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July 29, 2008


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My wife and I love camping too and we've been worried about taking Swee'Pea and TheMonk camping (sure that we'd have the experience of afrodad, your first commenter) but seeing Peanut makes me hopeful.

We've camped in some great places in California but I love camping on the beach. There's a nice camp site right down the road from Hearst Castle that we did before the kids arrived.

Love the dress in the woods photo. Swee'Pea will be the same way, I'm sure.


I'm glad you cleared up the fact that David Beckham is in the fashion business. It will save him going through the pretense that it was a wise move to play football for LA Galaxy.

Ali M.

The Peanut is sooooo cute! No wonder she's got daddy wrapped around her little finger. I love the fact that she has to wear dresses while camping. She's a girl after my own heart!


Awesome campsites? Due to the fact that I enjoyed your post, I will share ours.

Namakani Paio Campground


I usually sleep like shit when I camp, probably due to the sleep apnea, but imagine a campground surrounded by small stands of eucalyptus trees. The temperature is cool and you fall asleep to the scent of eucalyptus, did I mention you're a stone's throw from fucking Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island? The old lady and I packed Spam musubi for our hikes while she was five months pregnant. Hanging out in the only APA majority state in the union. *sigh* Truly awesome, and strongly recommended if you live on the lower 48.

Judge C.R. Magney - Minnesota

A beautiful hike into the forest with your gear and a payoff when you reach a point in the trail where you climb up on a rock that juts out and you get probably the best view of Lake Superior I've ever seen. Very out of the way and not crowded when we were there. This trip was one of the few times I almost killed my best friend because we hiked in, in the dark, fully encumbered, and it was raining when we set up. Clouds broke the next day and it was so worth it.

Monks Cowl Camp Site - Mpumalanga, South Africa

Excellent hiking, I trace my knee problems back to the epic beautiful hikes from this run. Miles upon miles of views of the Drakensberg Mountains, waterfalls, forests, hell you could hike to Lesotho, if you wanted to. By far, some of the best hiking I've ever done.


We just did our first family camping trip this past weekend. Although I grew up camping, my wife and kids had never gone before. We had a blast. It was great seeing the kids run around outside all day somewhere other than a suburban playground. They're already bugging me to go back!


First of all, nice job getting her interested without shoving it down her throat. I always walk a fine line with that and my kids. I'm into martial arts, and even taught it at one point, but the last thing they wanted to do was take my class:)

As for camping, I planned a weekend for my brother on an island in Lake George. We rented a boat and brought a lot of booze and food and had a great time for his bachelor party. He didn't want to do the stripper thing, so we had a great time.

As for other suggestions, I'd say anywhere in NY/NJ along the Appalachian Trail. As a kid growing up on Long Island I had a little book that we used to be able to get stamps from the Ranger Posts and put them in the book to see how much we had done. Lost the book, but remember all of the trails and how we always cleaned up all of our own stuff etc.

Good on you, glad you both had a great time. Hope your father in law is doing okay.

E. Daniels

Your post and all the comments have inspired us to take our first family camping trip, MD! It sounds like so much fun and, living in Chicago, we think the kids would enjoy some time in the great outdoors. Thanks for the idea!

P.S. If anyone has some recommendations for good family campsites in the Chicago area, please let me know.


i ALWAYS wear dresses when i camp


Camping? Ugh, no.
But I wanted to say that the Peanut is GORGEOUS.


If I told you my favorite camping spot I'd have to kill you. I can say that you can only get to it by plane or by boat.

Oh, and that it's not really legal to camp there.


as a kid, this was my favorite camping spot. but as an adult...i much prefer to stay at our little beach house in aptos. i don't want to rob my kids of the camping experience....but it's just way different when you're the one doing all the cooking and cleaning. and the dirt...did i mention that? oh....i also have four kids....that's a lot. :-) good post.


Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, Virginia. It's gorgeous. Has a smallish lake but its pretty and plenty of hiking trails. Great cabins! And if you come down here, you can visit me and my boys!!


Even though I live in the sticks of New Hampshire we still go camping. As a matter of fact my children now 19 and 21 are going camping this weekend in Maine. As small Children we use to take them to Lobster Buoy campground in Maine every summer for 6 days. It was the only time during the year that they were UNPLUGGED! They didn't have a TV or a Game Boys or computers. They learned to ride bikes,play tag, make friends and just be happy kids. If anyone here cares to check out the site. I leave you with the web site addy. http://lobsterbuoycampsites.com/

spontaneity and afterthoughts

I grew up in India and the only camping I did was daycamps with my Girl Scout buddies. Thats like light years ago.
And, I have still stuck to daycamping which is not hard living in California. We have the best that nature has to offer in the truest sense. Oceans, mountains, weather, wildlife, all the flora and fauna, just a few hours from our home.
This summer, I saw Dessert Jackal and Bobcat while our hiking trips. Thankfully havn't encountered a mountain lion yet. ;-)

spontaneity and afterthoughts

Ohh!! the good ones for Hiking are-
Big Basin Redwoods State Park,
Henry Cowell Redwoods SP, are breath taking.
But the best trips have been Yosemite- I was awe stuck.
Kings Canyon and the Giant Sequoia groves. They are all National Parks and I just keep going back to them again and again.

