Our First Daddy/Daughter Camping Trip

The following story is from September 2009. It has been edited from its original version. I wanted to share it with you all with the hopes it will help you crack a smile or possibly even cause a laugh or two to come forth. Enjoy.

I promised Hannah, my three, almost four-year old daughter, this summer she and I would go camping. It would be our first daddy/daughter camping trip. Before I knew it, summer was gone and Hannah hadn’t forgotten my promise. This upcoming weekend was my last chance to get in a trip. It was now fall and pretty cold at night, but nonetheless, we were going for it. Saturday, September 19 arrived.

We loaded up the dogs (two Boxers named Barnum and Bailey) in the back of my Nissan Frontier with a topper on it along with ourselves and our gear and left for the mountains at around 3 pm. We found a nice flat spot in a meadow a few hundred yards from a beaver pond. We were the only ones I saw anywhere that weekend camping.

I let the dogs out and started putting up the tent. Hannah helped me as the dogs ran around and were having a blast. As I opened up the tent I smelled something horrible. At first I thought it was my tent. After all, I hadn’t used it in years. Then I had a terrible revelation. I realized it was Bailey, one of my dogs. She had rolled in something nasty, most likely a dead animal. Bailey is terrible about this. If there is something dead or nasty smelling, she takes no time at all to start wallowing in it. Needless to say I was very frustrated with my dog.

This smelly, disgusting dog now posed a problem. The dogs were going to sleep in the tent with us because it would be really cold even in the pick up. So, after I put the tent up, I tried spraying Bailey with Off hoping it would help neutralize the stench. It didn’t help. It just wasn’t enough fluid to make a difference. I didn’t want to use the drinking water we had because I didn’t bring enough to bathe my dog and have water for us to drink.

Next I started collecting firewood and Hannah played in the tent. She loved being in the tent. But I still had to figure out what to do about Bailey. So after I collected firewood, I loaded up Hannah in my “kid carrying” backpack, and we took the dogs to the beaver pond. It was pretty shallow all around most of the edge of the pond so it wouldn’t do any good trying to throw her in. “Unless I can get out on the dam. It should be pretty deep there.” I proceeded to make my way to the dam of the beaver pond. It was actually quite sturdy and packed full of mud so it wasn’t a danger for me to walk on with my daughter on my back.

I found a deep area, took my daughter off my back, and proceeded to throw the dogs in. Barnum smelled only a little so I threw him in once. I threw Bailey in once. She came swimming back to me. She got out of the water; I threw her in again. She came back. I threw her in a third time. Someone might ask, “Did you rub her down to help get the smell out?” “NO.” I had no desire to get infected with her smell. It helped some, perhaps even enough to tolerate them in the tent, but honestly I think it helped me relieve my frustration more than it helped with Bailey’s smell. Hannah actually felt sorry for Bailey. “Who’s side are you on?”

When we got back to camp I remembered I had brought my .22 handgun. No, I wasn’t thinking of shooting my dog. I had never fired it before and wanted to try it out. First I gave Hannah a simple lesson about this gun. Simply put, I told her she is to never touch it. “This gun can kill people. You are to never touch it or play with it or anything.” Then I loaded it and fired it at a couple of stumps. Barnum got scared and jumped into the back of the pick-up shivering. Chicken. “That wasn’t too loud daddy,” said Hannah. My daughter is great.

It was beginning to get dark so I started a fire and we roasted hot dogs and heated up water for hot chocolate. Hannah and I both ate a hot dog and drank hot chocolate. We both ate another hot dog. Hannah started getting cold, so I had her change into some warmer clothes. I ate one more hot dog and had some more hot chocolate. Hannah then came and snuggled with me by the fire. She wanted a marshmallow so I gave her one. She didn’t want any smores though and that seemed odd.

At this point, I hear a “thump, thump, thump” in the distance. I realize it’s music. After a few minutes I discover the music is coming from a vehicle driving towards us. Lo and behold they decide to bring their S-10 blazer down near us while blasting rap music for all the wildlife to hear. As they drive by me, one of the young-looking guys waves at me, and I sort-of wave back. It’s amazing how quickly I can switch into defense mode. Fortunately my dogs were looking kind of mean, and I hoped that would serve as a deterrent. Granted, if worse came to worse, I have a gun. But it was not needed. After about five minutes of them doing something on the other side of the meadow beyond my view of them, they left. Thank you Lord.

So a few minutes go by and Hannah is about asleep on my lap. I decide to go ahead and put her to bed. We go to the tent and get her changed into her jammies. I get her in her sleeping bag and start getting her all snugly. She is just so darn cute. Then she sits up and… throws up. Great. I pick her up and put her outside the tent and she throws up again. Hot dogs. At this point I realize my best option is to take her home. There’s no way I want to spend the entire night in the rather cold mountains dealing with a sick child.

I put Hannah in the truck. I stuff a blanket around her with her pillow, start the truck and turn on the heater. Pretty much I throw everything in the truck unpacked. I break the tent down and wad it up and throw it in the back. I put Hannah’s throw up caked sleeping bag in the back. I pour some water on the fire, load up the stinky dogs, get in the truck, and head back home.

Well, perhaps we can try it again next summer. I guess it was a start. I don’t know if it counts as a camping trip, but it’s definitely a trip I won’t forget.


About Bryan Vashus

I am passionate about living a life of purpose. There is a purpose in being a spouse, a parent, a leader, and a person. I live in such a way as to fulfill the purpose in each area of my life and help others do the same. I have an amazing wife, Courtnee, who shares in this pursuit with me, two children, Hannah and Joshua, who bring immeasurable amounts of joy to my life. My family is united together in truly helping people and impacting them with the grace and love of God everywhere we go.
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