Last year we went camping with the baby (Maggie,) and she loved it. At the time she was six months old, it was extremely cold, and she loved every minute of it passing out when it got the slightest bit dark and mostly sleeping through the night. This time was not so great.
A six hour car ride left 14-month old Maggie a bit perturbed at the start and she was hot. The next obstacle we faced was we were not camping in a tent area this time, we were on asphalt and extremely close to other campers.
Unfortunately these other campers were paranoids who thought that locking their car remotely until it honked multiple times a night was the way to go. Probably not enough to piss off the campers, but enough to disturb a baby who’s out of her environment.
But the first day started ok. We got through some of the night without much incident, people had turned in, baby was in the tent with us in her pack and play. Unfortunately the air mattress we had made a crapton of noise, woke the baby who seeing us in the tent had to sleep with us.
11ish another set of campers show up and start pitching their tent in the campsite next to us (18 feet or so,) and their lights turn the tent into a disco. At this point flashing lights and people mumbling wake baby up again.
Midnight the camp is attacked by raccoons, same at 12:30 and 1ish. Each time I’m woken up by ITMama who asks if I heard the rodents, each time the answer is yes. I go and confront the beasts a couple of times and each time thought everything was up, it wasn’t. Baby is woken up every time as she’s on the air mattress with us now.
About 1/1:30 it was evident that nobody was going to get any sleep with a ticked off baby who couldn’t get comfortable and I ended up taking her to the car and for the next four or five hours she would wake up, cry, look around, pass back out when she realized I was holding her. The strange surroundings were not her reassuring crib, they were a 2007 Honda Element with too much camp crap packed in it.
At about five am the baby was a limp noodle and barefoot and exhausted I went back to the tent, placed her in the crib, and attempted to grab some sleep. I think I might have slept for a bit, but at seven or eight baby’s biological alarm clock kicked in and she was up and exhausted.
It really didn’t help things that monster trucks kept driving by our campsite for no reason (none of them were camped down or up the hill which had a turnaround.) And it also didn’t help that it started raining absurdly which meant Maggie could not crawl around anywhere.
Also didn’t help there was nowhere for her to crawl, even our tent was flooded.
Day two consisted of me attempting to get some rest, which was impossible in the soaked tent because I could hear everything anyone said within six campgrounds and got woken every time a badly muffled truck went by.
We finally went to what we came for, the Rhododendron Festival in Roan Mountain State Park. If you ever get a chance to go, I suggest you skip it. Even accounting for my bad mood it seemed very little more than Ye Olde Festival with Giant Turkey Leg.
When the group was polled later as to whether there was anything that made that a Rhododendron related festival we came up with blanks. It was just a bunch of craft tents of locals selling stuff, which if that’s your thing go for it. I wanted more history, Rhododendrons (even one would have been neat,) and culture than curly fries and sound guys who can’t make two microphones sound palatable.
This was the first time in several hours we had found a dry patch where Maggie could scootch along on the ground, so she was happy as a clam for a while. Unfortunately happy baby had run all out of happy at this point and wanted a nap.
I left the festival as I was probably not capable of having fun at this point even if I found something I was interested in (seriously, I like the music they were playing there but it was next to unlistenable due to bad sound mixing,) and rocked Maggie to bed back at the campsite. She went down for 15 minutes or so until monster trucks and the group came back.
The day went on, there was more rain, Maggie had to be held constantly even though she wanted with all her heart to play in the mud. This night ended better with only two raccoon attacks.
Maggie woke up at two or three in a panic as she couldn’t see where she was, this meant she slept with us again rather than having a screaming baby in a campsite that was far too close to other tent campers (this was not the same setup as we had last time, this was absurdly packed). Her sleeping with us also meant that I was pushed down and slept with my foot and knee in a cold puddle of water, but as long as baby slept hallelujah.
It rained pretty heavily in the morning, I thought we would be breaking camp in a downpour, but it stopped. There was a moat in the tent that had seeped up and claimed some stuff. Maggie could once again not be placed on the ground anywhere and that made her a bit grumpy.
The ride home for all but an hour was pretty uneventful. She slept quite a bit as she had not slept well (nor had anyone,) scootched around at a rest stop, and generally enjoyed anything in which she was not confined. The last hour was nothing but screaming and nothing to do about it.
There are things I’ve thought about after this trip, one of these being a play area tarp would have let her get her scootch on without much in the way of problems. If she’d had the ability to walk around and wear herself out on her own I think most of the issues of the days would have been minimal, but as it stood she was in the hands of someone for three days straight. Think that overloaded the baby.
We got home, she crapped out at about 5:30. This is a good two hours earlier than normal, I should have known at that point to just go to bed because she got up at 5:30 as well.
Ah well, next time I’ll bring a large tarp for baby to play on in the event of not having a dry surface. That’s not something I had thought about and also not something that is particularly bulky to bring along. I’m also going to rig up a car sleeper for her as it was just too noisy and four hours in the car in my arms was the only way she got sleep that first night.
Additionally next time I’m bringing a spare cell phone and setting up a LAN so I can peek in and see how she’s doing – she spent a lot of time looking right at the tent door area to see if I was going to look in. Defeated the purpose.
I think I’d also bring a swing. That would have been absurdly useful to tack her up in a tree where she could swing and watch people. Also wouldn’t have taken much effort.