Winter camping

Before the weekend, Josh and I discussed a few ideas of things we can do together–just the two of us. Somehow he had his mind set on camping. Don’t get me wrong, I love camping too. But in December, while it’s rainy and dark? Not on the top of my list of fun things to do.

I got home from work on Friday, fully expecting to discuss with him what else we can do this weekend, given the wind warning and rain. As soon as I opened the door, he came running with his sleeping bag in tow, excitedly asked, “Are we going camping now?”

“Uh, baby, it’s raining out and there’s a wind warning in effect. Do you want to do something else this weekend?”

“No, I want to go camping.”

Okay…then. Since I did ask that in the form of a question, leaving the choice to him, I can’t then turnaround to say no. I packed up a few things and got ready to go camping. I have had a long week and was feeling very tired. I really did not want to go camping.

While waiting for the elevator, Josh looked up at me with bright eyes, and said, “Mommy, I have been waiting so long to spend some time with you.  You were away in Vienna with Daddy and Phoenix with Savanna. I am so excited we’re going camping!”

Well, that put an end to my self-pity about how tired I was feeling. Who knows how many more years I have left with my son wanting to go camping with me?

We drove down to Birch Bay State Park. It was pitch black and raining hard when we got there. We had our choice of campsites, as there were only 3 other campers in an area with over 30 sites. We settled in for the night listening to the wind outside, while we were safety tucked inside the van with electricity and a propane-powered furnace. Josh taught me how to make origami squids, we read a couple of chapters of Captain Underpants,  ate some potato chips and drank hot tea. By 9 pm, my eyelids were getting heavy. Josh was still too wound up to sleep. I gave up and went to sleep, while he stayed up a little longer to make more origami.


On Saturday, we woke up to a clear day with no rain. It was cold outside, but the furnace (and my many layers of clothing, and my sub-zero sleeping bag) had kept me pretty warm.

We ate breakfast, and went for a long walk. Josh loves looking for broken crab shells and interesting rocks at the beach, so we did just that. We got some coffee and hot chocolate at the coffee shop, and walked back to the campsite talking about random things. We talked about how much we love camping, and made plans to do this more often.

While waiting for our lunch to cook, I looked back and see Josh throwing sticks around, climbing onto the picnic table and jumping off. There was no one else around, so I let him be. Then he was fixated on stripping the bark off a broken tree branch. The air was cool and fresh. I was loving being outdoors, and being with Josh. There was no TV, no phone, no work, and no rush to go somewhere. It was so good for the soul.

IMG_1993-EditBirch Bay CampingIMG_2009Birch Bay CampingIMG_2031Birch Bay Camping

IMG_2026Birch Bay CampingIMG_2019Birch Bay Camping

IMG_1979-EditBirch Bay Camping



Planning a bikepacking trip

My obsession with riding my bike may be slightly obvious. Aside from hanging out with the kids, there’s really not much else I want to do other than ride my bike.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk at work on a cold rainy day, wallowing in self-pity. I opened up Google map just to look at potential trips I can plan. This is one of those escape-reality things I do. I don’t like shopping or porn. I look at maps.

I decided on Phoenix. And riding a bike. And camping.

In a few days, I will fly down to Phoenix for a 5-day bikepacking trip. It will start right from the airport, up into the Tonto National Forest, up to Mayer, down Black Canyon Trail, and back to Phoenix. It will be a mix of pavement in the city, forest service roads, and some mountain bike trails.

I’m taking my cross bike. 40mm tires. A frame bag. A seat bag. Savanna’s sleeping bag (to save weight). And let’s see how this goes.


Death Valley hiking trip

I have always loved deserts after my Joshua Tree trip years ago. I find the stark beauty of it amazing. To start off the year right, a hiking trip to Death Valley is just the ticket! Death Valley in California has the highest recorded temperature on earth (62 Celsius) in the summertime. It is dry, hot, desolate, and beautiful. The starry sky at night is unbeatable here, with the milky way clearly visible.

