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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Camping Tips

Let me preface this by saying, "I AM NOT A CAMPER!" I have never understood the desire to rough it out in the open. But I realize that there are people who love camping. Some like rough camping and some like "glamping" (glamorous camping).

We had a very large 5th wheel a couple of years ago and I thought it was big enough for me to enjoy camping. Boy, was I wrong! That 35' trailer got smaller and smaller until I could barely stand to look at it much less spend a week in it. I have 2 real suggestions for the companies that build campers and RVs... 1) NO ONE LIKES TO HAVE TO GO TO THE PUBLIC BATHHOUSE! OK? So make the bathrooms big enough and functional enough for the owners to actually USE it! Americans aren't the little people in Gulliver's Travels! We need enough space to actually sit on the commode and a toilet that is big enough to be comfortable and a system that adequately takes care of the waste. We need a shower big enough to get in, strong enough to take our weight without cracking it and big enough to turn around in. I don't think that's asking too much. 2) It should be built with it's purpose in mind... rolling down the road. My husband was constantly having to do repairs on the RV because it was so poorly built and the quality was so bad. Pulling a camper/RV on the road means a lot of swaying, movement and bouncing and it should be built well enough to take it. But even sitting still in storage took it's toll because the extreme temperatures of winter and summer damaged it. The plastic parts would get brittle and split, the awnings would rot, etc. When we used the motors to roll the 3 slide out extensions out, one was always hanging up. My husband is a Maintenance Mgr and Plant Engineer. There is very little that he can't fix and he never figured out what was wrong with that slide-out. So quit selling RVs at exorbitant prices but building low quality crap!

When we got our RV I had it so organized. But, as soon as we got to where we were going, everything seemed to end up a jumble. I never could understand it. Once we started unloading and setting up it became a mish mash. I would look at those people who are campers at heart and their places would look so neat and tidy and for some reason mine didn't feel that way. And we kept finding more things we needed to have. It seems we never had enough stuff. There are awnings, artificial turf rugs, lawn chairs, reclining chairs, lights, grill, coolers, screened tent, tables, etc (some people even have outdoor tent showers now) and that's just for the outside of the RV. Inside I had a large kitchen with double refrigerators, regular sized kitchen sink and a 3 burner stove with oven but you still wanted a grill for cooking outdoors and coolers. I had my little kitchen thoroughly stocked with all the dishes, glasses, utensils, pots and pans that I would need. I had them all safely stored in plastic containers that fit in the cabinets.

Once we got where we were going we realized it was too hot and humid to be outside (that was in the mountains and at the beach) and the bugs were murder. I'm allergic to many, especially fire ants, so I have to be extra careful. We tried a screened room tent but the fire ants came right in and attacked me as I was sitting in my lawn chair. This meant spending a good deal of time in that trailer with the air conditioner on full blast 24/7. I can't take the heat and sun (hot flashes and fair skinned) so I can't stay on the beach for long. After so many hours in that trailer I would get stir crazy and certainly didn't want to cook and clean up. I was ready to get out and go out to eat somewhere.

And, of course, there is the cost. Once you purchase one you have insurance and property taxes on it. You have to outfit it with all the stuff to take with you. Then you have the gas cost to haul it where you are going. Then you have to pay campground fees and during the peak periods those are substantial. Then we had storage fees. We left it at the beach for 1 1/2 years and we had to pay storage fees to the campground for storing it. If we had kept it, we would have needed to pay storage or build one of those large sheds to park it under (which couldn't have been at our house as our lot is too small and there are homeowner's association rules against it). Then there were the constant repairs and maintenance on it.

The only good thing I can say about the experience was we were able to take all our dogs with us when we went some where. I love having my dogs with me but they are extra hassle. On the road we had to make pit stops for them and walking 5 dogs is difficult. Once we were there I would have to take them for walks 3 times a day, one or two at a time. They were in a different routine and environment with lots of different noises so they barked a lot. My special needs boy wouldn't eat. Getting in and out of that little trailer door with the steep steps was a challenge with 5 dogs wanting out at the same time. It's a wonder I didn't fall and hurt myself.

So, all in all, we decided the camping thing wasn't for us. We would prefer to take one of the dogs with us and leave the others behind and have someone in the family come in and take care of them. That way they still have their secure environment and their same routines. My sister, Elaine, and her husband live right behind us and she usually does it for me. And if someone else does it, then she's there in case there is a doggy emergency like if one got sick or injured. She and Melinda are real good in medical emergencies with the dogs. I love having one of my little furry "valiums" with me to pet and love on but it gets to be too much if we take the others too.

