My son’s first camping trip or I am crazy
To start off the day I first had to go to weight watchers to WI, and because I have my new bike I decided to pedal my way to the meeting. It was only 14 miles and it was a nice cool morning, I put the bike rack in the back of the car so I could head back home with my wife. The trip was pretty uneventful except for two things. I took a wrong turn and ended up on a very busy road and adding about 4 miles to my trip. Second as I was preparing to make my turn into the strip mall where the Weight Watchers meeting is held, a guy in a white truck lays on the horn, calls me an A-hole, and runs me off the road(where I ended up hitting a huge pothole). Luckily, both Tallulah and myself were ok, though I was shaking very badly when I dismounted. I was down almost a pound though, which makes two losses in row for the first time since mid March!
So we grab an early lunch of subway and head over to the local big box store for a few last minute supplies. Glow sticks, hot dog roasters, lighter, and some swim diapers. The excitement is already growing inside of me, I have not been camping in years! I still haven’t told my son yet, with plans to wait until the last moment to spring it on him. I had packed 90% of the stuff the night before in my panniers ( learn more here ), and after adding the last few items I started setting up Katrina for her big ride. My pack list was a bit more than I would have brought for just myself but it is roughly as follows:
Tent (Eureka! Apex 2)
Small Stove w/iso butane fuel (Ultra Light Stove)
Sons Thomas the tank engine sleeping bag(stuff inside itself to a small throw pillow size)
Snuggie (used instead of sleeping bag since I don’t own one)
Short sleeve t-shirt
Extra clothes for my son
4 Diapers w/ wipes
2 swim diapers
Cooking pot (cheap 5 dollar one from wal-mart)
Spray on Sun Block
4 Water bottles(Two on Katrina, one in the back of the trailer and one for my son)
2 collapsible hotdog/marshmallow cookers
Bike tools(tire levers, patch kit [with more tire levers], bike specific multi-tool, some cash,spare tube, and Advil)
Chargers for phone and ipad
Special bedtime book (Just me and my Dad)
Hebrew national hotdogs (only one point per dog up to 4)
Hot dog buns
Pancake mix (in a packet)
Small Maple Syrup
Chocolate chips/peanut butter chocolate chips
As you can see I was able to fit a lot inside the panniers! The only items that didn’t go in them were the bananas(which did NOT survive the trip) and an extra water bottle, both of which went into the trailer. One thing that surprised me is that I actually didn’t pack anything I didn’t use, and in fact found that I was needing a few more items. One thing I plan to do is mark a water bottle with ¼, ½, and full cup marks for measuring water amounts.
After loading Katrina down with her load, hitching her up to the “wagon” and double checking tire pressure I wheeled her out to the front of the house. I walked in and told my son I had a surprise for him out front! He rushed to the door and saw the bike, his face started to light up and when he noticed the tent!
“daddy, your tent is on tent on the bike” he says to me
“Yes, what do you think we are going to do with the tent?”
“Camping!” he exclaims
Do yourself a favor turn up your speakers and hit play while you read the rest of this(maybe even hit replay if you want) 😀
I go to put on his helmet and he freaks out at me about not wanting to wear it, I remember thinking “great what am I getting myself into?”. After I get him his helmet on we pose for the mandatory “heading out” pictures. That formality done, we load up and hit the road! Ahh the smell of a fresh summery day with the world out in front of us! Life doesn’t get better than this, does it?
We ride for awhile, the load is actually more comfortable to pull than I thought it would be, thought when I corner I have to be careful as the load makes me skid a bit if I go to fast. I get up to where I know that we will be crossing the railroad tracks and am greeted by construction signs! The track crossing is closed, and there is no way for me to get the bike over the tracks. I swore a little bit in my head and proceed to find a way around this issue. I go into a little community only to find it is full of dead ends. UGH! As luck would have it though, I found an couple of folks cleaning up their garage sale and after a few minutes of them arguing between themselves about which way to go; only to find they both were essentially telling me the same thing, I get the directions I need. It does take a bit of back tracking but I was eventually able to get going again
I am going along for awhile, and not coming across the trail intersection like they said I would. This is starting to piss me off a bit and I am wondering if I am going to have to go home to get the car. For those that know me in person though, I don’t like to give up and I am very stubborn. I keep pushing on and after about 4 miles I finally hit the trail right next to the big bridge. One issue though, I got a bit turned around and am not sure which way I need to turn. I make the best guess though that I can and luckily it was the correct one. The ride is uneventful as we pull into Chesterton, IN. and I make the first turn from my cue sheet.
Is this the right road???? I wasn’t coming across the next turn and I was beginning to wonder if I had A. Missed my turn B. Taken the wrong turn C. just not gone far enough. I spotted 3 people sitting on their lawn and decided to pull over and ask for directions (See us men CAN do that sometimes). As I pull up an older lady asks, “do we know this guy?”. I chuckle a little and say no, explaining my predicament. One of them, a guy about 45 I would guess, explains that he had just showed up after 15 years of being away and thus the reason the woman had asked jokingly if she knew me. He tells me I simply need to keep going, and double checks the rest of my directions(point out a few landmarks for me to look for ahead). I wave goodbye and keep pushing on, suddenly I find myself in a VERY busy down town area that I didn’t know existed. I thought that little historic area was the”downtown” but I was very wrong.
