Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Our First Family Camping Trip!

             Hey guys! Did you catch my post on our backyard camping experience/trial run-gone-wrong a few weeks ago? Now that you're caught up, I am happy to report that we had a pretty successful REAL first family camping trip to Brown County State Park recently! Today I'm going to share all about it, including some handy information for your own camping trip to the park with the fam and just some useful tips on camping with kids in general if you are new to it as well. Learn from our mistakes, y'all!
             Long story short, John got a long “weekend” over Memorial Day weekend and I decided we should/talked him into going camping! It was a great time to go to avoid crowds, too, because we arrived on Memorial Day as everyone was leaving!

We had a nice spot, but if you're planning on doing a lot of things like we did, I definitely recommend finding a spot in one of the first two campgrounds. It's a bit of a drive back in Taylor Ridge...And we were only camped about halfway through it!
             We got everything set up by 3 and hadn't eaten since breakfast, so we had some sandwiches for lunch first. We kind of let Myka decide what we did to appease her (not that it wasn't stuff we wanted to do too ;) ), so our first stop was the swimming pool. Since they had probably just opened up for Memorial Day weekend, it was super cold! Myka and I had fun, though. Ripley didn't stay in too long because she didn't care for how cold it was. It was in the low 80's that afternoon, a bit cooler than I care for to go swimming, but it wouldn't have been so bad had it not been so breezy!

             We cooked some hot dogs over the fire that evening. John picked up some fun stuff from the camp store that changes the color of your fire, so that was a big hit with Myka. She happened to see the playground right outside of the campground earlier in the day, so we played for a little bit there after dinner as it was getting dark out.

             We killed two birds with one stone by starting the next day off by walking to the nature center. I had really meant to check out some more trails this time, but it technically fulfilled the “walk in the woods” portion of our trip. It was quite a walk from our campsite! I'm kind of surprised Myka made it back, though she did ask John to carry her several times.

             After lunch, we decided to give the new boat a try. (There are two small lakes at Brown County.) Myka has become obsessed with having a boat, so we made her save her chore money up to buy one. Unfortunately, she and John weren't able to go on their maiden voyage because it was too windy. We did get to witness two dogs get in a fight, so that was...frightening. 

            Since we felt bad since Myka has been so excited about going out in her boat, I thought I would be nice and take her to see the horses. I didn't know they also had pony rides until we got there, so we decided to drive back and change into normal clothes (she had her bathing suit on for the boat ride). And she fell asleep. We knew she would probably super ticked when she woke up because we wouldn't have time to go back before they closed for the day, but she REALLY needed a nap. She actually didn't throw a fit or cry like I thought she would and we promised to take her the next day.

             It rained off and on for about 2 hours that night, so we took Myka for her pony ride first thing Wednesday to give the tent time to dry out. She and I attempted to go in the fire tower afterwards, but we only made it up two flights of stairs. Ha ha Since I told her to take her time, it was giving me TOO much time to think and I ended up freaking myself out. Heights didn't use to bother me, but I guess they do now? I think it was more of the whole “being able to feel the tower move” thing.
             We figured out that the road outside of the campground was a scenic tour-type thing, so we checked that out since we had some extra time from not climbing the fire tower. Plus I hadn't seen that part of the park on our day trip a couple of months ago.
             It was time to eat and pack up when we got back to our campsite. Myka was super sad we had to leave. We weren't thrilled about having to get back to normal either.

Because, you know, priorities: Coffee and Jiffy Pop!

             Overall, it was actually a really good trip. The kids had their moments, but I expected that and they weren't really any whinier than normal. They actually did a lot better than I expected. (It's good to set your expectations low sometimes. ;) ) I'm very glad it went so well. I was afraid it would go so poorly that it would be our first and last camping trip for awhile. Now we know what to expect.
             It was definitely a learning experience. John and I hadn't been camping for probably 7 years. We both made lists of what to take...And we still managed to forget things, but that's to be expected, right? Kids take an insane amount of stuff! Funny enough, I don't think any of the things we forgot were for them. The major, really stupid thing we forgot? Our own blanket! I guess we were so worried about remembering all of the kids' stuff that we spaced it. There is not a Walmart or anything like that in Nashville, but we did find some relatively cheap blankets at the Dollar Store...But they were too short and not cutting it, so we traded them with the blanket under the air mattress. It was still really freaking cold! I am used to camping in the summer, so I guess I didn't realize just how chilly it still got at night. Oops! Lesson learned.
             Also, I suggest you look up campsites on the ReserveAmerica website before your visit, whether you're tent camping or have an RV or something in-between. If you want to book a spot in advance, you actually have to use this website. Plus, it's really cool because it shows you pictures of each spot and gives you specific details about it. We noticed a lot of spots in the area we camped (Taylor Ridge) weren't really great for tents. (Not level) The parking spot lengths varied a lot too, so that's obviously something to consider when you're looking.
             I thought it was also worth noting that check out times are later on holidays (and Sundays, if I remember right). So, if you're planning on just showing up, you might keep that in mind and arrive closer to check out time, especially if there's a certain spot you might be wanting. (Yes, we found this out the hard way. We got a spot right next to the one we wanted, so it worked out. The spot was actually vacant, but the line of RVs waiting to dump their stuff was so long that whoever had that spot must have been in that line and hadn't had a chance to check out yet.)
             I hate to admit it since we're fairly adamant about not buying an SUV and DEFINITELY not a mini-van, but we didn't have enough room for everything and everyone in the car...And it has a huge trunk too! Like, “store a body back there” big. Luckily, Brown County is only an hour away from us, so we just took both cars. So, do some forward planning and make sure you have room for everything in your vehicle!
             I think that's enough info for now! I hope you enjoyed the pictures and video. It really is a great park to visit. I'm hoping our next trip will be to cave country in southern Indiana (Yes, Indiana has caves!), so stay tuned for that! We've been trying to catch up on farm and yard work at home, so there probably won't be a Travelin' Tuesdays post next week.
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  1. Hooray! Congratulations. Beautiful pictures and so glad it was successful. Don't know if you kept looking down while climbing the tower but if you did try climbing without looking down till you reach the top. Works for me. Although once at the top when I looked down I experienced the dizziness. Climbing them to me is always worth the view. Just don't look straight down. lol

    1. lol It was hard not to look down with a 4 year old! I'd like to try it by myself sometime. I bet the view is amazing!

  2. Oh Wow! Camping with a swimming pool! Yes! Please! This place looks great for family to go camping. We are going camping as a first for our family too - I am so worried that we too won't be able to pack everything in. lol! & Our drive s like 3 hrs! Kind of dreading it actually. lol!

    Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost x

    1. lol I'm sure it will be fine! The packing part is a bit hectic and stressful, but once you get there I'm sure you guys will have fun. ;)

  3. This looks so fun.. I have never go camping but you are making me change my mind. Thanks for sharing it with us at #alittlebitofeverything