Camping With A Toddler And A Dog :: Part Three

Besides feeling utterly uncomfortable, I was so afraid of bears that I couldn’t sleep at all. Like I said, we had lots of fun during the day but being sleepless for several nights wasn’t really recharging my batteries. After three nights of biting my tongue, I asked Paul if we could go home if I couldn’t get any sleep that night.

It must have been just before daylight broke, that I heard the sound of an animal approaching our camp. Then I saw a shadow. I prayed that Emma wouldn’t wake up and that Griffin stayed calm. I tried to wake Paul, whispering that I think there was a bigger animal wandering around our tent. Thankfully, he didn’t brush me off nor fell back asleep (like he usually does). He had heard something as well. He held my hand and with a soft voice I explained my escape plan to him.

After a while, it was quiet again. The gently gurgling of the creek and those darn chipmunks throwing pinecones on our tent was all we could hear. My prince in shining sleeping bag nodded off again.

The next morning couldn’t come fast enough and I was almost glad when I heard Emma stir in her travel crib. As soon as we crawled out of our tent, we saw our camp neighbor walk towards us. Her family had been up since the break of dawn to pack up and get ready to head home. She greeted us friendly and asked if we needed more fire wood, we could use their leftovers. Her next question, however, had me break out in sweat: “Did you see the bear that visited your camp earlier this morning or have you been asleep?”

When she continued to tell us how that bear walked up to our picnic table and put his paws up on my cute tablecloth sniffing around for food, my smile froze and I wondered why I was the only one shaking. Turns out she was a camping veteran and “totally used to sharing her camp with bears”. Oh, right.

Well, not me. A bear sneaking around our tent was enough reason for me to tell my husband that the Thrasher camping adventure was over. And the next time, he wants to take the kids into the woods, I’ll be heading to a spa in the wine country. Mark my words.

{Read Part One here and Part Two here.}

Camping With A Toddler And A Dog :: Part Two

Unlike her Mama, Emma loves camping. And so does Griffin, our dog.

A creek and lots of pine cones - better than a million dollar playground.

I have to admit, seeing our little Miss Sunshine explore the woods with her dog made me happy. She had a blast. Not even dime-sized blisters on both of her feet from wearing her water shoes barefoot in the creek all day slowed her down. Too much to do. Too much to discover. Too many pinecones to collect. Too many monkeys (her sign for chipmunks) to chase.

We didn’t bring a watch. Emma was our clock. When she showed first signs of tiredness, we put her down for naptime. To my surprise, she slept just fine. She neither had problems with the bright daylight, background noise from other campsites, her nervous mother, nor the heat. We brought her lullabies but quickly deferred to the white noise provided by the lovely creek. Her naps were between 2-3 hours. For the first time, I was grateful how easily kids are entertained (read: tired out) by roaming around outdoors all day. At least one of my concerns was unjustified.

As for the dog, he didn’t mind our leash-rope-construction that allowed him to roam around without wrapping his leash around every tree. Mr. Thrasher hung rope between the trees, then attached the leash to the rope with a carabiner hook. That way, Griffin could remain on leash. The creek provided a refreshing “water bed” for him. And the best part (if you’re a dog)? We didn’t stop him from digging. Heaven!

He also slept peacefully through the nights with only mild growling every now and then when a monkey, excuse me, chipmunk got too close.

Emma is taking Griffin for a walk near our tent.

Emma is a born helper. She kept refilling Griffin's water bowl all day and fed him every morning. (Also, pants are overrated.)

Dirt won't hurt. Our campsite setup:

Ugly stroller: $12 at Target. Child entertained for hours: Priceless.

Thrasher Home in the wilderness.

Our gear (download our packing list Thrasher Home Camping Trip Packing List):

I know I promised to share our reason for leaving the beautiful California Twin Lakes in a rush. After the jump you’ll find out here. Pinky swear.

