Shenandoah Valley...the first adventure!


Our very first trip with Ruby in our new Four Wheel Camper was to Shenandoah National Park , in April of 2017. We live in NOVA, and drove over a back way, through winding country roads that eventually led to the foothills of the mountains. It was a lovely drive, and Ruby even slept for some of it: a whole 45 minutes of the 2 hour 15 minute drive (eye roll). We stayed in Big Meadow Campground for $17/per night. We don't need much with our camper: no water or electric necessary, so a tent site works fine (really any parking spot works!). After arriving, Ruby played, and my hubby (Brock) set everything up: popped camper, hooked up gray water, and got out the hiking backpack. After that, we took a little walk to check out SHOWERS and LAUNDRY... YES! We didn't need laundry, but since Ruby is so young and dependent on her bedtime routines, we decided to try and bathe or shower her every night, just like we do at home, so to signal to her that bedtime was coming.

For our backpack, we purchased a Deuter Kid Comfort Air from REI to try out. We loved it, and Ruby did well in it, BUT we ended up returning it: it is a big cost for us, and we aren't sure how many hikes we will actually be doing with Ruby while we live here in VA. If we have a hike or two coming up, we will order one to keep, but as of right now, we aren't overly intrigued with many local hikes, and Ruby isn't the type to love being in a carrier: she prefers to be "down down" walking around, finding rocks and sticks, eating dirt, and hugging trees. Our little outside lover was fine in the pack for a walk, and the short hike we did the next day, but mostly she prefers to explore on her own two tiny feet.

So.... where does Ruby sleep??? Our camper has the king size bed above the truck (AMAZINGLY full of space, after sleeping in the bed of the truck for 4 years.... I'm getting side tracked, but this camper is the bees knees!), and it has a single sleeping space that also doubles as a couch on the "main level." We never co-slept, neither B nor I were too keen on that idea (plus I LOVE pillows), so where would Ruby sleep? Not even 14 months old, she needed something to contain her, no matter where she slept, because she would just roll off and "play play" instead of going to sleep. B found a dog kennel and suggested that (I'm pretty relaxed, but I wasn't having that for my little girl to sleep in!) but I did lots of looking, and finally settled on this cool kid tent and purchased from Bed Bath and Beyond (did you know: you can get a 20% off coupon almost anytime to use on almost anything? That is why we purchased from there!). Then B set up straps to snap it into the couch, so if Ruby got really rambunctious and tried to roll it around, she was firmly attached. This was our grand plan.

Dinner was quite possibly grilled cheese that night... easy was my plan. After dinner an clean up, we brushed teeth, and got all the bedtime stuff out and ready. We headed over to the showers, keeping in mind that she usually has two naps a day, for at least an hour each (typically 90 minutes or more) and that day was a whopping 45 minute car nap, so she was pretty tired. The shower was strange and different, and quite startling to her: she would NOT let go of me, so I ended up showering us both. When her papa tried to dry her off, she wanted mama only, so that produced a few tears! We got clean and settled, and headed back to the camper to do books. We had Ruby in her new tent by 7pm, normal bedtime at home.

B thought she would adjust better if she had a night or two of practice sleeping in her tent prior to a road trip. One night when I was out with a friend, he put her to bed in the tent. That way, if she fussed, I wouldn't hear her! She did great sleeping in her tent inside her crib at home. Sleeping in her tent inside the camper? Not so great. We didn't think of several things...

At home, Ruby has a pretty dark room, with a night light. And a sound machine. She had no nightlight, and the camper wasn't super dark either, yet, because really: 7pm. But when it did get dark, headlights, headlamps, and flashlights going for several hours kept her awake. I used my cell phone sound machine app, but that died middle of the night. So we needed a few things: sound machine with batteries, a nightlight, and a way to cover all the lower windows so lights wouldn't flicker all night. By 9:30pm, she was still pretty upset, and every time we thought she settled and fell asleep, a light flickered in, and woke her up, with tears and all. So we caved, and put her tent up in the big bed next to me. In less than 10 minutes, she was sound asleep, until 6:30am (normal wake up time). B slept down on the couch, much to his chagrin, and vowed to make it better for her next time, so he could sleep in the adult bed.

We had planned to stay two nights: go out on a Thursday, and come home on a Saturday. Since this was the first time using the camper, we had no idea what the battery power was like, and it turns out, the fridge really drained the battery. We hadn't planned on driving on Friday (to recharge battery) so we decided to take a 3 mile hike, and head home. The weather was a bit spotty too: pretty good chance of storms, so we chose to make our first adventure just one night. We called it a success: Ruby got some sleep, and we learned A LOT. And we still had a whole weekend ahead of us to hang out and recharge from this adventure! On the way home, we stopped and got some milkshakes... made lots of memories for the first time: looking forward to many more!

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