I spotted my “rest stop” up ahead though, a Dairy Queen! One of the best parts of bike touring/camping is that you burn a LOT of calories, calories which you get to replace. So we go inside the wonderfully cool and refreshing air conditioning, and order up a couple of ice cream cones. Already, I feel that special bonding moment happening! Here we were, father and son, enjoying an ice cream cone on a hot day, while heading out for a camping trip. It is a memory I will continue to cherish.
The lady at DQ though was very annoyed with me asking to fill my water bottle(they have to go and do it as they don’t have it on the self-fill station). So I I decided to just leave it as it was, at least she had put lots of ice into it. As we head out of town, my chain ends up coming off at a traffic light, but I was surprised to find that the driver behind me was understanding as I hopped off to move the bike out of the way. They didn’t honk or pull out fast around me, so thank you random unknown person for being kind to a cyclist! It was only 10 miles from DQ to the campground, but that was one of the longest 10 miles I have dealt with in awhile. Hauling 30 pounds of gear + 30 pound of kid with a little wind thrown in of course, makes a nice recipe for getting tired out. I went through 2.5 water bottles on that final section. The sun was brutal and I was worried as I was on some rather deserted county roads. The kind of road where if something happened I don’t know how long I would be laying in the ditch. The ice water that melted though was a life saver, it was the last bottle I hit and it was beyond refreshing!
YOU CAN’T CARRY TO MUCH WATER ON A HOT DAY!
YOU CAN’T CARRY TO MUCH WATER ON A HOT DAY WHILE PULLING A KID AND CAMPING GEAR!
To get to the campground the last turn was onto a a major hwy for .5 mile. It was scary, as cars whizzed past me at seeming light speed! It was downhill, and with all that weight on the back wheel, the bike would get wobbly if I went about 13ish mph. I may or may not have been repeating, please don’t kill me, over and over again till I arrived. We arrive at the site and it is time to get to work!
One thing I really liked about our spot here is that we were right next to an awesome playground area! After setting up camp, we change into our swim shorts and go for a quick dip into the pool. It felt amazing, my feet were very swollen at this point and it did wonders to just let them soak for a bit. After our swim, he goes to play at the park for a bit until dinner. Dinner was hotdogs and marshmallows, score 5+ daddy points! The rest of the afternoon was filled with playing at the playground, going for a walk(where we met a rather interesting duck). Just spending some quality time together, it was nice to just spend time with out the stress of home. Not once did I have to yell at him to stop doing something, or send him to a time out. It was a wonderful gift that we both received.
Towards the evening we end up getting some “neighbors” a woman, her daughter, and he boyfriend. We made quick friends, as did my son. Her daughter I think was about 5 but her and my son got along amazingly, spending the rest of the night playing together. I enjoyed getting some “adult time”, visiting with someone how doesn’t need me to change their diaper was a blessing.
I let him stay up till about 10:30 and I finally ended up calling it a night an hour later. Here is one of the things I want to get for next time, a sleeping pad! Did you know; and this is scientific fact; that the older you become the hard the ground gets? I use to be able to sleep on the bare ground no problem, but not any more! It sucked, it sucked bad! I finally passed out at I would guess about midnight, and woke up a few times trying to get comfortable or to throw my snuggie back on. I was finally woken up the last time with a scary feeling of a heavy chest. I was finding it hard to breath, and quickly started to freak out, when I hear from above me “WAKE UP DADDY!”. He had climbed on my back and was sitting on top of me. We get up and he goes to play in the park again with his new friend as I fix us breakfast. This is where that water bottle marking would have been nice as I try to guess how much 1 cup of water is for the pancakes. Another camper comes up, who I had met the day before as well, and offers me a dozen eggs, cheese, and some sausages! So we ended up with a yummy feast for breakfast, need to fuel my legs for the ride home.
We lay around for about an 30 min before packing up the site, and checking out. Right before I go my kickstand comes loose, and it takes me a good half an hour to get it fixed. I HATE this kickstand and really want to replace it, but not an option right now. The bolt is tough to reach and my wrench just barely fit the spot to hold it. Also, when you pack up your panniers, make sure you don’t put your tools at the bottom, was annoying to have to dig them out. I should add that at this point my wife is questioning if I want to ride home or have her pick us up. I was still feeling exhausted from the day before(and late night), but again I am to stubborn for that. The ride home was very pleasant, though the wind was worse today and that trailer acts like a giant sail sometimes.
On the way home though, I decided to stop in Chesterton again, and have something nice a cool/refreshing. So we talked it over and decided to go and get a nice cold “beer” together. So here is my son and I enjoying a post-campout “beer” float.
We both decided to get ours as floats, and after that it was a quick ride to get home, luckily I knew to take that other detour path this time. We arrived home, with smiles and exhaustion on our faces. After we a quick bath for him it was snooze time, and after my shower I followed his lead! I think I slept for close to 3 hours! Man did I need it though, and am thinking of heading to bed here after I am done with all of this.
So, there you have it, our adventure, maybe not of epic proportions but an adventure none the less. I learned a few things on this trip:
I am not ready for that 80 mile ride
I love camping with my son(and can’t wait till my other son is old enough to go as well)
Check for constructive before you leave on a bike camping trip
That I love my son, and need to treasure all of these moments we get to spend together.
I hope to make this a tradition for us, and look forward to more campouts together 🙂
Keep On Rolling,
Big Boned Biker