This post won't be as long as I want because I'm having to your it on my phone. Gesture typing is a damn near miracle, but it's still not great for long form prose. Normally I'd use the Chrome book but Alice is watching Dumbo on it with headphones while Beatrice sleeps in a possibly broken crib in the corner of our room at the Super 8 in Lee, MA, smack in the middle of the Berkshires. This is the first time I've had that precious combination of time and energy to write a blog post. That's life on the road with 2 small children!
A sudden rainstorm caught us unprepared at the beautiful campsite in October Mountain State Park last night, rendering the tent uninhabitable at least for small children so upon seeing the devastation I declared us motel bound. Thankfully Alice loves motels-especially those offering Fruit Loops For breakfast, as this one does, so... Pig... Shit... Happy... You get the picture. Meanwhile daddy is back at the campsite hopefully getting to enjoy this spectacular day as he packs up all of our camping gear, which we largely left behind last night in our desperate departure... also so it could dry out overnight. We quite regret not getting to enjoy the campground, which is breathtaking in a classic northern New England sort of way: we were actually camped right next to a rocky creek nestled in the woods.
So here are the lessons I've learned so far:
Alice is an amazing kid. She seems to be growing up at warp speed in just the 5 days we've been on the trip. She started taking showed instead of baths at grandma's house and has confined to love them at our campgrounds. She had her first bike wreck and then proceeded over the next few days to practice going up and down (smaller) hills until she proclaimed that she "thinks she's getting the hang of it." I can actually rely on her to help out doing small things and she is intensely interested in helping out with almost all aspects of camping. She always wants to go potty by herself and to walk back from the bathroom to the campsite alone. And most of all, when things got really stressful (that is, when we had to flee campsites for a hotel), it seemed that all she wanted to do was make her parents feel better. She was more than happy to camp or motel it, she didn't care.
NY state campgrounds -at least in Harriman State Park-have a stupid number of restrictions. No alcohol. No hanging anything from or tying anything around trees. No floatation devices or horseplay in the swimming area. Despite that (and the copious bug bites we 2 parents got), Beaver Pond Campground was perfection. At night we listened to what we think was a bullfrog croaking match. We saw deer, chipmunks, other cute varmints i couldn't identify, and a carrion bird, all close to our site.
I had a vague, unconscious notion ahead of time that this first week would go roughly and that we'd refine our processes and overall approach as we went. But that has come to the fore with a vengeance. Every day we discuss how to make things go more smoothly, from the minor (make due to have lots of food easily accessible from the front seat while driving, don't unpack the clothing duffels from the minivan just take out the new outfits you'll need) to the medium (we need to set up our tent fully with rain fly immediately upon getting to a campsite, scout out possible motels to escape to before arriving at a campground) to the major (instead of driving a little each day and staying in a new place each night, let's drive more in one day without attempting to be tourists along the way and then stay for several nights in one place; no more than a few days' camping at a time).
Personal hygiene is a thing of luxury on this type of trip. I wouldn't be surprised if Molitor is perfectly content with simply getting a shower and brushing his teeth every day, but I miss brushing my hair and shaving and trimming my nails and the occasional application of tweezers.
We have a reservation at Pillsbury State Park in New Hampshire tonight, a mere 1.5 hour drive from our ultimate destination of Moultonborough on Lake Winnipesaukee where we check into our Airbnb cabin tomorrow, I'm sure with much relief and happiness. Whether we actually camp at it, or stay at a motel again, depends on both the state of our camping gear after a night of drying and these parents' psychological stamina. It's an adventure! One thing is for sure, we will be the more resilient for it.