Lucy and the great outdoors

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This weekend marked the end of my spring break with sweet Lucy, and we celebrated with a camping trip! Lucy’s first camping trip was when she was 9 months old and crawling; this time around she’s a full-on toddler! And when it comes to little tykes and the great outdoors, preparation is the name of the game! Here was our baby gear packing list:
– pack n play
– tent that would fit said pack n play, plus 2 adults and a dog
– extra clothes and dry socks
– travel high chair
– infant backpack carrier (we just upgraded to the Kid Comfort II by Deuter – worth every penny! More on this later)
– rain boots
– rain coat and pants (the pants are the best invention ever)
– snacks, snacks, snacks

We met up with the Sellers clan (Pap and “BeBe”, Aunts Caitie and Meg) for a night in Mammoth Cave National Park. We knew a cold, rainy night was in the forecast, so we made the best of it with lots of tarps and rope, and getting the food out early. One critical measure was to string a tarp up above our tents at an angle, creating a roof (see example in below picture). Even though it did end up raining all night starting around 8:30, we and our gear stayed dry!

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Lucy had a ball exploring her campsite. We brought some sand toys and a bucket, which she used to make a robust acorn collection that would make any squirrel swoon. Here she is with Aunt Meg, getting busy in the leaves.

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Another fun activity we did was to make “fossils” out of play-doh. Lucy doesn’t completely understand the concept yet, of course, but who cares! She loved flattening her play-doh, pressing it onto a leaf, then looking at the design left on the play-doh. She walked around proudly showing it off. One thing that helped us out on this trip is the Pap and BeBe happened to have brought a little activity table and chairs. Lucy ate her snacks there, worked on her fossils, and could use one of the little chairs around the campfire. Genius!

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As I mentioned, it rained. A lot. All night long. Luckily, we were safe and dry, which was key to having a happy baby. However, I didn’t sleep much because I was so worried Lucy was cold. I had dressed her in her regular pjs, a fleece sleeper on top of those, a fleece sleep sack on top of that, and I had covered her with an extra blanket. Still temps dropped that night to the 30s. Yikes! She really slept soundly until around 4 AM, when she woke up with icicle-like hands and ears. I ended up putting her in my sleeping bag and we (finally) fell back to sleep for another hour. Before the next trip, I’ll definitely be looking into warm kid sleeping bags! Regardless, Lucy was (literally) a happy camper. Here she is loving on Bear in the tent.

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The next day, the rain was gone but we woke to a very wet campsite! Here’s where those ingenius rain pants helped us out. Lucy could run, jump, and tumble in the wet leaves, and stay dry! I found these puppies on clearance at REI for $6. Happy Easter to me!

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After a nice hot breakfast at the Mammoth Cave restaurant (couldn’t get a fire going with all that wet wood!), Lucy, Bear, and I set off on our maiden voyage with our new carrier. Lucy enjoys this one, probably more than any carrier we’ve tried. She sits up high, has a great pillow to rest her head if she’s tired, and she is literally sitting on a seat, on my back. Here’s a shot of the whole thing, taken the night before we left when we were “practicing.”

20130401-091245.jpg She loves it and keeps asking for “ride! ride!” since we got it. Here are a couple of shots from our hike, to illustrate the comfort of the pack. I believe exactly one minute had passed between these two shots.

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I will say, after trekking around with an extra 25 pounds on your back, it isn’t effortless. But the beauty of that pack is that the weight rests on your hips and not your shoulders, so you don’t end up with a terrible back ache at the end of your hike. It also has a lot of extra pockets for snacks and other essentials. Here’s Lu and me after she woke up from a 90-min nap in her chariot.

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Overall, we had a blast! Lucy is completely in love with her aunts, Pap, and Bebe, and I’m so glad we made this trip happen! Here are a few more shots from the weekend:

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