I spent this past weekend at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.  It was the first time my husband and I had been there in five years.  We were bringing our two year old to a National Park.  We were doing the "American" thing to do.  I grew up part gypsy and camping was not an interest of my family, moving was.  Spending time in the outdoors is a priority for me and my husband.  And it is something we want to pass on to our daughter. I didn't know it would be the last time for a while.

We drove into the park late afternoon with winds blowing over 30 mph and gusting higher.  Sound familiar?  We couldn't see the mountains, just brown and yellow dust.  We were pretty sure the night would be spent in the nearby town of Alamosa.  However, we were pleasantly surprised to see the camp was clean with no sand blowing.  

As my daughter is a bit needy and turning two, my focus was on taking care of her.  We chose a campsite near the restrooms because, hey let's face it,  I am over 40 with a small child and bathrooms are now more a priority than ever.  

Husband pitched the tent, set up our stuff, and we had a campfire.  He cooked a quick supper of ground turkey that was good but cold before it hit the plate.  

As he cooked, I found heavier clothes for Mia to wear.  I also found that in my quest to make sure she had everything she needed, I forgot pants for me.  Nice!

The winds blew cold and awful that night and none of us got much rest.  The only way my daughter would sleep was if I turned the music of my iphone on to Amos Lee.  

Morning came and the wind had died down.  But I still needed pants.  So we drove 45 minutes and got some jeans and long johns for me.  It warmed up rather quickly after that.

We returned to camp and headed to the dunes to enjoy the day.

Amidst the gorgeous sunrises, deer, squirrels, bluejays, ravens, and crows, I played with my daughter.  My husband took time off of work to set up a tent, build a campfire and cook for us.  He loved every second of it.  Since returning home, he has warmed up his dinner in the dutch oven.  

Mia explored camp, singing, picking up sticks, playing with rocks, and laughing at the antics of a squirrel.  We took her out to the sand dunes and she jumped in the trickle of a stream over and over again, laughing and .  She fell down got wet, muddy, and laughed some more.  

The nights were freezing and I could never get warm.  Add to that Mia woke up every hour on the hour like she was a grandfather clock and this mama was tired!  Yet midday was peaceful, warm, and friendly.  Our neighbors and fellow campers were kind.  Everyone just enjoying their time.  Most enjoying them from camper trailers, fifth wheels, and RVs.  None of which I ever understood until this weekend.  Camping in a tent was not the fun I recalled.  Cramps appeared out of nowhere and joints creeked a bit more than used to.  During all of my sleepless nights, I managed to be grateful for running, backpacking and cycling trips that I did when I was younger.  

Sunday morning we woke up.  Did we ever sleep?  The campers next to us included a man in a skirt which baffled my rural farmer husband.  As much fun as we were having, I couldn't take anymore lack of sleep and not feeling my toes in the bitter cold.  We needed to leave.  So we headed home a day early.  Not exactly the refreshing, restorative, read a book relaxation trip we planned.  

Many of you will say, "Duh, you had a two year old with you."  

But we are naive.  We still had an amazing time and fond memories to be treasured.  For all the trouble it was, we got time away as a family for the first time in two years.