Friday, August 27, 2010

Night owl

Well, never did get to live blog from our trip to the north, but here’s a recap.

Taking a five-month-old camping is counter to my outdoor philosophy while being exactly what I wanted to do more than anything else. It’s a strange situation, a little bit heart-wrenching, but not unlike many of the paradoxical experiences of these first five months. Quiet and privacy are the central tenets of my camping beliefs, and a hatchling threatened both while ratcheting up the potential for embarrassment-- and worse ruining the experience of fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Further, camping was something more for the parents than the tyke, who would be taken out of her routine while not yet truly enjoying the wonders of nature.

So summarizing this one-night camping trip is all very complicated.

One thing that I can aver is that where we camped was beautiful. We staked our tent in the Hemlock Loop of the Lake Michigan Recreation Area in the Manistee National Forest. The setting is standard car camping, but in a mixed deciduous-conifer woodland in the shadow of a tall forested dune on Lake Michigan. The beach (above) is a short walk from camp and leads to the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, the only wilderness in Lower Michigan. We were about 10 miles north of Ludington, Mich., and four hours from Chicago.

We also can state that the weather was beautiful. It was sunny with puffy clouds with a high of about 70. We needed long-sleeved shirts in the evening, and overnight and morning were downright cold.

Mostly, the camping was as expected—we tended to our owlet just as we would at home. We built a fire, laid out a blanket, had a couple beers and did all the things that one would do while camping. The hatchling made a few noises, but nothing ear-splitting and likely barely audible from even the nearest campsite. But nightfall soon came along with the harrowing prospect of getting the little one to sleep.

We had to act quickly for fear of over-tiring so we all went to bed at about 9. I was hoping we could build a feeble bridge to morning by getting a few hours of sleep at a time. If it meant getting up for good in the gray light of 6 a.m. so be it. I was also prepared to spend the overnight hours pacing and rocking outside the tent.

All in all, sleeping went well. There were more feedings than usual, lots of careful tossing and turning and one of the sleeping pads deflated. I woke at about 7:30, removed the nestling from the nest, made some coffee and restarted the fire. The girl was talking quite a bit in the morning, but hopefully not so much as to disrupt any people who were sleeping in.

The camping ethos has certainly changed a bit, but it can be done. Hopefully it gets easier from here. Er, I think.

1 comment:

Karla said...

I love you and your owlet! In the future camping with a child not only gets easier but it is more fun...sharing all you love about this outdoor experience.