AWSOME FOOD (for easy camping)

2-Ingredient-Slow-Cooker-Mexican-Chicken-5

It’s Saturday morning in July and I’m once again planning my next camping trip for August. Food is what’s on my mind. Easy food, good food, healthy food (not hot dogs and hamburgers). So I start my search and here’s what I came up with. Keep in mind, I haven’t made these recipes before.  I think it’s fun to try new things while camping, it’s part of the experience!  So try them with me.  Let me know what you think.

Saturday & Sunday morning Breakfast:

Make Ahead (In small mason jars) Oats with Fruit.  Just mix dry ingredients in several mason jars before your trip, add milk the night before, refrigerate in your cooler and voila! You have a healthy camping breakfast the next morning, easy peasy.  https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Overnight-Oats-Recipe-34698639

Saturday Lunch:

Hummus Chicken sounds good with sliced cucumbers on the side.  Haven’t tried this before.  https://www.kimscravings.com/super-simple-hummus-chicken-salad/

Saturday Dinner: 

I’m taking my crockpot, an easy way to cook while camping, to make Salsa Chicken with Fresh Lime, Avacado, Cilantro and Corn Tortillas.  https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/2-ingredient-slow-cooker-salsa-chicken-recipe/

Snacks:

I’m on a low salt diet, so fruit, healthy multigrain tortillas (low salt) and fresh salsa for me.

Coffee (A must have):

I’m taking fresh ground coffee (probably a Starbucks variety) to brew in my new french press coffee pot.  It’s awsome on an early camping morning.  Here’s a link to my favorite coffee pot.

 http://www.cabelas.com/product/GSI-JAVA-PRESS/1965141.uts?productVariantId=4045128&WT.tsrc=PPC&WT.mc_id=BingPLA&WT.z_mc_id1=04062770&rid=20&gclid=CIHQ4YebndUCFTW3swod7aAOLA&gclsrc=ds

Let me know if you have found this article helpful for your next camping trip!  I’d love to hear from you.

Sheila

Camping Solo (well, almost) and Lessons Learned

I just bought my first camper in March of this year and had taken it out once in April for a family camping trip and that went very well. It’s a 26 year old pop up (pup) and I’m not an experienced rv camper…yet. I’ve been wanting to camp solo for a long time and have been too scared to camp in a tent alone (didn’t want to get eaten by a bear, seriously). So…I thought I would try it in my pup. The “well, almost” part comes in with my husband, Rich and youngest daughter, Carter. They came to help me set up camp and Carter spent the night with me the second night (because I bribed her with a steak dinner).

This trip was pretty much a disaster, but I like to think of it as my weekend of lessons learned. It started off ok. I had a nice, shady camp spot near the bath house, set up the camper without any problems, started a fire and enjoyed time with my family for a few hours. Then, after they left to go home, I sat outside for a while longer to enjoy the fire and when it was time to go to bed, I remembered that I hadn’t checked to make sure the electricity worked. Well, it didn’t. No lights. I thought, “That’s ok, I have a lantern as a back up, and I have new batteries (from a dollar store). No big deal.”

Lessons Learned:
1. Check the electrical before your family leaves the campsite when you’re camping alone.

2. Don’t buy batteries from a dollar store (OK for gaming remotes, not camping alone).

Needless to say, the batteries didn’t work. I did remember I had a tiny little flashlight, which provided just enough light for the middle of the night trip to the bathroom…alone.

Next up, was the sink drain. I had connected the water, attached the drain hose and tested the water that evening. Seemed fine, but it wouldn’t drain. It was dark, I was alone and left the water in the sink all night, not thinking about the consequences. Well, the next day I noticed the sink finally drained (yay)…into the cabinet below. What a mess!

Lessons Learned:
3. Check the drain hose to be sure it’s not kinked. That was the problem. The water drained into the cabinet and not through the hose. Won’t let that happen again.

Now for the portable camping stove: I had a 2 burner camping stove and was so excited to fire it up the next morning to boil water for my new french press coffee maker. I decided that a good cup of coffee was one of the most important things for camping in the woods. I love sipping my coffee outdoors in a camp chair, listening to the birds chirp in the morning. Relaxing way to start the day, except when your stove doesn’t work! Found out that the arm that attaches to the propane had a leak…Not good. So, what did I do? I went home, 20 minutes away to make my coffee. I was desperate at that point.

Lessons Learned:
4. Don’t buy a cheap camp stove! Go for a Coleman or better. (Went to Walmart and bought a new Coleman single burner stove for the rest of the trip…and new batteries).

After my cup of coffee that morning, my friend called to go for breakfast and strawberry picking. That sounded fun, so we met up. The only problem? I wore the wrong shoes, tripped and fell with all my weight on my knees, elbows and palms of my hands on sharp rocks. I was scraped and bruised but kept on going. We picked strawberries and went back to my campsite to sit in the shade and talk the rest of the afternoon. We ended up having a great time!

Lessons Learned:
5. Don’t wear loose clog-like sandals strawberry picking. Flat, comfortable tennis shoes would be much better.

The second night went much better and as I mentioned earlier, Carter came to stay with me in exchange for a yummy steak dinner that I made on my new stove. We had lights by then because the campground staff helped me trouble shoot the problem. It was simple, just push the breaker button (after we found it).

