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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Camping Comfortably

Uploaded: Apr 24, 2015
Last Friday I let go of the illusion that I am not middle-aged when I walked into REI in search of a new sleeping pad for camping. I have always prided myself on my ability to sleep for weeks on end on the thinnest of mats with nothing but a fleece in a stuff sack for a pillow. But, with my daughter's Girl Scout troop's camping trip only hours away, I had to face a harsh new reality. My current camping gear was completely inadequate. I could no longer bear to spend even one night tossing and turning, and immobilized with a stiff neck and aching back in the morning. Particularly since we were kayaking the next day.

You'd think the extra pounds that come with middle age would provide more cushion on the hard ground, but it doesn't work that way! I needed to admit to my age and limitations and take action. I approached the young, outdoorsy salesclerk. Feeling completely and utterly humiliated, I asked to see the most comfortable camping mattresses they sold; weight, size, and cost were no consideration.

Fortunately REI employees are not only knowledgeable about equipment, it seems they are also trained to be sensitive to middle-aged women who are mourning the loss of their youthful vigor. Luckily, those of us born at the tail end of the baby boom benefit from all those active boomers who have aged before us. I was thrilled to discover that since I bought my featherweight pad, all sorts of wonderful equipment has been invented to keep us oldsters happy in the out-of-doors. The trick is to park right next to the tent site! I was so happy that when I stretched out on my comfy new mattress in the store, I hardly noticed that the salesclerk had to help me up off the floor.

Both the camping and the kayaking were wonderful due to the great night's sleep I had on my new mattress. I endured some embarrassment from the noise of my battery-powered pump inflating and deflating my mattress, but the peaceful slumber was worth it.

I'm considering investing in one of the new tents with built-in LED lighting. Maybe the LED lights will illuminate the tent enough at night so on the next camping trip I can leave my reading glasses at home!
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 +   1 person likes this
Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Apr 24, 2015 at 8:18 am

Thanks for the morning smile and Hooray for technology!

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 24, 2015 at 8:39 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks, LJ, yes, I wholeheartedly embrace technology if it can keep me active!

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by PR, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 24, 2015 at 9:58 am

With age comes wisdom (and funny stories!) Thank you, Sally!

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Older Camper too, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Apr 24, 2015 at 9:12 pm

My choice for tent site is now nearest to bathroom and farthest away from family with early waking toddlers. I know exactly how you feel. As someone who camped with my parents, I can proudly say that I have camped a decade beyond the age they felt they were too old and hope (I think) to continue further.

 +   2 people like this
Posted by Reinless Jacklin, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 25, 2015 at 12:57 am

So excited I found this article as it made things much quicker! Web Link

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 25, 2015 at 7:16 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi PR,
Thanks, and yes, feeling wiser makes up for some of the inconveniences of aging!

Dear Older Camper too,
Thanks for reading and commenting! I wholeheartedly agree that nearest the bathroom and away from crying babies is ideal. I wish you many more years of camping bliss!

Dear Reinless Jacklin,
Thanks for the link. Very comprehensive and helpful! Equipment is an investment so it's great to know about all the choices out there.

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by EmmaB, a resident of College Terrace,
on Apr 29, 2015 at 1:14 pm

EmmaB is a registered user.

Love this! Thanks for sharing! camping can be as hardcore -- or luxurious -- as you want it to be :)

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks, EmmaB, yes, keeping active and enjoying the great outdoors is the goal!

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Rottsy, a resident of Los Altos,
on Apr 30, 2015 at 1:43 am

If you decide to get the tent with the LED trim package, please bear in mind that the lights will attract every bug known to man, and then some! Spoken from experience of the highest heebie-jeebie, creepy-crawling kind! It was a sight that quite possibly could have freaked out an entomologist!

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 30, 2015 at 1:44 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear Rottsy,
Thanks so much for the tip! After a childhood spent doused in mosquito repellent in the Midwest I tend to forget it is still possible to attract bugs even in California!

 +  Like this comment
Posted by malvika, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jul 20, 2017 at 4:25 am

thanks for sharing Web Link Web Link

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