melissa carson

I just want to say that I discovered your blog today and have spent the entire day going through all your posts. I love it. I had no idea that daddy blogs existed. Yours is really smart, sensitive, and FUNNY! I laughed out loud quite a few times and my co-workers started looking at me strangely. Thanks for making this painful work day go by so much faster.

Tootsie Farklepants

I'm not so much for the camping but after all the talk of restaurants and "the city" now I REALLY want to go to New York!


The Adirondack's...Fish Creek Pond, truly peace on earth. Swimming, hiking, canoeing, fishing, etc. Freihofer's bakery truck, similar to Entenmann's, just better, drives through the park daily, along with an ice and the ice cream truck. The Adirondack Museum is nearby, as is the new Wild Center, in Tupper Lake. Lake Placid is amazing and don't forget about the Olympic venues.



We used to go camping quite regularly when I was a kid at this place called Gooney Creek. I looked up the campground via google (love me some google), and low and behold it actually has a website.



New Brighton Beach in Capitola, CA between Santa Cruz and Monterey. The campsites are above a beach, so you can go down to the beach and during the summer there are usually free activities for kids, like kite making. There is a small camp fire area and usually once or twice a year they have the Hula Lady come. Great car camping!

Henry Cowell Campgrounds in Felton, CA. First the downside: It is a dry camp, i.e. no visible alcohol. That being said, I have not had any problems getting drunk there either. But the great thing about this partk is that it is a stones throw away from the Roaring Camp Railroad. You can take a ride through the redwoods or during the summer you can go to Santa Cruz Beach Boadwalk via the train. The campgrounds themselves are really nice with some nice hikes.

Point Reyes, CA - Great backpacking with some sites with just a mile hike in, so great for kids.


We love the High Peaks in upstate NY, but the bears are intense up there. Every time we go, we have to bring the latest state-of-the-art bear food prevention method.

The first backpacking trip we ever did as a couple, the bears stole our food the second night (they cut the bear bag at the branch. In other words, "send Junior up to get the pinata down"). I actually found the bear picnic and had to clean up (pack it in, pack it out). I wanted our cook set back, so it was worth it.

They ate EVERYTHING. The Nutrigrain wrapper was slit along one side and licked clean. The small tupperware with Peanut Butter in it had one hole in the lid (claw out, insert, pop off) and was totally clean. I tried very hard to pretend that the wetness was just the morning dew!

We had a coffee mug with claw marks in it. That was our proudest conversation starter. It disappeared after my Korean MIL came for a visit...I think she assumed it was trash.


A little slice of paradise I love is a place called Crabtree Falls in the Shenandoah National Forest. It's in Nelson County, Virginia.

It seems like every camping trip I've been on has been an adventure. From partying with friends in my younger days and laying in the tent going, "what the fuck was that, man? A chipmunk? Shit, I think it's a goddamn bear, a huge one. Shit, where did you put the brownies?" to forgetting to change into my hiking boots and finding myself camping in January wearing Birkenstocks and socks.


Bowman Lake at Glacier National Park in Montana. You'd love it, MD. You need a beat-up SUV to navigate into the area but once you're there, you'll find pure heaven. Hike around and you'll find some of the best fly fishing streams in the country. Not sure it's the best family camping site but I go every year with my best friend from high school and we never fail to have an amazing time. A magical place to "get away from it all." Shoot me an e-mail if you ever make it out here. I'll take you out as a guide!


tell this one to boss lady...

went camping with the family.. well my parents were in a camper while the kids were in tents, so we didn't really have to crap in the woods..

but anyway, was grabbing a second handful of chips from a bag when i notice black stringy things in my fist. i looked closer....

f'ing daddy long leg legs... i had eaten them too! i couldn't find the body.. only the legs.

on second thought.. don't tell boss lady.


Oh my, what an adorable photo :)

You, camping. Nope, I wouldn't have guessed it! I personally find camping to be more work than fun. Exploring the outdoors is wonderful, but I'll retire to a hotel room!

C'mon over to Wisconsin, we have many wonderful campgrounds on countless lakes.

