Monday, April 30, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

Good Morning Campers!  I thought I'd share a few of the things that makes our camping adventures a bit more enjoyable - just some of the fun stuff.  I'm adding in the links for easy reference, but know that I'm not being compensated in anyway.  I'll keep this updated as we run across new 'gotta have its'.  Enjoy!

The 5J's brought this to our first camping trip and we fell in love with it!  On the lower leg setting, it's the perfect height to fit between the camping chairs and act as an end table or coffee table.  At the raised heights (counter height and table height) it's a perfect camp food prep table. It's very sturdy, too.  We love that it folds in half - and it fits right on top of the dinette when we break down the camper. 

Another life-saver.  I'd been drooling over this lantern long before we started camping.  It's a 360* light - which is great for setting on the table and having light in every direction, but each of the panels break off and become their own individual light. The panels also sit flat - which is helpful for late-night camp set up: we break the light into its four sections then set one at each corner of the camper, facing in.  I've put caribiners on two of the panels' handles - so we can clip them to our belt or to the top of the awning for hands-free over head light.

The up-front cost on these may seem high, but after years of sitting in the folding nylon chairs - one sit in this and you'll be sold!  We went for the upgraded version - larger seat width, wood arm rests, moveable pillow/back support, and cup holder.  Only flimsy part to the chair is the cup holder - everything else is very stable and holds you quiet comfortably.  I kid you not - if RDB or I got up from the chair to grab a drink or a snack, we'd come back to someone else sitting it them!  They're great.  (We store these in the back of the truck when traveling.)

Trio Toss Games

These are the *best*! we set them up, and the kids loved them as much as the adults.  They break down and store into a compact kit (and have a carry bag to protect everything in transit).  We pack them under the dinette (on top of the stove) in the camper when we're breaking down camp. Craftsmanship looks to be of good quality - so we're hoping they'll last for a number of seasons.  *Note - they don't look to be water-proof, so if it starts to rain, it would be wise to get them under a tarp or the bunk ends.

Yep, we have tacky lights.  they were priced less at the Wal*Mart than on the Coleman site, but of course YMMV.  They're the perfect length to string across our awning when we have it up - we use zipties to secure it to both ends.  Since they run off of 3 AAA batteries we don't have to worry about having the extension cord run to the awning - and there's no trip hazard, either.  For being such cute little battery lights, they put out a LOT of light.

Camping in Texas has it's downside: in the summer, it's hotter than Hell.  So, following in the footsteps of many a camper before me, I've ordered solar bunk end covers (reflective material that lays over the top of the bunk to reflect back the sun).  Installed these on the "Battle of San Mosquito" trip, and very quickly decided that they need to be easier to deploy (several other campers have Velcro-ed the tops to the inside of the roof - and I'll be doing the same before our next trip).  We could definitely tell a temperature difference.

Bought this on a suggestion from another camper out on the camping forums - and so far it's not bad.  RDB and I pack our clothes together, and this gives us the chance to still pack together, but separate (and keep things a lot more organized than the 'exploded suitcase' that happens when we get into camp.)  We set it on the opposite bunk since we don't have anyone sleeping there.  I'm thinking this may be a 'winner' simply because of the ease of packing it - btw, it lives in the laundry room at home between trips.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I want to go camping.

Next trip, T-minus 1 Week.  Sam Houston Jones State Park in Lake Charles, LA. Until then, here's a picture of my two favorite things from the end of our last trip:

If you guessed "RDB" and "a man cleaning" - you get a gold star!  :-)

Until next time:
May the sun shine on you, and it only rain during the week!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Park Review: Goose Island SP - Rockport, TX

Park Review
We camped, we saw, we conquered!

Goose Island State Park

*Two loops in the park - one on the bay and one in the wooded area
*Great shade cover, very old trees in the wooded are - but mosquitos are a nightmare!
*Long fishing pier off the end of the bay loop (lighted at night)
*Sites: Electric and Water: Sites 114 and 115 are perfect for group camping
*The Big Tree is just right down the road (free)

We stayed here: April '12 The Battle of San Mosquito

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Battle of San Mosquito

We arrived at the battlefield completely unaware of the massacre that awaited us. Within minutes, we were surrounded.  The avenging hoard swarmed in, closing in on our flanks and offering us no line of retreat.  We were defenseless against the black cloud of impending doom. 

