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Urban Camping (Pic heavy post!)

Chicago Park District comes through again!  Our Kidical Mass friends had talked about a camping outing this Winter, and some searching led me to the park district “Family Camping” programs.  Unfortunately, it’s geared for ages 6 and up, so we had to leave the little guy home with dad, but we invited our suburban cousins to join us and it was a BLAST.  I needed a shower and nap before I could post about this, it was that much fun ;) wpid-2014_0726_03062500.jpg

We paid $50 to register our ‘team’ of up to six people.  The park district provides a parking pass, use of a (really nice) tent, activities like fishing, archery, crafts, a small fire pit, hotdogs and marshmallows, a story teller, and security for the event.  We got a little help from our neighbor setting up the tent :)  It was counter-intuitive, but awesome.  It was hot and humid the night we stayed, so I appreciated having something high-end and airy.

The oldest kid (our cousin) was being a typical eight year old- whining a bit about being hot, saying he didn’t want to participate in any activities- but he changed his tune pretty quickly when the other kids got into building a fairy garden and a dreamcatcher with found objects.wpid-2014_0726_03325000.jpg

We hit the pier for some fishing, and I was shocked to see the kids actually catch fish!  No way!  Granted, I’ve baited hooks with creatures larger than the gobis the girls were catching (and it was the girls who had all the luck) but it was a real thrill!wpid-2014_0726_04263000.jpg

wpid-2014_0726_04322600.jpgwpid-2014_0726_04304200.jpgThe last activity during the rotations was archery.  The bows were just a little two big for two of the kids, but they all managed to lodge at least one arrow in… something… and they liked it.  Not as much as me, though.  I hadn’t shot a bow since I was a kid and got a wicked rash on my wrist from the string.  Believe me, I warned them (a million times.)wpid-2014_0726_05001700.jpg

After we worked up an appetite, we headed back to the tents.  The kids wanted to be in the tent- I guess it was a novelty.  A lot of people complained that the hot dog process was too slow- pack your patience.  The fire was in a small contained pit, and I’d say three groups of people had brought food wrapped in foil- the result was more cold foil food than fire, and it meant a lot of people were waiting a long time to cook frozen hotdogs.  Park district policy was only 7 sticks in use, and only those with a stick near the fire- so we got wise and started putting three hot dogs on each stick.  Everyone ended up getting fed.  (And maybe some snuck off to 12th street beach, a short walk away, to buy tacos.)wpid-20140726_150924.jpg

The finale was cleaning sticky marshmallow off our hands while watching the fireworks over Navy Pier.  Then it was time to get settled. This is where the kids 6 and up rule made sense- I could hear a few little ones crying that they couldn’t sleep for awhile.  Our kids were asleep after only 40 minutes straight of giggling uncontrollably about nothing.

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It’s been over a decade since I slept on the ground in a tent, but my hips and my back finally made peace with the lumps and bumps that were formerly an airfield and I got a solid seven hours of sleep.

Our Yuba handled the trip like a beast, as usual- we arrived with bedding for three, dinner and breakfast, a change of clothes and other necessities easily.  The cousins were amazed and enjoyed a quick ride on the bike.  They fought over who would ride in the car the next day and who could head back on the bike (cousins got to ride, asked questions the whole way.)

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So, fun- right?  You can find out more about the family camping program at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/nature.

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Cautionary Tale…

Augh. I’m still kind of recovering from an incident I witnessed today – and though the last thing I want to do is scare people away from biking, I had to share this story.
I dropped my kids off at their day camp and was heading home to do some cleaning. Ahead of me in the bike lane was a mom with a toddler in a front mounted seat and a child riding independently. I was right behind them,  crossing an intersection at a green light when she stopped abruptly,  they both started screaming, and fell to the ground. At first I guess I thought they just tipped, and I stood with my bike in the middle of the intersection to cork while they got up.  Several adults came out to help,  so I went to the boy on his own bike and got him on the sidewalk. 
I was then horrified to see that the little one was tangled in the bike.  His front ankle had gotten caught in the spokes of the front tire and it took 5 adults over five minutes to get mom, kid, and bike off the street.
I’m not certain of what I saw, but this poor baby was in pain. Im going to speculate that he had a compound fracture, but won’t give all the details. Mom was amazing- very calm. It took the ambulance longer than I’d expected to arrive- a couple called twice while the three year old cried in Spanish that it hurt- a lot.
I had at one time looked at this seat the “Tyke Toter” sold on Amazon, and then seen some disturbing reviews describing similar incidents.  You can look these up if you’re feeling tough- they’re kind of hard to take.
This seat was a Wee Ride Co-Pilot, and the mom said he was too big for it- his feet weren’t in the foot cups.
Just really wanted people to be aware of this, look at your setups and be sure those little feet are clear of the tires!
Our beloved Yuba Mundo has those wheel guards for a reason, too.
Thinking of that little guy tonight- glad it wasn’t worse, but so sad for him!