Papa Bradstein

3B's latest favorite game is to play tent, for which he uses any blanket or sheet and inside which he has campfires and roasts marshmallows. So, let us know when you want to come down and go camping in Shenandoah. Or, we could just swing through NYC and pick you up on our way to the farm, which is like camping, but you get to stay in Grammy's house, complete with pie, fresh milk and the miracle of plumbing.

elaine gan

She sure looked fashionably sweet standing next to the tent.. pretty! :)


We live in Chicago, so we go to Wisconsin to get away. The beach or a waterpark resort is great fun for the kids.


Krista made me homesick...I grew up in Duluth, MN and spent a lot of time up the north shore of Lake Superior. Gooseberry Falls remains one of my faves to this day. As a college student, I worked at a canoe outfitters in the BWCA. If you canoe far enough, you can escape from the groups of boyscouts and enjoy the most peaceful places I've ever been. And the northern lights are spectacular....


That is hilarious MD! We do have opposite experiences to camping. We're still trying to figure out what's the "allure" of camping. Are we missing something? Maybe not having to cook for 17 people is one of the reasons,or coming home to a 7 loads of leftover laundry from the camping trip, or maybe pitching the tents in the rain, but you know...we'll try it again next year simply b/c the kids enjoyed it and that's what matters most.

We camped at a KOA campsite (KOA.com) and their facility was cleaned and inexpensive. We were very impressed!

And yes, girls will be girls, Sophia wanted nothing to do with pants, that's why she got 21 mosquitoes bites on her legs.

Black Hockey Jesus

Me & Skip used to hike up around Pigeon River in Nothern Michigan.


Pertaining to growing up too fast:

As someone who was raised in NYC I can say that I am all the happier for it. I have since moved out to the suburbs and have a 10 year old sister who has spent her whole life out there. Watching her grow up I can see the clear disparities between the two and feel instead that people in the suburbs grow up far too slowly and are far too sheltered. By her age I was riding the subway between the Bronx and Manhattan, taking weekend trips to Yonkers and walking around through Riverside Park and Morningside Heights all on my own. My sister wouldn't be trusted to be in the house for more than 5 minutes let alone walk to the corner on her own. In fact from what I read your daughter sounds like she will grow up to be an open minded and well rounded person even at her age. Being exposed to so much at that age I think is more beneficial than harmful.

As for camping:

I went hiking once when I was really small just north of Westchester County during the winter and stumbled upon some deer. I thought they were really cool and tried to get closer only to slip on a patch of ice and go tumbling down a small but fairly steep hill. Since then I've been petrified of most heights and all inclines. I do enjoy sitting around a campfire though, as long as no mountains or hills are involved.

Sara GH

That's such a cute story! The girl's got style!!


Oh Nate will be totally jealous. He's been dying to take T "camping" in grandma's back yard since the day she was born. I'll make sure she contacts peanut for wardrobe tips first.

Mostly for us these days, getting away from it all involves a plate of fries at the diner. Sad, I know.


Stokes State Forest, NJ. Easy to get to from NY, too!

Lil'bug camped here at 6 months, 18 months and, most recently, at 2.5 years.

An account of our last adventure is here:

When I was about two weeks pregnant we camped at Sandy Hook, NJ (would that be considered your back yard or front yard?). I don't recommend Sandy Hook, NJ in the beginning of April unless you really like freezing noses and toes. I had to keep pulling Scout out of his sleeping bag during the night, afraid he'd suffocate.

Peanut is just too cute in her official camping attire.

ellen from Ireland

Oh it's got to be here. http://www.loughkey.ie/
I went there as a kid and still remember it as one of the best holidays I ever had and I've travelled the world

My dad built a small sail boat and we went out to the island in it. On the return he stepped into the boat while it was still in shallow water and made a big hole in it and we had to bail out the water to get back across the lake He was not a happy man but we enjoyed it!!

If you ever go camping in Ireland go there


Lost Mine Campground in Nantahala, NC (right outside Bryson City). The campground has a lovely stream running through it, has a small game area for kids, a bath house with hot water, and the owners of the campground run a tight ship! No noise after 10 pm. Besides that, it's about a mile up from the end of the Nantahala River. Lots of great white water, sight seeing, hiking near by. Love it!


We just got back from Balsam Mountain Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains. It was awesome - much cooler because of it's higher elevation, not many people (and the people that were there were nice folks), and beautiful views all over the place. The kids love everything about camping, and I pretty much hate it all. Next time I'm bringing an air mattress. It's worth it, though, because they really do love it.

the new girl

She could not be any. cuter.


Dang, I was just complaining on my blog the other day that there are not that many male bloggers and certainly not many dad-bloggers, and my friend sent me a link to yours (and a few others). I stand corrected. Not only are there lots of them, lots of them (like yours) are also great.

Devra Renner

I could have written this post.

I also enjoy camping.

