Posts filed under ‘Camping’

Our First Family Camping Trip – Prince William Forest Park

This year for his birthday, my husband requested a camping trip. With our two year old and our two month old accompanying us, that made it our very first family camping trip!

Keeping It Simple
Keeping in mind we had two kids with us now, we kept the outing simple. Our original plan was to camp at Sky Meadows State Park which is about an hour away from our home. Our campsite there was going to be a mile hike from the parking lot. However, when that park closed for a Search and Rescue operation, we had to revise our plan. We went to the even closer Prince William Forest National Park and the expedition was made even simpler as our car was parked right next to our site. Initially I was disappointed in the lack of a hike, but I did like being very liberal with my packing knowing the car was right there. I was particularly liberal with layers for the kids. : )

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - View Whlie Nursing Saturday
Car Within Sight

Our menu was insanely simple too. Hot dogs, campfire baked potatoes… and s’mores. We don’t really eat hot dogs at home, so it was a special treat for two year old Sagan. He ate 2 1/2 of them!

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Eats Hot Dogs
Sagan Eats Hot Dogs

Beforehand, Ryan and I were strategizing how to most peacefully limit Sagan’s s’mores intake. That turned not to be an issue. He may have liked s’mores, but they paled in comparison to the hot dogs.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Eats Smores
S’mores. Not as Good as Hot Dogs

For our campfire baked potatoes, we wrapped them in tin foil, threw them in the fire Friday night, and let them do their thing. Saturday morning, we woke up and pulled them out of the ashes and devoured them for breakfast. Sagan’s reaction after his first bite:


That was my reaction too. Campire baked potatoes are a favorite of mine. No salt, no butter, or any kind of fixings. They are delicious as is.

For this outing, the act of camping and nature itself was entertainment enough for our two year old. He very much enjoyed helping with the normal camping chores such as setting up the tent, gathering wood, and starting a fire.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Helps Ryan with Tent Poles
Sagan Helps Set Up the Tent

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Helps Ryan With Sticks
Sagan Helps Gather Firewood

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Helps Daddy With Fire
Supervising the Fire Getting Started

Co-Sleeping Win
We were enjoying the campfire when Sagan suddenly requested, “Night night.”

“We’re going night night in the tent,” Ryan said.

Sagan looked over at the tent and said, “No Night Night Tent. Night Night Home.” : )

His hesitation was fleeting. Once we were all in the tent, Sagan was immediately at ease and went to sleep almost right away. We co-sleep and have done a fair amount of traveling. No matter where we’ve gone and what strange rooms and beds we’re in, Sagan has had two constants with bedtime– his mommy and his daddy.

It might also help that at home we sleep on the floor, so camping wasn’t a big leap.

Recent studies indicate that camping can help reset your circadian rhythms within a week. Well within a single night, we all feel asleep much earlier than usual.

Nursing Win
I exclusively pumped with Sagan. We never camped when he was an infant, but we had talked about it enough that I had considered the logistics– getting batteries for the breastpump and enough ice for the cooler, packing enough bottles and cleaning wipes. It would have been do-able, but there would be effort involved.

With little Dyson, we are breastfeeding directly and I have to say, it’s liberating. To feed my child, there was only one thing I needed to pack– ME!

Plus I got to take in some pretty good views while nursing as well. : )

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Ryan and Sagan At Fire
View While Nursing – Ryan and Sagan Enjoy the Campfire

MobyWrap Win
Sagan’s old MobyWrap continues to prove to be super useful with baby Dyson as well. Dyson rode in it while we gathered wood, did a moonlit walk around the campground, and just normal camping activities.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Vicky Feeds Sagan Smore
Dyson in MobyWrap While Mommy Feeds Sagan a S’more

Parenting Cliché Fail
When Sagan woke up after his first night in the tent, he was really energetic and excited. As he played and explored the campsite and the woods, he expressed his giddiness verbally… and loudly. Aware that there were campers in nearby sites who were perhaps still trying to sleep, I found myself spewing out a common parent phrase:

“Use your inside voice!”

