On Camping…


Camping Basics | Slightly Off Kilter

Here in Central Texas, there is a very small window each year when the weather is quite perfect for camping.  A very small window.  Before we know it, the complaints about hail and ice and cold will be replaced by complaints about heat and sweat and melting where even sundown doesn’t provide much relief.  Right now however, the weather is absolutely perfect.

Normally, camping for me involves a travel trailer and all the comforts of home… including AC… except for this weekend when the Wooer and I set out to experience the Sherwood Forest Faire and to do so properly… well, that included an overnight stay in an actual tent.  Complete with sleeping bags.  I know… It’s shocking for those that know me.

There is absolutely something magical about a perfect evening, sitting in front of your campfire, discussing whether the light you see in the sky is an ACTUAL star or a planet {and wishing on it anyway because that’s what I do}… discussing the day and all that you experienced and saw… enjoying a beverage or two and just reconnecting with people instead of your technology… {now, those who follow know I was STILL connected but more on that in a minute}

There are a bajillion sites that will give you the laundry list of things to remember to bring along when camping and I’ve already got a mental list of things I want to remember if the Wooer and I get to tent again, but proper prior planning on his part made this weekend pretty close to perfection.  {If there were a scoreboard keeping tally, big points would have been scored.} This is not one of those lists.  This is a list of the things you don’t HAVE to have per se, but man it makes things nice.

(1)  Campfire Starter Sticks.

Yes – I know, there are people who want to start a fire the good old fashioned way – twigs and kindling and rubbing two sticks together.  That’s cool.  You know what’s NOT cool?  Using a whole bottle of lighter fluid to try to start your campfire.  I get that you want to get your fire going quickly but the rest of us are nauseated by the stench.  Seriously. Get some starter sticks… make your life easier… make your neighbors happier.

(2) Campfire Color

Ok, so campfires are GORGEOUS and fun and with the right person a bit romantic and really my favorite part of camping anyway… but do you know what makes them even MORE awesome?  COLORED CAMPFIRES!!!  Yes, there are sites you can go to that give instructions on how to make your own fire color packets, but did you know that you can buy pre-made packets on Amazon or Walmart and turn those beautiful orange and yellow flames into shades of blue and purple and green? Because I didn’t know this and IT. IS. AWESOME.


(3) A Portable Radio

Now this suggestion is not for everyone… however, if you happen to be camping during a sport season that you give a shit about and plan on listening to the game… BRING A RADIO.  Blasting it on your vehicle’s radio is NOT a brilliant idea even if you thought so.  You see, in order for YOU to clearly hear the game, you have to turn it up so loud that now EVERYONE has to hear the game and personally, I don’t give two shits about basketball and would much rather enjoy the sounds of the crackling fire and the conversation of my partner.  Should you opt to ignore this, you also don’t get to act like a douchehat when someone asks you to turn it off or down.

(4) Patience

See # 3 above?  Those types of people LOVE to camp apparently.  I’ve run into them every time I’ve rv’d so I know this.  They seem more obvious when tenting because, you know, tent walls are a bit thinner.  These same people will also likely not know the difference between their “It’s 2:30 in the morning and people are trying to sleep so I’ll be respectful” voice and their “I’m front row at a Rock Concert and need my friends to hear every word I’m saying” voice.  Pick you battles and try to be a bit patient with those who seem to have left their social graces at home.

(5) Marshmallows

Camping Basics | Slightly Off KilterAgain – not for everyone.  For me though, there is something magical and wonderful about a perfectly roasted marshmallow – one that is crispy and blistered and golden brown on the outside, and the perfect oooey gooey melty sugar on the inside… Do you HAVE to have marshmallows in order to have a successful camping trip? of course not – don’t be silly… but you have a fire so why not roast stuff… like marshmallows… or Hot Dogs.  Everything is better over an open flame.  Well… maybe not everything but you know what I mean.

Part of the fun in camping is finding a perfect stick {or coat hanger if you REALLY planned ahead} and skewering something to roast on a fire.  This brings to mind a bit of a need in my world.  Individual packs of marshmallows… cause you only need a few and then the rest of the bag goes bad.  We already have individual sized everything else, why not packets of 2 marshmallows per package that you can take along camping?  Someone get on that m’kay?

(6) Wet Wipes

Camping can get sticky… you know, because of the marshmallows. Plan ahead… just in case.  An extra towel or two is also handy… just in case in the excitement about marshmallows, someone who shall remain nameless and blameless accidentally spills half a glass of wine all over her chair.  In the absence of a towel, extra socks will do.

Or so I’ve heard.

(7) Portable Power.

Again… this is not for everyone.  If you haven’t noticed, I’m a little connected. Okay,  VERY connected… some might say too much so.  If you are the kind of person who gets a bit panicky when your phone battery shows less than 20%, this last suggestion is absolutely for you.  I have two words… Portable Battery.

With the various conferences and whatnot I attend, I picked up this beauty a while back and it has yet to disappoint. I can LITERALLY charge my phone 4 times but it also has 5 USB ports so I can charge OTHER PEOPLE’S devices as well. The last time the boys and I were in Colorado, I managed to charge both boys iPods and my phone AND my iPad.  Happy boys, happy mommy. And it’s not just for iPhones.  If you have a USB style charging need, this little guy has you covered.

This trip into the primitiveness of the wild, it came in handy again and gave me the peace of mind to know that I didn’t have to miss out on a single Facebook update.  {I did of course, but only because I was ignoring y’all, not because my battery was dead}


In short, I had an amazing weekend.  I’m a bit tired from the douchhats keeping me up with their lack of decorum and tact, but all in all it was {I think} a successful weekend… and one that I’d like to repeat at some point.  While the number of camping conducive weekends may be limited, the availability of camping locations is plentiful.  There are a number of camping hot spots in the Austin Area of course, or some a short drive away.

Camping and road trips can be a great way to get to know someone… they can also be a great way to reconnect.  Working together on a project – even one as simple as putting up a tent – can speak loudly about each of your personalities… and when you finally sit down to relax and enjoy a conversation, there are fewer distractions pulling your attention away from the person you are with.

What about you?  Do you camp?  What would you include on this list?



  1. Know what shuts up loudmouth neighbors? Blackcats. Also surprisingly easy to aim from a distance. Glad you had fun getting sticky in the tent. From marshmallows.

  2. Shelley Oz says

    Seriously Helen, I loved it. I didn’t know how I’d feel but it was awesome. Really REALLY Awesome.

  3. I used to camp. By which I mean I used to sleep on my daughter’s floor from time to time. Oh, you mean camping outside? Not a chance.

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