Monday, August 10, 2009

Cold Camping

While reading Dogs and Dragonflies this morning, I began to wonder how I could simplify the prep for weekend camping trips for whenever our lives return to normal. Too often I've (we've) left something important behind. Though there are the times when we didn't expect much colder than normal weather conditions, too.
The first cold camping trip I can remember was when brother Jim had recently graduated and received his teaching certificate from Willamette's Master's program. We're not usually big on joining the crowds on the big holidays, but this was a special occasion. So East is where we pointed the truck for Labor Day weekend.
The first forgotten item we discovered were long pants and heavy coats. Who knew we'd wake to ice on the dog dish?! Luckily N had packed 3 pairs of jeans and shared with the girls. They didn't care how big those jeans were! Then there was the missing hamburger for dinner. Brother Jim (who's always tried hard to be a vegetarian) had a box of instant no meat hamburger patty mix. We thought perhaps it would be a good substitute for the missing hamburger in the dinner recipe. That's when we discovered how much sodium is added to some of those mixes. Which didn't go well with one of my can opener camping recipes.
As we washed our salty dinner down with cup after cup of ice cold water, new neighbors pulled in next door. It was a group of young hikers from Germany. They needed help with a map (which we provided) and then proceeded to torture us with the lovely smells of bacon and onion wafting over to our campsite. I should add that they generously offered long pants to brother Jim.

The most recent unprepared camping trip, was last year with Jonathon's family at Diamond Lake. None of us had checked the weather report. If we had, I'm sure there would've been more than just big John who had a heavy coat! The day we arrived was warm enough to take a dip in the lake. Norm was tempted, but then the rest of the group began to pull in. I think it was the next day when the wind began to pick-up and the clouds rolled in. The temperature for the rest of the trip varied between 65 (maybe) and 35. I don't think it froze, but I could be wrong. N and I were very happy we had our tent trailer with it's furnace this time around. We did have long pants and peach brandy, but there's no substitute for a warm, winter coat. Although a dog in the lap can help!


AMY said...

We had serious problems with lack of weather preparedness when we first came to Oregon! We finally realized you must just take it all -- rain, shine, warm, and cold weather gear. =-)

And if you don't go frequently... you'll never get a system down. For the first few years it was like each time was the first time because we only went once or twice a year.

We organized our camping gear into bins (easy to close cargo bins we picked up at CostCo one time). Linens in one, kitchen in the other, etc. As time went on we put items forgotten and purchased on the road in there -- yes, while we have fleece jackets galore in the coat closet, we also have two that are specifically camping gear and never leave the cargo bin unless being worn or washed!

Over time this helped to build up the gear so we were never without. And when it came time to go -- just throw the bins in the truck. Add fresh food and clothing along with an overnight kit and you're good to go.

Key is planning... which has become part of the fun. We make a meal plan and associated grocery list. We shop, then the morning when we pack we run down the meal list and double check we have all the items we need for each meal. Weather checks up until we leave.

Having a little RV this year has been awesome; it's all decked out, holds our camping equipment, and just needs food and clothes thrown in and we're ready to go!

KandN said...

Hey thanks, LC! :>)
May I ask what kind of meals you two usually make? We've just begun to start cooking with a dutch oven, but only for dinners. Our favorite recipe so far is meatloaf. Sounds funny for camping, but it's a keeper.

AMY said...

Oooh, dutch oven envy!

We have yet to find our inspiration in campfire dining. I've tried both cooking from scratch on site to making things that travel well and are good cool.

For breakfasts, making a quiche and warning it up over coals from the fire works well; we also do pancakes, sausage, and the Egg Beaters with southwestern seasoning and veggies are great with a little cheese and meat thrown in.

Brats on a stick (or Italian sausages) are awesome cooked on the fire. kabobs are easy to prepare and you can have a lot of variety thanks to seasonings and different chunks of veggies used.

We used to go camping with a friend whose wife could make anything and everything to feed a campsite of six in her dutch oven. I wish she'd taught me!