Worrying Fail
The only big downside of the trip was my own mind. At first, my sleep wasn’t the best because I kept worrying about little Dyson. I had him layered up, elevated off of the cold ground in his car seat, and right next to me, but I still fretted about waking up to find that he froze to death…silently, without making a peep. As a result, I kept waking up and poking him to check his body temperature. After the first time he woke up to nurse, however, I realized all was well and normal. I was able to sleep much better after that.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Dyson Sleeps in Tent
Dyson Not Freezing to Death

One thing I could have improved upon with Dyson is the layers I chose for him. His base layer was zip-up pajamas, so when I changed his diaper overnight, I had to expose his chest. (Narami, you mentioned this on Twitter, but the lesson didn’t fully sink in until I was changing diapers in the cold). Next time, I’ll make a more strategic choice.

Post Camping Hike
After a great night of camping, we decided to check out Carter’s Pond on the way out of the park. It was brief and beautiful and Sagan got to meet the Polythemus Moth. The moth is named after a cyclops because of the fake eyes it has on its wings. Ryan showed Sagan the moth’s fake eyes and its real eyes.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Carter's Pond - Pond
Beautiful Carter’s Pond

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Carter's Pond - Moth on Tree (Close)
The Polythemus Moth

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Carter's Pond - Ryan Shows Sagan Moth's Real Eyes
Sagan Learns Where the Moth’s Real Eyes Are

Our first camping trip was a great success. We may have been celebrating Ryan’s birthday, but it ended up being a gift for the entire family. I might have to steal the idea for my OWN birthday. 🙂

September 30, 2013 at 1:00 am 3 comments

Bear Bags and Construction Crews

When camping, it’s a common practice to consolidate all your food in a bag and suspend it overnight high up in a tree (preferably away from your campsite). You do this in part to keep the bears from stealing your food while you sleep.

Bear Bag (Photo by Flickmor)

This past week, construction has continued on the Charles Creek Bridge in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. With some amusement, Ryan and I noted a similar practice being employed. Each evening the crew consolidates their supplies and tools in a trailer. Then they hoist it high above the ground with a crane. Only this time, they are trying to thwart the human thieves. : )

Elizabeth City - Suspended Trailer (Close)
Bear Bag for People

June 14, 2010 at 5:00 am 2 comments

Fancy Bear Bag

Here’s another find from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.

Bethany Beach 2009 - Ripley's Believe It Or Not Musuem - Fancy Bear Bag
Tribal Suspension Hook

Here’s how it’s described:

Tribal Suspension Hook
Believe It or Not!, this well-carved hook figure served as a cupboard, or warddrobe, in an aboriginal village in New Guinea! Called a suspension hook, it held food baskets or clothing safely under the rafters of a village home. The carved face of a revered ancestor protected both the good and the house itself from evil spirits.

Man. Forget carabiners and rope. Now THIS is a bear bag!

August 20, 2009 at 9:00 pm 2 comments

New! The Camping and Outdoor Adventure Carnival!

Symms Gap - Tents at SunsetEarlier this week, the inaugural edition of the The Camping and Outdoor Adventure Carnival published at Northern Camping.

I’ve very much enjoyed reading and participating in other blog carnivals such as the Festival of the Trees, the Circus of the Spineless and Berry Go Round. I look forward to having a carnival that focuses on outdoor activities!

And other bloggers– if you have or spot any great posts regarding camping, boating, fishing, hiking, hunting, or any other outdoor activity, be sure to submit them to the next edition!

July 21, 2009 at 4:30 pm 1 comment

Pee in the Yard Club?

Meredith Vieira (Photo by NYCArthur)

A few years ago, I discussed a hike where my friend’s son got to join the enviable Poop in the Woods club. Last night Today’s Meredith Vieira was on Conan O’Brien. She talked about camping in her yard and there appears to be a new club in the making!

