Meg's First Camping Trip

This past weekend I took Baby Meg (3.5yrs old) on her first camping trip. And boy was it memorable. For starters check out our digs:


It’s not a tent, and it looks an awful lot like an upscale deer blind. But no… as far as Meg is concerned, this is her “Castle in the Sky”. I showed it to her in the afternoon and she was excited to find out that that night we were going to sleep in the Castle in the Sky.

After dinner Meg was ready to go.


We left out on the 4 wheeler as it was getting dark. The weather was cool but not unpleasant. After settling into the Castle, unrolling our sleeping bag, and getting Meg ready for bed we heard someone approaching - Hey! It was Daddy Berry! (That’s my dad.) He popped in told us a quick bedtime story (The Little Red Hen with the Yellow Feet - a Berryman family classic) and dropped off his fleece coat just in case we needed it.

At first things went quite well. Meg zonked out immediately after Daddy Berry left. And I got to work finishing off a blog post. As an aside, technical writing inside of a Castle in the Sky in the middle of the boondocks is a blast. The only distraction was Meg’s snoring (she gets if from her mama). I did notice that it started to get kinda chilly.

At roughly midnight I decided to turn it in. I crawled into our sleeping bag and immediately noticed a problem: we didn’t quite fit. Now if Meg were a normal human then we might have had a shot. But nope, she’s a 3 year old. And when a 3 year old gets cold they apparently sit criss-cross-applesauce and then lay down on top of their own legs. So Meg was now a very hard, bony lump taking up more than her fair share of the sleeping bag.

What’s worse, this has to be one of the cheapest sleeping bags in the world and I fought the zipper all night long. I would try to lay as still as possible on my back so as not to wake Meg, she’d move, I’d move to accommodate, and then the zipper would spontaneously unzip to the middle of my back. While still attempting to move only minimally I would use my fingers like a pair of tweezers to pull the zipper back up. Inevitable the zipper would get stuck. I would be relatively warm on my left side (small children seem to put out a lot of heat), but with my right arm exposed to a jet of arctic wind I found it pretty hard to get any sleep.

Some relief came when I found out that we wouldn’t suffocate if we crawled completely inside the sleeping bag and zipped it up over our head. With the zipper zipped completely up, it didn’t come open quite so easily. What’s more interesting, by about 4AM some of our more interesting neighbors came out. I heard several owls and at least one pack of coyotes which had to be within 100 yards of us. (TIL - a coyote’s howl actually has kinda a nice musical aspect to it.)

Finally the sun came up. I’d probably managed to get 2 hours of sleep all night so I was eager to pack up, get back to the house, curl up in a bed and sleep for another hour or two to top off my rest for the night. One problem - I had this 3 year old with me. Everytime I’d try to move to get up, Meg would throw a leg and arm over me and make sure I didn’t move. We had a silent, sleepy battle for about 30 minutes and then finally I just got up. Wowwee was Meg unhappy! She didn’t like being awake and she sure didn’t like the cold.


I quickly packed up the sleeping bag and the mat and transported gear and daughter down to the 4 wheeler. We immediately hit two problems. First the 4 wheeler seat was covered with a thin layer of ice. (I’m secretly proud that Meg’s first camping trip was sub-freezing.) After we brushed the ice away and climbed on the 4 wheeler, we found the next problem - the 4 wheeler wouldn’t start! So I told Meg funny stories about how “the 4 wheeler is sleepy too!” and prayed that I wouldn’t have to carry 30 pounds of daughter 500 yards away to the house.

Finally, fortunately, the 4 wheeler started, and we headed back to the house. After she warmed up a bit, Meg’s mood improved and, all said and done, she seems to have like our first camping trip in the Castle in the Sky.

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