Let’s talk about camping today, shall we? Hold on to your horses…this is going to be a long one.
You see, I grew up tent camping. I’ve camped hundreds of times since I was a wee little one. Thankfully, I married someone who loves to camp equally as much as I do. When I hear that people don’t like camping, I just have to assume that they’re not doing it right. So today, I’m going to teach you newbies how to camp. And talk about our most recent float trip.
ALSO one quick thing on “float trips.” A float trip is such a thing. The folks at my work looked at me like I had two heads when I told them I was going on a float trip. Just Google it. Or move to Missouri.
Anyways, I present to you…the ultimate camping packing list*. This list is taken straight from the one that I use each and every time we camp.
(*Obviously this list doesn’t include clothes, because all you need are some junky shorts/t-shirts, perhaps a hoodie and tennis shoes. This list also doesn’t include coolers (which is definitely a necessity), because each time we go, the contents in our cooler varies. So don’t forget clothes or your cooler.)
Camping isn’t easy. And nobody ever said it was. It’s hard work to gather all of the stuff that you need, figure out a way to pack it in a compact way and then turn around and put it all away two days later. But it’s worth it!
As you can see above, I like to organize thing by category. So everything that we need for our tent and sleeping, I try to keep in one bag. Everything for our campsite goes in one tub and everything for our float is kept separate. Believe me…this makes unloading and setting up camp a LOT easier.
Last weekend, we decided to float down the Blue River in southern Indiana and stay at Marengo Cave campgrounds. The campgrounds here are pretty small, but we got lucky being on site 1 and we had a lot of room to set up both of our tents.
Danny & Sara’s tent on the left, ours on the right.
The first thing we do always when we camp, is set up the tent first. We were worried about rain so we were trying to make sure we could set up our tent before the rain set in. It’s also important to note that we always get a site with electricity so we can blow up our air mattress and plug in our speakers. Nobody ever said this was primitive camping. 😉
This was Gracie Girl’s second camping trip, but first float. We were a bit nervous, but she did great. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Here’s our site, all set up! Even though the sites were a little small, we’d definitely go back. We LOVED that this campground had a wooden pavilion on each site. I’ve never seen that before and it was pretty clutch that night, since it decided to rain on us.
Turns out, it ONLY rained while we were cooking dinner. We had great weather setting up our camp, and then the rain set in. We took turns holding the umbrella over our grill to make sure our pork steaks could cook through.
I think people think that they have to eat like crap when they camp but I’d argue that we eat better camping than at home! We have this propane stove (wedding present!) that is awesome for cooking. Depending on what our meals are, we also bring charcoal, a chimney and lighter so we can grill anything we want.
Here’s our feast! Pork steaks from the grill, zucchini from the grill, corn and green beans heated on the stove and mac n cheese cooked on the stove. Like I said, we eat reeeeeal good.
You may be wondering how we do dishes after cooking on real pots, pans and plates but fear not. We picked up this handy Coleman dish washer that we adore. We put water and dish soap in one side, and water in the other, which makes washing and rinsing a breeze. We make sure to bring extra dish towels so we can lay out the dishes to dry.
After camp is set up, dinner is cooked and dishes are done, it’s time to relax and sit by the fire.
Except…we couldn’t get a fire started this night since it rained earlier. Womp womp.
We hit the hay early since we had an early morning float. When we woke up, we dined on bagels and fruit salad for breakfast. Since our site had electric, Sara brought their toaster. See? Camping doesn’t have to be hard!
We quickly washed those dishes and packed up the coolers and car so we could make our 10 a.m. float time. We rented our canoes from Cave Country Canoes and arrived with plenty of time to board the bus and take the 7-mile journey upstream at the put-in site.
Kevin and I were SO nervous to have Gracie with us. We still consider her a puppy (even though she’s three) and I was convinced she’d be a terror. At the beginning…she was. At first, we had her sit behind me in the front and she put her paws up on the edge of the canoe. I guess one of her paws slipped and she ended up head-first in the water, but her body was stuck in the canoe. I had to quickly reach in, grab her and pull her up. We think it scared her because the rest of the trip, she didn’t try to jump out anymore. Of course, when we stopped for breaks, she LOVED to be in the water and around the sandbars exploring.
We brought her water frisbee, which is like her favorite toy ever.
After a few hours on the water, we decided to stop for lunch. This trip, we packed sandwiches for lunch. Right after breakfast that morning, we packed hoagie buns, lunchmeat and cheese in one baggie, and our toppings in the others. We packed wet wipes so we could wipe off our hands and assemble the sandwiches right there on the sandbar. Not a bad lunch, if you ask me!
So let’s talk a little bit about why we Missourians call these trips float trips. You see, the gals in the front don’t pick up our paddles at all. Not once. The dudes in the back steer if needed, and we just…well…float the rest of the time.
Cave Country Canoes told us this 7-mile trip should take around 2-4 hours. We finished it in 8. A nice, long, leisurely float, you see?
Also, do you want to talk about my awesome chairs I brought for Sara and I? We got so many compliments from fellow floaters so I thought I’d mention that they’re just standard lounge chairs you’d find at Target or Walmart by the summer stuff. The chair Sara is using, I actually found at a garage sale a few years ago. The chair I have, is similar to this one from Target. They are THE best and totally save our backs while floating.
(You may notice that Sara has her shoes off here, but that’s because she was just taking a break from wearing her water shoes. We would never, ever, ever recommend going barefoot or even in flip flops. Old, junky tennis shoes are the way to go when floating. Promise.)
The rest of the day was a lotta this…beer-drinkin’ and relaxin’.
You can ignore Kevin in his life jacket. He claims he was cold.
Towards the end of the float, little Gracie Girl was so tired. Swimming, sun and fun was just too much so she zonked out right in front of my legs.
When our float was done and we got to the take-out part, we were all a bit hangry and ready for dinner. Thankfully, our dinner that night was easy to whip up…walking tacos! Again, electric sites are a necessity because we just plugged in an electric skillet to heat up already-made taco meat.
The rest was just assembly!
We did another round of dishes, took showers and put out our chairs to build a fire. Here’s Sara’s pro tip for building a fire…give the fire some air mattress pump heat. Works like a charm.
Happy little campin’ family.
Campfires can only mean one thing…
The perfect way to end a float trip!
Comments? Questions? Concerns? Who’s ready to go camping?
(One last thing, I’d highly recommend not EVER bringing your good phone or camera on a float. I brought my old, shattered iPhone 4 with us for picture-taking purposes only because if it fell in the water or got even more destroyed, I wouldn’t be too bummed.)