This week Raising Rippers is launching a new feature. It’s called Picture of the Week and every week—or as often as we’re inspired—we’ll post a particularly riveting or rad photo about adventuring with kids and give you the backstory behind the shot. What were they thinking? How'd they pull it off?* Got your own picture of the week? Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, March 2012. Photo: Erika Benson
Benson took this picture while road tripping last spring across the Southwest with her husband and two daughters (ages 14 months and three) and describes the trip this way: It took us 10 days to go from New Mexico to Los Angeles, which if you look on Mapquest, should only take 14 hours. We had no plan. The first night we camped in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was 34 degrees and we’d packed for spring. The baby was up all night freezing. Finally I put her in the car to be warmer. From there we went to Lake Havasu City, where it was 96 degrees and we swam in the lake, which was like a slick of oil from all the boats. The only reason we went there was because London Bridge is there. The real one. It’s kind of cool that they took it apart stone by stone and then rebuilt it—but it’s still a gross American city. Then we went to Joshua Tree National Park. Somebody told us to camp at Jumbo Rocks Campground. It’s beautiful! There are lots of rocks for the kids to climb on. The baby woke up at 5 a.m., and I walked with her to try to keep her quiet. It was gorgeous then, with the sun rising all around.
This picture was taken at 10 in the morning. We were trying to break down camp and I couldn’t do it with her in the baby carrier. She would be a hazard. Earlier in the morning, hiking with her to get her to sleep, I’d seen these park signs: Be careful where you put your hands because of snakes. So there we were putting her in the Pack 'n' Play between big rocks. But it was shady! The campground wasn’t crowded when we got there and we drove around for a while looking for the perfect site. This one was tucked behind bushes and really private. We had to make lots of little trips from the car, so that’s why we needed to put her down. She slept for an hour and a half. She was tucked away so we couldn’t all the way see her, but we kept checking.
People look at this picture and think, Oh, it’s so easy having kids! You just camp anywhere and throw her in the Pack 'n' Play. But it took so long to get her to sleep. When you’re out with kids on adventures, it’s crazy what you have to go through to get them to sleep. Kids need to sleep, especially at that age.
We only spent one night in Joshua Tree, and we did the hike to Skull Rock. Our older daughter has her own tent, the one my husband and I used to sleep in pre-kids. She sleeps in the little tent and we sleep in a massive one—it must be a 10-person tent, big enough for the Pack 'n' Play in one corner. This is out of necessity; we had so many unhappy family camping trips where we couldn’t get the girls to sleep in the same tent. Our older daughter loves it.
*Disclaimer: This should go without saying, but as with all Raising Rippers content, use your own best judgment before you try any of this at home, with your own kids.