July 17, 2012

Camping: take two! O'Neill Regional Park

helping assemble the tent
(consequently one of our poles broke this trip...
 i'll have to see if coleman offers replacements...)
This weekend we tried out camping again! (see our Back Yard Camping post)

We went to O'Neill Regional Park, which came recommended by FunOrangeCountyParks blog as one with nice amenities (showers... bathrooms that don't absolutely require hovering...) and she was right on. We had running water at our campsite, and a picnic table and grill tray and plenty of space (could have fit at least  three tents) and some decent pockets of shade to beat the heat.

Overall it was a good trip.
Things started out a little frustrating because the dry rocky soil wouldn’t bite the tent stakes (and was bending them) so hubby was getting frustrated (he did 95% of the assembling)… and M wanted to ‘help’ :)

Then it was pretty darn hot outside the pockets of shade… I wish we would have brought our bikes with us, because we could have gotten farther with much less effort and a breeze to boot! And maybe another toddler nap in the baby seat. We ended up driving back up to the park entrance, after we made camp to play in the playground and at the nature center. I felt so un-eco friendly…

checking out the animals at the nature center.
I actually jumped at the snakes though i knew none of them
was alive. eesh.
We had ended up pitching the tent in a place with receding shade, so the only nap that occurred was the too-short one in the car on our drive in. I tried to rest myself in the tent but it was sweltering… and with the tent stakes being finicky we didn’t get good ventilation on the sides (which was perfectly fine ... after about 6PM)
We packed the new Stomp Rocket (an early birthday gift for the toddler from a friend) and his baseball tee which kept us busy for a bit, too. And I realized we had a water spigot at our campsite, so we filled a bucket and flung water at each other for a little while, and relaxed in our chairs in the shade. That felt pretty good.

commemorating his first s'more
We brought our tailgate grill to cook with (no real fire… :) even though a little ground grill thing, with a grate and everything, was provided at the campsite) and had hot dogs with canned green beans for dinner and a s’more for dessert. We had grabbed a few ketchup and mustard packets from our fast food lunch to take with us. Graham crackers proved to be a favorite snack (even without chocolate and marshmallows), especially paired with the grapes or bananas we had too. We had a picnic table at the campsite. M was a little squirmy in it, but it mostly worked out.

We packed Horizon organic milk juicebox things that don’t have to be refrigerated, and they worked out well. We got the last tiny bag of ice from Target, and it barely kept until we had to leave.

So the sleep thing:
how we ended up waking up...
We were very close to the bathrooms and showers (you’re getting the idea that we didn’t really rough it, right?) so we did the same nightly brush teeth/take a shower routine as usual. We got him in his diaper and PJs and realized we’d forgotten to pack books, but read him a story on the iPad (which we did remember :) ) and laid him down in the pack n play. That went well for exactly ½ second and he stood up and said, “all done!” and “I don’t want to” and got weepy. I kept trying to reason with him about how it was bed time and how he should just lay down and he kept standing and saying no and crying. I laid down next to the crib for a minute but he kept standing and trying to climb out. Every time I tried to lay him down he wailed louder and finally I just did it… and he rolled over intending to get up, but miraculously kept his head down just a few more seconds and I patted his bum and shushed. He sucked his thumb for a minute, and then finally tucked his arms under him and ‘assumed the position’ of sleep. I patted lighter and lighter and then just stayed in the tent until I could see regular even breathing and then snuck out. Felt like an hour… but hubby said it was probably 10-15 minutes and that the noise was no worse than the shrieking kids in the neighboring campsites (the outside noise didn’t really seem to bother M, which was nice, since we could hear not only screaming kids but other adults talking and cars and motorcycles driving by on the main road). Whew.
saying hi to the horses... and the pretty ladies,
 who were pretty tickled with him, too
Since we had no campfire we decided to turn in rather early ourselves (~9) which was good because M woke up around 3. Not totally awake at first, just sort of wimpering and moaning “Mommy” so I wasn’t sure if he was having a dream or what. I finally just said “shhhh… shhhh” and he quieted down again. But 15-20 min later he did it again. This back and forth went on for an hour or so. I finally took him out of the pack n play and put him on the sleeping mat between me and hubby with his blanket. By now our tent was plenty warm and he sucked his thumb and played with my fingers for a bit, but finally rolled to his tummy and was out until his normal 6:30 wake up time.

One of our "walks", stopping to play the drums on the rocks 
He was his usually cheery happy morning self when he got up. He liked rolling around the floor of the tent and snuggling with us. I changed his diaper and put on a hat and jacket, since it was chilly in the morning outside the tent and he was only sleeping in his footie pjs, and morning went on as usual (though we were all beat by nap time when we got home). We made sausage and pancakes and fruit and had coffee (Starbucks Via - instant!)

We tried to take a few walks during our stay but didn't get far from the campsite because sticks and rocks and leaves and bugs were too interesting for M, which was fine. I was glad he enjoyed the outdoors. There was a horse path that ran by the site, too, so we got to see several riders just by staying in one place.
good morning!
We had our Blue Heeler with us, and considering there were dogs at the campsites on either side of us, she was pretty good. She was in a shady spot where the trees blocked most of her view of them and only got riled up when a dog walked by on the main path or some nearby dog barked. Oh, and she slept in the 2 square feet of free space in the tent... with us. Helped keep it warm!

We were there just 24 hours, but I think we are up for doing it again, and for two nights even. A friend of a friend out here is interested in joining us (with her husband and 5-year-old). I think we are probably ready for that given our few tips from this past time.

I say success! :) And I will be looking into the toddler sleeping bag that a friend recommended soon since I think we can do without the pack n play next time.

helping Daddy with dinner
the playground
tent pitched!
helping choose sleeping mats. this was our big addition to this trip... and well worth the splurge! the nice man at REI talked us into 2.5" thick extra large mats because space wasn't an issue and because they were on sale. the mat pictured here probably cost 3x's what the ones we actual got... but kept M occupied while we shopped

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