For years I've wanted to live in a van, traveling two lanes roads stopping anywhere that looked nice and peaceful for a rest/photograph/food/anything! The more remote and less phone service the better. Fast forward and while I've spend many many weeks van and truck camping, it's never been in my own unit (as Dad likes to call them). Two week ago I convinced a friend to "just look" at pull behind campers. Lo and behold there were some appealing options at a fraction of the cost of my beloved van! Two days later I hauled my unsuspecting husband and baby two hours north, again "just looking". By 8pm that night we were sitting in Oscar in our driveway scratching our heads at how things escalated so quickly :).
Husband has lived on a boat for YEARS and has been worried a van (ok I'll stop saying that and move to camper) would be too confining. I see his point. It's pretty magical to put on the autopilot and make a hot lunch while sailing to the next destination instead of being buckled into a seat for a few hours. It took alot for him to be willing to give it a go. I think he's getting more into after this trip!
We decided to go down to Hunting Beach State Park. It's a hair over 2 hours from our house so we could easily bail if it went wrong. We pulled into the campground an hour before dark with a baby who totally skipped his afternoon nap. Let me say that setting up for the first time with Mr. CrankyPants yelling in protest the whole time was trying to say the least, haha. But we got it set and ate boxed soup for dinner and spent the evening sitting inside (hello near freezing WINDY conditions in a site right over the sand dunes) admiring our new digs.
Challenge 1: Sleeping Baby in a trailer when you forgot the baby gate.
Solution: Pack and play mattress pushed back in the bunk while we're away worked like a charm. We put the pack and play on the dinette table turns bed - an astonishingly perfect fit) so he had a safe space to sleep all night.
What we learned: Figure out how to block all lights and don't make a peep after the transfer. Otherwise he will realize your head is 12 inches from his through the mesh and want in the bed. Where you will become a human jungle gym. And he will like the sound it makes when he hits the camper wall. And want to know where the light is coming from. And oh Dad's here too? And daaaaannngggg can I get on that floor? And what do you mean I can't touch the heater? You get the idea. We did better on night two and he slept right on through business as usual. Bring the baby gate next time and lock him up real good in that bunk.
The park is fantastic. Campground is right on the beach, you can bike/hike from there to the park entrance, and there's miles and miles of trails both in the maritime forest and on the beach. If you've never experienced a maritime forest I highly recommend it! More on that in another post though.
We spent the first day walking around the light house area (babies are not welcome on these stairs) and biking out to the boneyard beach from the nature center. This is one of the most extensive and easily accessible boneyards beaches I've been to and it is well worth the trip.
After a quick lunch at the Shrimp Shack - meh? - we drove to St Helena Parish Chapel of Ease ruins. It was a fantastic spot nestled in the oaks, with wonderful tabby walls and grounds to admire. I have a deep love of ruins, architecture, and off the beaten path places and this checked all the boxes. Well worth a stop.
From there we visited Fort Fremont historic site to learn about this most impressive battery. Its artillery guns were able to reach several miles across the water, protecting the area between shore and an underwater minefield. Unfortunately much of the area has been marred by graffiti and other who feel they must leave their mark.
We finished the day with a sunset bike ride, chicken grilled over the fire, and a finally soundly sleeping baby. Oscar's first trip for the win :)