This month, I went did something for the first time! With my husband and friends, I went camping at Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
To get ready for the trip, I made sure to plan ahead and reserve our items at Sports Basement. I assumed that not many people would be camping in October, but I didn’t want to take a chance that they would sell out.
While researching on Pinterest and through other blogs, I made a list of items that would need to either rent or buy. Plus some bloggers shared some items that I wouldn’t have thought of packing.
Helpful items to make camping easier
- Sleeping mat – padding between the ground and sleeping bag
- Blankets for keeping warm by the fire at night or in the tent
- Griddle Pan – for cooking eggs, chicken, and other items on the campfire
- Electric lanterns
- Trash bags – to separate recycling and shorten trips to the trash container
- Body wipes – because showers are unnecessary
- Disposable metal trays for storing food and cooking on the fire
After our trip was over, Ernie and I thought about the items and tips we learned to make the next even better.
Helpful tips and tricks for camping
- Citronella candle to prevent the wasps from coming near our food
- Headlamps – the lanterns were good but did not provide enough light for walking around
- Dog bed – Mochi was fine, but he might have been more comfortable on a dog bed in the tent
- More storage containers for food
- Prep the food ahead of time, less waste at the campsite, and easier to just get to cooking right away
- Mochi got into a lot of tree sap. I don’t know how to prevent this, but maybe bring scissors to cut out the sap?
- We learned about widow-makers. After our first night, we learned that you should never sleep under tree branches because they could fall and kill you!
- We needed way more firewood than we brought. Bring a lot of firewood because it’s probably more expensive at the campsite.
- I had rented a camping stove, but it was only helpful to boil water for coffee. Probably not necessary to bring for next time.
- Zipline for the dogs – we tethered them to the cooler when needed, but a line between the trees would have been better.
We rented the Toyota Highlander Hybrid for the weekend to make it easier to carry all of our supplies and two dogs. Not only was the SUV large enough for everything we needed, but the 30 MPG was fabulous!
- To make sure our phones were charged for the weekend, we used the included five USB ports
- Ernie loved that the high beam lights turned off automatically when another car approached us on the road – no more blinding drivers
- Blind spot monitoring – so helpful on the freeway at night
- Lane departure alert – plus steering assist
- Birdseye camera for backing up – a great way to fit the SUV in trees
- Three-zone climate control – even the dogs could get cool AC in the backseat
- Rear seat entertainment – we should have planned ahead to set the dogs up for a movie 🙂
Throughout the weekend, I had highs and lows of enjoying camping.
- During the night, I hated that if I needed to use the bathroom, it was faster to go in the woods. I was also fearful of bears and several times in the night, I thought I heard one.
- I was sad that Mochi got a lot of sap on his paws and it was bothering him. It could have been the time of the year with all of the pine needles falling, but his long hair picked up the worst of it.
But, there was a lot that I did like about camping!
- I loved walking around the trees with the dogs. They went absolutely nuts for all the new smells.
- Sitting by the campfire with my husband
- Seeing all of the incredible stars at night
- Hanging out with friends
- Roasting s’mores
- Foraging for sticks to start a campfire
- Watching my husband start a fire and seeing his excitement
I actually really liked that there was no cell service in the woods. It was great to not feel the need to check my phone for 48 hours!
After coming home, finally showering and washing the dirt off, I kinda missed camping! It’s a lot of effort to pack everything you need for the weekend and live “off the grid” for the weekend, but it was worth it to disconnect from suburban life.
Tomorrow, I will be sharing what we wore on our camping trip!