Saturday, June 26, 2010

Our Little Camper

It was with a little apprehension on my part, and a little more apprehension on Laura's part, that we decided to take our little man on his first ever overnight camping trip. A year ago this month, when he was only a month old, we rented a cabin in Oconee County. We had a great time doing a lot of short hikes and seeing the sights. (You can see the blog post for some of the pictures we got.)

This time it would be out in the elements. We weren't doing any backpacking, so there would be all the comforts of Oconee State Park right outside our vestibule. On the drive up, we kept thinking of all the worst-case scenarios. What if it gets too busy, and the park is too loud for him to sleep? What if birds or other things wake him up in the middle of the night and his screaming wakes up everyone else? What if he gets too hot or too cold at night? Well, everything went absolutely perfect.

When we are home, Gabriel loves being outside. It's pretty much a sure-fire way to calm him down if he gets grumpy...just take him outside. It was much the same when we got to the campground. First, we stopped by Chau-Ram County Park just north of Westminster, SC. Ramsey Falls is located here, with tons of picnicking areas located above it. Ramsey Creek then flows down into the Chauga River. On the river there are nice hiking trails, and a really scenic suspension footbridge. Below the bridge the river has a nice little island sandbar that is perfect for kids to play on.

As great as the park was for playing in the water, the campground left a lot to be desired. The sites were packed in on a tight pretty tight loop on a steep hillside. They seemed to be well put together, but just a little too close for our liking, not to mention the place was already pretty full and it wasn't even noon. So after we got all our playing out of the way, we decided to head on over to Oconee State Park. We spent a little time over at their really busy, but really neat swimming area. It was closing in less than an hour, so we really didn't have much time. But we let the little guy ruin another diaper and take a dip.

After that we went and settled into our campsite. The later it got, the more nervous we were about how Gabriel would handle going to bed out in the woods. We had his pack n' play set up in the tent, so it was at least a bed he was used to, just in a less familiar setting. Laura headed to the bathouse for a shower, and I rocked Gabriel in the hammock. It was no time at all before he was out cold, much to my surprise. I got him over to his bed and he was fast asleep. Even as the rangers drove by on the gravel road (which was only about 20 feet from the tent) there was no peep out of him. We had some hot dogs, played some cards, then headed to bed ourselves. Judging by energy levels in the morning, it appeared that the rookie camper slept better than anyone else.

The next day, we headed back to the park office, bought the little guy a t-shirt to remember his first camping trip with, and got checked out. We decided then to head down to the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery. If you are ever in Oconee County doing some camping with the family, be sure not to pass this place up. It's free, and any young fishermen in the group are sure to love it. Our only danger here was keeping Gabriel out of the trout tanks. We spent a few minutes here before finally packing up and heading back home.

Now that the first one is out of the way, this opens the door for many, many more camping trips. They'll take on a different look than the camping trips we have gotten used to. No hours of hiking to riverside seclusion. We'll be camping car side in local parks with campsites that have power outlets and water spouts, but at least we will be outside. We'll have to save the primitive camping for a time when Gabriel's feet get big enough for hiking boots.