Zion 2016: some tips on”glamping”

A list of some things that I just can’t stand:
1. Bugs
2. Dirty things
3. Bugs

Despite this fact of life, I still love camping. I grew up going on several camping adventures every summer and so many of my favorite childhood memories are centered around it. But what I love even more than camping is glamping (glam+camping for those of you who are unfamiliar with the funny little term).

My husband has finally wrapped up his summer long work training and had a whole week back home between his travels. Zion has been calling our name all summer and so… off to Zion we went. I’ve always heard that September/October is the best time to visit the park + it’s only about a 2.5 hour drive for us + our garage has been exploding with all of the camping supplies that my husband insisted we absolutely needed at the beginning of the summer so the whole trip just easily fell into place.

One of my least favorite parts about camping (besides the bugs and decreased ability to maintain proper hygiene) has always been the mess associated with meal time. Fortunately for us, Pinterest has completely changed the game and is full of all the ‘make ahead’ meals you could ever want. I spent the entire day before the trip prepping all three days worth of food. I froze most of our food prior to leaving so that it would last longer in the ice chest and I double bagged everything so that it wouldn’t get ruined as the ice melted. The awesome thing about make ahead meals is that you wrap everything in foil and all that you have to do come meal time is throw it over a fire (or a small camping grill like we used) and 20 minutes later you’ve got a delicious hot meal with no dirty cookware.We keep all of our dry food in one large plastic container and keep the container in the trunk of the car where its guaranteed to stay dry and bug/animal free. I like to keep the container stocked full of lots of snacks because lets face it… there is nothing like kicking back in a fold out chair with your feet up on a log while passing around a bag of Chex Mix and seeing how many of the brown pieces you can sneak before anybody catches you.

**Tip: If you rely on your morning coffee like we do, a french press is an amazing way to make the perfect cup of coffee at your campsite. Simply grind some fresh coffee before you leave, store it in an air tight container, and boil some water in the morning. Easiest and freshest cup of coffee you could possibly have while camping. And let me tell you… Something about a good cup of coffee in the cool quiet morning as the sun rises over the campground that is just total perfection.

A few of our favorite meals on the trip were:

 

Campfire Breakfast Burritos:

(This recipe is even better if you sub the frozen potatoes for freshly chopped red potatoes tossed in olive oil/garlic powder/onion powder/paprika/chile powder and add some salsa verde before you roll it all up! We also sub turkey bacon instead of regular bacon)
http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/side/potatoes/bacon-egg-and-potato-breakfast-burritos.html

 
Campfire Potatoes:

http://www.cleverlysimple.com/campfire-potatoes-on-the-grill/

 

 

Campfire Sandwhiches:
(we substituted the roast beef with turkey)

https://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/923025032/hot-roast-beef-sandwiches-pioneer-woman/

 
To “glam” up the site a bit, we brought a tapestry for a table cloth, which I think added a lot of character to our camp and was super easy to just bring home and wash at the end of the trip for plenty of future use. I also got some cheap wine glasses that come 4 for $5 at Target. They’re perfect because if you break one its not the end of the world since they’re so cheap but they are so much better than drinking wine from a solo cup. We brought some decorative candles for the table that we found at homegoods and they doubled as additional light sources in the evening.

Overall I would say the trip was definitely a success. Our camp seemed to have been situated on top of the central meet up point for the entire ant population of Zion, which was less than ideal, but beyond that everything was great. We were able to accomplish an entire 2.2 mile hike that went along the river . Normally I wouldn’t be bragging too much about 2 miles, but when those 2 miles consist of a three year old hiking *mostly* all on his own, I think it’s pretty justified. There was a bit of rain on our second day so we hid out in the car for a while and went for a scenic drive until it passed while The Lumineers and Deathcab For Cutie sang our tired little hiker to sleep. When it wasn’t raining, we played by the river and my husband and son caught little frogs and lizards while I took probably way too many photos.

Zion will forever hold a special place in our hearts because it was the first destination my husband and I ever visited together back when we were dating. Sharing it with our son and watching him find so much happiness there was everything I could have asked for to close out the summer.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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Camp Liam

With each passing year, I discover more and more that all of those older folk who approached my big pregnant belly saying things like:

“time flies by in the blink of an eye!”

and

“You’ll be sending that kid to college before you know it!”

….they were all right. Just two years ago on this day, I was on my way to the hospital to bring our little guy into the world. Now I sit here trying to throw together a blog post as my toddler runs around the house saying “help me! help me!” about every tiny little obstacle he comes across. My 6.5 pound baby is now capable of putting on his own shoes, verbally communicating what he wants, and riding a scooter across the park… and man is it crazy to watch sometimes.

