Sunday, August 15, 2010

Camping $urprises - Ouch!

It has been a busy (and hot!) week around here so the blog has been neglected with all the running around. Also, our office which has a full wall of windows and no window coverings so it's like a greenhouse and gets ridiculously hot right about naptime for about 5 hours. This also limits my blogging.

I am finally posting about camping thanks to my friend Meredith who mentioned she was waiting for it. I probably would have waited even longer to write this up if she hadn't said anything . . .

We had a fun week camping, but it was full of surprises, good and not-so-good, and lots of resourceful ideas.

First, DH and DD1 woke up sick the day we were supposed to leave. I had been diligently planning and packing steadily through the week in order to avoid extra cost outlays and to make our stay as comfortable as possible. I had kinda figured on DH's help over the weekend to help with some things though, and I didn't get it because he ended up working all night Friday trying to wrap things up at his real job and then was gone the bulk of the day Saturday wrapping up Census work. No wonder he woke up sick Sunday! I ended up packing the car and my wonderful DH stood next to it, sick and clammy, handing me the items I asked for as I tried to fill every square inch of space.

We finally left about 3 hours behind schedule. DH was feeling well enough to drive but DD1 was still throwing up periodically. DD2 and DD3 had this same bug earlier in the week and we knew it was a 12 hour deal so we decided not to delay our departure by a whole day.

About 2 hours into the drive we were feeling pretty good. DD1 had only thrown up once, and it was right into her little pink barf bucket which we promptly pulled over to dump and sanitize before hitting the road again. I glanced out my window and noticed the driver beside us guesturing frantically that our tire was flat. She was mouthing "You have a flat tire!" and pointing to our right front tire. I told DH what was happening and we slowed down to pull over immediately. We were cruising along at 70 MPH in our suburban and didn't even notice anything was wrong. We saw a rest area ahead of us about a mile away so we aimed for it, but as soon as we slowed down the tire starting smoking! We were able to pull safely and quickly off the road and praised God for a really wide shoulder!

We hopped out and looked at the tire. It had started separating, but wasn't off entirely. Praise God we were spared a full-fledged blowout! And Praise God we were all OK - blowouts can be really dangerous. DH called AAA immediately. We love this service and have used it well. Our spare was buried under all the camping gear, but we dug it out without too much trouble. The jack and tools to change a tire were way too far in to bother digging out with AAA coming. I took the big girls on a walk to the rest area. We walked on the far side of the safety rail which was really far from the road because of the wide shoulder. It was about a 1/2 mile and a fun adventure in roadside debris. By the time we got back to the Suburban AAA had come and gone and DH was repacking the back. Praise God for a full-size spare that allowed us to travel quickly to our camping destination!

Our next not-so-good surprise was having our battery die mid-week. DH and I had been charging our cell phones in the car and didn't think anything of using the battery like we have in the past. A jump would get us going but the battery wouldn't re-charge itself enough to start again. Praise the Lord we were with people who know about cars when this happened and we had minimal inconvenience. My brother ended up pulling the battery out of my parents' Suburban for us to use and DH headed out to the nearest Les Schwab (about 30 miles away) for new tires and a new battery.

A very painful $927 dollars later we were set to go. Yeah, you read that right. Suburbans are big cars and they have big tires. We didn't have the luxury of shopping around for prices, but we are loyal Les Schwab customers and there's a 95% chance we would have purchased there anyway. The added bonus is that we were in Oregon so there wasn't sales tax or this transaction would have been over $1,000 dollars. Another big praise is that we actually had the money for this emergency without using our emergency fund. DH had some Census checks come in that we had hoped to send to pay down our timeshare debt, but instead we used that money to cover this expense. I also now feel much better about driving the Suburban now that it has new tires. This is becoming my primary vehicle because with DD4's arrival next month we won't be able to fit all the kids in the Toyota.

We also had a lot of fun and financial blessing while camping.
  • Our big group had a baby shower for my SIL and I who are due a week apart. We were blessed with some lovely gifts and had fun playing a couple party games and eating cupcakes.
  • The park had a great kids' program that DH was awesome about taking the big girls to. I got a break almost every day while DD3 napped and the rest of the family went to the kids program. There was usually a craft afterward, too, that DH would linger and help them with.

  • We were so thankful to have an electrical site! I was able to cook on our plug-in grill from home and heat up hot water fast.

    We also borrowed a small fridge from my folks so we didn't have buy ice all week long. Even better, we were given the fridge at the end of the week because mom was planning to get rid of it as it had become clutter at her house. The electrical outlet also provided means to run a fan inside the tent which provided white noise and breeze for the baby.

  • We brought a ring of baby gates to help contain Joanna, but my brother and mom had some, too. We combined them to make a big play area and even put down some outdoor carpet to keep the dust down. It was a popular place for the littlest kids on the camping trip. I picked these up at a yard sale for $25 and they retail for $100. They are great for outdoor play.

  • My cousin was selling her tent a few weeks ago at a garage sale and we were able to get it. Our other tent was a 5 man tent which would have been a tight squeeze with four sleeping bags and a pack'n'play. The new tent is much bigger and has entrances on three sides with two divider walls we could hang up. We set up the entrance on one end and put the big girls on either side of that door, then we walked through to the widest 'room' where DH and I had our air mattresses, and in the back we set up the pack'n'play and a card table with a changing pad on it. It was really luxurious! The baby had her own space and we didn't have to bend down (much) to change her and it was awesome that DD3 couldn't see her sisters at bedtime. It helped her sleep much more easily.

We had a few minor mishaps, too, like I woke up to use the bathroom at 5:30 AM and one of the DDs wasn't in the tent! She was in the bathroom that was right behind our site and I found her before I had time to get panicked, but still - very scary that I didn't even hear the tent zipper open! We also had many, many bumps and bruises that were obvious when we finally got the girls into a bathtub after the trip. One of the girls loved playing in the dirt with her cousin and got seriously filthy the first couple of days. DH and I talked about it and decided we'd "fight that battle" and tried to keep her out of the dirt the second half of the trip. It's always a challenge when one kid is allowed to do something and we are trying to keep our kid from doing the same thing, but she mostly did great.

This is the night before we were done camping. It's pretty funny now to see how tired and dirty we all are!

Over all we had a really fun trip and are looking forward to doing it again next year, hopefully it'll get easier with the kids another year older!


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