Monday, April 22, 2013

Camping – How to Cope When You Don’t Like Getting Dirty (and Other Camping Advice)

Don’t let the title of this post trick you.  I actually like camping.  In fact, I spent this past weekend camping in Key Largo.  And camping normally has the right price: cheap.  But, I don’t like getting dirty.  So, I’ve developed some foolproof tactics to make sure the great outdoors doesn’t stand in my way of sleeping under the stars.

First, you’ve got to come well-prepared.  I remember my first camping trip with Frank.  We brought a tent, a sleeping bag, and a 24-pack of beer. 

Apparently we also brought a bottle of
champagne.  A true camping necessity.

This was actually a really good plan until the raccoons started rummaging through our trash at 3am and woke us up from our passed out slumber.  We were hot, uncomfortable, and annoyed.  This is where I learned Rule Number One of “camping when you don’t like to get dirty.”

Rule One: Consider the Weather

My best advice: don’t camp when it’s hot outside.  I know, this seems like common sense, but this is Florida and it’s rarely ever not hot outside.  So, don’t pick September like we initially did, when it was sweltering hot.  I recently went camping at Flamingo when it was 40 degrees out, and believe it or not, it was much more pleasant.  Not sweating = less dirt.

Rule Two: Have a List

The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you feel.  Again, on that first camping trip, I learned a lot.  Like, bring a wine bottle opener.  In addition to normal camping gear, like a tent and sleeping bags, here’s my Official Camping Checklist:

·         Pillows
·        Lighter
·        Bottle/wine opener
·        Cards
·        Sheet
·        Lantern/headlight
·        Bug spray
·        Sunscreen
·        Charcoal/firewood
·        Marshmallows/chocolate/graham crackers
·        Radio
·        Roll of paper towels
·        Anti-bacterial gel
·        Batteries
·        Beach towels
·        Chairs

Nothing from this list should be omitted.  You think you don’t need the beach towels?  Don’t forget, you have to wash your face in the bathrooms and most times, park bathrooms only have an air dryer.  Don’t want to bring a full roll of paper towels?  Worst case, you can use them to start a fire.  And while a fire may actually bring dirt, it will also bring fun (see Rule Number Four).

Rule Three: Make “Camping” Food

On that first trip, we didn’t bother bringing any food (clearly no room with all the booze).  We ate dinner at a restaurant (how rustic of us!), but when we got hungry later, didn’t have much around.  It wasn’t until I went camping with some other friends that I realized the importance of an all-out feast.

Here I am shucking corn for our dinner back in 2009

When Frank and I went to Flamingo last month, I came prepared with a great dinner idea.  Camping tacos!  I actually stole it from Pinterest, but it’s so basic and was quite delicious.  First, crunch up some Fritos in their bag (aka, your bowl).  Then add some beans and “meat” (I’m a vegetarian, so we used soy), cheese, lettuce, salsa, and voila!  You are reading for your camping taco.

I thought it was pretty good, and while Frank agree, he also said he had never felt more homeless in his life.

Whatever you decide to cook, bring the equipment necessary.  For my camping tacos, we needed only a pot (to cook), a serving spoon (to serve), and forks. 

I also had a really good idea for eggs in a orange for breakfast, but unfortunately, we  ran out of firewood and had already ripped down several nearby trees.

Rule Four: Build a Great Fire

More than once, our fire has faltered.  Frank was never a Boy Scout, but he does a pretty good job manning the flames.

Even if it’s 100 degrees outside, you’ll need a fire to roast marshmallows, cook dinner, and stare into while you drink a beer.  I found great tips to starting a fire here that I will definitely be using on our next trip.

Rule Five: Baby Wipes are Your Best Friend

This precious item isn’t on my Official Camping Checklist, mainly because we keep them around all the time.  But you need them like a fat kid needs cake.  Baby wipes will give you a quick shower, help you wash off that sticky marshmallow substance, and clean up any dishes you have.  They will also, obviously, be your best friend in the bathroom.

Rule Six: Book in Advance

You think, in your head, “I’m going camping, certainly there will be room for me to set up a tent in the wilderness.”  Wrong.  Campsites, especially in South Florida, book up.  If you try to camp during “season,” (namely November through April) you’ll have a tough time getting a site.  Book ahead of time, especially during holiday weekends.  Most campgrounds let you reserve through Reserve America.

Rule Seven: Buy Good Gear

Even though this blog is a strong advocate for being economical, don’t confuse economical with cheap.  We bought a huge tent on eBay a few years ago, which has become known as the “orgy tent,” and it was a super purchase.

It’s large enough for eight people, has a tarp bottom (which prevents any moisture) and could probably accompany a dance party of about 15 ravers.  It cost approximately $70.  We also bought sleeping bags made for temperatures as low as 30 degrees, which we snagged on clearance for $9.99 and we’ve been extremely pleased.

In order to have fun camping, you don’t need to break the bank, but you do need to be comfortable.  Following these seven tips will get you started on loving camping instead of loathing nature.

No comments:

Post a Comment