Outdoor Camping - get Your Camping Gear Ready for Summer
Camping by Barriere Lake
Check out Your Gear
Outdoor campers, it is time to get your camping gear checked out and ready for summer time. Outdoor camping is fun for the whole family and for nature enthusiasts. It can also be a very romantic time for just you and your loved one.
The first thing to do is decide where you are going camping and, if necessary, make a reservation. Then get that camping gear out.
Spend an entire day taking out all your camping gear and spread it out in the back yard -- or wherever you have room to do so. If you have someone to help, make a list and check off each item and its condition as you work together. Creating the list in an accountants journal that has columns is a good way to do this. Keep this journal from year to year so you can
easily refer to your camping needs. Or, you can make a spreadsheet in Excel, which will be easier to update and record items. A sample of a good list is below -- of course there will be a lot more items, this is just an example.
Checklist example ~
CHECK STORE SALES
One of the best things about camping is being out in nature. To wake up early in the morning, start that open pit fire and put on a pot of coffee is an awesome experience. As you sit there with the aroma of coffee brewing, watching the little curious critters watching you, it is so relaxing and peaceful. The stillness and quiet of the early morning can make one feel so close to, even a part of, nature.
If you are a coffee lover, taking that first sip of steaming hot coffee is heavenly. The aroma alone wakes you up to the simple pleasures in life. If it is a bit chilly from the early morning air, the steam from the coffee will warm your cold nose up, the warmth of the cup in your hands feels so good, and sipping the coffee warms up your insides.
This is a time of peace and quiet. It is a time to drift off into your own little world, just be yourself, or sit with your loved one in silence, sharing the beautiful outdoors. If you are near pine trees, you may even begin to hear the pine cones popping as they open and warm to the early sun. Then the first birds begin to chirp and chatter away - singing their joy to the morning.
Camping in Open Plains or Deserts
When camping in open plains or desert lands, pay attention to the wild flowers that add their color and beauty to Nature.
Not many people realize that deserts are more than barren lands and scrub brush. Wild grasses and flowers can grow in some unusual places and are a joy to see, capture in photos, or sketch in your journal if you are an artist, or just like to draw.
Cooking Over a Campfire
To make cooking over a campfire easier, make sure you have brought along some cooking grates to set on rocks and place your pans on. You can get larger grates with legs that will hold at least two fry pans.
Bringing along several cans of new potatoes is a real treat when camping. Open the can, drain and slice the potatoes. Put them in a cast iron skillet that has been warming over the fire. Add a little butter or cooking oil to the hot pan before adding your potatoes. Season with your favorite seasonings and fry till golden brown. Adding sliced onions to the potatoes is very flavorful and smells so good. In another skillet, at the same time, you can have bacon or sausage frying away. The aromas are going to really wake you up for sure and make you very hungry. If you do not eat pork, or any meats, you can stir fry some chopped vegetables. Or make pancakes from a mix that needs only water. Scrambled eggs are easy to fry up and they cook quickly.
When all is about ready, slap some slices of bread on the grill and let them toast to a golden brown on both sides, using tongs to turn the slices. Have your butter ready to spread on the hot bread or those pancakes as soon as they hit your plate. Oh, my gosh ! Nothing compares to the joy of cooking and eating breakfast outdoors. Hopefully you remembered to bring some individual bottles of juice with you to top off your early morning meal.
Outdoor Camping ~
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Before you leave camp, verify your surroundings and use a compass to know your directions.
If you want to go for a hike, make sure you brought along proper footwear. Your socks should be soft and thick to cushion your foot. Your hiking boots, or shoes, should be large enough to accommodate the socks and not cramp your toes. It is not a good idea to bring brand new hiking boots you have not worn yet. You want to wear boots that are worn in and comfortable.
Take along a backpack that contains enough water for your hike and one or two extra bottles. Also, pack a first aid kit, snake bite kit, mosquito repellent and sunblock. A sandwich or protein snacks are good to take with you. Nuts, dried berries or other fruits are good snacks and nutritious. You do not need chips or candies that will hinder your metabolism.
Have your camera and binoculars in your pack for unexpected beautiful sites or pics of little critters or wildflowers. A walking stick is sometimes good to have along if you will be going up and down hills. Stay on well-worn and marked trails. Do not go off into woods or forests where there are no trails -- it is so easy to lose your direction in deep forested areas.
- Never leave camp if there are still hot coals in the fire pit.
- Douse the coals with water, stir them up and make sure they are cold before leaving.
- Make sure your camp stove is off and cold to the touch.
- Lock up any valuables out of sight in your vehicle.
- Lock up all foods in your vehicle so as not to tempt animals.
- Make sure you take your keys with you.
- Zip up your tent to keep curious critters out.
Some Conveniences That are not Wimpy
A clothes line rope will come in very handy. Tie it up to trees high enough to hang wet towels and wash cloths on. A five gallon bucket and a plunger is very useful for washing small clothing items (socks, underwear, etc.). Put cold or heated water in the bucket, add a little ecology safe soap, drop in the items and plunge the soil or stains out. Rinse and hang clothes up on the clothes line. Clothes pins will keep small items on the line.
Hats with large brims to keep the sun off your face and neck will help to prevent sunburn. Lotions and creams are okay to prevent dry skin and chapped hands or lips. Your special teddy bear to sleep with -- you can hide it in your sleeping bag during the day.
Cheap cotton dinner napkins are nice to bring along. They are softer on the skin, save on paper products and garbage, and can be easily rinsed out and hung on the clothesline. Inexpensive, lightweight plates, cups and glasses also save on paper products and prevent extra refuse. They can easily be washed in a plastic pan with mild soap and water.
Styrofoam plates and cups do not break down in the garbage and are not safe for the environment. Paper plates are ok, for after use they can be used to help start the fire in the pit.
Do not Forget These Often Needed Items
- Sun block
- Mosquito repellent
- Hammer (for tent stakes or smashing spiders)
- Axe for chopping wood
- Salt, pepper, other seasonings
- First Aid Kit
- Decks of playing cards, board games, books
- Towels and wash cloths
- Soap, shampoo, other personal items
- Garbage bags
- Aluminum foil
- Sandwich bags (to take snacks/sandwiches on a hike)
- Outdoor chairs
- Ice Chest
- Any necessary medicines such as aspirin or prescriptions
- Hot pads for safe handling of hot pots and pans.
Some people like to really 'rough it' when camping and that is okay. Others like the conveniences that state parks offer, such as restrooms, dumpsters for garbage and a visitor center that has information on trails and history of the park. Some may even have an ice machine or small convenience store.
Whichever way you choose to go, enjoy your camping experience to the fullest and be safe. Respect nature and leave it as you found it.
Respect Nature and Leave it as you Found it
© 2014 Phyllis Doyle Burns
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