I happen to enjoy camping.

I know many of you do not, and that’s perfectly fine. 

If, however, the aversion is due to a poor experience involving bad food, wild mosquitos, rocks under your pillow, and meth lab public restrooms, I’d like to show you the other side of the camping world.  It’s not all bad.  Promise.

I’ve been camping for forever… I think that helps.  Rarely does a grown up decide to sleep on dirt if they were not encouraged to do so as a child. Yay, Parents.  Way to go.

I’m a tent-camper.  When I was single and carefree, that meant a super awesome  expedition-ready tent that weighed less than my toothbrush.  We’d hike in all our food and gear, sleep with no neighbors, and explore until work called us back.

Now that I’m married and have 2 kids (Excuse me, what?), I’m a car camper.  We passed the cool tent on to my folks and bought one that weighs more than our car.  Almost.  Car camping simply means you camp in a campground that is accessible by your vehicle… usually with a million other people close by, all with the same intentions of peace, hot dogs, and fresh air.  I was sad to let my backpacker years go, but I this meant I could finally buy a tent I could stand up in.  No more changing whilst lying down.  It’s awesome.

Curt also grew up tent-camping, which means at least 2 annual trips are mandatory.  One is over the 4th of July or Labor Day with the as much extended family as possible sharing a group site.  This trip involves much laughter, less food duties, and multiple tired cousins at any given time.  The other trip is usually just us… one year in Michigan, one year exploring somewhere new.

We usually camp for 4+ days.  Since my husband is an engineer, this means we have to have a spreadsheet.  Here’s our camping list [click]… it changes as needed with the destination and length of stay, but it’s extensive so there are no last-minute trips to the camp store for $5 milk.

I am in charge of clothes for me and the kids as well as the kitchen supplies.  Curt packs his own clothes, the car/trailer, and major gear.  Each person gets a rubbermaid container for their clothing.  The kitchen has a dry box (for cereals and bread and peanut butter and all that) as well as 2 coolers… one for drinks and one for everything else. The boy comes home from a Friday of work, finishes off the car and trailer, and we hit the road.

Rylie usually claps right about now.

When we arrive, the tent goes up first.  We’ve found that each child you bring along adds 31 minutes to your set up.  Our tent takes about 12 minutes to go up.  With Rylie and Gus, um, at least 45 minutes.

Where is the pole bag?  Rylie has it.  I need it.

Where is the last stake?  Rylie has it.  I need it.

Where is the lantern?  Rylie has it.  *sigh*

Once the tent is up, Ry and I stand inside while Curt throws us our sleeping bags, pillows, and clothes boxes.  This is a hilarious 10 minutes.

I set out our kitchen gear… stove on the end, kitchen box under the table, cooler on the bench to the right.  Curt collects fire wood.  Rylie gets unbelievably dirty and will get a bath in the kitchen washtub before bed time.  Gus… Gus is either attached to me or sleeping or attached to me sleeping.  The whole ordeal or getting situated takes an hour.  We’ve done it many times together and really don’t have to think about it much anymore.  It just happens. 

I love it. I love the simplicity of it.  I love that your cell phone doesn’t always work.  I love that we all get to sleep together.  I love that Ry gets so excited.  I love that we eat real food.  I love having a fire every night and reading while the kids are sleeping.  I love that the normal everyday chores are forgotten. I love that we eat on real plates (the fun melamine kind that are a $1 at the grocery) with real silverware (a combined set from when we were both single).  Everyone washes the dishes and then we walk to the camp store for ice cream. Yum. 

Someday, I imagine buying a little 2-person airstream trailer for just me and Curty.  No set up… just roll in and go.  But for now, this system works just fine for us.  It gets us out to see our world a little more (and a little cheaper).  Ry’s first trip was out West at 9 months.  Gus Man hit Platte River* this past 4th of July at 4 months.  We start ’em young out here at TexasNorth.

* My favorite area in Michigan is Platte River.  There are countless day trips, a great river tube float into Lake Michigan, a drive in movie, pizza galore, and some serious junk antique shops all within 30 miles. AND, their bathrooms are clean and fully stocked with tp. If you’re a hesitant camper, this is a great place to try out.  Call me.  We’ll take you.

[I can’t find photos of our tent right now… of course.  But here is a post from way back.  And, here’s a link to our USA-made tent which we heart big time.]

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About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

21 responses to “I happen to enjoy camping.

  • Colene

    I am not a camper, but this sounds fabulous!

  • mvstephenson

    Awesome pics!! Looks like you all had a ton of fun! I LOVE camping. I’m a little afraid to go with a 6 month old though. I think we need a bigger tent first.

  • fridaynightgirl

    See, the way you do it, that sounds like a lot of fun. I like lists – it’s the ONLY way I’d ever get anywhere. No, I mean it. I can’t remember that the keys I’ve been looking for are probably in my right hand, under the newspaper I picked up.

    Thanks for sharing! Love the pics!

