Kristin and I went on our last pre-baby camping trip three years ago. We used to be avid campers. We had a system down. We were slick in setting up and taking down camp. We never camped in campgrounds. There's no need in Utah. There's so much BLM land, you just drive into some particularly beautiful piece of nowhere and put up your tent. As long as you bring your own water and you're not the type to need a bathroom, you're fine.
After our last trip, we put all our camping stuff away, and it didn't come back out until last Friday. What can we say? We were busy making a baby. It's sad. So that's why we were so excited to go on the Gay and Lesbian Parents of Utah's Annual Campout. Well, we call it the GLPU Annual Campout, but really it's just the LPU Annual Campout. Because the gays, well, they just don't come camping. They're too wussy.
Anyway, we were supposed to go to Bear Lake. We didn't. We ended up at Yuba Lake. Which, while not a bad place, is not Bear Lake. For one thing it's about 3 hours south of Bear Lake. So it was HOT. And for another thing, there was no shade other than what we made ourselves. Finally, there was a lot of sand. Sand. Sand. Sand. It was everywhere. Still, the water was pleasantly cool, and the sky was breathtaking. But more on that later. First, we had to get there.
I took half of Friday off. Kristin met me at home around 1 PM. We thought we could be on the road about 2. Ha. Hahahahahahahahaha. Ha. Our rhythm was off. Our formerly smooth pack and load routine was rusty with disuse. Plus, not only was this our first camping trip with Julia, but it was also our first camping trip with two large dogs. Oliver was only a tiny puppy the last time we went camping. So we packed. And repacked. The dogs pacing anxiously around, knowing something's going on, and determined to get in on it. My new car doesn't have a roof rack, so everything had to go in back. In the place where we thought the dogs would ride. We determined that the dogs would need to ride in the back seat with Julia. We have NEVER taken the dogs in the same car with Julia before. We thought, "hey! Julia's carseat sits in the middle of the bench. That will give each dog his own seat to either side of her! GREAT!"
So, we pile everything in the sportage. I can't see out the rear window. The floorspace in the back seat is taken up with coolers and a full solar shower. The floor space in the front passenger side is full of cameras. We still need to get to the store to buy ice and sandwiches for Saturday's lunch. Oh, yeah, and we need to pick Julia up from daycare. Plus, it's getting close to 4 PM. Traffic heading south through the valley is killer, we need to get started right away!
We decide that we're going to go to the store, go pick Julia up, and then run home to grab the dogs and head out. Only, as we head to the store we realize that traffic's already picking up. So we decide just to go get Julia and get ice and sandwiches in Provo -- past the worst of the traffic. So we pick Julia up. Now, Julia's care provider is a lesbian mom and a member of GLPU. She had left for the camping trip at noon and her mom was there watching the kids. That's fine, we like A's mom. But A's mom had been under the impression that we would be picking up Julia around 2. And so she didn't feed her. Our fault, we guess, we had meant to pick her up that early, but didn't manage it. Still. Now we had a starving baby who wanted a bottle RIGHT THEN. So Kristin squatted on the back seat (remember, there was no leg room back there) to give Julia a bottle, while I drove very carefully back home for the dogs. After only about 4 ozs, Julia decided that she was done with the bottle, so I put it back in the cooler. Then we put the dogs in the car. Oliver on one side of Julia and Oscar on the other. BIG MISTAKE. As soon as we started driving, Oliver stepped on Julia. Julia started screaming, Oliver got upset about the baby screaming and stepped on her again! Oscar started getting agitated because of Julia's piercing screams (she was fine, just upset and scared) and the fact that she was touching him (he doesn't let the baby touch him) and we started getting worried that he was going to step on Julia, too. So I stopped the car. We did some quick rearranging (moving the drinks cooler from the floorboards in the back, to the floorboards in the front. Kristin took the camera bags onto her lap, and sat in the back with Julia (settling down now, but still affronted) and I took Oliver up front with me. Where he promptly tried to crawl into my lap. I pushed him off, but for the majority of the trip he lay on the seat with his head determinedly in the way of my gear shifter.
Do you know how annoying/fightening it is to try to shift up or down only to find that you have to shove a dog's head out of the way? Not to mention that he was alternately breathing heavy/licking/drooling on my thigh as I was driving. And, did you know that I'm allergic to dogs? That their saliva makes me break out in hives? Yeah. Uh huh.
So, we get on the freeway. I can't see out the back of my car. I'm not perfectly familiar with the way the car handles, with its higher center of gravity and touchy power steering. I'm itchy and having to pause between shifting gears to shove a dog out of my way. And Julia is in the back seat getting fussier by the moment (though A's mom didn't feed Julia, she did let her take a loooooooooooooooong nap that afternoon). Then, once I'm on a rush-hour clogged freeway, Julia decides that she really WASN'T done with that bottle. The bottle that is now wedged in a cooler at least 2 feet beyond any adult's hands. With a large, increasingly anxious, dog on top of it. Fun times!