Death Valley badland loop hike-2Death Valley badland loop hikeDeath Valley badwater salt pan-2Death Valley badwater salt panDeath Valley Dante viewDeath Valley Marble CanyonDeath Valley Mesquite Flat Sand dunesDeath Valley stars night skyDeath Valley cracked dry ground-2Death Valley cracked dry ground-3Death Valley cracked dry groundDeath Valley Golden Canyon hike-2Death Valley Golden Canyon hike

Savanna’s first camping trip

Almost exactly 2 years ago, we took Josh camping for the first time. All I could remember is how miserable I felt on that trip. Looking back now, I suspect the pregnancy hormone and the physical discomfort probably had something to do with it too.

We decided to brave it and take both kids camping this past weekend. It was Savanna’s first camping trip ever. Even with all of us crowded into a smaller tent, forgetting to pack some important things, me having stomach issues, and the campground being kind of crappy, I enjoyed the experience and I think Savanna did too.

Savanna loved sitting in the lawn chair, running across the grassy field, stuffing her face with marshmallows, and rolling around in the tent. She also loves sitting outside the tent and playing with the rain fly. It was so much fun for me to see her so excited about every little thing.

First time camping-4 First time camping-7 First time camping-8 First time camping-9 First time camping-10 First time camping-14 First time camping-19 First time camping-22

Toddler’s first camping trip = I question my sanity


I’ve always loved camping.  I love staying up late by the camp fire, drinking an icy cold beer, eating s’mores or all sorts of junk food, and hanging out with friends.  Cliff doesn’t love it as much as I do, but he accommodates me by going with me once a year.

Back in July we had planned on going camping one weekend, and that was the weekend we had a rainstorm.  Needless to say we chickened out and canceled that trip.  This weekend was looking great in terms of weather, so we decided to give it another try.  It would be Joshua’s first time camping.

Normally I do the packing for our trips, because I’m the queen of “lists”.  For a camping trip, I would have multiple lists–to do lists and checklists of things to pack.  But I was so tired the night before the trip, I gave Cliff the lists of things to pack.

Things didn’t get off to a great start.  We set out after I got home from work on Friday, and our destination was Golden Ears Park.  The park is at least a 1 1/2 hour drive from our place, plus we stopped to pick up our boat, put fuel in the boat, and grab some fast food dinner.  By the time we got to the campground, it was getting dark and hard to see.

After being in the car for so long, Joshua was demanding to get out of his car seat.  I don’t blame him; I was starting to get antsy too.  But my heart sank when we circled around the campground and seeing all the sites were full.  I was thinking, what kind of fools are camping in mid-September?  I guess the answer is, our kind of fools.

I was trying to keep Joshua occupied with snacks so he doesn’t focus on how long he has been strapped in his seat.  Then, he choked on a piece of chip, and started to cough.  After a few coughs, he was quiet.  I looked at him, and he looked at me.  I said, “Joshua, are you ok?”  He didn’t say anything, but just stared at me.  Quietness from this guy is never a good sign.

He opened his mouth, and without any further warning, proceeded to vomit all over himself and his car seat.  I don’t know why, but I cupped my hands together and tried catching some of the vomit.  Maybe I thought it would help prevent it from going all over the car.  So now I have a pool of vomit in my cupped hands and nowhere to put it.  Nice going, Angela!

We stopped at a grass patch to clean up.  Well, not so much to clean up, but to dump some of the vomit on the grass.  I know, it’s gross.  Joshua was crying, I had vomit in my cupped hands, and the car reeked, so forgive me for not thinking straight.

Luckily for us, the park ranger had opened up a closed campground to accommodate us fools camping in mid-September.  So we did eventually find a site to camp.  Setting up camp in the dark was not very much fun.  I changed Joshua out of his stinky clothes, wiped him down as much as I could, and tried to convince myself that bringing a 22-month-old toddler camping is a good idea.

