Climbing Dunes with Baggage

File this one under: The Things We do for Our Kids! A week ago we went camping. We’d booked the trip well in advance, figuring that the last weekend in September would be kinda cool (weather wise) and we’d be huddled up in sweatshirts enjoying camp fires and all the fall things that go with that. We couldn’t have been more wrong. We arrived to our campsite with 85F and sunny, crystal clear skies. Aside from everyone being a little hot and sticky, this was fine.

The place where we camped has a rather large sand dune. On Saturday we went to the other side of the park, away from the camping area, to go to where the dune and beach are. The plan was, step 1, go up the dune, step 2, go down the dune and cool off in the water.

Now, our toddler has had this daddy cling thing kicked into high gear since she started going to baby sitters and day care during the week and so she was a little intrigued by the sand, but she wouldn’t walk on her own. I set her feet in the sand once to show her it wasn’t too hot, but she didn’t like that and she was trying to scramble back up me like a monkey being treed by a tiger. I figured this would be the case, but you can always hope that there’ll be a different outcome, right? So we set off across the parking lot and to the base of the dune, which is 260 feet (or about 24 stories) of loose sand with all of these weathered tree trunks and things jutting up here and there. Here’s a picture from the bottom:

tales from the dad side - dune

(This picture does not do this dune justice.)

I knew it would be a challenge, but what kind of dad would I be if I weren’t up to the occassional challenge for and with my kids? With a 30+ pound toddler on my left arm (she only rides on the left) I began my slow climb up this shifting mountain. I have no idea how long it took me to get to the top, but we made it. Every time I stopped to catch my breath my toddler would encourage “go, go, daddy, go, go.” My eldest got to the top easily as I did when I was about his age. My middle child decided she’d rather watch from the bottom after going up about a third of the way (she’s smart that way). At one point, as I paused for breath about 2/3 of the way up the dune, I look to my left and see a family of Mennonites marching up the dune like it’s no big deal.

We make it to the top and find a nice, shady spot to sit in and collect my breath (and make sure my heart wasn’t going to pound it’s way out of my chest). Once I got up there, there were two very clear benefits for going up. First, there’s a really nice view.

tales from the dad side - dune

(Pretty nice, right?)

Second, there’s some amount of satisfaction and bragging rights that I climbed the dune while carrying a toddler the whole way. Of course, by the end of Saturday my entire upper body hurt any time I had to pick her up, but that’s the price of fatherhood.

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