I signed my boys and me up for a mountain bike event in Pinetop, AZ by Epic Rides called Tour of the White Mountains . They have 9, 34 and 50 mile single track course options, as well as a 30 mile gravel course. I chose the 9 miler for us because my 11 and 7 year old had never done a real single track mountain bike ride before.
There were hotels and Airbnbs close to the event, but there was also camping space at the venue. I’ve been dying to start camping with the boys, so I opted to put my hotel money toward a big fat tent and sleep in that for 2 nights instead! I’ve been camping, and I’ve set up tiny camp for myself. However, I’ve never been in charge of, nor have I set up, a camping situation for my boys and me. I felt like it was potentially going to be a big job because there were literally so many moving parts to manage for the three of us with the regular camping gear aspect, as well as making sure I had all of the cycling gear packed and in good riding condition.
My approach to this camp and bike adventure was to go as no stress as possible. Food truck vendors were scheduled to be at the venue, so I knew we wouldn’t starve if I forgot something. They also had a big bonfire. I went super basic with food, packing a big fruit salad, sandwiches to grab for quick lunch out of the cooler, hot dogs with fixins, grab and go snacks, s’more making ingredients and sticks to cook weenies and s’mores on the fire. I also made sure to pack plenty of water and hydration stuff for our ride. I’m a packing list person because I hate overpacking, but I also want to make sure I don’t miss anything really important.
I was so proud of how everything went. I packed the perfect amount of food, all of the ride gear was in good shape and loaded and the 3 of us each brought a small overnight bag with something to wear for the ride, and then something clean and dry for afterwards. I told the boys what they would need and they packed their own bags. The event was a 4 hour drive and we were heading up on Friday afternoon after work and school. We got there after 10pm and had to set up in the dark with sleeping neighbors in the surrounding tents. The Dudes helped as much as they could with the camp setup, which we finished in about 30 minutes. We got right to sleep so we could get up for our ride in the morning.
Both boys KILLED the ride. They were amazing the entire weekend and so much fun. We had a blast.
I found myself thinking about how far we’ve come together over the last 5 years. After my ex and I split up, it was hard enough to figure out how to juggle these crazy guys and cooking dinner! Things were so crazy I actually resorted to purchasing an 8’ x 8’ bounce house from Amazon that I would inflate in my living room, so they could jump their energy out while I cooked.
Our first road trip/vacation adventure was shortly after my ex moved out. I took the kids to San Diego for beach time. It’s about a 6 hour drive from here, and the drive went great. The challenging part was taking my 18 month old and my 5 year old to the beach and on vacation for the first time on my own. The toddler/baby gear requirements were so much more complicated when they were that age. Lugging diaper bags and strollers was so cumbersome. I always felt like a Sherpa when we left the house. The energy levels were more insane, the moods were very unpredictable…It was really tough. I enjoyed our first trip, but it was so hard and exhausting. I mostly felt like I wished I could have 2 more arms, or divide myself into 2 people on demand. It was a really heavy load. I felt it was really important to start doing these things together because I wanted them to learn how to travel and be flexible and I understood that this would take practice for all of us.
We’ve done that vacation 2 more times since then and now we’re pros. These guys and I have really become quite a team and they’ve grown to be such fun adventure buddies. They aren’t high maintenance travelers, they LOVE road trips, we never travel with tech or screens and they’re really flexible. It’s such a great feeling to be able to pick up and go with my guys and for it to just be really enjoyable. It felt like a next level step to try camping, and it really couldn’t have gone better.
We’ve come such a long way. I’m so very proud of us and looking forward to our future adventures.