Grit Blogs > Backyard Baers

That Time We Almost Went Camping

By Benjamin Baer


Tags: family, camping, Sherando, Virginia, Benjamin Baer, summer, vacation, young daughter, great outdoors, state parks,

Benjamin BaerI’ve always enjoyed camping; we used to go all the time when I was a kid. Of course, it was a different setting growing up in Florida compared to the mountains of Virginia, but regardless, camping has always been a favorite summer getaway of mine.

When my daughter was born almost 3 years ago, we decided it was probably necessary to take a break from camping. I’m sure there are plenty of families out there, braver than I, that take an infant or toddler out into the woods and sleep in a tent and all, but I just felt I’d make up for those years in the future when she was older. She’ll enjoy it more and actually know what’s going on, and I’ll definitely enjoy it more. Well, how quickly time passes! I guess she’s older, because a few weeks ago we got a wild hair and spontaneously decided to pack up and go camping for a night.

We went to Sherando Lake, which is a state park about 30 minutes from our house. The park was awesome. I had heard of it, had never been, but I’m now in love. The camp lots were perfect, cleared out and nice and flat with a picnic table, a fire ring, and tons of surrounding trees to hang a hammock and give you a little privacy. We got there that morning and had a great day. Set up our tent while PKB hung out and played with her shovel and bucket, and then unpacked the vehicle. Once we had everything set up, we all walked to the lake to hang out for a while. It was ridiculously crowded, but PKB loved it nonetheless. We got on a float and went out into the water, and she thought it was about the coolest thing ever. I think she was equally fascinated with being out in the water on a float and watching all the kids running around having a ball.

Afterwards we went for a walk, taking in the sights of the wilderness and the lake, and then headed back to the campsite to relax and hang out in the hammocks. We took the easy route for dinner and just grilled hot-dogs over the fire, followed up with roasted marshmallows. Everything was going great, but the real test was going to be putting her down for bed.

We started talking about bedtime around 7, how I would put her down and read her a story, but then I was going to go back outside and she was going to go to sleep. Around 7:30 we climbed into the tent and started reading our goodnight book. Once we finished, it was quiet time; we laid in a pretty warm tent, me trying to be quiet and her, apparently, thinking it’s time for the PKB social hour as she decided she wanted to talk about anything and everything.

Do you think the deer is outside? (we had seen a deer near the camp spot a little earlier.)
No, I think she ran away.

I want to go to the lake.
No, it’s dark, we can’t.

I love you, Daddy.
I love you too, PKB.

I want to read another book.
No, we only brought one; it’s time to go night-night.

Where’s Cutie-Pie? (that’s what she calls one of our dogs — his name is actually Brownford.)
He’s at home. Probably sleeping, like you should be.

Etc, etc, etc.

Finally, we hear a noise outside the tent (probably just someone moving around), and she asks what the noise was. I said, “I don’t know … but, it may have been a bear. We should probably be very quiet.”

As soon as I finished saying that, I thought to myself, this could be a colossal mistake. She may now be thinking there’s a bear outside and is going to be scared to death all night and not want me to leave her side. Way to go. Well, I lucked out this one time; after saying that, she was totally silent and was sound asleep within a few minutes. As quietly as possible, I sneaked out of the tent. Mission accomplished, time to enjoy a cold brew!

Ten minutes later, I’m sitting by the fire, enjoying my brew and good conversation, and I suddenly feel a drop on my arm ... don’t tell me. Within a few minutes, we are all huddled in the tent listening to it pour outside. PKB is wide awake. No big deal, we will wait this out, PKB will go back to sleep, and we can go back to enjoying the peaceful outdoors. Suddenly, I feel something wet. I realize all the bedding in the tent is soaking wet. The tent is leaking. Okay, camping trip is over, time to go home.

And in the pouring rain, we take down the tent, gather all the supplies and clothes, and throw them in the vehicle to head home.

That will forever be known as the time we almost went camping. Up until that point, we had a great time though. And I am anxious to give it another go … hopefully for a lot longer than a day.

camping
Not sure how to interpret that look, but I THINK she's having fun.