In the micro-adventure series, here's our first long weekend by sea as a family of 4, with our camper!
Be warned: there's nothing unique or extravagant about this weekend. My story is a humble sharing of a family camping experience, and above all, a reason to share our good times, and especially our not-so-good ones!
We organized this trip with our good childhood friends, Virginie and Charles. We live a long way from each other, and for some years now we've been trying to book an annual holiday with the kids, to experience something new and play outside together as much as possible.
The first time, we chose canoe-camping at Le Poisson Blanc: a big WOW that would be the subject of another blog. But it's worth pointing out that, at the time, we only had one child per family.
This year, for the seaside holiday, we are 2 families of 4:
Pascale, Samuel, Alexi - 12 months, Jules - 4 years ¾
Virginie, Charles, Louis - 5 ½ years old, Billie - 3 ¾ years old
o LOCATION: Ogunquit, Maine, United States
o DURATION : 4 days (including transport)
o WEATHER CONTEXT: Rain is forecast for the last 2 out of 4 days.
o SPORTS FACILITIES:
- Boogie board (we're in "kids' mode", so we plan to play in the water with them for the whole stay)
- Running shoes (daily jogging if life permits)
- Stroller (naps and jogging with Alexi)
- Surfing (on our side, the fairly new camper is not yet equipped to carry surfboards, and we were short on time, but it's a great sports opportunity)
- Bikes (the traffic is non-negligible, but it's a great way of transporting ALL the stuff that follows us to the beach and getting us moving a bit. As for us, we agreed with the other family that this year we'd keep it simple).
THE ROAD: 4.5h by GPS
- We had underestimated the scale of the trip. 4.5 hours, round trip, that's a good 2 days of travel.
- Jules, almost 5, no problem
- Alexi, barely 1 year old: you have to plan the route exactly during naps, and if you're lucky you'll stretch with active animation, but if she needs to move, you have no choice but to stop.
- Departure at 6:30 p.m. after a McDo dinner! After all the packing, it's good to keep things simple for dinner, and McDonald's is a rare treat, so Jules is over the moon!
- We thought we were being strategic: the 2 kids would fall asleep at their usual bedtime, and we'd make the trip without stopping.
- No: Jules didn't sleep a wink until 20 minutes from the finish line (11am!!)
- And Alexi fell asleep exhausted at 9:30 pm, and was rather uncomfortable until she gave in to sleep.
- Several short stops in the "rest area" to manage the children's discomfort, longer, but still smooth in the end.
- Arrival past midnight: Jules lies down in the camper and goes right back to sleep (yes!).
- Alexi wakes up! (Noooooo) Ouch, Impossible to get her back to sleep before 2am, lucky Jules doesn't wake up.
Reflection: we spent a good part of the next day recovering from it. What was supposed to keep us from traveling during the day meant that we were completely burnt out the next day, and therefore decidedly not ready for a day of activities.
- Departure at 13h30-14h00 (we kept Alexi awake as long as possible so she could fall asleep in the car). We had a nice nap and woke up halfway through the journey, leaving us with 2h15 to go.
- We take turns sitting back with the kids and playing with Alexi, while Jules listens to music and storytelling through his headphones).
- We even gave out snacks (fruit and crackers that melt easily in the mouth to make it as safe as possible).
- Arrived home at 6:45 p.m., ready to feed the gang.
- No stopping: I have to say that I see this as a rare event, I have little hope that it will happen again soon! Thank you life (haha).
Reflection: day trip, so plan the length of stay according to the distance to be covered. In this case, add 2 days of travel to the planned time. This is an important detail when you're leaving for only 4 days.
- Camper VS Tent? Another blog topic, in our case the choice of camper is mostly about 4-season adventures. Our friends were in tents, and their camp was just as pleasant as ours.
- Superb campsite (Pinederosa campground)
- Children can run around non-stop, and everything around them is a game: long live nature!
- Campfires: #1 attraction, but require a lot of supervision at such a young age.
- Superb children's park on the campsite.
The beach is like a campsite, an endless playground that keeps kids happy without any special equipment!
- A big WOW, the sand is soft, firm enough to ride with a stroller (naps) (Oguenquit beach)
- A beautiful boardwalk for walking, but rather difficult for running as it's very narrow. Definitely not ideal with a stroller. The surrounding roads are quite busy, so please consider them with baby.
- Next time: we'd bring the surfboards because there were small waves in the morning and we definitely could have taken advantage of them. This was our first long trip with the camper, and we're still learning how to get organized as a foursome. We weren't ready to bring more stuff. We should have had 2-3 extra vacation days to prepare the stuff.
- Wetsuits (children and adults): I'd still recommend a small wetsuit if you want the kids to be able to play in the (fairly cold) water all day long.
- Beach tent for protection from the sun (especially for Alexi, who can't be out in the sun all day, but also for Jules, who had to take a nap at some point).
- Cooler and more ice than you think | Make sandwiches in advance if you want to eat as little sand as possible. | Snacks: always more snacks, that's the classic.
- Soccer ball or volleyball: a ball is used for everything. You should never leave home without a ball!
We didn't want to cancel, we'd been waiting too long for our "classic".
Luckily, 2 out of 4 days were sunny. But on day 3, when it started raining non-stop, we realized there weren't many indoor activities for young children. With only 3- to 5-year-olds, we could have dressed them in rain gear and played outside anyway. But with a baby, more difficult. Not impossible, but less pleasant.
In short: at 11:00 a.m., it was decided that we would take off in the torrential rain and have lunch in a small Mexican restaurant before leaving. Knowing that we'd be back early PM the next day, and that the forecast was for just as much rain until then, we decided to drive through the rain and finish our stay at home: last burger supper in the comfort of our kitchen. Alexi in bed and the kids watching a movie.
We planned one dinner per family.
- Evening 1: Ricardo's Vegan Mac N Cheese with crumble + salad
- Evening 2: Mexican soup meal from K pour Katrine with avocado on top and tortilla chips on the side (kids love it!!)
- Evening 3: Classic Burgers, a sure bet! No need to prepare in advance unless you like them fancy.
For us, with a one-year-old who has to eat early and with assistance, we cooked in advance. It was a question of simplifying the task, since camping meals require a lot of energy: washing up, fetching water, cooking "not in the kitchen" and watching over the children at the same time.
- Lunches: a large grocery store on arrival for lunches and all fresh fruit and vegetables. And for snacks and beverages.
- USA: you can't cross with fresh, uncooked fruit, vegetables and meat.
- Marshmallows: a must, a classic
- With young children, if you're going far away, it's better to go for a long time (at least a week).
Camping and the beach: 2 sure-fire ways for children to have fun with everything they find in their environment.