Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Camping Yakkity Yak

I love saying yakkity yak.

So I did a jokey post about our camping trip and you can see all of the pictures linked from Tuesday's post, but I wanted to come back and tell give you a few more details, lest you think I don't actually like tent camping. All of that stuff in the first post was definitely true. Of course! We're the Rooneys, people! Whacky stuff just happens to us.

But the camping trip was truly a lot of fun. OK, maybe not the asthma attack, but even the cold temperatures didn't ruin it. I did worry that we'd freeze to death.

That didn't happen though.

And as Ma would say, "All's well that ends well."

Rocky Mountain National Park is a place I'd recommend to anyone who's considering a trip west. You don't have to camp. Does that make it more appealing? As you can see by the pictures, it's incredibly beautiful.

RMNP is about two hours from home. We headed out last Friday right after school. The car was completely stuffed. I was afraid a door was going to burst open and various and sundry things--that might or might not include my underwear--would go flying down the road.

That didn't happen though.

As we were driving, Finn started the "I'm about to get sick" cough. Awesome. The asthma attack he had in the night was minor, but it did scare me, being out there in the middle of nowhere and all. In fact, I was all for hanging out the next day and then driving home to sleep, but I was overruled by everyone and we stayed. I'm glad we did.

As you could see, we had a campstove, but we also wanted to light a fire (to ward off frostbite and scary forest beasts). The park ranger I had talked to a few days prior (come to think of it, I feel he was negligent in not telling me to ignore the Weather.com forecast--I might have to sue) said to bring firewood in case there wasn't any on site. So we had a stove, tons of firewods, waterproof matches, firestarters, AND those butane lighter-y things. I felt surely we would have no problem lighting a fire.

But we did. It was one of those embarassing situations where your campsite is engulfed in smoke demonstrating that you are not having campfire success.

And then the stove malfunctioned. It gave us fits all weekend.

I was getting concerned we'd have to eat one of the kids, but Eamonn proved himself to be master of the fire and got it going. In fact, we cooked over the fire that night because the stove never did get its act together. Eamonn had to completely dismantle it and re-McGyver it back together to get it working.

We stayed on the west side of the park--there are two entrances. There was a big festival in Estes Park, on the east side, and we wanted to steer clear of that. As someone pointed out, there are a lot of dead trees in my pictures. The pine bark beetle has literally decimated the lodgepole pine population in Grand County, where the park is located. It's very sad.

We stayed at the Timber Creek campground and were pleased to find the water was still on there (toilets and a camp sink--no showers). People visiting as of yesterday had to starting using the vault toilets. Not a fan of those.

On Saturday, we drove along the main drag--Fall River Road, I think--took some scenic detours and did some small hikes. Finn was struggling on one of the hikes up to about 12,000 feet, so he and I went back to the car and took a couple of hits of albuterol.

Our second night felt warmer. I had driven into Granby, about 30 miles away, to get some medicine to see if we could unstuff Finn's nose. He definitely had a better night so it was worth it, but as I was heading to Granby, I got a text from Eamonn saying, "You don't have the National Parks Pass!" Declan was actually the one who commented after I left, "How will Mommy get back in without the pass?" Frankly, I probably would have breezed right out of the park and never thought of it until they made me stop upon my return. The ranger at our campground called ahead and cleared the way for me, so it was all good. When I came back through the entrance gate, "I called out, 'I'm the crazy mom who went to buy medicine and forgot the pass!' 'Yeah, yeah, we've heard of you, you're fine!'" they called. It's nice to be noticed.

I saw a moose on the way back to the campsite. I picked up Eamonn and the boys and we went back and stalked it. And watched some woman walk out into the clearing to get a better view. Very dangerous. Moose can be very aggressive, both the males and females. We stayed in the trees.

We got back to our campsite and roasted weenies. And marshmallows of course. And saw the moose that lives right at our campsite. We went to a ranger talk about moose, which was very cool. It did make me more paranoid though when the ranger said she had been charged by a moose during her moose research. So that night,when I had to get up in the middle of the night to take a trip to the bathroom, I kept shining my headlamp (if that's not super nerdy, I don't know what is) around in terror, waiting for a moose to mow me down without ever asking for a muffin (get it?).

Our second night felt warmer to us (again, perhaps it was zipping ourselves into a smaller part of the tent...and then the aftershocks of eating baked beans...and we also drank hot chocolate right before bed.). When I spoke to the ranger the next day and commented that it was much warmer, she gave me a weird look and said, "It was 20 degrees in Grand Lake at 2:30am, so I'm not sure why you think it was warmer." Thank goodness for beans, I guess. I'll never leave home without them again.

Or handwarmers. I slept with handwarmers, toe warmers, and a body warmer. So did the boys. Eamonn tried toe warmers and they apparently malfunctioned. Mine were still hot at noon the next day, which is a crazy long time.

As an interesting aside, it's amazing how many calories your body burns trying to keep itself warm. Shivering is a very good workout.

We slept fully clothed. I wore pajama pants, yoga pants, a short sleeved t-shirt, a fleece hoodie, a fleece jacket and two pairs of wool socks. The boys were similarly dressed. We all slept in hats. I never even took my bra off all weekend--I didn't want to strip down too far. I did change my underwear, just in case you wondered. Because that would be gross. As far as I'm concerned. The boys saw nothing wrong in attempting to wear the same clothes all weekend.

I love how relaxed camping is. Yes, we did a fair amount of siteseeing around the park, but a lot of our time was spent puttering around the camp, and I like that. On Saturday morning, the sun was finally peeking over the top of the mountain, Eamonn and the boys went off to wash dishes, and I sat by the campfire and dozed with my face turned up to the warm sun. It was an extremely pleasant way to spend a morning. No rushing to get to a museum by a certain time, to see something, be somewhere. We were just being and I liked it.

In fact, I spent a lot of time just being grateful for those 0 degree sleeping bags.


1dreamr said...

I love camping... just being away from everything. Love it.

Anonymous said...

I just love B&Bs!



Leeann said...

You should know that your Moose-mowing-muffin comment made me guffaw out loud.


Anne K. said...

Oh Natalie, you crack me up. I'm so glad to hear you changed your underwear.