Lessons Learned:
6. Ask for help when having problems with your camper.

7. Bribe your daughter with a steak dinner.

There’s more…

The third day it was time to pack up and go home. Remember, my hands, elbows and knees were bruised and scraped. That made it more difficult to pack up. I could only use one hand and relied on my 17 year old to help (she was awsome). There are a few things I did wrong (but won’t do again). One, I almost broke Carter’s foot by dropping the camper tongue on it. Luckily her feet were a few inches away and not underneath and two, could have killed someone. I didn’t have the camper hitched correctly, so it started rolling backwards. Glad I had it chained so it only went a few feet back. A friendly neighbor came to my rescue and hitched it up again.

Lessons Learned:
8. Ask for help when hitching up your camper (If you only have one hand available).

9. Make sure everyone’s feet are out of the way.

10. And always make the camper is chained to the car before you drive away.

And now for the main lesson…When things don’t go as planned, think of it as a learning experience and move on.

Think Camping is a lot of Work?

Yes, camping can be a lot of work, if you want to think of it that way.   I like to think of it as an escape, a mini vacation.  It’s a way to force my brain to think about something other than stressful things in life.  Now, putting away the camping gear, that’s work and my least favorite part (I’m going to have to change that mindset).

A lot of my camping trips start on a Saturday or Sunday morning at 5:00 or 6:00am (I wish I could sleep in) a few weeks or months in advance.  This is when my brain says, “Get Up!”  I have no choice.  I get out of bed, make some coffee, wake up, then do something before my brain starts thinking of all the things I didn’t get done at work on Friday and what to prioritize Monday morning.  I have a lot of strategies to turn these thoughts off.  One is writing: making lists, planning trips, journaling etc.  Another is binge watching Netflix.

Here’s how I start:

  1. Google or Pinterest search fun campgrounds to visit in Virginia (nearby) and pick a place.
  2. Pick a date and invite my daughter or a friend (Spending time with family and friends is one of the best ways to relieve stress).
  3. Start a list of items that I’ll need. (See basic tent camping list at the end)
  4. Start packing a few weeks in advance so you’re ready to pick up and go when the time comes. (Plastic bins work well and you can keep things packed for the next time).
  5. Go and set up camp.  It helps to have 2 people, depending on the type of tent you use. (This is where my husband Rich comes in.  Rich hates camping, but he likes to support me in the activities I enjoy.  He will come to the campsite, help set up, eat dinner, sit by the campfire, then go home to sleep in his comfy bed).
  6. Make food.  Keep it simple and easy.  When I tent camped, I used an electric skillet and always requested a camp site with water and electric.  I made hamburgers,  baked ziti, eggs and bacon all in one pan.  Oh, and paper plates and plastic utensils make dishes easier (unless you like doing dishes like I do).
  7. Enjoy activities the campground has to offer: Movies, crafts, hikes, music, the list is endless. (No planning ahead for this one).
  8. Keep clean.  Camping doesn’t have to be dirty.  There are restrooms and showers available at most campgrounds.  Just take a shower caddy filled with your favorite soaps and shampoos (very easy).
  9. Pack up and go home.  Because this is my least favorite part, I stuff everything in my trunk (tent and all), organize it and put it all away when I get home.

So, the next time you are invited on a camping trip and are overwhelmed by all the hard work you think it might be.  Take a step back, and think of it as a time to get away with family or friends, relax and recharge.  Plan ahead and have fun!

Basic Tent Camping List (My basic list when I tent camped)

  • Tent (A pop-up version is the easiest)
  • Air Matress & Pump (A necessity for me)
  • Blankets & Pillows (or sleeping bags)
  • 2 Tarps (1 for under the tent and 1 for a rain canopy)
  • Small hammer/ax (For driving steaks, cutting wood)
  • Lantern & batteries (For the trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night)
  • Electric skillet (Easiest)
  • Food
  • Paper plates, plasticware & paper towels
  • Water & other drinks
  • Cooler & ice
  • Firestarter & matches or lighter (You have to buy wood at the campground)
  • Trash bags
  • Toiletries & towels
  • Dish washing pan, soap, dishcloths & towels (Use biodegradable camping soap found at your favorite camping store)
  • Clothes (for hot, cold and rainy weather)

 

 

Why I Started…

Why I started camping?  Why I started this blog?

Well, it was 2010 and money was tight.  Work was stressful and I needed a vacation, or several weekend vacations!  Hotels were out of the question, so I got the brilliant idea that I’m going to start camping.

The last time I had camped, was on a school trip with my daughters in May a few years before.  I remember it was freezing! I didn’t go prepared. I was never the camping type and my sisters thought I was crazy.  Michele, my oldest little sister, said to me, “Don’t go and buy a lot of stuff, you’re going to hate it.”  I paid no attention.  I didn’t buy a lot, just basics and borrowed a tent. This picture is of my girls on our first trip.  We had a great time!

I’ve been camping for 7 years now, in various tents, cabins, rustic cabins and now a 26 year old pop up camper that I bought for my 50th birthday.  I’ve camped with family, friends and even by myself.  I want to share my adventures and lessons learned and more importantly, want to share the notion that girls (women) can do anything they set their mind to, even in the face of naysayers (I love my sisters).