Camping Is Good (Part 1)
Camping Is Good (Part 2)
Camping Is Good (Part 3)
Camping Is Good (Part 4)
Camping Is Good (Part 5)
We love our time camping, and the night before we leave, I am always a bit sad.
Because we have such a long drive ahead of us, we are usually up by 6:30 and try to be pulling out to hit the road by 8:30 or 9:00. Handsome Hubby always says we’re leaving at 8:00 but we rarely, if ever, do.
On our last night, we eat up leftovers for dinner. (Leftover steak + leftover chicken = Fajitas!)
Cocktail Hour isn’t just sitting around relaxing… it’s also taking down the shade tarps and the EZ-Ups. (Although we still do manage to sit around and relax in between little tasks….)
It’s doing some preliminary staging so that we can pack up in the morning. I always feel as though our last night in camp just isn’t quite as fun because of it, even though it’s necessary.
In the morning, we roll the kids out of their sleeping bags and give them a quick bowl of cereal. Tents come down, clothing (dirty and clean alike) gets shoved into duffel bags and big black trash bags even. Food comes out of the bear box and thrown into Rubbermaid bins. The goal is to get the gear packed up and loaded in the trailer. It doesn’t have to be perfect or organized, it just has to get into the trailer.
I am completely lame when it comes to rolling up sleeping bags and getting them back into their little nylon bags. My kids are lame at this too. As a result, we have adopted the Fold And Put Into A Bin philosophy when it comes to the sleeping bags. Faster, easier, and no swearing.
We definitely subscribe to the “Leave it better than you found it” philosophy.
Each kid is given a plastic grocery bag and they fan out, eyes peeled, looking for little bits of trash. It is an almost pristine campground, but there are still the occasional twist ties, bottle caps, or those stupid stickers that come on fruit that wind up on the ground. Many of these are from campers prior to us. They are small things, and are easily overlooked.
It is important to instill a sense of responsibility in the kids. Not just making sure we don’t leave a mess… but doing the right thing, simply because it needs to be done. Even if you didn’t make the mess, clean it up. (We do this at the beach too.)
I load up a new bag of “car snacks” and restock the little cooler we keep in the back of the Suburban. (Waters, sodas, apples, yogurts, etc. ) (Do make sure to have plastic spoons too!) We put on the cleanest and most comfortable clothes we have for the trip home.
Just as we have traditional stops along the trip up to Markleeville, we have traditional stops on the way down as well. We have tried several different lunch spots, but our new favorite is in Lee Vining, CA, a little town off of Highway 395 and the Tioga Pass (which leads to Yosemite).
Lee Vining is just North of June Lake and has a gas station where we really like to eat.
A gas station.
Once upon a time there was a kid from San Diego who worked in a restaurant. He was a huge fan of snow skiing, so he moved to Mammoth Mountain and got a job at Whiskey Creek Restaurant. He was a brilliant cook and he eventually worked his way up to executive chef. After a while he teamed up with a gas station owner and the Whoa Nellie Deli came to be.
If you stop in this gas station for a snack, you won’t be leaving with a bag of Doritios and a slushie… The menu has everything from gourmet deli sandwiches and burgers, to seared ahi, pistachio-crusted rack of lamb, steak Caesar salads and my favorite that I always end up getting: fish tacos, served with mango salsa, ginger coleslaw and Brazilian black beans. Oh! My! Yum!
You can snag a picnic table outside and there is a beautiful view of Mono Lake.
No dogs allowed though… Corsa gets tied up in the shade by the car. Poor puppy.
In the store, we made sure to pick up some postcards to send to my friend Becca at The Texas Darlings. Her kids are trying to collect postcards from every state in the country this summer.
Also? We never pass up the opportunity to have Grant take a picture with a moose.
Once on the road again, the focus always shifts to “making good time.” This is not the focus on our way up, but somehow it always becomes the focus on the way home. This year seemed to take longer than normal because I needed to keep stopping every hour to stretch my legs because I had screwed up my back on the camping trip.
I. Am. Old.
With no DVD player (we have one, we just don’t hook it up) the boys do a great job of entertaining themselves. Devin created an extra “camper” with a roll of paper towels. Mad Libs are favorites too. (Although all adjectives are poopy or snotty and all nouns are toilets or space ships….)
