In June of 2015, I packed up all of my belongings and moved them into a storage unit in New York City for the summer. My dog, Kenobi, and I got into a rental car and started our trip out West.
In preparation, I had mapped out all of the National Forests where we’d stay, the route we’d take, and purchased camping equipment I knew we needed. I did not grow up camping or traveling on vacations, so everything was new to me. Our first night in Allegheny National Forest was miserable. Yes, it was June, but the earth was sucking all of the heat from my body–Kenobi’s, too, I figure since he crawled into the sleeping bag and refused to stay anywhere else than right on me. Lesson learned–Premium Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad – Inflatable Foam Sleeping Mat for Camping, Hiking, and Traveling – Lightweight, Compact, and Durable – Works Perfectly with a Mummy or Envelope Sleeping Bag.
The morning didn’t go much better. Not sure why I thought boiling water over an open fire wouldn’t be an issue. Turns out, it takes a whole lot of fuel and time, if you’re me, anyway. Perhaps there is some secret that veteran campers know, but the lesson here was Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove. This is a single burner that doesn’t take up a lot of room, doesn’t use a lot of propane and heats up quickly which is just what a coffee addict like me needs. To make the coffee-creating even better, get a GSI Outdoors- Commuter JavaPress, Superior Backcountry Cookware Since 1985, Graphite. I liked this press/mug so much that I bought two–they’re insulated and easy to use–press, wait, drink–and simple to clean.
After a very strong cup of lukewarm coffee, we were off to hike some trails. What a gorgeous place! We stayed at the Minister’s Creek Campground and hiked the Minister’s Creek Trail. It was just the two of us on the trail! It was calm, quiet, and thrilling with amazing views. Too bad there had been a major wind storm that had pulled up gigantic tress by their roots, so the trail was inaccessible at about the half-way point. It was an awe-inspiring sight–trees that must have been about a century old all lying down the hill tops first. Kenobi and I did our best to find a way to continue–over or under these trees–there was no way. Turns out, people were crushed, and killed, by trees during this storm. Lesson learned: read the advisories on the Forest Service Websites and don’t anger Mother Nature.
We made our way back to camp, packed up and drove west to find a dog-friendly motel for the night, although I had paid for two nights at the campsite. It was plain to see that we needed to do more shopping and planning in order to be comfortable camping.
I recently purchased a double sleeping bag and pad because, although I did set myself and Kenobi both up with mats and bedding, Kenobi still wants to share the sleeping bag, and single is not large enough for the two of us. This will be the first time that we try them out, and I’m hoping Kenobi will find the camping experience much more comfortable than he has in the past. This little prince loves to hike, hunt rodents, and chase birds, but he does not enjoy living in the outdoors. Last summer, the mosquitos wold not leave him alone, so I don’t blame him. This year, we’re trying out ThermaCELL MR 9L Mosquito Repellent Pest Control Outdoor and Camping Cordless Lantern. I’m getting a couple of them to be sure to cover our camping area in full. That joke about the MN state bird isn’t as funny when you’re the main dish.