10 National Parks visited: 6 for camping
5 State Parks: 4 for camping
2 National Forests: 2 for camping
1 City Park…all about camping
10 States Covered: 9 states camped in
32 Nights on the road: 25 nights in the tent, 7 nights with joyous friends: Christie, Beth, Tiffin, and one lovely Airbnb & one cowboy hotel
One might believe that I am starting to learn a thing or two about a camper’s life style.
Let me dispel that myth.
I have possibly shaved ten seconds from tent set up, unless there’s a good wind. Then turn off the stop watch and watch me do a Twister-like impersonation: One side held down with a foot while an arm reaches crosswise to insert a pole. Invariably one or two hooks get misplaced on the poles and my little tent comes to stand with a cross-eyed look. But once fixed, she’s a sweet place to call home. Of course that is really due to the magnificent natural back drops.
If I do have a sense of gained confidence and know-how, I really owe it to those who provided me with great advice before I departed. In addition to accruing tips from friends and friends of friends I was also loaned a few items or directed what to buy. Here are just a couple that hit the top of the list:
The Whisk Broom—laugh if you may, but this ultimate necessity sweeps off the picnic bench, the tent tarp, and the tent floor, and can double as a hair brush when needed.
The Head Lamp—this may become a permanent accessory item even when I return to living indoors. I have been known to drive down the road with it still attached. (Shock! Yes, I’m still single.)
The Orange REI down jacket—not only is it toasty warm and snuggles nicely at the bottom of my sleeping bag at night to keep my feet warm–it has probably saved my life on numerous of occasions from the way-shot hunters.
Lip Balm—Technically, not a strict camper’s item. However, if you been to the D-R-Y West, you will know that your skin ages to match the petrified rocks and your lips forbid you from going to sleep without a good lathering.
The not-as-useful items up to this point:
The Juggling Balls. First, if I broke them out, they may become target practice for the hunters. Second, um, I can’t juggle.
The Ax—great in theory and makes me feel like a B-A-D-A…, but really I keep thinking: What happens when I slice a body part in the woods? Thus, I gather more sticks and crumple more old papers, and yes…I USE Firestarter Logs. (Note the aforementioned admonishment: I cheat.)
The Aluminum Foil—I’m sure this is great for every camper but me. So far my cooking—which I’m pretty proud of—has not required foil. But Halloween’s coming, maybe I can use it for a costume.
There are many more items friends have lent me and at some point I’ll work them in, but currently I am struggling with a camper’s practice that no one told me about. Personally, I’m pretty proud of working the systems—like refilling water bottles in the gas station bathrooms or highway rest stops. I loved when I found the Y in Wyoming and the several other Rec Centers where I not only worked out, dunked my entire body in a pool of water, but also enjoyed long hot showers. I found the brilliant combo in Moab that hosted both a car wash and laundromat and used my time wisely to accomplish major cleaning. I’ve used two laundromats so far and two washing machines of friends…four loads in four weeks, not bad! And, while at the campsite, I have washed out a few items in the sink and hung them to dry, which in the D-R-Y West takes about twenty minutes.
But no one told me there was another way to wash clothes while at the campsite.
On the evening of camping in Colorado National Monument, I visited the communal bathroom for my nightly wash up which for me includes the face, the teeth, and every now and then a foot in the sink—Okay, there I admitted it! I have washed my feet in a public sink (I do wash out the basin afterward. Promise.)
But while I was using the SINK, I distinctly heard someone using NOT the sink to wash what I assume were the individual’s clothes. I could not tell for sure, since the stall door was closed, but there it was: The slurp/slush of water being moved about and then the wring/wring of clothes being squeezed of water. Now, let me soften this a bit—these were not pit toilets. However, they were automatically flushing toilets!
I left before the individual emerged from the stall. I didn’t want to know which fellow camper was laundering in the latrine. But the next day, you can be sure, I was looking at every woman with an eye of suspicion.
As the beautiful desert warms my bones and dehydrates my skin to a nice raisin texture, I continue to welcome your tips and helpful hints. I continue to drink in my water and lather my skin and lips with lotion, but I will continue to draw the line at latrine laundering.