Camping With A Toddler And A Dog :: Part One

I hate camping. I simply don’t understand why people like to add discomfort, uninvited critters, lack of hygiene and unstoppable amounts of dirt to their vacation and call it “recreation”. Mr. Thrasher, however, is a big fan of the cheapest way to vacation uncomfortably sleeping under the stars with nothing but a piece of fabric separating you from rain, wind, mosquitos and bears. Despite my dislike of outdoorsy sleepovers, I agreed to take our 20-months old on her first camping trip and even managed to get a bit excited. (I herewith officially apply for the Wife Of The Year Award.)

I started the preparation for our trip weeks ahead of time. One of my mottos is “Be prepared; then go with the flow.” I humbly like to say I’m quite excellent at the first part, but still need to improve lots on the latter.

These were my major concerns:

  • Our child wouldn’t sleep.
  • Our dog wouldn’t sleep (or stop barking).
  • Mama wouldn’t sleep.

Another minor concern:

  • A bear would eat us.

To address my concerns, I packed everything in my home that could possibly assist me in making this trip easier for myself all of us. You can download my packing list here: Thrasher Home Camping Trip Packing List. Don’t judge, I never said I travelled light!

More advice we didn’t follow:

  • Plan a short trip. Fail: We planned a 5-day trip.
  • Don’t travel too far so you can head home if all hell breaks loose. Fail: We drove for 5 1/2 hours to Twin Lakes, CA.

During my first ever camping trip, I learned that keeping food, especially perishables, cool and fresh is a challenge in itself. So I was thrilled to find out about tin foil dinners and packed a few for our first campsite dinner. I also cut and chopped a bunch of veggies and fruits so I wouldn’t have to do it camp-side. Sliced cheese and deli meat was stored in Tupperware containers so the melted ice wouldn’t get it all wet.

Cut and assembled at home, tin foil dinners make for quick and easy meals. Without the mess and need to wash any dishes. Just throw the foil packages in the fire. Genius. Image Source: Lovely Blog

So much for the prep. Wanna know how it went and why we returned a day earlier? Read Part Two and Part Three to hear all about our camping adventure.

Happy Paws-Day, Griffin!

Our furry friend and faithful companion Griffin turns three today.

 

A curious pup waiting to find a furever home.

 

I cannot believe that it’s already been three years that we drove all the way to Madeira to meet this adorable cute puppy we discovered on Petfinder.

Paul and I had just been married for a few months and had recently started talking about adding a dog to our family. Talking. Not looking for. Not decided to add.

One day, I decided to start browsing through all the homeless doggies on Petfinder who needed a home. I had absolutely no intention to find ‘our’ dog. (Seriously!)

But when I stumbled across the cutest puppy face in the world, I told Paul that we had to rescue this fluffy puppy. Or at least, meet him at the shelter.

Once we arrived after a long four hour drive, there was no way out. Turns out, that shelter was a kill shelter which means, well, you know what that means.

I didn’t have to convince, persuade or even ask Paul if we could adopt Griffin. Paul was already head over heels in love with that little fella.

 

A bond for life.

 

At the shelter, they offered us to take Griffin with us the same day. Until they remembered that he would have to get neutered first before we could take him home. Anxiously awaiting homecoming day, Paul and I got ready for this new addition to our life.

I know that some (new) mothers don’t appreciate it if you compare raising a puppy to raising a baby. BUT, if you rescue a tiny, fragile dog baby from the pound who is afraid to come out from under the couch and you have to think about housebreaking, obedience training, the right food, etc. it does feel like you suddenly became a mother.

 

Griffin's first Christmas at the age of three months. (He now fills his then oversized dog bed completely.)

 

Just like every parent, every dog owner is different. We love Griffin to pieces and to us he is as much part of our family as our Käfer. Training him well was as important to us as not leaving home alone all day by himself.

With the help of puppy classes, advice from Dogster and endless support from pawsome friends – four-legged and two-legged, Griffin has grown to become a wonderful dog and we couldn’t imagine our lives without him.

We love you, Griffin! Woof, Woof!

 

Wanna play? (Image by: Paco and Betty Photography)