Thursday, August 23, 2007

Camping- Episode 1: The Preparation

Finally, the work on our rental house is done, our new tenants are safely moved in, and we can try to salvage what is left of the summer. Usually by this time we have been camping 3 or 4 times, but this summer has not been typical. Now before I talk about how to prepare for camping, let me tell you how we got started. About 15 years ago when we had 5 children at home, we could never afford to go on vacation because we needed to rent either a suite or two rooms because fire codes would not allow us to stay in one room, so even going someplace overnight was prohibitively expensive. When Costco (the Price Club) first opened here they had a whole aisle of camping gear and we thought, "wouldn't this be a great way to take an affordable vacation with the kids?" And so we bought a cabin tent, sleeping bags, a propane stove and lantern, with the very best of intentions. And these items (except the sleeping bags) sat boxed in our garage for almost 3 years. The problem? While I camped a lot as a Girl Scout and my husband had camped before, it was mostly pup tents and hot dogs on sticks, but when you are taking children, there is so much more involved.

Luckily, some friends of ours who at that time had no children told us about a great place to go and invited us to go with them... and a tradition was formed. We have been going to Crabtree Falls Campground for over 11 years (Molly was a young toddler when we went the first time), and we have adopted its owners (and they, us) as part of our family. Right there by the Tye River, there are no phones, no TV, (even no wireless) just the people you love , good food and great scenery. It makes for a great vacation that helps recharge your batteries.

Now , back to the preparation. If you think stocking your pantry and planning meals at home takes time, camping, unless it is near a metropolitan area (and then what is the point?!) takes some planning. But careful planning at the front end will make you trip and camping meals very enjoyable. There are lots of sites you can go to that will help provide packing lists for what you need and suggestions for food and recipes for camping. I created my own on the computer based on what we like to take and what we need to enjoy a long weekend in the wilderness. A car-top carrier holds our cabin tent, camp chairs, air mattresses and sleeping bags. The cargo area of the car holds a container for food, cooler, the camp box with equipment (lanterns, camp ax, matches, etc) and, our luxury item - a queen sized folding camp bed (the older you get the harder it is to get off the ground!)

Since this trip is just the Core Four (seen left, camping last fall), we don't need as much gear, or as much food. We have planned meals and snacks, and what we plan to do (hike Crabtree Falls, go to Saunders Brothers nursery, and spend lots of time rocking in the hammock reading a book!) So, the bottom line is that I will not be posting for a few days, but when I get back I will post pictures of our adventure, and share the recipes and how-tos for a successful foray into the wilderness!


ArkAngels for Russian Orphans said...

I remember that first camping trip to CTF!! The meals we cooked certainly evolved over the years!

I remember when you invented this one in 2003 when we decided to stay an extra day and we had to get creative:
CTF Beans
3 cans of beans (use a variety)
1/2 jar salsa (about 1 cup)
Cumin to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese
Put beans (do not drain), salsa and cumin into a pot. Heat through and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with cheese.

And this was my uncle's well-known Shrimp and Sausage Boil
1 bag crab boil, found near seafood at the grocery store
1 can beer
1 lb. sausage (we used fresh Polish)
12 new potatoes
3 ears of corn, each cut into 3 to 4 chunks)
1 1/2 lbs. shrimp
In a pot large enough to hold everything, put seasoning, beer and water. Add ingredients in the order in which they will cook: sausage, potatoes, corn, shrimp. Cook until everything is done.

It doesn't look likely that we will make it out there this year. It will be the first summer we missed since 1995. Say hi to everyone for us.

Deborah Dowd said...

Lisa- no matter what, we always ate well! As hectic as this summer has been we could not let camping season pass without going. We plan to go at least 2 or three more times this fall (I have grown to love cooler weather camping over the past couple of years)!

s'kat said...

Have a great trip, and stay cool!

C'tina said...

We've been to CTF twice..once when our oldest,(now 10) was 2 1/2 he hiked all the way up and back, what a little mountain man! It is a gem of a place.

ArkAngels for Russian Orphans said...

We'll be thinking about you and wishing we were there with you! Have fun and eat well! I know you will.

Deborah Dowd said...

Shelley- I'll be posting my adventures,but it was, all in all, a great time!

C'tina- Our Molly first camped at around age 2 and the first year she travelled in a backpack. when she was four, she walked most of the way to the top and rode in the backpack (asleep in about 5 minutes after lunch) on the way down. You should go back- we are planning at least 2 more fall trips!

Lisa- Uncharacteristic heat, and a wicked lightning storm made it interesting, but there is no relaxation like it!