The first surprise, as we rolled up to the gates of the campground, was the smoky air. We were nearing the entrance to the “great outdoors” yet the closer we got to the campground the deeper we drove into what seemed to be a smoke house. There was a forest of trees somewhere near but those trees seemed to be sheathed in a cloak of blue haze.
The second surprise was the multitude of campers. There were people everywhere, walking their dogs, riding their bikes, chumming around campfires. Well now we knew where all the smoke was coming from anyway. But why the crowds? The atmosphere was so festive you’d think it was summer. Based on our experience last October when we shared a sizeable campground with only a small scattering of other people, we expected the same sort of thing this time out too. Or ok, maybe a few more campers given it was a Saturday and our last camping foray was mid-week. But this? This was a full-blown camperfest. It was only two in the afternoon and we had to drive the campground loop twice before settling on one of a possible three sites still free. And, astoundingly, some people were even tenting. In mid March, still technically winter, and with rain in the forecast. Off-season camping. Who knew?
Unlike the hardened majority around us, we ourselves wouldn’t have been there if it weren’t for the open house going on at home. Having to make ourselves scarce for a few hours on both Saturday and Sunday gave us the push to head out and see how effective our newly-installed space-saving fixes were. On the other hand, getting ready for camping and open house at the same time is not something I’d recommend. It was hectic and we were racing until the minute we pulled out of the driveway, barely half an hour ahead of our realtor pulling in. Still, we made it and that’s what counts and here we were again, this time at the Gold Greek campground in Golden Ears Park.
We came here a couple of years ago with Bluto, also for just one night, but that was in our camping-out-of-bins/cooking-on-the-Coleman days. This time, after a great three-hour hike, not having to worry about racing through dinner prep and clean-up just to beat nightfall was fantastic. So nice to just turn on the stove, warm up some hearty soup and crusty rolls, and call it dinner done.
And everything ran much more smoothly than it did during our last outing. In the six months between the October trip and this one we got Snowflake better equipped and better organized. Granted, with only one dinner and one breakfast to deal with there wasn’t much food to worry about. I’m probably blowing things out of proportion but, looking to the long trip we’re planning, storing our food and the equipment for preparing it poses an organizational challenge of such magnitude I don’t think about it without breaking out in a sweat. It’s keeping me awake at night. But on this trip the food storage issue was a non-issue and, aside from that, the fixes we added since our October camping rehearsal will make life in the camper significantly easier going forward. For starters, mainly thanks to IKEA, there was a whole lot less “move the stuff ” going on and things rolled along just fine.
Our hacks, so far:
Hooks for flashlights/hats or whatever and wall-mounted storage trays for our kindles, maps, magazines, newspapers etc:
A magnetic spice organizer:
We also changed the cold white LED bulbs to warmer ones, still LED of course but with a warmer tone, and installed a low wattage inverter for charging up our phones and laptop. Yay! Small tweaks really, but they make things so much nicer. Made us much more relaxed too – something Melo and Pix obviously picked up on. They were totally on board with the whole trip this time and acted as if the camper was already home. And, after three hours of racing down forest trails and at least a dozen culverts to tunnel through and explore, they settled down into the deep sleep of tired dogs right after dinner and then slept right on through the night. Dreaming of racing after squirrels and crows I bet.