In February we took M on her first full-day off-road trip in our Jeep. Being the untraditional family we are, we wanted to spend Valentine's day with the three of us and loaded up a picnic, the dog, and some blankets and headed north on the I-17 to the trail that ends in Seven Springs. M had a great time and did very well exploring the desert and places we stopped throughout the trek.
When we returned to the house I decided for my 32nd and my daughter's second birthday, it would be great to reserve a campsite at Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim so our family could spend a weekend kayaking and exploring the area. We had been talking about taking her camping for months and were looking forward to summer. Little did I know, Baby McCray 2.0 would be on the horizon within less than 3 months! Despite feeling ill throughout the first 20 weeks of the pregnancy, I kept the reservation and we went out of town anyway. I was early enough into the pregnancy that I could still kayak and hike.
My parents and uncle also joined us for the adventure. At the last minute, the Sampson family was also able to join us with their girls! It was a first camping trip for all of the kids, so we were happy to be in the same situation. M enjoyed having two playmates to run around with during the day. The weather ended up being perfect, and it was peaceful to experience the lake in the middle of an Arizona summer. The temperatures were in the 70s during the day and 50s in the evening. The only thing I would change is not bringing Sheba... she does better with dispersed camping where she can run free.
Being outside, and interacting with the outdoors has been a core value of our family since the moment my husband and I met. We were used to loading up the Jeep or Truck with whatever essentials** we needed, and heading out to the woods with our dirt bikes and the dogs to find some random forest road to camp near. Since we met it was our tradition to try and camp at least 3 times a summer and ride the dirt bikes several times per month.
Initially I was intimidated to camp with a toddler. How would she sleep? What if she wandered off? What if she cries the whole time? Since becoming parents we moved our regular outdoor trips to the back burner to focus on how to help a little person thrive. It turns out, part of helping children thrive, is introducing them to new experiences and adventures as a family. Her first off-road trip took place when she was 7 months old and she loved the bumps and turns in the road. For our camping trip it was helpful having the grandparents along to help wrangle her or occupy her so my husband and I could enjoy a paddle by ourselves. I am thankful for my parents. M is lucky to have grandparents like them and I hope they will join us for future trips.
M did great on her first camping trip, and it helped that her nana and papa brought extra goodies to keep her occupied. She still talks about kayaking and fishing with daddy, and I am hoping we are helping her learn the importance of taking care of nature and enjoying the less-traveled spots on Earth. We are looking forward to camping next year, this time with M and her baby brother. Thank you for a wonderful weekend.
**I am not known for packing light. This drives my husband nuts. I just like to be prepared in case of wind, rain, snow, or drought. Even if it means the car is bursting at the windows with gear we never touch during the entire camping trip :)
M never wants photos with her mama. Only if Mrs. Sampson is taking the picture.
Campfire french toast from Pinterest... didn't turn out as Pinterest-worth as I had hoped! Morning breakfast buddies. I love the little pink camping chairs.
Bald Eagles nest around the lake. My husband and I had the blessing of seeing one swoop down to catch a fish in its talons and fly up to its nest to share with the family. Amazing experience.
In the middle of the night a herd of elk wandered by the campsite. Sheba found a pile of their droppings and decided it would be best for everyone if she rolled around in it. Thank goodness the campsite had running water and I had dish soap. Our dog is crazy.
Mr. Sampson is an expert at making a good fire! This is the kind of expression she gives me when she is over having her photo taken. She was ready for her marshmallows and hot cocoa.