I had last Friday off for a school holiday and so we took advantage of the three-day weekend by getting out of town. As much fun as we have and as many things as we try to get out and do, it has been years since Chris and I took a voluntary vacation. Sure, we go and we do, but most of our travel is tied to a holiday and we usually find ourselves heading to wherever family is. I really think that we haven’t chosen a destination and planned a trip for just ourselves since our honeymoon. And, of course, that was all before Bean.
Money is tight right now and our time was limited, so we decided to head to Sanibel Island, a little beach town about four hours south of Orlando. The best part was that we decided to camp. I grew up camping. My parents took my sister and I all over the country in a little burnt orange pop-up camper from 1970. If I close my eyes, I can still see the brown and orange plaid pull out beds and smell the dusty, musty smell of that camper. It’s one of my greatest memories. My mom and dad have pictures of us camping from the time I was Bean’s age before my sister was born all the way up through our teens. To this day, one of my favorite sounds in the whole world is the sound of people walking on gravel. Reminds me of the campground early in the morning as people walked by our campsite on their way to the bathhouse.
Chris started camping in college when he spent a few summers working out in Utah. His camping was very different. He and his friends used to throw their camp stuff in the back of a truck, drive out to the middle of a national forest, and make camp. No running water, no electricity, nothing. He took me camping one time like that in college and though it was fun, I am more of a campground girl myself. I don’t mind sleeping in a tent. I can throw down a sleeping bag on the ground like the next person. But I like having people around. Campgrounds just suit me better.
Camping introduced Chris and I to a whole bunch of experiences we’d never have had otherwise. It teaches you about responsibility and the importance of taking care of yourself and your things. It exposes you to different places and opens your eyes to the beauty of nature you just can’t find in your own backyard. And camping people are just good people. You meet so many people from all over in a campground – families, groups of friends, retired couples, young couples. And everyone there is just having a cheap, fun, good time.
We have been excited about taking Bean camping since we first found out we were pregnant. And this past weekend, we felt like it was time. So, we loaded up in the car and headed out.
When we got to the town of Sanibel, we had to cross a big bridge to get over to the little island community where we were staying. We got there just at sunset and as we drove over the tall bridge, the view was amazing.
And then we got to the top of the bridge and the most beautiful sunset greeted us. The picture doesn’t even do it justice. It was breathtaking.
We headed straight to our campground to check in and get set up before it got too dark. We stayed at a cute little campground called Periwinkle Park.
The campground was part campground for campers passing through like us and part residences for snow-bird retirees who lived in these adorable little beach bungalows.
Unfortunately, what the website did not mention was that it is also partly a wild bird preserve. Which is awesome. Yay wildlife! But what was un-awesome was that the birds were kept in an area about 10 feet from our campsite.
These birds were beautiful, well-cared for, and FREAKING LOUD! They squawked all night long! ALL NIGHT LONG! It was like sleeping in the Amazon. Chris and I were annoyed, but Bean? He thought they were the coolest things ever. We couldn’t keep him away from the bird area.
This picture was taken around 6:30 in the morning. Bean woke up and instantly wanted to go see the birds. And since we were on vacation…well…we did whatever he wanted.
Once our early-bird wildlife outing was over, Bean came back to the tent and hung out with me and Chris a little bit. We brought Bean’s pack ‘n play along with us and popped it up inside the tent and that’s where he slept. Then Chris and I camped out in style on a blow up air mattress (I AM pregnant, after all, so I afforded myself a little luxury on this camping trip…).
Bean liked that our tent had sky-vents in it and he could see the trees when he laid down.
I think Chris just liked having Bean there…
After our slow moving morning, we finally got up and going. Lots to do when you’re camping! Chris and Bean went to work preparing breakfast. They started by lighting the camp grill.
Bean loved every minute of cooking at the campsite. He was right by Chris’ side helping the whole time. The only thing he didn’t like was the smoke. It made him cough.
But he did like that the smoke went up into the air. He watched it blow away for about 15 minutes, pointing to the sky and saying, “Ohhhhh!!!”
But he sucked it up like a real camper and went back to helping Chris.
He didn’t even mind when he got charcoal all over his face. As long as he was helping, he was happy. (Isn’t that the Boy Scout motto? Well, it should be…)
Chris and Bean made us a big camp breakfast. Sausage…
Then I took it one step further on the scale of Awesomeness and put it all (minus the toast) into a hot dog bun leftover from dinner the night before. Voila! Breakfast on the go!
Bean loved it!
Mostly though, I think he just loved hanging out at the campsite.
Camping was a big hit with Bean Man and it was a lot of fun for me and Chris, too. It’s great when you can take things you loved before you had children and then see it in a totally different light once you can share it with them.
Up next? Our visit to the beach on Sanibel Island (complete with a cold water campsite bath for Bean Man, thanks to his new hobby of burying his head in the sand…). Check back tomorrow for Part Two of our Mini-Vacation, Mega-Fun Adventure!