Most of our airstreaming is done as “Weekend Warriors.” I love taking a longer trip during the summer, but during the school year we are pretty much limited to weekends. For a weekend trip, I find it ideal to leave Friday night, thus giving us the entire day of Saturday to play, explore, and if we are lucky, relax. Sunday morning there is time for breakfast and a walk, and then we head home. This schedule, however, comes at a cost: the late-night Friday arrival with two amped-up children, ages 7 and 2. I am convinced that we might have a reputation. The vintage Airstream towed by a maroon Toyota 4 Runner, rolling into the campground after dark with two screaming children, disturbing everyone who managed to somehow, leave home earlier than us. When we arrived much in this manner on a Friday night in August, I had only one thought: We shall overcome. My husband and I surely have the children skills and camping skills to make our late-night arrivals peaceful ones. So, in the spirit of helpfulness, I wrote the following “top eleven” list for Peaceful, Late-night Campground Arrivals With Children, in the dark, at 10:00 PM:
1. Dress them in their jammies for the car trip. One less thing to do when you arrive.
2. Serve a soothing dinner full of tryptophan. We usually do a car picnic for the ride to the campsite. (Sandwiches, fruit, chips, or a run to Subway if I just can’t get it done.) De-emphasize sugar and emphasize protein and whole grain carbs. In fact, a full Thanksgiving turkey dinner normally makes everyone want to sleep. Do this.
3. Bring a change of jammies because they are bound to get messy during the Thanksgiving car picnic. Nix the cranberry sauce next time.
4.Have the beds in the camper ready as possible to slide into. There is usually a bike strapped to one of our beds. Just put a helmet on your kid, put them to bed, and sort it out in the morning.
5. Have jobs for everyone to do upon arrival. Screaming and hanging out the window are not good jobs. My seven year old son is as good/better at directing the Canadian to back up the trailer in the dark as I am. But we don’t want him to get run over so he screams and hangs out the window.
6. Forget the jobs. Pay extra for a pull-through site.
7. Pack favorite beer and wine. For the parents. This is glamping after all. Pack more than you think you will need.
8. Glance at the map of the campground before your trip when you feel serene. Note your site and the location of the restrooms. I am pretty sure that I wandered through people’s yards at a very urban RV park in Benton City, WA.
9. After arriving, parking, and settling in, The longer you leave the lights on the wilder and more amped everyone gets. Turn them off!
10. Wear your own Jammie’s on the car trip, because it is pretty much guaranteed you will just collapse into bed at some point! Ouch! Was that a handlebar.
11. Sweet dreams. They’ll be up at Sunrise. Make sure your favorite coffee and tea are stocked.