How to Camp Without Your Baby

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Step 1: Leave your baby with your wonderful, doting parents.

Step 2: Enjoy.

So much simpler than camping with one’s baby/toddler. Pete and I were lucky enough to finally have a weekend away, just the two of us. We have both had weekends away separately, but this was our first overnight trip together, sans Little C. And it was so relaxing.

We spent two nights camping in Algonquin Park in early July. Since my previous camping posts seemed to be all about lessons in list form, I’m going to continue with that theme here. Here is what we learned this time around:

1) Algonquin Park is beautiful.
I was lucky enough to spend four summers living and working in Algonquin Park. Even though it can be really busy in tourist season, it’s still such a gorgeous place. It’s easy to forget that when you’ve been away. I did a lot of deep sighing on our trip.

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2) We are old.
I bumped into one of my old co-workers at our campground and while we were chatting, he asked me how long it had been since I worked there. Ten years. It’s been ten years. He replied “Whew, I shouldn’t have asked that. I’m getting old.” Me too, my friend.

3) Resist the urge to call the babysitters.
When Pete and I became parents, we swore that we wouldn’t talk incessantly about our baby when we were able to go on date nights. We wanted to stay connected as partners, not just as parents. An extension of this policy was that we wouldn’t call my parents to check on things while we were away. This was our time to reconnect and be together as a couple. This may not work for everyone, but it’s good for us.

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4) Enjoy the little things.
When you aren’t chasing a little person (or people) around, it’s a lot easier enjoy the serenity. You can really experience the smell of the white pines, the call of a loon, and the sound of the water lapping against your canoe. Try to take it all in.

Pete enjoying the serenity, and a roast beef sandwich.

Pete enjoying the serenity, and a roast beef sandwich.

5) Appreciate the trip for what it is.
This was something I learned about camping with a baby, and it applies here too. Even though Pete and I were on our own this time, we were still more exhausted than we were before we had C, and ended up asleep in our tent both nights before 10:00pm.

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We also really wanted to do an interior canoe trip, but my parents were nervous about this and asked that we camp in a campground instead. Fair enough. We will be able to go on a canoe trip someday. It turns out that this plan worked well for us anyway. We did some canoeing day trips and between my aching back and Pete’s bad shoulder, we weren’t able to paddle for more than a few hours anyway. See point #2.

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6) Document the experience.
Even if this amounts to taking a lot of photos, do it. As parents, we tend to document our children’s lives at the expense of our own. This is natural, of course, but I think it’s important to remember times like these. When life gets hectic again (for us, that will be around October 27th), being able to relive a relaxing time like this will be invaluable. Well, that and wine.

A Bike Post from the Bikeless

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I thought that I should probably write something about biking, since this blog is entitled “Bike, Banjo and Baby” and I have written approximately zero posts about bikes.  However, I am currently bikeless, so a bike post is a bit difficult to conjure up at this juncture.

This is what a bicycle looks like, or so I’m told.

To solve this problem, I told Pete that he had to do some crazy stuff on his bike to provide me with some material for the blog.  I took this back almost immediately.  I need him able-bodied for parenting purposes.  He came home from downhill riding the other day with scrapes and scratches on his knees and stomach from “not falling off his bike.”  That’s about as exciting as I’d like his riding to get.

We are working on getting a new bike for me.  C is old enough to be towed behind us in her chariot now, so the pressure is on.

Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever owned a bike that was bought just for me.  I inherited bikes from my sister, and usually those were well-used and/or ill-fitting.   I once inherited a bike from her after it had been stolen from our garage, taken to a nearby park, kicked around a bit and possibly set on fire.

So getting my very own, brand-new bike is very exciting.  I’ll be sure to post a photo once we actually pick it up from Pete’s friend’s bike shop in Toronto.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep blogging about trying to maintain some balance in our lives with a baby in tow.  This weekend, we’re heading to Algonquin Provincial Park to take C camping for the first time.  I spent my university summers working there, and I’m really excited to be bringing her there for the first time.  So excited, in fact, that I looked up some Algonquin Park videos on the Friends of Algonquin website.  They’re not quite as inspiring as the video shown every 12 minutes in the Visitor Centre, or as instructive as the Ministry of Natural Resources bear safety video (pro tip: yell “whoa bear!”), but they suited my purposes.

And now for a quick question: does anyone have any mountain bike recommendations for me?