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Sunday
Jul292012

Maintaining the Princess, Outdoors

I love to camp: the woods, the river, the isolation and quiet, but under no circumstances do I 'rough it'. Oh, hell no. I am, after all, the Princess, and the Princess is particular about practically everything. So... I present, with great love and good intentions, the Essential Guide to Fancy Pants Camping. Enjoy...

First of all, I've never camped solo, so all of these recommendations are based on a two person adventure. I'm quite blessed to have an inordinately patient husband who finds my prissiness charming (most of the time), but a best friend is crucial. You need to have a PIC- partner in crazy- to make it work in the wild. Basically, the first step is to find someone with whom you can be stinky, filthy, and totally co- dependent- camping requires teamwork and a lack of homicidal inclination. Trust me, I've tried this with many other, less compatible PIC's, and the situation has rapidly deteriorated. Choose wisely...no one wants to go off happily and return in a straightjacket.

Most of all, research your campground. Are you looking for a spot near a swimming hole, hiking trails, pure wilderness? I can attest to the well maintained environments in Arkansas, Colorado, and of the Appalachian Trail, but check out the availability of space and facilities wherever you go. This will be helpful because...
I HIGHLY recommend camping off season- before Memorial Day, after Labor Day. Columbus Day weekend is sort of the cutoff- some places turn off the water then, especially up North- but it's still possible to winter camp. Do your studying, perhaps even looking into campground set ups. If you can, set up shop in a corner spot, one with immediate access to the woods. Even better, stake claim to two adjoining sites abutting the trees (it's only $10 a night), one for the homestead, and I'll explain the other shortly.

Second- gear up! Some things I'll mention may sound excessive or randomn, but trust me. It will ALL become necessary at some point.

Let's begin-
Tarps, tarps, tarps. You can't have too many, but the basics are one enormous, two square. You'll need one square to set the tent upon, the big one for wind protection, and the other square just in case- for rain, most likely, or for day trips.

Next, get thee an Instant Tent and rain fly! Mine is a Coleman 4 person, and I very much vouch for it. I can put it up by myself under five minutes, without any fuming or whining. The '4 person' is perfect for two- unless you sleep like silkworms in a cocoon, the space in a 2 person tent is suffocating.

Next: an inflatable mattress, one with a battery powered pump, preferably. Then, cheap sheets and pillows. The Dollar Store is your friend here- under normal circumstances, I'd recoil in horror at the sight of polyester bedding, but it works in this case, and Dollar Store linens are inexpensive. Get as many flat sheets as you can carry- you'll need them. Then, make your bed, make it as comfy as you can, with many pillows. It's worth it.

Now, the kitchen. If you're planning to stay a while, go ahead and get a rick of wood, gallons upon gallons of water, charcoal, fire logs, fire starters, and lighter fluid. Most campsites have a fire ring, but, just in case, bring a little grill and kitty litter or sand. You can make a base from the litter or sand, then place the grill atop. Try not to set the woods afire.

One of the best things to have is a coffee boiler or two. Keeping hot water on hand is a huge bonus for many reasons. Also, a Dutch oven, a frying pan, two cooking pots - one large, one small- spatulas and spoons, plates, silverware, cups and glasses, a set of bowls, a set of knives, cutting board, more cheap washcloths than you could imagine needing, hand sanitizer by the gallon, dish soap, hand soap, laundry soap...I'm just getting started. Tupperware up and out your ass- with lids- of all sizes. Basins and bins, a container with a spigot, paper towels, toilet paper, antibacterial spray, towels, handy wipes, more washcloths, bungie cords, clips, string, and clothespins. You'll need two big coolers- one for food, another for beverages. Ice, always ice...

I've worn myself out just talking about it; I'll continue soon.

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