Camping Trip II

June 28, 2009 at 9:49 pm (Uncategorized)

Just got back from the 2nd camping excursion for LabGirl and I.
And, I dono, I had a fairly nice time, but I guess there were several factors involved that added up to me not enjoying it as much as last time.

One was that I had a very rough time attempting to sleep the first night. We got to the the campground a little after 7p, set up camp, roasted weenies for dinner and I attempted a banana boat for dessert, which didn’t work out quite right but was still tasty.

And then a little while later we attempted to sleep. Well, OK, LabGirl did sleep without much trouble. Me, not so much.
See, I’m used to sleeping in a temperature controlled apartment with most outside noises blocked out and, more often than not, a fan or something along those lines running because the “white noise” helps me sleep, blocks out most odd noises, and keeps the air circulating so it doesn’t feel stuffy or anything.
The temperatures that day reached around 90-ish with high humidity, and even though the tent was in the shade with all the vents open, it was still damned warm and stuffy in there with no breeze. Add to that my extra sensitivity to all the noises, and every toad, every bird, every splash of water in the nearby pond, every laugh from a nearby campsite, every passing car or truck (which there were a ton of – a lot of road noise at this campground), was yet another noise that kept me awake. Although I think I may have dozed off for a few minutes here and there, I didn’t truly fall asleep until nearly 5am. And then woke up a little after 8.

Which meant I was tired as hell for most of this next day. It again got quite hot, so we decided to try out swimming at the campground’s “beach” (basically a bunch of smooth gravel thrown along the edge of a man-made pond) and pretty much just waded a bit and sat cooling in the water sort of shoulder-deep for a while, as frankly the water was a bit gross and neither of us (especially LabGirl) was thrilled about the idea of discovering what lurked in the deeper parts. I also discovered upon coming home that my Coppertone “waterproof” sunscreen apparently washed right off, and I got a pretty good sunburn (while LabGirl’s Mary Kay stuff appears to have worked perfectly).

The campground has a canoe you can rent, and we had originally considered giving this a shot just to try it out, but between the lake/pond being pretty small (which really would have only allowed us to paddle around in circles a couple of times) and it just being really dang hot out, we decided to pass on it.

That morning I had fired up the new camping stove I had recently bought at Wal-Mart, made up some coffee using our new percolator (which worked great, which is cool because we just did instant coffee last time which sucked), got out the camp toaster (which works by sitting on the camp stove distributing the heat to the bread) and then before the toast was halfway done had quite a surprise in seeing that the stove had caught on fire.
Yes, it would appear that Wal-Mart camp stove was coated in a highly flammable paint.

So, as I had forgotten a ton of stuff needed to fully cook breakfast anyway, we decided to drive into the nearby town and do a little shopping.
Picked up some eggs, butter, syrup, pre-cooked sausages, and a new stove; another off-brand, that I didn’t like the overall design of as much, but it was still in my price range, seemed to work fairly well, and most importantly, didn’t catch on fire.
(It’s going to be interesting when I take that stove back to Wal-Mart for a refund and they ask “Is there anything wrong with it?” )

After our little wading excursion, we ate lunch, played a couple of games (introduced her to Hive, which she liked, and Cinq-O, which she didn’t), and then rushed to make dinner (chicken with salsa, with a side of soup) before the expected rain started coming in. By the time we had started up a new fire for the evening, the light rain had already started coming down.
(Oh, and more proof that I’m a game nerd – I had mentioned how cool I thought it would be to have one of those portable screened-in gazebo things to have while camping, because that way you could bring and play a better variety of games without having to worry about the pieces being heavy enough to not blow away, etc…)

But, since it had been a hot day anyway, and the weather report was indicating we should only get very light rain and that the nastier stuff should pass us by (as the campground manager was kind enough to inform everyone), we decided we needed s’mores, and decided to make s’mores in the rain.
The rain actually felt kind of refreshing after the hot humid day, and the s’mores were dang tasty.

We did end up moving anything we didn’t think should get wet, which was most of it, into the tent – which thankfully is large enough that we had some room to spare, since we had to park a good ways away from the site (which I hated, BTW), and not long after decided to call it a night, especially considering how little sleep I had gotten the night before.

This night was much better for me, and I was able to fall soundly asleep in probably half an hour or so – thanks to the sound of light rain falling on the tent, which was kind of relaxing, and the addition of a battery-operated fan I bought during our shopping trip earlier, which added both the air circulation and the bit of white noise that helps me sleep. Still didn’t have a perfect night’s sleep, but it was much better than the night before.

Woke up to a much chillier morning, made our last campfire, fired the stove back up to make pancakes and coffee, packed up camp and headed home.

I did see my first ever (at least that I can recall) American goldfinch, a bright yellow bird with black markings that apparently doesn’t hang out around the city much – for some reason I thought spotting it was especially cool.

Overall I’d have to say I had a nicer time back in September and also liked that campground a bit better.
It appears LabGirl wasn’t thrilled with either campground – she likes the idea of camping, but more like those photogenic scenes you see on TV commercials where you zip open your tent in the morning to see nothing around you but mountain views. Except with nearby shower and bathroom facilities.
Although I explained the likeliness of those features together are rather low, I did think I may want to start investigating into some state or maybe even national parks to look at the possibilities, even though I know I’d have to book a camp site way in advance. I’m still thinking Starved Rock State Park in the fall may be a good starting point, but I’ll probably have to make reservations for Septemberish in the near future if I actually want to reserve a spot.



  1. Joy said,

    Oh god, I can’t believe the stove caught fire! Wtf. I’m glad you got a good handle of the situation.

    It does take getting used to real-life camping in a tent. I remember we would talk the night away until we fall asleep, and that was with alcohol. Hehe.

  2. Graumagus said,

    I prefer camping in 40 degree weather to 90 degree weather.

    Next year I’m seriously thinking about taking a few days off and doing a solo trek somewhere wearing and carrying nothing but primitive gear….

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