Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Camping in Gualala

The other weekend we decided to do something a little crazy.
We decided to take our five month old up the coast with friends for a fun weekend of camping.  We always said that we wanted to still do fun things when we had kids.  We had seen several of our friends restrict activities because they had children and didn't want to "deal" with the added challenges of traveling with them.  We promised ourselves that we would still travel as much as possible, since we enjoy it so much, and that we would bring our little guy along for the ride.  Obviously we have him in mind as well and try to make sure that our adventures aren't hard on our little guy.
About a month ago, we were outside talking with our neighbors, all whom were enjoying the different activities of summer.  One family had just returned from camping and mentioned that they were wanting to go again before the weather got too cold.  We had just gotten back from a road trip through the Avenue of Giants and already had camping among the redwoods on our minds.  So when they suggested that we get a group together to go on the last camping trip of the summer, we were super excited to join in on the fun!
Our friend, Jen, spearheaded the event, finding the campsite, getting reservations, etc.  Camping in California is SO different than what Dallas and I were used to.  With my experiences in central Washington and Utah, you would drive up to the mountains whenever you felt like it, choose a nice secluded spot, and set up camp.  Same with Dallas with his experiences in Wyoming.  That is not the usual case in California, especially in the high demanded areas among the redwoods.  We had to call in for reservations weeks in advance, the campsites were super close, and there were nice bathrooms with showers on site.  I was loving not having to use an outhouse or "go" in the bushes.  Surprisingly, having strangers on either sides of us, didn't bother me like I thought it would.  All of our separate campsites were right next to each other, with us on the end, but we all used one campfire to cook and hangout near.
 The other families left Thursday morning to head up to Gualala, but with Dallas' work schedule, we weren't able to leave til Friday around noon.  It is only a little over 2 hours to reach the campsite, but with construction and then getting caught behind a trailer on the infamously curvy HWY 1, it took us around 3 hours.
 I loved how at each of the campsites there were large fallen redwoods that had been carved into forts for the kids to explore.  I kept thinking how much my nieces and nephews would love it here. 
 Since getting married, Dallas and I have not gone camping, mostly due to the fact that we had no gear and also because the opportunity never seemed to present itself.  For this trip we still didn't have any gear, but my brother let us borrow his tent, tarp, lantern, flashlights, and sleeping bags.  Their tent is huge, fitting their whole family of 7, so we figured we'd have more than enough room to bring along Daxton's portable crib.  Our main concern for our little guy was keeping him warm.  Camping in Northern California can get very cold, especially if your close to the ocean like we were.  The humidity and fog seem to just settle among the redwoods which can really chill the temperature.  We decided to wrap blankets around the outside of his crib, so no cold air would blow in through the sides.  We also thought if we each slept on one side of the crib that would help with blocking out some of the cold air as well.  In addition, we had him sleeping in two sets of thick footed sleepers, a beanie, and three blankets wrapped around him.  When he woke in the morning, he was nice and toasty, except for his nose and cheeks that were exposed to the cold air.

 We had a blast hanging out with everyone.
Our neighbors, the Jones, brought their boy, Drew and our other neighbors, the Shelleys, brought their two children, Kayla and Preston, along with an adorable couple in the ward, Renee and Deborah Contreras.  Our other neighbors, the Marshalls, brought their three girls, Abby, Adri, and Penelope.  Penelope is a couple months younger than Daxton and it was nice to have another baby along for the journey.  The Marshalls are pretty amazing and are constantly going on new adventures.  We love to hear all about their trips.  They will be moving to Mexico at the end of October for a few months just for fun...yeah we wish we had their flexibility and bravery!
 Playing among the redwoods
 You can tell from the picture above, the kids had a full day of fun, so they were exhausted by the time dinner and roasting marshmallows came around.  Daxton was literally spell-bound by the flames.  He sat contentedly, bundled up on my lap, watching the flames.  Then we would rock him to sleep on our laps for his nap or in his carseat/stroller.  He did so good!

Roasting Marshmallows
 Mesmerized by the flames.
We all stayed up close to midnight before going to bed for the night.  Daxton did pretty well.  I was so nervous for several reasons.  Because our campsites were so close, I didn't want to upset other campers by having a crying baby up all night and I couldn't stop worrying about whether he was warm enough.  You can see in the top right picture below how bundled up our little guy was.  We didn't cover the top of his crib, of course, to make sure he got enough air, so his face was pretty chilly when he got up the next morning, the rest of him was super toasty.  We had him decked out in two different pairs of pjs and three warm blankets.  I worried all night long and every hour would peak through the side of his crib to see if he was ok.  It made for a long night!  He slept soundly from midnight to 6:30am and then woke up screaming (literally about scaring me half to death.)  After feeding him he didn't want to go back to sleep, so I was quite the tired mommy.  I walked him around as he looked up at the trees and watched the blue birds land around camp.  He then fell asleep around 7:30am in my arms and didn't wake up again til after 10:30...my arms were dead by the end of the morning!
 Snuggling with my little man all morning
 We obviously weren't the only exhausted ones.
Penelope seemed to do great though, you could tell this wasn't her first time sleeping out in the woods!
 Once everyone was awake, we made breakfast, hung out and talked, then started to pack up camp.  From the pictures, it's pretty obvious that Daxton enjoyed his first camping experience.  And he seemed to also love wearing his beanie, which was a huge blessing!
Daxton has quite the crush on Abby and her gorgeous hair!
He's into the older women, like his daddy...
 Thank heaven for footsie pajamas.  He was wearing size 6 month and then a size 9 month over the top, so you can tell that they are both pretty baggy on him, but at least he stayed warm.

These pictures melt my heart.
Jen snuggling with Drew.
I hope that when Daxton's grown, he'll still want to sit on my lap and snuggle every now and then.  So sweet!

Some of my favorite images from around camp...
All in all, I'd say it was a pretty successful trip...
At least Daxton seemed to get a kick out of it!

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