Monday, July 18, 2016

Bike Camping

Earlier this month we went bike camping at Yellowwood State Forest. HP had been camping twice before, but it was E's very first time and therefore our first camping experience as a family of four.

The ride was fifteen miles each way. I got off easy riding my commuter bike with two small panniers, the camping pads, and E on the Yepp Mini. Neil hauled the main load on our Yuba Mundo with HP in the Yepp Maxi seat. E was ready to get off the bike around mile ten, but was fine once I started doling out the cheese cubes and banana chips.

Most of the ride was on quiet country roads with minimal traffic. The minute we crossed out of Bloomingrton I could feel myself relax as we entered a shaded, tree-lined road. We could not have asked for a better weekend to go; the weather was gorgeous and surprisingly not too hot or humid for the middle of July in the Midwest.

The hardest part of the trip was sleep, which was to be expected. E skipped her nap on Saturday and fell asleep on the ride home Sunday, but otherwise did great. HP had a hard time going to bed because he was so keyed up. In retrospect we should have let him stay up later with us and then all gone into the tent together. Next time.

My favorite parts of the weekend:
  • Seeing how excited HP was about every little thing. He wanted to pick out our campsite, help build the fire, go on "little hikes" (think walking around the campsite), etc. 
  • Taking an early morning walk with E down to the dock of the lake and watching the mist slowly burn off the lake as the sun came up. It was quiet and peaceful in a way I do not experience in my day-to-day life.
  • Arriving at the campsite and knowing we got there by our own power. I remember feeling the same way when Neil and I biked from Portland to Mt. Hood after we finished graduate school. Such an empowering feeling! 
There is something about being in nature that I need to feel happy and whole, but do not get often enough. There were many points during the trip that I thought about Richard Louv's book The Last Child in the Woods and how valuable it is for everyone's mental health and children's development in particular to spend time in nature. It reinforced my desire to make exploring the outdoors a priority for our family. Taking the time to be together as a family away from the city, screens, and distractions is invaluable.

Overall, the trip was a huge success. It was definitely work, but a good kind of work. I take comfort in the fact that these kind of adventures are only going to get easier as the kids get older. I am already dreaming about our next bike camping adventure this fall. Crisp fall air and changing leaves + all the good things about this trip? I can hardly wait.

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