Camping Road Trip Adventure

Where do I even begin in my attempt to sum up the adventures of the past month?! Camping for 3 weeks with a 2 + 3 year old and covering over 3000 km wouldn’t be most people’s definition of a relaxing vacation, and yet it was by far one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.. And if it was one of the biggest adventures of my whole life, I cannot even imagine what it felt like for my girls. The sad thing for me, is that the ability to form long-term memories does not start until age 7. That means that in the short term, Morgan and Farrin will be able to hold on to these adventures, but that they’ll soon slip away. Without this family film and photos, they would not be able to remember anything about this trip into adulthood, let alone later into childhood. That makes this the most meaningful photography project I have ever completed.

This trip was full of a lot of highs and lows, just like any typical day with young kids. We had some pretty bad luck with illnesses throughout the trip. But we completely lucked out on the weather, with only a couple days of rain the entire time. Despite some other misfortunate events, like the trailer falling off while driving and a pepper spray explosion inside our camper, we came out of the trip definitely feeling like overall we had the “time of our lives”. We got to stay at some beautiful places on our journey (Farragut State Park, Hiawatha Bike Trail, Leavenworth, Deception Pass, Salt Spring Island, Rathtrevor Beach, Sunshine Coast, Squamish, Sasquatch, Okanogan, and Shuswap), have so many delicious camp meals, watch our 2 year old’s vocabulary explode, watch our 3 year old’s determination shine through on conquering pedal biking, and sleep under the stars… oh no wait, we did not do that last one. From sunset to sunrise, we mostly just dealt with overtired/wired kids and night terrors so there was very little sleep ;) Have to keep it real. It was definitely not the most restful vacation I’ve been on, and yet I came out completely refreshed in a very different way. Partly because of our string of illnesses and lack of energy, I truly learned to cherish the little things. I was constantly toning back my expectations (from all the fun hikes and bikes I’d researched and how hard I was going to train for XTERRA and Ride to Conquer Cancer) to just appreciating the great outdoors and this unique all-in family time we had. It sounds cliche, but a reminder that it doesn’t take much to make me happy was needed right now. Just family, my camera, being outside lots/always, and a simplified life with other distractions removed so I could just watch my kids grow and explore.

AND, I think I even learned how to “go with the flow”, maybe at least a little bit. As a teenager and young adult, I used to think I was so spontaneous and I am still not sure if something changed or if I just accepted my “true self” but wow do I love a good routine in recent years. And camping with kids while trying to cover 3000 km… well, that definitely took away almost any hope of routine or sense of normalcy. I am not going to lie, I hated it at first. The first 5 days of our trip were very hard for this reason alone. Kids were not napping on time (or at all), bedtime was a mess, kids were overtired, meals and snacks were whatever and whenever. For a planner, this was all very stressful. BUT, I somehow learned to embrace it. Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy to slip back into 7 pm bedtime for the kids when we got home and get a bit of predictability back, but I think I will also be better at letting go a bit going forward. When it means you prioritize the adventure, there are definitely times that being on time for naps/meals/etc can take the back seat. Not to mention worth it to fit in ice cream almost daily on a vacation. Anyways, I could go on and on, as this really was a life-changing trip in a few ways for me, but for anybody that has stuck with my personal reflection this long, let’s move on to a few of my favourite photos from our adventure, as well as the video at the very bottom. And for anybody else who is inspired to try some big adventures with little kids, DO IT, and I would love to capture them! And if this post actually turned you off of camping with kids instead of getting you excited, then let’s chat. I’m no expert at it yet, but I promise there is more that makes it worth it than the things that make it hard and I’m happy to share any tips and tricks. I’m looking forward to lots more camping with kids in my future, so I think that means I more than survived this big adventure :)

Shirley Sullivan