Friday, July 22, 2011


Camping Is Good (Part 5)...How We Get Ready to Do It All Again...

Last in our Camping Series from Vivenne at The V Spot.  It has been a great series for all - camping lovers to non-campers like me!  I hope you were able to pick a few ideas from the past few days or even just get inspired to try camping!  Thanks Viv!

We love our time camping, and the night before we leave, I am always a bit sad.
Because we have such a long drive ahead of us, we are usually up by 6:30 and try to be pulling out to hit the road by 8:30 or 9:00. Handsome Hubby always says we're leaving at 8:00 but we rarely, if ever, do.

On our last night, we eat up leftovers for dinner. (Leftover steak + leftover chicken = Fajitas!)

Cocktail Hour isn't just sitting around relaxing... it's also taking down the shade tarps and the EZ-Ups. (Although we still do manage to sit around and relax in between little tasks....)
It's doing some preliminary staging so that we can pack up in the morning. I always feel as though our last night in camp just isn't quite as fun because of it, even though it's necessary.

In the morning, we roll the kids out of their sleeping bags and give them a quick bowl of cereal. Tents come down, clothing (dirty and clean alike) gets shoved into duffel bags and big black trash bags even. Food comes out of the bear box and thrown into Rubbermaid bins. The goal is to get the gear packed up and loaded in the trailer. It doesn't have to be perfect or organized, it just has to get into the trailer.

I am completely lame when it comes to rolling up sleeping bags and getting them back into their little nylon bags. My kids are lame at this too. As a result, we have adopted the Fold And Put Into A Bin philosophy when it comes to the sleeping bags. Faster, easier, and no swearing.

We definitely subscribe to the "Leave it better than you found it" philosophy.
Each kid is given a plastic grocery bag and they fan out, eyes peeled, looking for little bits of trash. It is an almost pristine campground, but there are still the occasional twist ties, bottle caps, or those stupid stickers that come on fruit that wind up on the ground. Many of these are from campers prior to us. They are small things, and are easily overlooked.

It is important to instill a sense of responsibility in the kids. Not just making sure we don't leave a mess... but doing the right thing, simply because it needs to be done. Even if you didn't make the mess, clean it up. (We do this at the beach too.)

I load up a new bag of "car snacks" and restock the little cooler we keep in the back of the Suburban. (Waters, sodas, apples, yogurts, etc. ) (Do make sure to have plastic spoons too!) We put on the cleanest and most comfortable clothes we have for the trip home.

Just as we have traditional stops along the trip up to Markleeville, we have traditional stops on the way down as well. We have tried several different lunch spots, but our new favorite is in Lee Vining, CA, a little town off of Highway 395 and the Tioga Pass (which leads to Yosemite).

Lee Vining is just North of June Lake and has a gas station where we really like to eat.
That's right.
A gas station.

Once upon a time there was a kid from San Diego who worked in a restaurant. He was a huge fan of snow skiing, so he moved to Mammoth Mountain and got a job at Whiskey Creek Restaurant. He was a brilliant cook and he eventually worked his way up to executive chef. After a while he teamed up with a gas station owner and the Whoa Nellie Deli came to be.

If you stop in this gas station for a snack, you won't be leaving with a bag of Doritios and a slushie... The menu has everything from gourmet deli sandwiches and burgers, to seared ahi, pistachio-crusted rack of lamb, steak Caesar salads and my favorite that I always end up getting: fish tacos, served with mango salsa, ginger coleslaw and Brazilian black beans. Oh! My! Yum!

You can snag a picnic table outside and there is a beautiful view of Mono Lake.

No dogs allowed though... Corsa gets tied up in the shade by the car. Poor puppy.

Once on the road again, the focus always shifts to "making good time." This is not the focus on our way up, but somehow it always becomes the focus on the way home. This year seemed to take longer than normal because I needed to keep stopping every hour to stretch my legs because I had screwed up my back on the camping trip.
I. Am. Old.
With no DVD player (we have one, we just don't hook it up) the boys do a great job of entertaining themselves. Devin created an extra "camper" with a roll of paper towels. Mad Libs are favorites too. (Although all adjectives are poopy or snotty and all nouns are toilets or space ships....)

By the end of the trip, everyone is exhausted.

This year, we got home around 7:30 pm, having left that morning around 9:30. Not bad, all in all.
We bring in the coolers and put that food away, I start a load of laundry. I look through the pile of mail, check the answering machine and check my email.
Oooh! A long, luxurious shower!
The real clean up can start in the morning.

Now because we threw everything into boxes, sort of willy-nilly when packing up, the time to properly clean and organize is at home. I run all of my cookware and dishes through the dishwasher. I wash the dishtowels and pot holders. I make sure my supplies are topped off for next year.

I consult the pad of paper on which I jotted notes while camping. For example, this year I brought up 3 rolls of paper towels and it was not enough. We had to go into town and buy more. Next year I will bring 5.

As I pack up my "kitchen bin", I make a Word Document list of what has gone in there. I lose track of written lists, but I always know where my computer is. I can easily pull this list up next year and see what is in the box.

I have a lot of cooking gadgets and utensils, so in this case, it is helpful to just snap a picture of what is in this box and insert it into my document.

The end result looks like this:

Remember the camp kitchen I showed you from post #2?

Those green canvas bags are perfect for storing paper products, plastic baggies, silverware, etc. There is a list for these as well and then they are ready to go for next year too.

I launder bedding and towels and wrap them up in bags and label them. I won't have to scramble for anything next year. We'll just get it out of our storage shed and load it into our trailer.
As long as this stuff is organized, it is easy. I folded bedding and tied it up in a recycled Target bag. Then I wrote on it with a Sharpie. I'm sure there are camping closets or something, but they aren't necessary.

I also have a packing list for food staples, etc that will be ready to go for me for next year. I always update them after each trip, while it is all fresh in my mind.

Here is all the gear, (in our ugly side yard) waiting for HH to load it into storage.

If you told me we were going camping tomorrow, I would need to make a quick run to the grocery store and pack a bag of clothes, but otherwise, we're ready to go.

I'm sad when our Markleeville trip is over each year, but I console myself that it will be time to go again in just 11 and a half short months!

Grant was sad to leave too. (Wiping tears away with dirty hands = muddy face.)

I hope those of you who love to camp get to go again very soon. Those of you who don't... I hope you give it a try again someday. There just isn't anything quite like it!


Amber said...

This was a really great series, people can get really overwhelmed with camping I think and Vivienne did a great job of showing how to stay organized to ensure for a run and relaxing trip. :)

I think the key is to just start small and you learn as you go. I have one little tote (I usually only camp with one other person) that I try to keep stocked with camping basics so that just like Vivienne, all I have to do is go to the grocery store, throw the tent and the tote in the trunk and I'm good to go. If you get there and realize you don't have something, improvise and make a note so that you can add it to your stock pile of stuff for your next trip!

Love camping, can't wait to go again myself in a couple of weeks!!

Kimber said...

What a great series - I really enjoyed reading all of them. I am not a camper but she made it look easy.