The Fine Art of Camping

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Howdy campers! The season is nearly upon us for some good old fashioned tent camping! I grew up camping in lieu of a lot of vacations (and think I came out ahead in comparison to some of my friends). It’s good, dirty and inexpensive family fun to tent camp, once you have the equipment investment done and paid for. Do you and yours partake in this fun-for-all excursion? The breeze has warmed up in the last week and I can smell the campfire and bug spray in the air, taste the sausages cooked over the fire and the s’mores toasting over the coals. Heaven!

N and I bought a new tent this year, and are headed out this weekend to go get us some cots (no sleeping on the ground for us), and I’ll drag out our camping bins to take inventory and stock up for the season. We also have a new camp stove, some great new spatter ware plates and mugs and bowls, and a lantern given to us by a dear neighbor. With the addition of some camp grub and beer we’re about set for our first trip, scheduled for the end of May.

There are several different levels and types of camping out there to be enjoyed.  First up is backpack camping, whereby you literally drag in all of your worldly goods on your back and therefore must be a healthy, stealthy, serious type with a mean set of packing skills. And did I mention strong? I don’t subscribe to the backpack sort of camping, my knees and back can’t take it and I need more stuff than that in order to properly rough it. Wherever would I put my french press?

Another popular type of camping is drive-in camping, state park style. This is more my speed. You pack the car with everything that will fit, and back yourself into your chosen spot at your favorite campground. Unpack car, set up tent, set up kitchen, and you’re about done. Well, almost. For me this also includes putting my tablecloth out on our picnic table, unrolling the outdoor rug outside the tent door and a wildflower hike after my first beer to forage for something to make a centerpiece out of. A girl has to have standards.

Then there’s Type 1 Glamping. My aunt does this type of camping and for the first time we’re going with them this year. It’s a solid notch above tent camping. They have a 10×20 tent that has a living room (to include a bistro set and couch) and two bedrooms, and she has martini glasses for cocktail hour, to list just a few of the things she brings. You can only imagine the set-up and tear-down that must go in to this but it sounds like a hoot (and it sounds like we’re camping with the Royal Army, what with the tents and rugs and china). I personally can’t wait, her camping trips are legendary. I’m just glad she brings her own sherpas (my uncle, namely) so all I have to do is set-up and tear-down my own spot.

Type 2 Glamping is one that I want to try when our pocketbooks are a little more flush. This is where you pack your hiking boots and overnight bag and head to a campground with tent cabins. These babies are canvas tents on a steel or wooden frame with a real floor and a real bed with sheets, an electric blanket and heated mattress pad, electricity and a heater. Some also have real windows and doors, and one ‘campground’ I read about has nice folks with a jitney that not only bring you firewood every day but will set your fire for you if you ask real nice. Meals are taken at the Lodge. Sound like your cup of chai? Check out this article in the June issue of Sunset magazine. They captured it best and I couldn’t have said it better: camping for people who love nature and indoor plumbing. Another campground I read about on the ol’ internet had comfort stations complete with saunas and heated floors. We’ve stayed here, but in the lodge, not the campground, and we seriously want to go back and camp!

I’ll have a couple more posts over the next month about provisioning our camping boxes and packing up food for our trip, and will keep you posted on our adventures over the summer. I’m hoping it’ll inspire a couple of you to get out there and try it!

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