  • Tricia

    We had a pop-up camper when I was little, so we stayed at many a KOA and had a ball. I remember part of the fun being the neighbors you’d meet in the KOA, especially their funny accents (one Cajun in particular who had my 7-year-old self terrified that we’d actually entered a foreign country and were seriously LOST). My love for Dinty-Moore beef stew is deep-rooted and eternal. Yes, indeed, GOOD JOB, PARENTS. 🙂

  • Nancy Lee

    That spread sheet is Awesome…I used to have one when we took the kids to our condo on the lake…. It would get taped to the fridge and if you packed it, you crossed it off the list…LOVED IT…we never forgot anything…

    Used to camp as a child, but can’t get hubby interested in it…

  • Tricia

    And, oy. Just read your years-old post lamenting missing out on all the bear-sightings and had to share….
    When Sydney was 2 months old, we went to Taos (a favorite vacation spot). It had been a really rough year, hot and dry, and so the animals were coming down out of the higher elevations in search of food. Bob went out for a run along some of the trails he knew on the ski hill, and he happened across a bear. Amazingly, the bear was too busy eating to notice him– which is so lucky, since a hungry bear isn’t one you want to startle… Bob turned tail and sprinted uphill for about a mile to the Bavarian.
    That night, we were awakened by a large bear noisily tearing the wooden door from a locked trash receptacle just outside our vacation condo. Staff had forgotten to empty the trash before leaving for the night… As we peeked through the small window above our bed and exchanged hushed whispers, she turned around and locked her eyes right on us in the pitch black. In that instant, the two hollow doors separating us from her felt like nothing more than air– she was massive, and could easily have come inside if she wanted something more filling.
    That vacation squelched my desire for tent-camping. Apparently, I married a bear-magnet. 🙂

    • texasnorth

      Having camped in lots of Bear Area, we have gotten really good at putting all food and smelly items away each time we’re done. It won’t save our life, but it’s a start 🙂

  • Kate's Mom

    Kate’s brother had a “paw to head” experience with a bear while out on the salt flats I believe…only he can tell it…as his mother, I was relieved to only have witnessed the bruise on his head from the ordeal….we are heading to Belton Dam this weekend….far enough away from daily chores but close enough to run back for the boat…yup they have a dock…beautiful campground.

  • Amanda

    Would you hold it against me if I told you that I’ve never ever been camping? It’s really pathetic. Especially since when God made me, I think, he gave me the this-one-shall-like-camping gene. It’s like I’m not using all my spiritual gifts or something 🙂

    I’m not brave enough to attempt it this summer with a 2-year old and 7-month old. See: you could handle that because you’re a pro. But next summer, we’re going! I’ve already done research on a few sites. That spreadsheet will come in handy.

    • texasnorth

      Use it. I think our spreadsheeet is maybe a 3rd generation list starting with Curt’s mom, moving on to his sister, and now modified to our family. It’s a great place to start.

      And once you get a rhythm down, I think you’ll like it very much. Especially in your area… there have to be some FABULOUS places to go. Maybe next summer our fams can meet out near Valley Forge. Ooooooh!!!

  • Erin

    I need to know what a pizza tonka is.

    • texasnorth

      Ok, so a ‘tonka’ (in our family- I’ve realized this is different for different families) is one of those metal sandwhich makers that you put 2 slices of bread in, contents inbetween, and then roast over a fire. We make pizzas and then pies for dessert.

      I did have someone tell me the other day that tonkas were the foil packets you put directly in the fire, but PLEASE. Everyone knows those are hobo pies.

  • Julie

    I need a list like that. I am the world’s worst packer and maybe I would do a better job with a good detailed list. However, it kinda makes me tired to think about everything on the list. …..but maybe I am just plain tired today.

    • texasnorth

      It makes me tired, too. BUT, most of it is already packed. All the plates, flashlights, blah blah blah stay in their box forever. I don’t re-pack those every time… I just double-check. That helps a ton.

      The first trip of the season, though, kinda makes me cry when THE LIST comes out.

  • Julie

    Is there a gun on the list? I didn’t look closely enough. That would help with bear fears. Not that you have them……but sometimes I sure do.

  • Aunt Regina

    I love campin’ —we called in the pie iron —-here’s one of my favorites

    Rocky Road Treat
    Spread peanut butter on 2 slices of bread. Add one large marshmallow and one chocolate bar square between buttered bread slices/ Toast in cooker until bread is golden brown.

  • LoLo

    You camp like I remember camping as a child! A great balance of order, simplicity, and FUN! Such GREAT memories! We went at least once a year with a group of neighbors…kids everywhere! Each family would bring a folding card table and at night after dinner we would have these MASSIVE Spades tourneys. It was a HUGE deal to be promoted from the Kids’ Tourney to the Adult Tourney.. a definite right-of-passage. Camping in TX is a little complicated – tends to be either too hot or too cold.

  • Sunday Grant Photography

    i can’t believe that list! that is intense, but I am sure it makes for a wonderful camping trip. We still have not taken BellaRose camping and we sure want to, without Hollings!

  • Sarah Sebeck

    I love our tents too! That’s right we have 2! 1 car camping tent (North Face), and 1 backpacking tent (MSR-the best). And, of course there is room for Scout in both of them.

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