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Surviving A Treacherous Camping Trip Part 1 – Those Blood Sucking Mosquitoes

Surviving A Treacherous Camping Trip Part 1 – Those Blood Sucking Mosquitoes

two pink and gray camping chairs

Believe it or not, I was excited to go camping with my husband and kids this year. I never imagined this could possibly be me. But after years of my husband begging me to go camping and our family testing the waters with very short one night trips, I was finally committed to a proper two nights and three days of camping.

Last year was my first time being committed to staying out in the bushes with my family for two nights. The reason for my commitment; my husband promised a one night stay in a hotel for just the two of us afterwards. The plan was that we would go to any restaurants and do any activities I wanted after braving camping with the kids. So that’s what we did last year and it turned out to be an awesome time! Not just the hotel stay, but the camping trip too.

This year was very different.

As I said, I was excited for this camping trip. But for some reason I was far from prepared for it. Last year I planned everything out perfectly. I planned the most amazing meals and the kids’ clothing options. Last year we left the house certain we had what we needed.

This year I left packing to the last minute. Literally we were scrambling the morning we were meant to leave. It was my fault. The team and I were behind on completing the summer issue for Maturing Mama and my goal was to get it published before we left for our trip. I didn’t want to feel burdened by thoughts of work while camping. So I ended up hitting publish the afternoon before we left for our trip. Then when it was time to get organized, I cooked and packed up till midnight and I still was far from finished.

The morning of our camping trip my husband saw how far I was from being packed up. My biggest focus the day before was getting the kids clothing options sorted. The temperature while camping here in British Columbia is weird. It’s hot during the day, but then the temperature plummets at night. It gets so cold that the kids can get up cranky and get sick. So I’m always very prepared with warm clothing options for the night and cooler options for the day.

For meals when camping, I love cooking beforehand. I made a beef stew the year before that was a big hit! And not just for our family, campers around us were complimenting me on the amazing smell that came from our camp stove.

What I did last year was make the stew two days before and freeze it to the point that it was rock hard. Then when on our trip it doubles as an ice pack and will stay perfectly fresh for two days.

This year I cooked the stew the day before and let it freeze over night… Well it didn’t. We made ribs and these stayed in the fridge. To put our refrigeration issue for the camping trip in perspective, we had four small ice packs placed in coolers. My thought was that this should keep the ribs and stew just fine, so long as those were the only things in there. But the morning we were meant to leave, my husband saw I hadn’t packed everything up yet and he scrambled, doing what your typical husband would do concerning packing up food for a trip. He put every bit of food we had in the fridge. Every bit! And he put it all beside the prepared meals that needed to stay cold.

When I noticed all the food stuffed in the cooler, I warned him that this looked like a disaster waiting to happen. There weren’t enough ice packs to keep all of this food cold. But he waved his hand insisting we would eat all the food and then mumbling under his breath that he didn’t feel like putting it all back.

Getting out the door was a nightmare. It seriously felt like a bad dream where every time you got everyone in the van and thought this was it, it was finally time to go, you’d have to go back.

The first time we went back, it was me running back for pillows. The second time, I realized the kids only brought sneakers and no sandals. These moments we were still in our driveway. But the next time we went back was when we were stopped for gas two minutes away from home. My husband got out of the van to get gas and realized he wasn’t wearing any shoes… My husband has the heart of a hippy. So back we went once again to get him shoes. While back at the house I realized I didn’t get everyone to use the bathroom. So we unpacked everyone and went right back inside.

My mom was staying with us at this time and was highly amused by the number of times we said good bye and came right back.

I honestly couldn’t believe the moment we finally pulled up to the camping site. I didn’t think we’d get there. On our way in I prayed we would get the perfect spot. In the past we’ve gotten some pretty annoying spots- ones close to power lines and highways. It was because we’d always do “first come first serve” camping. It’s cheaper and we never know for sure if we’re actually going to commit to going camping.

