Last weekend I got back to nature. . .and about 50 mosquito bites got back to me (I will spare you the photos).
We headed up to Kettle Moraine Southern Unit in Southern Wisconsin for a weekend of kayaks, camp food, tents, sun block and bug spray.
I had retained a couple nuggets of information from our last camping trip to make the weekend a little easier including bringing extra tin foil and garbage bags. Here were the true heroes of our weekend away:
1. Coleman handheld fan - I made the $2.50 splurge at Target anticipating a hot and muggy weekend and being in need of a quick cool down. Who knew that this little guy would come in so much handy to build our fire. With the embers going, but not taking to the logs, we decided to go one step past blowing on the fire to help it spread and threw the fan on for a minute or so. Pretty amazing results.
2. OFF with 100% DEET - I think all of my bug bites hit in the time it took me to walk from the car to the campsite before I could dig out the spray and douse myself. Since it had been a rainy and muggy week, they were out in full force. As soon as I put a layer of spray on, though, I was free and clear. Also helpful was the smoke from the fire once we got the pine firewood going.
3. The rain cover on the tent - with reports of flooding in Wisconsin just a few days earlier, I was curious what our campsite would look like - if it had not already been washed away. The good news was that we had great weather over the weekend that did not impede our activities. Of course, Friday night, right after bunking down for the night in our tents, the thunderstorm began. And didn't stop until 8 in the morning. Our little tent was pelted pretty hard with rain all night long - I can now attest that there are no leaks or holes!
4. bright lantern - living in the city, it never actually gets "dark." Out in the woods, however, at around 9:30 we stopped being able to see each other and the bad news was we were still trying to get the fire lit! Stringing up our new Eddie Bauer lantern did so much more than just having a couple flashlights on hand.
5. tarp - luckily we didn't get rained out during the day, but overnight it was good to have a tarp to cover all of our stuff that wouldn't fit in the tents. Normally, I would probably promote locking up your items, especially food and coolers, in the car to save it from middle-of-the-night visitors like raccoons or, god forbid, bears. Since we were at a walk-to site, though, dragging stuff back and forth to the car didn't sound like very much fun. The tarp kept it all hidden and safe from the rain.
And here's what I could have used and will know for next time:
1. lighter fluid - remember how we used a fan to get our fire going? Well, if I had brought some lighter fluid we might have saved a good half hour. Alas.
2. small broom and dustpan - it's dirty outside, that's a no-brainer. But it shouldn't be as dirty inside the tent.
Luckily, we had most of what we needed thanks to a double check of online camping lists like this one. I probably wouldn't have thought of bringing PAM cooking spray on my own without double checking against a list.
After a little bit of activity on the water, relaxation mode kicked in and we spent the evenings around the fire.
Food-wise, stuff on the grill always seems to taste so much better, so food on the open flame is like heaven. We threw diced potatoes in foil packets with oil and grilled them alongside some individually wrapped brats.
The next evening we tried corn in the husks and baked beans. Our cooking pot got a little bit browned on the outside, but after a good scrubbing the discoloration is going down. . .oops!
All in all, a great weekend roughing it. Of course, Sunday night called for a very long shower to get the layers of sunscreen, bug spray and grime off.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to apply some calamine lotion to my legs.