Thursday, 17 July 2014

Roughin' it out: Camping

I'll be the first to admit it, I didn't grow up camping. My parents didn't really care much for it (instead, we did super exotic trips abroad... another story for another time), and the only experience that I had camping was going with my aunt and cousins when I was 10 years old. They took me twice, and then... *long pause* I went again in 2010, this time at the age of 25. The 15 year no-camping period made me a pampered princess, perhaps almost afraid of getting dirty. Had my husband not been such a great camper and former boy-scout, I don't think I would have gotten back into camping quite so well. It's a wonderful challenge, for the following reasons:

  • You test your flexibility in different environment
  • Relaxing by the campfire (and smelling of cinder) is one of the most serene things I've ever done
  • It's relatively inexpensive... if you have all the gear!

Rachel's first camping trip at Gordon Bay Provincial Park, in Lake Cowichan
However, a few weeks ago we went camping for the first time with Rachel. It presented us with a few new challenges: how to keep our phones charged all night, a leaky air mattress (not entirely related to hearing loss, but nevertheless an important factor to having an awesome camping trip), and sufficient (but ambient) light so we can actually see what we're doing. I'll go through each challenge accordingly.

Challenge #1: Keeping our phones charged all night

The Solution: NewTrent iCarrier 12000 maH Portable Dual USB External Battery Charger (approx $78) - we purchased ours off

A wonderful purchase! It kept our phones charging for two full nights! The only thing I'd have to say is when your phone is fully charged, the iCarrier automatically stops charging your phone... which might mean you may have to wake up and check to make sure the charging hasn't stopped (I'd do this when baby girl wakes up for her feeds).

If you've read the post "How we wake up at night, Part 2", you'll know that we need to keep both our phones on all night in order for our baby monitor to operate. With camping, there isn't easy access to plugs and the like. So, we searched for a Dual (note emphasis on dual) USB External Battery Charger. This one works fabulous - lasted us two full nights, and is easy to charge during the day, using your car battery, or if you're lucky enough to have bathroom/shower facilities with plugs, charge it in there while you're brushing your teeth, showering, and whatnot.

Challenge #2: Leaky Air Mattress (and breastfeeding)

The Temporary Solution: Wake up every 4 hours, and pump the bed up using a portable air pump.

The Permanent Solution: Patch it up and hope for the best... or go out and buy a new one (given that we are frugal people, this is a last resort!!!)

We like to 'glamp', or glam camping. Thin mattresses just don't cut it for us. So, going against convention, we use the aerobed raised double sized mattress (supposed to be used only for indoors - but what the heck). We use it also whenever we have company stay with us - pretty convenient as it has a built in pump which helps determine individual firmness level. Anyway, turns out we had a miniscule tear in the mattress (which we found when we got home), and when we had to wake up at night to pump the mattress it didn't even wake up Rachel! We were shocked as to how well she was sleeping (in her Graco pack n' play) in the tent! Breastfeeding in the tent was... interesting. Because of limited space (we have an 8 person tent, but with a raised double size mattress, it's really best for 4 people), I breastfed her on the bed, balancing my body on the mattress, and sadly, as soon as I got off the bed to put Rachel back in her pack n' play, the bed would deflate yet again. Cue repeated inflation.

Great sleep, but hopefully the next time we go camping, the patches work!
Challenge #3: Sufficient (but ambient) Lighting

The Solution: Fill an empty Milk Jug with water and put a headlamp around it... and voila!

Ambient Lighting at its best
Having a hearing loss means you rely on lighting big time. Without it, we can't even understand what is being said around the campfire late at night - as we do rely on lipreading quite a bit. While flashlights are great, it's not typically hands-free. This one is. We found this ingenious idea online (, and it's served us well. I usually bring two milk jugs, one for outside, and one for inside the tent. It's great to have when putting baby girl to sleep - she needs just a little bit of light (and if it's too bright, I'll throw a swaddle blanket over it to dim it some more) to get her for that deep sleep.  When we play cribbage or have a late snack outside, this light does the job. Best part is, we didn't have to spend a hundred dollars on a propane-fueled lantern. At the end of the trip, I'll take the water and drink it. Nothing like tap water from home. :)

In the end, we left a day early - not because of the bed, not because of Rachel, but because of the weather. The forecast was for rain the next morning, and who wants to take down a tent in the rain??? Yuck. As exhausted as I was from camping with a baby this time, it was well worth the trip. I want Rachel to grow up and be an experienced camper, unlike me. 

We have a few more camping trips lined up for this summer - and our next trip will include a new gadget... a Portable BBQ! So much easier than just having a stove-top.

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