N: Nathaniel’s First Camping Trip


19 July 2011 by romanin

I suppose we could have also titled this our first camping trip with a baby, but it sounds more fun to call it Nathaniel’s.

Chapter 1: the ferry

We left on Friday evening at around 6:00 pm with the car full of stuff and Nathaniel theoretically 1 hour from going down for the night.  Our destination was Kelly’s Island, an island in Lake Erie roughly 5 miles out from Marblehead, a fishing town on the tip of a peninsula in Northern Ohio.  We drove to Marblehead to catch the ferry that runs every half hour between Marblehead and Kelly’s Island.  It was my first time on a ferry, and I suppose it was what I expected.  Lydia had been on a ferry before so she had no surprises.  We fed Nathaniel on the ferry, it being about 7:00, and hoped that he would be good and sleepy the rest of the ride in and while we set up camp.  Here are a couple of shots of the view from the ferry, and the little man himself.

Feeding Nathaniel on the Ferry

A view of the Marblehead Lighthouse from the ferry.

Bubster in awe of a flag.

Daddy and Nathaniel enjoying the Ferry

Chapter 2: the explosion

It was hardly any trouble getting from the ferry to the campground.  The island itself is only a few miles across and there are only a few main roads.  Before we knew it we were setting up camp.  We arrived before our friends: Andrew, Margret, and their daughter Nora.  They came on the next ferry and began setting up their things as well.  Immediately we realized that we had no wood to build a fire to cook with, and no matches with which to light it.  A neighbor was kind enough to supply both with the understanding that we would later replenish his wood pile.  This was a blessing.  We had our tents up before 8:00 and we may have started cooking round 8:30 or 9:00.  It was twilight and I was cooking sausages on the fire.  The menu consisted of turkey sausages with peppers, veggie chips, beer (which we called “Pepsi” due to the fact that it was a dry campground), and homemade ginger ale that I had made a few nights earlier and stored and transported in used wine bottles.  The ginger ale was sitting on the ground next to the picnic table about 15 yards from where I was cooking.  The babies were asleep and the rest of the crew were at the picnic table talking and eating.  All of a sudden I hear this BANG!! and I look up to see glass raining down all around the campsite.  The girls shrieked, neighbors rushed over, and I looked in horror at my completely ginger ale.  We were picking up glass the rest of the trip.  Did I say that exploded?  I did.  I need to stress that because it is not an exaggeration.  Glass shards were found 20yds from ground zero.  It was pretty impressive.  I quickly went to my second bottle to make sure the same fate would not find it, and began to remove the cap.  I got a quarter of a twist off before the cap blew and a geyser of ginger ale towered over me.  Luckily, it left us with about a litre of it left which was enough to finish the weekend out.  No one was hurt.  Here are a few pics of the campsite.  I have no pictures of the exploded bottle, my deepest apologies.

Our Tent

Our Fellow Campers.

Chapter 3: the night: part 1

The night ended around midnight with full bellies and tired campers, so we all turned in for a good nights rest, hoping that the babies would continue doing the same.  We did good until about 4:30 am when Nathaniel woke up screaming.  It was then that we realized we parked our tent two feet from our neighbor’s tent.  Needless to say, we woke them up.  In an effort to quell Nathaniel’s cries until it was time for him to eat, I put him in a carrier strapped to my chest, and went for a walk.  We walked around the campground and found a couple of beach-front sites.  Luckily they were facing East and we got to watch the sun rise!  Nathaniel was so mesmerized by the colors of the sky and the sound of the waves that he didn’t sleep.

Chapter 4: the heat

The morning the next day was great.  The babies were good, the fire started well, we ate well, and we got to go on a hike.  The hike was a good idea because the day was heating up and the hike was through the woods, so there was shade.  We stashed the baby stroller in a thicket to be recovered afterward and we were off walking through the woods.  We saw some weird caterpillars and talked about etymology and other nerdy yet intriguing things.  After that we returned to the campsite, had lunch, and began to think about what to do in the afternoon.  We wanted to go to the beach, but we wanted to wait until later so it would cool off a bit.  The babies needed to sleep anyway.  Well, as time dragged on it got hot, real hot.  It had to be like 97 or something.  We had no shade apart from the treeline behind my tent, so we set up the canopy over the picnic table, and the four of us sat under it drinking “pepsi” to cool ourselves off while we wished the babies to sleep.  They were on the struggle.  The babies would sleep for little 20 minute spurts, but would wake up sweaty and uncomfortable.  We ended up taking turns taking our babies into our cars and driving around the island in air conditioning.  It worked for Nathaniel, not so much for Nora.

Chapter 5: the beach

Finally, we decided to head to the beach and hope there to be shade.  Luckily there was, and it was baby central.  A bunch of people with infants were there and so we felt quite comfortable and set up our towels and rested from the sun’s oppression.  This was the best decision ever!  It was cool, there was a breeze, and it was a white sand beach!  I would imagine the only one in Lake Erie.  I think it was put there; it wasn’t natural.  So we loaded ourselves up with sun screen, let Nathaniel and Nora sleep, and took turns going into the water while the others would watch the babies.  Then it was time for the babies to swim, so again we took turns taking our babies out into the water and splashing them around.  Although the pictures don’t show a smile on Nathaniel, he really liked it.  It cooled him off and he had a ton more energy afterwards.  In fact, we were playing frisbee while Nathaniel was just laying on his towel, and he was making all kinds of noise greeting people that were coming past.  It was adorable.

Our beach time, filled with fun as it was, ended on a frustrating note when our friend locked his keys in his trunk… both sets.  So Lydia and I transported everyone else off the beach while he stayed by his car, and I got hold of the police to get them to unlock his vehicle. The cops came and had no end of trouble trying to open the car door.  He finally succeeded in retrieving the keys by opening the trunk.

Chapter 6: the night: part 2

That night we ate well, and snacked well, and slept well.  The only incident was that Nathaniel’s diaper leaked and he woke up crying in a puddle of his own making.  He went back to sleep and overall, we all had a good nights rest because we were all quite tired.

Chapter 7: home

On Sunday we packed up in the morning and were able to leave by about 10.  Lydia slept in the car as I drove.  Back to the ferry and homeward we went!  We planned on meeting our friends at a cafè in Oberlin.  We stopped home and dropped a few things off before heading there.  It was good food, and restful to not have to cook or clean, but Nathaniel decided that he’d had enough of not being home, so we left a touch early, but I think that all three of us appreciated being home, especially Nathaniel.  Overall it was a great experience and we’re looking forward to Nathaniel’s second camping trip which will happen in just two weeks!


2 thoughts on “N: Nathaniel’s First Camping Trip

  1. John Tsui says:

    Lydia is an experienced camper and I was surprised she did not bring the essentials such as fire wood. But in California, we use gas stove to cook foods. Maybe you want to take a look at this. It is easy to carry and it is clean.

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