Video: Meredith Vieira Pees in the Yard

July 9, 2009 at 10:26 am Leave a comment

Spineless Trail Mix

For our backpacking trip to Mount Rogers, Ryan and I kept our menu simple. The dogs had dog food. We had Mountain House Beef Stroganoff for dinner, oatmeal for breakfast. For snacks, we had trail mix, avocados and oranges on hand.

If you want to be a little more adventurous, you can try to add some invertebrates to your trail diet. Maybe some crickets or chocolate covered ants. A tarantula, perhaps. With invertebrates comprising 95% of all animal species, the possibilities could be a little daunting. To help narrow down your menu, Backpacking Magazine did a little taste test. Enjoy!

Backpacker Magazine’s Bug Taste Test

June 8, 2009 at 3:00 am 6 comments

Weekly Winners – May 31 – June 6, 2009 – Mount Rogers

Welcome to another late edition to Weekly Winners! I’m tardy again with good cause! I spent the weekend backpacking with my boyfriend and dogs at Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The area is known for its wild ponies and the beautiful rhododendrons that bloom in early June. Mount Rogers was as picturesque as usual and we could not have asked for a prettier weekend. Enjoy!

Mount Rogers Backpacking Trip 2009 - AT - Rhodos and View
Rhodos Off the Appalachian Trail

Mount Rogers Backpacking - AT - Henry Scouts Out View
Henry Scouts Out a View

Mount Rogers Backpacking Trip 2009 - AT - Gray Pony Looks Back
Ponies at Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

Mount Rogers Backpacking 2009 - AT - Pine Tree Field
Field at Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

Mount Rogers Backpacking Trip 2009 - AT - Ponies and Rocks in Grayson Highlands
Ponies at Grayson Highlands State Park

Mount Rogers Backpacking Trip 2009 - AT - Rhodos Surround Rock
Rhodos at Grayson Highlands State Park

Mount Rogers Backpacking Trip 2009 - Pine Mountain Trail at Sunset - Jimmie Looks Towards Camp
Jimmie Looks at Rhodos Off Pine Mountain Trail

Mount Rogers Backpacking Trip 2009 - Pine Mountain Trail at Sunset - Sunset and Evergreen
Sunset From Pine Mountain Trail

More pictures of our Mount Rogers Backpacking Trip can be found on my Flickr site. Also, be sure to check out more of this week’s Weekly Winners out at Sarcastic Mom!

June 7, 2009 at 9:53 pm 7 comments

One Ziplock Bag Meals: Tomato Caprese

Today on Stacy’s blog he links to an article that shares some “one-pot meals” for under $10. Since I’ve been living very minimally the last few months with almost everything I own (including all my pots, pans, plates and bowls) in storage, I was able to provide Stacy with a “one-ziplock bag” meal!

Supper made entirely in a ziplock bag

It’s tomato caprese (tomatoes with mozzarella cheese). Ryan Somma taught me the recipe and I’ve been eating it for supper pretty regularly since August. In fact, I had it last night (ask Matt)!

Ziplock Tomato Caprese

1 package of cherry or grape tomatoes
Mozzarella cheese
Olive Oil

1) Rinse tomatoes and if necessary, cut cheese into bite-size chunks
2) Put tomatoes and cheese in ziplock baggie. I try to make relatively equal proportions of cheese and tomatoes
3) Pour in some olive oil (amount is your preference- I like enough to coat everything with just a little leftover at the bottom)
4) Salt and sprinkle oregano to taste
5) Seal bag and mix all ingredients together
6) EAT!!!!

And here is the best part about this meal! It is so easy and convenient that you can do this hiking or camping!!! This meal made an appearance at Assateague this past summer.

P.S. If you do have the luxury of pots and pans and you like Thai food, keep an eye on Christina’s blog! She just started a series of Thai Cooking Lesson videos!