The next morning, I asked Cliff to start a fire to get us warmed up.  My back was aching from sleeping without proper support, I was tired from being up half the night with Joshua attempting to use my head as his pillow, and I was cold.  But something didn’t work with starting a fire, and the sad few pieces of wood just gave out some smoke and made my eyes water.  I started making breakfast, then Cliff informed me that he forgot to pack cooking oil, or salt.  Things were going downhill fast, but I kept telling myself that my thoughts of strangling my husband were just the pregnancy hormones acting up.

After a lousy breakfast, we packed up everyone and took the boat to the launch.  It was our first time at this boat launch, and we weren’t prepared for how little space it had for people to stop and get prepared.  So while we were taking off our boat cover and putting in the drain plug as fast as we can, some jackass came to tell us to hurry up.  He had no idea what kind of damage I was ready to dish out to his face.

So far on this camping trip, I’ve already wanted to hurt two people–my husband and a complete stranger.  If things don’t look up soon, I might have to give birth to our daughter while serving time in jail!

Once we launched the boat, the sun was up, and the scenery was beautiful.  It was our first time on Alouette Lake, so we cruised all the way to the top of the lake just checking it out.  The water was still like glass.  The shore was green and gorgeous.  There was barely anyone else on the lake.  We got to the top of the lake, killed the engine and hung out in the area for a bit.  I sat on the swimming platform and dipped my feet in the water.  The water was surprisingly warm, and so clean.

Just as I was starting to think more positively, I hear Joshua say, “Cap! Cap!”  I turned around, and saw that he had just thrown my lens cap into the water.  The cap sank quickly, and there was no saving it.  It’s beyond me why throwing things into water, be it a lake or a toilet bowl, can be this attractive of an activity for a toddler.

We had our lunch on the boat, enjoyed the sunshine, and started heading back.  On our way back, Joshua fell asleep while I was driving.

Back at the camp site, I was exhausted and fell asleep while trying to convince Joshua to nap.  He was all charged up from his power nap on the boat, so he wouldn’t be fooled to take a nap.  I vaguely remember hearing Cliff and Joshua get out of the tent.  When I woke up an hour later, Joshua was standing at the door of the tent calling out, “Mommy come out!”  I sat up, rubbed my eyes, and tried to focus on his little face through the mesh screen.

Wait, what is that?  There was blood on his forehead, nose, and upper lip.  I asked Cliff what happened, and he didn’t know.  He thought that Joshua may have fallen at some point.  Like, really!  You think?  But because Joshua didn’t cry, Cliff just saw him dusting himself off and didn’t know he was hurt.

I felt so guilty for not being there to prevent the fall.  His scraped up little nose looked so sad.  And to hear that he didn’t even cry or complain about it somehow made me feel even more heartbroken.  Maybe he was trying to be brave.

We had some tasteless dinner (because you-know-who forgot to pack seasoning), went for a walk down the path, and let Joshua get really dirty playing with rocks and sand.  While he played with rocks, I questioned my sanity about this entire endeavour in my head.  Maybe 22 months is too early to take a kid camping.  He is not going to remember any of it, and I’ve just brought all this trouble upon myself.  Or maybe we shouldn’t go camping if I didn’t do the packing myself.  Maybe I’ll just hitchhike my way home so I can sleep in my bed tonight with 5 pillows supporting my giant body from every angle.

I was feeling quite discouraged with all the little things that were going wrong, so I suggested to Cliff that we pack up and go home first thing in the morning.  Joshua fell asleep quickly and early that night because he didn’t have his regular nap, and slept for almost 12 hours straight.  The next morning, we packed up and were the first to leave the campground.  All I could think of was how much I would love a steamy hot shower, and wash out the dirt under Joshua’s fingernails.

I asked Joshua if he had fun camping, and he said yes.  He may not know what I was really asking, but at least his answer made me feel a little better that I wasn’t completely out of my mind for taking him camping.