than getting the bags inside. This is our first pic of Catherine****
Back to camping. After hanging out in the tent with Matthew and Daddy Catherine got rebundled and proceeded to go right back to sleep while we made breakfast:
We spent Sunday morning taking "woks" to and from the lake, splashing rocks and exploring the campsite.
While trying to get a picture of Matthew with Daddy he took to exploring this tree:
And James and I learned a very important lesson about keeping an eye out for excessive pine sap when choosing a campsite. His feet may never be the same again.
Catherine wanted to chat about the whole thing:
Meanwhile, Matthew also had some very intense interactions with some logs. I'm totally at a loss for explaining what he was doing, but it's best described as having very intense shrieking conversations with all the logs at our campsite:
All in all we brought back two tired but happy kids and I'm excited to try it all again soon. Anyplace where Matthew is free to pretty much wander and explore everything in sight and we're a short distance away from splashing is a good weekend . . . though I can't wait for the day he can go down to the lake himself and I can lounge in the shade with a good book :-)