October 17, 2008 at 1:04 pm 9 comments

links for 2007-07-16

July 16, 2007 at 12:19 pm 5 comments

Poop in the Woods Club

A quote from Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods:

When guys in camouflage pants and hunting hats sat around in the Four Aces Diner talking about fearsome things done out-of-doors, I would no longer have to feel like such a cupcake.  I wanted a little of that swagger that comes with being able to gaze at a far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, manly sniff, “Yeah, I’ve shit in the woods.”

I can understand that swagger.  During my early hiking and camping outings that was a scenario I tried to avoid with every ounce of my being.  I managed moderate success for some time and then the dreaded day finally arrived where there was no other choice.  Turns out, it wasn’t the horrible experience I expected.  Actually, I believe I would describe it as…. empowering. 

Today, a young lad has joined the ranks of people who’ve pooped in the woods.

If there was an official Poop in the Woods Club, I propose a patch similiar to this rough design.

This afternoon I put myself up for some more blows to my ego and watched Penn and Gwyn.  After supper, I took them on an adventure outside.  We were having a good old time running through a field when all of a sudden a shout from Penn.

“Oohh!  Ohhh!  I’ve got to go to the baaaathroom and I can’t hold it!”

“Oh okay– let’s find a tree,” I said.  No biggie. 

 “Nooooooo….” the boy looked up at me and hushed his voice, “I have to poop.”

I went through due diligence and asked if he could hold it to the car.  From the car, we had a short drive to a toilet.

“Noo,” he clutched his stomach, “I hafta go really, really bad.  I can’t hold it!”

Luckily, we had the woods.  I explained the game plan and the three of us ran to the forest, towards Penn’s sweet relief.  But, we had a weak link in our mix.  Two and a half year old Gwyn is easily distracted and near the forest edge she stopped.

“I Nee Elp” she said.  (“I need help”)

I turned for a moment to see what she was trying to accomplish (she was pointing at some grass).  When I turned back I could see Penn had reached the woods.  Still in motion, his little hands were poised to pull down his pants and he was heading straight for– POISON IVY!!!!!

If my life was a movie, here is where the slow motion kicks in.

“NOOOOOoooooooooooOOOOooooOOOOoooOOOoooooo!” I yelled and all four limbs propelled my body to intercept disaster.

The boy stopped stunned and I reached him in time (Take that, John McClane).  I scouted out locations and found a spot that had briar bushes, but was definitely poison ivy free. 

By that time, Gwyn had caught up with us and Penn quickly pulled down his pants and immediately went to the bathroom (Apologies all, we did not have time to dig a cathole.  I’ll teach him that in less dire circumstances).  Gwyn played with some nearby grass and I had the important job of holding back the thorny bushes.

“Oh, oh!” He exclaimed, “It’s diarrhea.”

I looked down and saw a familiar sight, “Oh no, poop in the woods looks like that,” I said with knowledge and assurance in my tone.

Just then his next effort emerged.

“Oh…uh….” I mumbled.  Once again, the boy knew better than I.

When he was done, we had another issue.  We had no toilet paper.  While still holding briar bushes back with one hand, I grabbed all the nearby leaves I could reach.  When that supply dried up, I needed a recruit.

“Gwynie, can you get brother some leaves?” I asked.  Gwyn didn’t hesitate to help– it was a fun little game to her.  Even when everything was wiped and buried (well… the best we could do), little Gwyn was still fetching leaves.  🙂  For me it was an operation to be closely supervised.  We were, afterall, in established poison ivy territory.  I personally inspected the leaves for quality control. 

Penn was more concerned with quantity, not quality, periodically announcing, “We need more leaves here.”

When it was all over, neither child complained when we headed back to the car.  We stopped by my house for some more conventional cleanup and then it was home to see Grandpa and Mommy.

The last couple of months, Penn has been asking me to take him camping.

“Well Penn,” I told him, “Today you learned a part of camping.”

He seemed quite pleased with that… though he suggested when we do camp, we try Grandpa’s backyard so “we’re close to a potty.”

Sounds good to me!

July 9, 2007 at 11:51 pm 13 comments

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