Mini-Vacation, Mega-Fun: Part One

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…




And toast…


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!

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37 Thoughts to “Mini-Vacation, Mega-Fun: Part One”

  1. I’ve never been camping and am not sure if I could handle it, but that sunset is gorgeous!

  2. Lisa

    Not too big on camping personally, but it looks like you guys had a great time!

  3. Lee Ann

    I see that Minnie/Mommy got to go camping as well! (That hussy!) Bean looks like he’s gonna fit in just fine with The Camping Family. Let’s just hope New Guy/Gal is a camper as well!

  4. wow – can’t believe how big Bean’s getting! btw, I saw the picture of the bridge and thought “I’d never have made it!” I can’t drive over big bridges. I don’t know what it is… 🙂

  5. Katie

    That looks like an absolute blast! I’ve been to Sanibel several times, and I absolutely love it down there. It is so gorgeous and peaceful…and the beaches are just beautiful! I think I need another trip there soon, as in a week or two it will be snowing here…

  6. Kirsten

    How fun was that?! Looks like a great time. We visited Sanibel this summer and it was beautiful!

  7. I love to camp, but I’m amazed at the preggo camping! You’re so game!

  8. Christine

    This post put a smile on my face 🙂 You do a great job of capturing Bean’s personality in your photographs.

  9. Ew, camping. You are BRAVE! 1) to go go camping. EVER. 2) To bring along your toddler camping and 3) To go camping while PREGNANT.

    I admire you Katie Brown, I do admire you.

  10. Julie

    I love that Bean got to experience camping. I grew up camping and it was something my husband and I had in common when we meet. This summer was my first time going with an air mattress at 28 weeks pregnant. I cannot wait to have an adventure with our little one. Bean looks so happy!

  11. Jen C

    i can barely sleep in my own comfy bed while pregnant, let alone, on an air mattress far away from bathrooms so go katie! it looks like you had a great time so that’s awesome! what a great family tradition to continue

  12. Jen Morris

    Looks like such a great time. When I was young, my parents took us camping in a pop up camper too. I never realized how much I like the sound of crunching gravel until you mentioned it. You’re right, takes you back to your childhood. CAn’t wait to see tomorrow’s adventure!

  13. Tressa

    Camping is ALOT of work!! Looks like you all had a good time. Can’t wait to hear more about it.

  14. Love all the photos! Looks like such a fun time!

  15. Aww, that’s great! I also have great memories of camping all through my childhood…. Can’t wait to share that with my kids when we have some!

  16. Sonya

    We used to camp, but only in a truck camper. Never did the tent thing and while it seems fun, I really don’t want to experience campsite bathrooms and showers again! I’ve only been to Sanibel once, but it is beautiful! I remember the long bridge because we were stuck behind the slow (elderly) drivers!

  17. What fun! I grew up near Sannibel and still go visit there when I visit my grandmother. Though I’m more of an RV kind of girl myself.

  18. Aw, what cute photos…me, I’m not a fan of camping, but it looks like you guys had a great time!

  19. Jennifer

    How fun!! I have been hesitant to take our little guy camping, but after yalls usccess story we may have to try!

  20. Brittany

    I’m a new fan of your blog and this post just really brought back some great memories from my childhood and I too can hear the crunching of footsteps on gravel, lol. This just really inspired me to try for a camping trip this spring/summer with my boys. Thanks for your posts and keep em coming.

  21. We took our son for his first camping trip when he was about 18 months up in Highland Hammocks (we live in South Florida) he had a great time! We went again a few months later when I just found out I was prego with our second. That time we camped in two places first The Florida Keys and then we moved onto Disney’s Fort Wilderness, it was the perfect place for a young kid camping trip. Now that our daughter is 1 and starting to walk we can’t wait to go on our next camping trip, as our little family of four. It makes me smile just thinking about it!
    I love all the pics, it’s so wonderful to see their faces in awe of things as seemingly simple as nature. It really makes you appreciate what is around you as if you are seeing it again for the first time. 🙂

  22. I grew up camping as well. I spent my summers in Island Pond in Vermont. We also had a pop up till I was about 13 then we upgraded to a bigger one. Everything you said I just sat there and smiled. I feel the same way wow I can hear the people walking in the gravel 🙂 My sister and I would go surch for bottle caps & they also had penny candy in the camp store. Thank you so much for this post. Made me smile about my childhood. Ok off to call my sister now. Gonna find out what we ever did with all those bottle caps.

  23. So glad you had a good time! I was also a camping baby (and am still a lifelong camper, since my most recent stay in a tent was just two months ago) and you’re totally right about the great memories. I hope you guys can keep finding time to go on little family vacays like that. =) Thumbs up!

  24. Angel

    Are Bean and Chris wearing similar sweatshirts? I can’t see the logos, but those sweatshirts… they look very similar.. Never been camping.. sorry, this city girl doesn’t like the bugs..

  25. Nikki

    Love it! This weekend we were hiking in one of Texas’ gagillion state parks and I told the Fiancee how excited I was to be able to pass our love for the outdoors onto our children. I look forward to the rest of the posts on your adventure!

  26. courtney

    I’ve only been camping once in my life. That was in college and our tent fell on our heads during a horrible random thunderstorm. Needless to say that was it for me. I’m an indoors kind of a girl. I’m glad ya’ll enjoyed camping though. It looks like you had a blast.

  27. Ashley

    Makes me want to get down to Sanibel! We live in Orlando and haven’t been there in years. Might be fun 🙂

  28. I love Sanibel. Up until several years ago, my grandparents lived in Ft. Myers, so we used to go visit there all the time. But I’ve never been camping there! Such a beautiful place! Did you see any gators? Or slithering things? :-/

  29. My youngest always complains that we’ve never taken her camping. Then, last week when there were bugs in our camping cabin (little, harmless bugs) she freaked out and wanted us to go to a hotel. I think Bean has much more of the camping spirit!

  30. Kathy Z

    I love camping. 🙂 Love. Although I can’t imagine doing it while preggers. It’s impressive.

  31. jenniferc

    shhh…. that campground is a well hidden secret 🙂 I love visiting Sanibel – used to have a periwinkle car that was right at home there

  32. Katie

    So, I am typically a lurker but I didnt notice a twitter post from you on this and know you would go crazy about it. SO I am not sure if you realized, but PW is giving away a trip to the ranch to stay at the lodge on the cooking site today. That could be your next mini vacation!!

  33. Well paint me green and call me gumby! That looks like a spankin’ good time!! Oh, and Bean made the most adorable lion to date. AH!

  34. Love it! I miss camping – my fiance and I keep talking about it and we just need to do it one of these days. Glad you guys had fun (uh, except for the very, very loud birds…)

  35. SO JEALOUS! We haven’t been on a real vacation since we went camping the summer of ’08 just before I got pregnant. We have already decided that this summer with bring Porter’s first camping trip–can’t wait! Looks like you guys had a blast!

  36. Looks like y’all had a lot of fun!

    I’m more of a campsite camper myself. I need running water. Farm Boy could camp anywhere. But neither one of us are big campers but after seeing this I think I might look into it!
    When Spring rolls around of course!



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