I don't know how we made it down to American Fork (city just north of Provo). But we finally decide that we need to pull off the freeway and get Julia's bottle. And while we're off the freeway we decide to look for a grocery store for ice. So, I pull off, get out, get a rope burn on my hand from catching Oliver's whizzing leash as he made his mad dash for freedom, dig out the cooler, grab Julia's bottle, force Oliver back into the car, notice that the solar shower has sprung a leak and soaked the back seat and Oscar (no wonder he was so miserable), empty faulty solar shower, put a towel down on the seat, and get back on the road. To spend the next half hour looking for a grocery store. We finally found one, Kristin took Julia in the store to get her out of the carseat for a moment. I took myself, the car, and the dogs across the street to top off the gas tank. We rendezvoused in the store's parking lot. Iced the coolers, piled back in the car in the same places as before, and got back on the freeway.
An hour later, we are FINALLY past the worst of the traffic. As we drove through the bad traffic, we consoled ourselves by noticing that traffic headed back to Salt Lake was at a standstill on the freeway. And then we see a sign for Subway. We still need lunch for Saturday. So we decide to get back off the freeway and drive through Subway for sandwiches. As soon as I pull up to the drive through and start to order, the dogs go nuts and Julia starts screaming. I'm trying to place an order through an extremely fuzzy connection AND keep Oliver from jumping out the open window. We finally, with much yelling and clarification and "can you repeat that, please"s placed our order and were told to drive up to the window. At this point Kristin decided that she needs to wash her hands. So she gets out of the car and leaves me alone with Julia and the two dogs. And Oliver takes that moment to jump into the back seat and stand on Julia.
Now Julia's screaming bloody murder, the dogs are BOTH trying to escape the car, and I've got a teenaged boy trying to hand me sandwiches. I pull Oliver off Julia and force him back into the front seat. Kristin returns to the car. I take the sandwiches from the boy, tears starting to stream down my face. I manage to whisper "thank you" and pull the kia away from the window. I pull up 5 feet before hitting the breaks and dissolving into shuddering sobs. Kristin starts laughing hysterically in the back seat. Julia is still crying. Kristin's not laughing because she thinks it's funny. She's laughing as a hysterical reaction. She does that sometimes when she's pushed beyond her ability to cope. I have a tendency to laugh like that, too. So once she starts laughing, so do I, alternately sobbing and laughing my hysterics out. The dogs are cowed by this display of human craziness. Kristin and I realize that we can't just turn around and go home at this point because the traffic is too bad. We might as well go forward. So we do.
By the time we reach the campout, I'm no longer crying, but still feeling pretty shaky. Luckily, almost everyone was there already. So there were people eager to take our cranky baby and change and feed her while Kristin and I set up camp. And the dogs got out, and off their leashes, and in the water, and released all that pent-up energy playing fetch and chasing kids. The only thing bad at this point was that we were planning on setting up our tent by Merrilee and Summer, but kids had dug a huge hole right where our tent would go. So I, still in the grip of hormonal irrationality, decided that we would place our tent waaaaaaay far away from everyone elses. The better to protect them.
And after that, everything was peachy. Oh yeah, until the next day when the ranger came by and told me that my dogs had better get on a 6 foot short leash or else. That's when I lost it again. Sobbing (after he left) and trying to take down our camp by myself (because Kristin was on an ice/bathroom run to the nearby town) because I couldn't stand the thought of tying up our dogs when they weren't bothering anyone. Not a soul was being bothered by our dogs. They were staying in our camp, playing nice with the kids and the other dog. They weren't even barking. The only time they barked was the night before when some strange men were sneaking around the edges of our campsite (they claimed they were looking for a place to camp themselves. But they seemed suspicious to all of us. And Oliver and Oscar definitely didn't like the smell of them -- even though they didn't have any problem with any of the other people on the lake). But Summer talked me down. Convinced me that the dogs wouldn't die if we tied them up. So that's what we did. And we called Kristin and Merrilee and asked them to bring me alcohol. But we were in a dry county, so no go there. They brought me chocolate instead.
So, except for THAT, it was a great trip. Julia had a great time crawling in the sand , riding on the boat, and floating on the giant raft. Though we were having a good time, we decided to leave Saturday night instead of Sunday morning.* Because of the dogs' captivity and because the sand was just everywhere, and because we were exhausted. The trip home was smoother, though, because the dogs were tired, and because we moved Julia's car seat to the side and put Oscar in first. Oscar formed a barrier between Julia and Oliver, so he didn't step on her again. And Julia slept the whole drive home.
In conclusion: For a first camping trip, it went pretty well. And in August we're going to go camping with our lesbian friends again. This time we'll be in a cooler location. Hopefully it will go smoother...
Here are more pictures of the campout.
*and thank goodness we did, because I was laid low most of Sunday with a blindingly severe headache that turned out to be from dehydration. Ibuprofen and ice were useless and I was miserable until Kristin forced me to drink some pedialyte. Good thing we weren't out in the desert still! As much as I love the desert, I don't always do well in the heat since my heat stroke a few years ago. Better planning next time!