I met my husband at sleep away camp.(he was the caretaker's son. Shhhh!)

I know how to build a fire from scratch.

I can gut a trout.

If I can do all of these things, you know Peanut won't be at any disadvantage. You know I grew up a city kid! : )

Mitch W.

We're headed out tomorrow morning for our first family camp trip. 5 adults, 8 kids. We'll be outnumbered. Wish us luck. If we're not back in 3 days, call the park rangers!

Casa Wasabi

Hey Metro Dad. :) Ok, one of my very favorite camp sites, and one of my favorite vacations of all time:

the KOA campground on Sugarloaf Key.

Ok, this isn't rustic hike-in camping, but when there are petites involved sometimes it's just easier to go to a place that has clean bath houses, a pool and a bar where you can order pina coladas. There is also a private beach where you can snorkle and rent kayaks. Also, it's all just right over the bridge from Key West, so you can mix it up and head downtown if you want.


Shannon Best

Camped once. See, if you are from Oklahoma, like I am, you are very aware of the Girl Scout murders. I have read the book about 6 times. I went camping and remember the glow of the Coke Machine by the showers. I kept thinking Gene Leroy Hart was gonna come get me. (even though he's dead), Hate camping. My husbamd plans to take the kids camping when they are older. Only if its really crowded and lit up like a runway.
Scared shitless camper Shannon in Austin


MD, where did you go camping?!?! I just moved to Dutchess County, NY and have yet to take my boys camping.

Also, I saw this online tonight and thought of the Boss Lady: http://www.blueq.com/shop/item/114-productId.125837355.html

To answer your question, I grew up camping with my Dad at Stokes State Forest in New Jersey. It probably wasn't the greatest camping grounds as the grounds themselves I barely remember, but like another reader, my father passed away this past Spring and those wonderful camping trip memories will always be with me.

Alan B.

As a child, we used to go camping all the time. For some reason (dumb adolescence), I stopped going when I became a teenager. Never went during high school or college. Then, in my late 20's, I went on a trip with some friends and it all came back to me. I realized how much I missed being in the woods and enjoying nature.

By the time I had kids, I was fully reimmersed in camping. Now we take family trips all the time. It's by far our favorite family vacation.


I live in Dutchess County surrounded by the woods. It is very quiet in my neighborhood. Sometimes when I go camping (with my daughter's girl scout troop, or in our travel trailer) it is noisier at the campground than at home!! Maybe it is because I don't hike in or camp in rustic places. Before the kids were born my husband and I camped on Isle au Haut off of the Maine coast (part of Acadia National Park). We backpacked in after taking the mail boat to the island. Very private.


Funny, we just spent a week in the woods too (Adirondacks), but not camping, my youngest is still too young. But their papa is dying to get them overnighting, and sad that it's still probably two years off.


Ever since I was forcibly relocated from Texas, I've decided to suck it up and get used to (one of) the only good thing(s) about living here in central/Northwest-ish NC, which is the abundance of awesome hiking. I'm less than an hour from several excellent camping spots or day hikes in the foothills of the Appalachians, and only two-ish hours from the actual Appalachians. If you are in this area, here are the parks that I recommend:

-- Hanging Rock- great camping, great lake for swimming/canoeing, tons of trails ranging from wheelchair accessible to needs-a-climbing-permit, and it's not too terribly far from civilization.
-- Pilot Mountain- great for day hikes and photography- excellent vistas from a lone, lost peak. Bonus for crazy Andy Griffith fans, is that Pilot Mountain is the Mount Pilot frequently referred to in the Andy Griffith show, also close to Mount Airy (aka Mayberry). Look, it's small town NC- they have to have some sort of claim to fame, otherwise they'd be the same as every other tiny, nothing town in this god-forsaken-state.

Bonus to either of these two above campsites are several dozen excellent wineries (did you know that NC is 5th in the nation in wine production- CA, WA, OR, NY and then NC... weird, huh?). Apparently, prior to prohibition, the Yadkin Valley was the major US wine country. Anyhow, the point is that along with camping and hiking, there are a large number of quality wineries just a few miles off the main roads (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yadkin_Valley_AVA) for when you get sick of the wildlife.

And lastly, if you find yourself in the Austin area (aka the Faterland for me), check out Enchanted Rock. Or if you can get a little further, Lost Maples is truly beautiful. Or there are plenty of areas south or west of Austin for camping with tubing (Frio River tubing out west is frickin' AWESOME, or tubing on the San Marcos river, too).

Ahem. Advertisement over...


My husband and I have a deal. For every night that he forces me to sleep in the woods, he owes me a pair of shoes. If not for this arrangement, he'd make me go on week-long camping vacations. Now, I only end up going for short weekends. Works out well for everyone!

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