To celebrate the big T-W-O we threw our little guy a camping themed birthday party, complete with a teepee, ‘Camp Liam” banner, and all of his favorite people. Being the obsessed and slightly overly organized party planner that I am, this party was in the makes for at least 4 months. I have surfed every pinterest board, every etsy deal, and made about 10 lists full of ideas to say the least.

What ultimately brought me to the decision of a camping theme was the over all ease of it. Camping is simple, laid back, and always a good time (unless you’re camping in the actual woods and forget one of your necessities or get attacked by mosquitoes). All we had to do was throw up a camping shade, put out some camping chairs, and fire up the grill and bam… Camp Liam was open for business.
The party took a lot of prepping and planning but was 100% worth it. Liam had a great time, was left with some awesome toys, and was absolutely exhausted by the end of it all…so I would say: mission accomplished.

Tonight we will put our one year old down for bed, and tomorrow we will wake up with a two year old jumping up and down as we attempt to get him ready for his big adventure to the children’s discovery museum. At some point in the day I’m sure that I will stare at my baby’s newborn photos and probably get embarrassingly teary eyed, but ultimately be comforted by my little man will running up to me and giving me a big sloppy kiss as he wraps his arms around my neck saying “ma-ma!”. It will be a grand and exciting day as we celebrate two years of time on this earth, two years of memories, and two years of our world being shaken up in the greatest of ways.

Happy Birthday to my two year old.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur

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Camping with a baby: No. Just No.

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See that photo of the Zion coffee cup? Minutes later, this same **hot** cup of coffee was spilled all over my lap by my 11 month old. See that photo of my family happily smiling for the camera? Seconds later my 11 month old was in full blown tantrum mode because he couldn’t put leaves in his mouth. You’d never know it from these lovely photos but this. trip. sucked.

Ok, so I’m being slightly dramatic, it wasn’t entirely bad. There were parts of our trip to Zion National Park that were absolutely wonderful. But camping with a baby is a whole lot tougher than it sounds. I thought I was prepared for ANYTHING. I spent days and days before this trip making anal lists and packing bags. I thought of every possible situation that could arise and made sure that I would have a solution for it.

First situation to arise: I forgot the baby formula. Realizing this 2 hours into the trip, we were able to pull over at a grocery store and buy him a new box of formula, but of course only AFTER I spent a good 30 minutes beating myself up about it. Since formula is something that we were using up until the last minute, I left it on the counter. Note to future daring camping parents: buy an extra pack of formula and pack it up with everything else.

Second situation: I didnt….bring…my baby’s…BAG. Yeah thats right. I brought my bag, my husbands bag, our food, our games, our everything on the planet… except for my baby’s duffel bag. Worst mom award, right over here. As if I wasn’t feeling terrible enough about not packing my baby’s formula. Luckily I had packed a separate bag of diapers, toys, wipes, bottles, and one spare outfit; however his pajamas.. clothes.. everything else he might need.. were all left behind.

Third situation: turns out that babies don’t like tents. I take that back.. babies LOVE tents. So much so, that they refuse to sleep in them. In my fantasy situation of how the weekend would go, we would spend a great day playing in the great outdoors with our son, put him to bed, and have a great evening to ourselves around the campfire. Oh boy was I wrong. My son is an excellent sleeper.. at home. He typically falls asleep within 5 minutes with minimal assistance. I headed into the tend to put him to bed in his pack n play, and the second he’d finished his bottle he popped up and began to pounce around the tent. 20 minutes later my husband came it to relieve me. 20 minutes after that I went back in to relieve him. 20 minutes after that, my friend went in to relieve me. 20 minutes after that my husband came in to relieve me. And the story continues until 2 hours later my husband and I resorted to taking him for a drive. Within 2 minutes he was passed out. Oh but the story is not over yet. Three thirty AM…. the boy wakes. He spent the next 2 hours pouncing around the tent before finally passing back out on our blow up mattress. Seven AM… the boy rises. He continues to pounce until he removes the lid from a water jug and dumps it all over the bottom of the tent. Rise and shine.

Fourth situation: in case you weren’t sure.. there are no clean floors while camping. It sounds so logical, but when there is nowhere to set your baby, you’re limited as to what you can do. Babies as young as mine do not yet understand that they cannot eat that rock or lick that bird poop encrusted table. While I knew this going into the trip, I thought between the group of us, we could pass him around and entertain him enough that it wouldn’t matter. The problem is, babies don’t want to be held in the great outdoors…they want to explore it. This was entirely my fault, not his, but regardless, it presented quite the problem.

All of that being said.. we cut the trip short and came home after the first night.

I’m not telling EVERYBODY not to take their children camping. I’m sure some families could make it work. But you have been warned.. it is harder than you think. My best advice is to wait until your kids are older or rent an RV.

We did have some great times. We went for a lovely hike along the Virgin river, played in the water, and ate at some great little spots in town. But let’s just say, our next family trip will definitely take place in a hotel.

Cheers,

T.W.C.