Our friend, the swadfather, suggested that we do more blogging about car free trips. That’s when we realized that, aside from Nathan’s Woods Hole trip, we really haven’t done many. That’s mostly because we’re homebodies. After all, if we went away for the weekend, we’d miss socializing at our favorite park.
We have done one big car-free trip, however, to Provincetown last August, when H was a little over a year old. We went out for Family Week, and decided to camp, because we’re cheap (have you seen hotel prices in P-town???) and like a challenge (suspiciously similar to our motivations for being car-free in general…). From the beginning, there were problems to solve:
- Should we take our bikes? We decided not to last year, but I think for future camping trips we will take at least the xtracycle, now that H has a seat (she didn’t last year).
- How would we get all of our gear down to the ferry and then from the ferry to the campground? We weren’t sure we’d be able to easily access a grocery store, so we decided to bring food with us (if we bring a bike future years, we won’t have to bring food). We filled an old-lady style shopping cart with groceries and cooking supplies. We also took two camping backpacks with our gear, and toted H in her stroller, with her very compact booster seat strapped to the back (it turned out to be a lifesaver to have a place she could be “strapped in” with some cheerios while we set up camp). We took the T to the ferry, And then walked to our campsite from the boat. It was a lot to carry from the ferry to the campsite (about a mile walk), especially since we got lost on the way, which made it more like a two mile walk, but we made it.
- How would we sleep? Of course this is the biggest question that any parent of a young child has. We opted to take a roomy two-person tent (since that’s what was generously loaned to us) and have H sleep on a mat with us. That, um, didn’t really go as well as we hoped. H is used to sleeping in a darkened room and we were trying to put her down in a stuffy tent while it was still light outside, which she used as a good opportunity to perfect her newfound tent-zipper-opening skills. We ended up having to hold her until she fell asleep in our arms around dark and then we were all up with the sun. She took naps in the stroller while we walked around town. Next time we camp, we’re going to bring a bigger tent, the kind that has rooms, and designate a separate space for H to sleep. Fortunately all of us stayed cheerful, though we all could have used a bit more sleep.
- What would H eat? At home, she was basically nursing and eating whatever we ate and we assumed she’d do the same on the trip. We hadn’t anticipated the challenge of getting our own food cooked on a toddlers schedule without available refrigeration, so we ended blasting through the few jars of babyfood we’d brought as a backup plan. Fortunately a nice well-prepared couple with twins gave us a few more packs of food on our last day when we ran out. In retrospect we would have put in more backup babyfood as well as more food specifically for H.
- What would we do if it rained? We had a minimal rain backup plan including a tarp rigged up sufficient to shelter us while eating and our stuff while we were sleeping in the tent. If it had been rainy, we probably would have spent much more time indoors in town, and probably would have had a few more restaurant meals. Next time we camp we’re going to bring a bigger tent, which would help out with the rain issue.
A few more points:
- Our campsite was unfortunately located across a busy highway from town, which necessitated a bit of a walk beside the highway. This was fine when H was in a carrier, but not possible with the stroller since the shoulder of the road was quite sandy. If we go again, we’ll probably stay at the less shady campsite that’s on the town side of route 6.
- We planned our trip so late that the only reason we were even able to get a campsite at all was that we didn’t have a car. They were completely booked for sites that had room for a vehicle, but since we only had ourselves, we got in!
- Many many thanks to our friend and neighbors R & E who loaned us a backpacks, a tent, and other gear! Now that we know more what we need, we need to start rustling up some of our own gear.
Overall, the trip was a great success, despite the fact that nobody was getting enough sleep. H absolutely loved being outside (dirt! No baths! What could be better??), and we met lots of other GLBT-headed families. The scheduling didn’t work out for a trip this summer, but we hope to make it in 2009. We’d love to know of other places accessible to car-free camping, without extensive bike trips to get there (i.e. places within a mile or two of ferry or commuter rail. We’re planning to try camping on the Harbor Islands, but I’m sure there must be other good spots as well.