I am amazed what a difference three months makes in a camping experience. In May, we took Addie camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and though she enjoyed it, she wasn’t speaking very much, staying up late, or hiking on her own. These past few days we returned to the White Mountains and it was a vastly different experience – for her, and for us! (It also didn’t hurt that Kendra’s parents were along for the ride – they helped make the entire time even more fun.)
Our first stop was the Dolly Copp Campground. Though we have visited here many times in the past, traveling in Jane and Boris’ RV forced us to look for a campsite that could accomodate them and our tent. Much to our surprise, we found an incredible site we’d never considered before, which was a great reminder to us that it’s important to stray outside our comfort zone.
We arrived late in the afternoon, so after setting up camp, we only had time to prepare and eat dinner before putting Addie down for the night. On the plus side, her early bedtime means an early wakeup time for us – perfect for a morning hike! We opted to follow the Daniel Webster (Scout) Trail, which leaves from the campground. This steep trail, marked by royal blue rectangular trail blazes, was built by boy scouts from the Daniel Webster council in 1933.
Though the trail leads to the summit of Mt. Madison via the Osgood Trail, we did not get nearly that far. In fact, Kendra, Addison, and I turned around soon after we crossed the Hayes Copp ski trail (Jane and Boris kept going for another 30-minutes). The roughly one-mile hike took us 90 minutes, owing to the fact that once again we left our Dueter Child Carrier at home. This was Addie’s first official hike on a White Mountain trail using her own two legs! She was a champ, climbing over rocks and tree roots, refusing our help with an insistant, “I do it, Mama!” Every so often she stopped to examine a mushroom, feel the soft, green moss on tree stumps, or splash in the many small streams running across the trail. She even gave us all a good laugh when she plopped down on a rock, looked up at me and said, “Mama, take picture! Cheeeeeese!”
After our hike, we headed back to our campsite for a quick lunch, and then I read Addie some books and put her down for a nap. She wasn’t too pleased about it, but while she sang to herself in the tent, I relaxed in my hammock with Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” while Kendra fell asleep in her hammock, and Boris and Jane napped in the RV. Unfortunately, it was hard to concentrate with Addison singing “Happy Birthday” and having conversations with herself. She hasn’t quite mastered the art of tent talking – like my outdoor adventure club kids, she has yet to realize tent walls are not solid, and thereby do not muffle sounds.
After 30 minutes, I gave up trying to read and went into the tent to see why my dear child was not sleeping. I was surprised to see Addie jumping up and down in her pack and play. Even when she doesn’t sleep, she usually lays down. As I peered over the edge, I spied what was keeping her from sprawling out on her mattress – two big puddles of pee and a wet diaper. Gross. Totally my fault too – in trying to keep her cool in the tent, I opted to put her to bed sans shorts, forgetting that her latest hobby is ripping off her diaper whenever possible, and then peeing in random places – like a kitchen chair, her rug, or my foot. Awesome. Needless to say, nap time was a total wash so we ended up coloring and then swimming in Culhane Brook behind our site.
In the late afternoon, we started a fire so Boris could cook us steaks. It was not easy – the wood was wet, and I had trouble keeping the fire burning. Addie tried to help me fan the flames by using a Cheez-It box. Though cute, I was more impressed with Boris’ solution – a hairdryer plugged into the RV. This is a luxury I am not used to as a car camper!
The next day, we traveled to North Conway and took a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad! Though the views weren’t as exciting as I’d hoped, we had a nice lunch in the dining car. I was originally pushing for the more scenic 5-hour ride to Crawford Notch, but after our trip, I realized that would have been too long for Addison. Our hour and 45-minute ride to Bartlett, NH and back was plenty enough – we ate lunch, had time to walk around the train as the engine detached and reconnected to the opposite end for our return trip, meet the conductor, and check out the views.
(We had a good time, but the price was expensive! The $47.50 per person tickets covered the ride and meal, but not the drinks or gratuity. Riding coach is significantly cheaper at $24.50 per person. There is an even cheaper option if you ride coach on the train to Conway, but that trip is just 55 minutes long.)
On our way back to the campsite, we stopped at Dairy Queen (who could resist such temptation?!). We had a relatively quiet evening – after a swim in the brook, we made dinner, s’mores, and then headed to bed. It was a fun trip, and truly amazing to watch Addie be more involved – she hiked, roasted marshallows, strapped on a headlamp when she took the trash to the dumpster with Grandma, ate lunch on a moving train, and went swimming! I can’t wait to see what she does on the next trip!