Merely a scout.  There were *thousands* of them suckers.

Ok, so maybe that's a litte bit dramatic - but I've lived in Texas nearly all my life and I've never once been actually swarmed by mosquitos.  RDB and I checked in Thursday afternoon, and the ladies warned us that the mosquitos were bad this weekend.  They said the park ranger would be around to 'fog' for them if there were enough complaints (so, obviously, I pre-registered my complaint before we even left the office!)  We really had no idea it would be so bad but we learned something very important about setting up camp:

Make sure your bug spray is in a readily available area - like the tow vehicle - so that you don't have to pop the tent to get to it.  It took us 10 minutes to get to the spray and by then we were seriously considering abandoning the pop-up and heading for the nearest Hampton Inn.

We didn't surrender - but we were prepared when the other camping families showed up - RDB met them at the car doors with bug repellant as soon as they arrived. By the end of the night, we had The 5Js, D&G+2, and R(m)B joined us for the first time, setting up their tent in the dark - which was probably a good thing, because by then you couldn't see the little suckers swarming you - you could just feel them as they bit.   

Our bunk quickly became a retreat - in every sense of the word.

Most of Friday was spent fighting the War on Mosquitos.  I think we all made a trip or two to Wal*Mart for supplies ($86 worth of citronella, tiki torches, DEET, and the like just for RDB and me - and I know the other familes spent a wad of cash too; but by the second trip to Wally World, it looked like we weren't the only ones trying to bring back reinforcements!)  12 tiki torches, several bottles of bug repellant,  propane bug fogger (thank you R(m)B!) and a vast number of candles later, and we had a perimeter that seemed to keep at least some of the hoard at bay.

Oh, and another thing I learned: those yellow hard-plastic egg carriers? They're crush-resistant, but they're certainly not crash-proof.  Our slide right off the table and crashed on to the ground - broke the entire dozen.  Silver lining: the scrambled eggs turned out fine.

Full moon rising over the oaks - we had wonderful shade trees.

In honor of the holiday weekend, we 'hid' eggs for the kids.  I say 'hid' beacuse we had so many of them that we ran out of places to hide them - lots were just scattered in the ground.  The 3 littlest kids went first - giving them a head start from the 3 bigger kids.  Best part: LJ picking up the eggs, throwing them under his arm into the waiting basket - only to throw them past the basket and back onto the ground.  It was a hoot!  The mosquitos, unfortunately, were an uninvited guest.

All the kiddos with their Easter baskets.

Hanging out eating candy after the egg hunt. "More."

We were down in the Rockport area and took some time over the afternoon to visit The Big Tree.  It's a live oak tree that has a height of 44ft, a crown spread over 89ft, a circumference of 35ft, and average diameter of 11ft.  This is a huge tree.  So large and sprawling that the limbs have to be supported off the ground to keep them from breaking.  We didn't stay long because of, you guessed it, the mosquitos.

RDB and Me at The Big Tree

RDB and I spent lots of time just hanging out at camp - the others took off for late night fishing or going to the pier. We really enjoyed the few quiet moments we had with R(m)B... they left out Saturday night, but not before (m) had the chance to have her very first s'more.  How cool is that?  Camping with familes and small kids can certianly be tricky, but having the chance to be there and provide a young kid with thier first real fire-melted s'more? That to me is totally worth it!  I'm excited to continue to have those experiences camping with this group.

"Mom, do you like RDB's camper?" "Yes, Honey." "Me, too..."

One down.  40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to go.
We camped at Goose Island State Park in sites 114 and 115.  It's a great set of sites for 2 pop-ups and 2 tents. We had a total of 15 people in the site and didn't feel crowded at all. Completely tree covered, mosquito infested, and amazing.  Just a quick walk to the bath house (and the facilities here are nice) and a short drive to the pier.  They do have on-beach camping but there's no shade cover - so, its a trade off, you can have shade and mosquitos, or no shade and no mosquitos.  We'll probably come back.  In the winter.  Durring a drought.  And with more reinforements.  And a can of repellent under the front seat. 

For more camping photos, go here.