By the end of the trip, everyone is exhausted.
This year, we got home around 7:30 pm, having left that morning around 9:30. Not bad, all in all.
We bring in the coolers and put that food away, I start a load of laundry. I look through the pile of mail, check the answering machine and check my email.
Oooh! A long, luxurious shower!
The real clean up can start in the morning.
Now because we threw everything into boxes, sort of willy-nilly when packing up, the time to properly clean and organize is at home. I run all of my cookware and dishes through the dishwasher. I wash the dishtowels and pot holders. I make sure my supplies are topped off for next year.
I consult the pad of paper on which I jotted notes while camping. For example, this year I brought up 3 rolls of paper towels and it was not enough. We had to go into town and buy more. Next year I will bring 5.
As I pack up my “kitchen bin”, I make a Word Document list of what has gone in there. I lose track of written lists, but I always know where my computer is. I can easily pull this list up next year and see what is in the box.
I have a lot of cooking gadgets and utensils, so in this case, it is helpful to just snap a picture of what is in this box and insert it into my document.
The end result looks like this:
Remember the camp kitchen I showed you from post #2?
Those green canvas bags are perfect for storing paper products, plastic baggies, silverware, etc. There is a list for these as well and then they are ready to go for next year too.
I launder bedding and towels and wrap them up in bags and label them. I won’t have to scramble for anything next year. We’ll just get it out of our storage shed and load it into our trailer.
As long as this stuff is organized, it is easy. I folded bedding and tied it up in a recycled Target bag. Then I wrote on it with a Sharpie. I’m sure there are camping closets or something, but they aren’t necessary.
I also have a packing list for food staples, etc that will be ready to go for me for next year. I always update them after each trip, while it is all fresh in my mind.
Here is all the gear, (in our ugly side yard) waiting for HH to load it into storage.
If you told me we were going camping tomorrow, I would need to make a quick run to the grocery store and pack a bag of clothes, but otherwise, we’re ready to go.
I’m sad when our Markleeville trip is over each year, but I console myself that it will be time to go again in just 11 and a half short months!
Grant was sad to leave too. (Wiping tears away with dirty hands = muddy face.)
I hope those of you who love to camp get to go again very soon. Those of you who don’t… I hope you give it a try again someday. There just isn’t anything quite like it!
Have you thought of becoming a “professional organizer??” Cuz I’ve seen em on TV before, I’m sure you could do it!
Gourmet gas station restaurants? That’s cool, never seen one around here. 🙂
I’m taking your tips camping with me in a couple weeks! 🙂
The more I read, the more I miss it! Havent got to go this year!
Tammy Howard says
The last night IS always a little sad.
Your organizational skills are to be envied, for sure.
It’s over??? Just like that the series on camping is over and now I have to get back to the real world. It’s just not fair! I love this post…I love to read anything about organizing. Thanks for bringing us into your world.
Keetha Broyles says
Ditto everything I said in my comment yesterday, PLUS:
You are really organized AND
I THINK I saw that Gas Station/Delli on a food network show once – – – maybe the “Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives” one.
I am sooo excited to try out some of your prep and organization…this will make life so much easier! I loved getting to peek at the fun family time you all had. Thanks for sharing!
Heather @ Visions of Sugarplums says
I’m amazed at how organized you are! And so jealous that you actually have a yummy gas station to get snacks at!
I agree with the comment about you considering organizing for a living! These have been a joy to read Vivienne. Your love and passion have been contagious. Thanks for the heartfelt posts!
Housewife Savant says
Dear Mr. V,
Your wife is super organized.
Lucky you-slash-poor you.
It ain’t easy living with Anal Annie (or in my case Anal Adam), but think of all the work the persnickety ones do so they don’t have to watch us do it “poorly.”
You are so organized. It is amazing. I have loved reading your camping posts. I want to tag along. It all sounds so fun! And how to do manage to look so great and pretty after camping for so long???
You are a master at camping! AND a master at writing about it!
OH that sad little face…heartbreaking!
Ok, a few things come to mind. First, I only THOUGHT I was organized…then I read your blog. Second, you should write some sort of camping for dummies book or a how to camp handbook or gourmet camping guide…something. