This past weekend we decided to go camping (yikes!)…..with a baby (double yikes!). I am not big on camping, but Justin is quite the enthusiast. We don’t go often, but by the amount of camping gear that Justin has accumulated in our hallway closet, you would think otherwise. It’s one of those things that I go along with, because Justin likes it (just like he ends up watching episodes of The Bachelorette with me, even though I’m sure he doesn’t enjoy it, ha!). This past weekend, Justin’s company had their annual company picnic/campout, so how could I say no?
I didn’t have many details about where exactly we were camping ahead of time. I knew we would be someplace about 40 minutes south of Knoxville. I think Justin was keeping some of the details from me on purpose, because he knows that I don’t enjoy camping and he didn’t want me to get overwhelmed. It wasn’t until we were in the car on the way there that he told me we would be staying on an island. What?!
I immediately had a million questions, but Justin couldn’t really answer them because he had never been to “the Island.” He had heard his co-workers speaking sentimentally about it because it was their annual retreat, but he didn’t know too many details other than the address for our GPS. Fortunately, when we arrived, I found the Island to be what I would term “luxury camping.” Meaning: I did not need to use the roll of toilet paper that I brought because there were restroom facilities on the Island. Hurray! There was also, surprisingly, electricity. And a refrigerator! Luxury, indeed.
As it turns out, someone in Justin’s office is related to “River John” (a sweet old man who reminded me of Santa Claus even though it’s the middle of July), so each year he lets the company use his Island and facilities for free. It certainly wasn’t camping in the deep woods, like I have come to expect from my husband (what is it about carrying your belongings in a backpack and trekking to the middle of nowhere to camp that gives men such a sense of fulfillment??). It was a nicely manicured lawn (recently mowed, from what I could tell), with shady trees and a centrally located pavilion decorated in twinkle lights. This was my kind of camping!
Not all of Justin’s co-workers decided to camp out, but quite a few of them were there. I met another family whose three-year-old son was quite taken with Jake, and kept attempting to play with him (though Jake isn’t a very good playmate at the moment–he’s OBSESSED with pacing around in circles now that he’s walking). We had a nice evening of mingling and meeting everyone, and around 10:00 or so we decided to try to turn in. However, Jake was on hyper-overload after being in a new place and seeing that the three of us were going to sleep outside in a tent, so we probably didn’t really settle down until around 11:00 or 11:30.
So…I didn’t sleep very well. Jake was all over the place, tossing and turning and kicking me in my side. I felt hot and sweaty (who goes camping in JULY?!) and I kept hearing the buzzing of mosquitos in my ear. I checked the time on my phone at least eight times during the course of the night. I just couldn’t find a comfortable way to lay, and by the time morning came, I was ready to get out of the tent. This girl likes her climate-controlled bedroom and her king-sized bed.
But the next morning was great, because it promised ADVENTURE! We took Jake on his very first canoe ride down the river. He LOVED it!
Our group unanimously decided that we wanted River John’s shuttle to drop us off at the halfway point, because the FULL canoe trip (that River John recommended) was about three hours long. I’m so glad that we didn’t attempt the entire thing, because as it was, it took us at least two hours to get back to the Island from the halfway point. I suppose River John estimates his travel time based on seasoned paddlers who don’t get arm cramps…
By the time we made it back from canoeing, it was way past lunchtime and way past Jakey’s naptime (around 2:00), but as usual, Jake was a trooper. He was having such a good time on the boat ride that he forgot about food and sleep. Everywhere I go, people are constantly telling me what a good-natured baby Jake is—and it’s a good reminder, because I tend to take it for granted sometimes. Next time around, we may not be so lucky!
Justin’s company provided some delicious barbeque, and it didn’t take long for us to fill our bellies and start feeling a bit drowsy. (Mostly Jake, but definitely me too.)
Jake WE had a nice long nap that afternoon! And Justin fulfilled his call of the wild, or whatever it is. I know that Justin’s favorite camping trips were probably the ones that he went on with his guy friends only, because I can be such a whiner! (Nobody likes a Debbie Downer.) But he put up with me this weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised by what a nice time I had. We are definitely looking forward to next year! 🙂