This year we drove out on a Thursday to make certain we’d get the perfect spot. And it looked that way from inside the van. It had the view of a lake and was spacious. It was also very quiet- we were the first ones there!

We were all so excited when we got out of the van… And the excitement ended there, when we were met by thousands of vicious mosquitoes. They swarmed us like that scene in Lilo and Stitch where the alien who loves mosquitoes gets covered in them. I’m happy to say I came prepared for them! I was previously warned by neighbors that the mosquitoes while camping were bad this year. So on our way to the camp site, I grabbed the tiniest bottle of repellent. I wondered if we might need more, but my husband assured me we wouldn’t.

I covered everyone in this repellent and said a prayer for the ozone layer. The mosquitoes stayed away for five minutes and then attacked. The kids whined until we got the tent up- the one place perfectly mosquito free. Everyone but Jesiah hid inside this tent. Jesiah was determined to enjoy nature despite the hundreds of mosquitoes clinging to his skin.

Just hiding from the mosquitoes in here…

I tried my best to make our time in the tent fun. I had downloaded Harry Potter on my phone just before leaving. So our time in the tent was spent reading and the kids really enjoyed it. Jesiah even said it was one of the highlights of the trip as he could hear the story coming through the tent.

Jesiah set up his hammock which had a bug net around it. So he hid in there while we hid in the tent.

When it came time for dinner, none of us could fathom setting up the gas stove to heat up the stew in the midst of the mosquitoes. We were lucky this year there was no fire ban and could light a fire. (Our first camp fire with the kids!) Wherever the smoke went, the mosquitoes ran. So we huddled in the thick of the smoke while roasting hot dogs over the fire. We lost multiple hot dogs when trying to eat amongst the mosquitoes.

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We wanted the smoke more than the fire.

We tried our best to make the most of our time camping despite the mosquitoes. We roasted marshmallows and made smores. We drank hot chocolate around the fire. All while frantically slapping away mosquitoes, dropping food and spilling drinks. The kids would have constant emotional break downs over the mosquitos. It was so cute, the neighbors of our camp site would yell the most encouraging things; “Don’t worry- I hate mosquitoes too!” “They are awful!”

That night was the earliest my kids have ever gone to bed on a camping trip.

Jesiah asked if I would sit by the fire with him and watch the stars… I couldn’t do it. My anxiety was through the roof amongst the mosquitoes. The only place I found peace was inside that tent.

That night’s sleep was actually very comfortable. We got a memory foam topper for the air mattress this year and it really made everyone knock out. But despite a great night’s sleep, I woke up to cranky kids that were covered in mosquito bites. They scratched, whined and cried.

My 7yr old Esperanza had to use the toilet but was terrified of leaving the tent. When Jesiah finally convinced her to come outside, her screams woke the entire camp site. The mosquitoes had gotten a good night’s sleep too and they were prepared for an ambush.

Esperanza refused to go to the bathroom and we refused to stay at that camp site another minute. We were packed up and on the road in ten minutes. We decided we would go home.

But as we got away from that torturous camp site, we saw beautiful park areas amongst the mountains and decided we would stop at one to see if the mosquitoes were just as bad everywhere else.

We pulled up to the park where we found families leisurely walking around. Leisurely walking around like there were no mosquitoes in sight. Jesiah got out of the van and we waited for the “all clear”. He stood by a picnic table for a minute before coming back and announcing there were 0 mosquitoes! And sure enough when we got out there were none!

Finally able to relax away from mosquitoes.

I took the kids to the bathroom and then we had a lovely breakfast on that picnic table in the park. We breathed a sigh of relief and agreed this is what we were looking forward to. Nature was all around us, we were relaxed and the bugs were all friendly.

Jesiah and I looked at each other and had the same idea, let’s try again. We would look for another camp site, one without mosquitoes. We committed to camping for two nights, and that’s what we would do. We thought it couldn’t get any worse… And we forgot to knock on wood.

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