As new parents, Josh and I have been longing for a tropical beach getaway for the nine months Autumn has been with us, and probably for another nine months before that. Yet, like a lot of new parents, just thinking about the logistical challenges of traveling international with an infant were enough for us to stay put for at least for a few more months. Instead, we opted for a stay-cation at one of our favorite beach camping spots just 90 minutes from Portland — and nowhere near a trip through Customs.
In early June, we headed out on our second camping adventure with Autumn to one of Oregon’s best kept beach camping secrets. We packed most of our gear in our backpacking packs, since we would be hiking a mile and a half to our camp spot. We had bought a heavy duty baby carrier a few months earlier, and were eager to test it out with Autumn on this trip.
The carrier had two storage compartments just big enough to carry most of her belongings, leaving one of us to wear another full sized pack carrying the rest of our gear. After a leisurely hike down a gravel road, over a sand dune and along the water’s edge, we found the spot where we had camped on many trips before. Our home away from home for the night was tucked between a steep hill with windblown trees and miles of rugged Pacific coast line.
A fun night was had by all, but by morning we were ready to set off for our next destination – the best greasy spoon in town! Below are tips from Autumn’s second summer camping adventure:
- Put your stroller to work. Though we were able to cram most of our belongings into our packs, we still had water, camping chairs, a sleeping bag, dog food, a couple of pillows and some other things to bring with us. We had two choices – take two trips, or pack our BOB stroller with our remaining supplies. We opted for the latter, so that we could be beach bums for just a little while longer. You don’t need to own a BOB stroller to accomplish this, but I recommend using a stroller designed for jogging or trails, so that there’s better traction for pushing in the sand. You may also find it easier to push closer to the water’s edge when you reach the beach. We are so thankful for our BOB stroller, and are beginning to wonder how we’ll manage without it on our final culminating backpacking adventure later this summer.
- Bring shade! Though summer on the Oregon coast may seem non-existent, the sun does make an appearance from time to time. Like many past trips to this spot, we were prepared for rain showers, yet were pleasantly surprised with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-seventies for most of the day. Even if it’s shady, the potential for sun burn on a beach with no natural shade is high. Therefore, we packed tent poles, rope and a tarp and created a canopy to offer shade for Autumn to sit and play under for most the day.
- Now that Autumn was more than six months, I decided to apply a (nearly chemical free) sunscreen. I applied generous amounts of sunscreen throughout the afternoon, and made sure to dress her in long sleeves and a brimmed hat for most of the day.
- Prepare to be blown away. For most of the afternoon and into the evening, the wind whipped through the sand dunes — this made us happy we had stopped to buy an additional layer (we forgot her jacket at home) for Autumn in town earlier that morning. When camping on the beach, it’s generally less windy to pitch a tent behind a sand dune. On this trip, however, we decided to stake our tent on top of a dune, so that I could hear Autumn better if she woke up. Poor decision. It was so windy, it made setting up our tent difficult and time consuming – which wasn’t helped the fact that we lost our stakes in the process! While getting our tent into place, we heard a cry from the pea pod tent we had placed Autumn in nearby. We turned to find her face down in the sand! The wind had blown so hard, it had flipped her tent on its side. After a few tears, she was fine. Covered in sand, but fine. The wind continued to make it difficult to sit by the campfire without playing musical chairs, and proved to be really noisy when whipping against the tent at bedtime – a challenge. Fortunately, the wind made its exit just as the sun hit the horizon.
- Don’t sweat the sand. We were prepared to deal with multiple face plants and a diaper full of sand on this trip. Though Autumn explored it with her hands on several occasions and did manage to get a fair amount on her skin and in her hair, she never tried to eat it. An occasional hand and face wipe helped, but to be honest, keeping sand out of dinner was a much bigger pain.
- Have fun. Being on the beach should be an enjoyable experience. If you’re concerned about the amount of sand your little one might eat, or whether you’ll get washed away by a big wave overnight, a beach camping trip may not be for you. However, if you can readjust expectations in consideration of the harsher camping environment, you’re bound to have a great time.
We had a blast on Autumn’s second summer adventure at the beach. If a little sand on your baby and in your sleeping bag doesn’t bother you, then this may be just the trip for you. Happy camping!