We enjoy a temperature controlled, clean hotel room that has maid service. We prefer going out to eat or picking up some picnic things rather than having to cook and clean in the RV. We like having a gym and indoor pool for exercise and then sightseeing and shopping. As I said before, I can't go to the beach and sit all day in the sun. Stan likes to do that maybe one day but then he gets bored too. So I might go with him in the morning and stay a little while and then he can bring me back to the hotel for a shower and resting while he goes back. Everything is so much more pleasant and convenient in a hotel room.

I understand that families with children, people with dogs, and those who love the whole camping experience really enjoy the tents and campers. We didn't camp as a family when I was little and the few times I tent-camped as a teen, I can honestly say I never had a "good" camping experience. There was always something that came up. We froze to death, the tent leaked, I got sick, there were bugs, I was so uncomfortable that I couldn't sleep, we burned up and sweated, etc. But there are obviously people who have had wonderful experiences and love it. That's what makes the world go around!

I found a list of things to have when you go tent camping and thought I would share it with you. Looking at the list, I don't see how anyone can go camping without a UHaul truck but here it is.

__Ground cloth/tarp
__Extra stakes
__Shade tarp/poles/rope/stakes
__Axe or hammer
__Mat for tent entrance
__Dust pan/brush


__Sleeping bag
__Air mattress/sleeping pad/cot/tarp
__Air pump
__Repair kit for air mattress
__Utility bags for storage


__Large water jug & water bucket
__Stove with fuel/propane
__Charcoal/firewood/buddy burner
__Dutch oven/tin can stove/box oven/etc
__Campfire grill/BBQ grill
__Fire starters/newspaper
__Tablecloth/thumb tacks/clips
__Plates & bowls/paper plates & bowls
__Silverware/plastic silverware
__Cups and mugs/styrofoam cups
__Measuring cups
__Heavy-duty aluminum foil
__Paper towels
__Trash bags
__Dish soap
__Clothes pins
__Cooking oil/Pam spray
__Containers for food storage
__Potholders/oven mitts
__Pots and frying pans with lids
__Soap for outside of pots and pans
__Cook utensils - spatula, knives, spoon, potato peeler, spork it, skewers/grill forks, tongs, can opener/bottle opener
__Folding table
__Dutch oven
__Pie irons
__Mugs/paper cups
__Mixing bowl
__Cutting board
__Ziploc bags
__Dish pan
__Dish rags/towels
__Scrub pad/brillo
__Food, Drinks - simple menus and popcorn, marshmallows, Graham crackers, Hershey bars (for Smores)


__Socks/extra socks
__Sleep clothes
__Rain gear
__Swim suit/towel
__Laundry bag


__Shower shoes/flip flops
__Soap in plastic case/shampoo
__Tooth brush/tooth paste
__Feminine products
__Toilet paper
__Shower bag or 5 gallon bucket
__Camping shower/shower pump
__Other personal items
__Personal medications – take extra


__Lantern with fuel/mantles
__Extra batteries/bulbs
__Bug repellant/candles
__Water filters/purification/treatment
__Books/magazines (a Kindle would be better)
__Misc. tools
__Backpack/fanny pack
__Fishing gear/license/bait
__Musical instruments/song books
__Camp chairs
__First aid kit
__Camping toilet paper
__Park map/guidebooks/trail maps
__Lantern pole or hanger
__Collapsible drying rack
__Pocket knife
__Plastic grocery bags
__Rope/clothes line
__Canteen/water bottle/coffee pot
__Bungi cords/straps
__Duct tape/electrical tape
__Reservations info./confirmation
__Cell phone/charger
__Small shovel
__Money/ID/credit card/quarters
__Travel alarm clock
__Work gloves
__Hand wipes (lots)
__Small sewing kit with safety pins
__Fire extinguisher

Tell someone of your plans – give details of where you are going and when you expect to return, give directions and possible alternative roads that you may take, provide cell phone numbers, vehicle description and license plate numbers, and provide local authority phone numbers (State Police, Game & Fish Commission, Sheriff Dept, etc.) for the county or area that you will be in.

Basic First Aid Kit

__Personal medications
__Roll bandages
__Adhesive tape
__Antiseptic wipes
__Sterile gauze pads
__Cotton swabs
__Safety pins
__Bee sting kit
__Sinus medications
__Bug repellant
__Sterile compresses
__Splinting materials
__Personal information/contact person
__Feminine products
__Razor blades
__Plastic bags
__Small bottle of water
__Other personal needs
__Small mirror
__Triangular bandages
__Misc. Band Aides/bandages
__Anti-acids (Tums, Rolaides)
__Antibiotic cream
__Hydrogen Peroxide
__Ace bandages
__Sunburn lotion
__Burn ointment
__Snake bit kit
__Eye drops
__Poison ivy cream/cleansers
__Heat/cold packs
__Small flashlight
__Latex gloves
__Antibacterial soap
__Coins for emergency phone calls
__Antibiotic soap
__Butterfly bandages
__Mole skin for blisters
__Road flares
__First aid manual
__Nail clippers

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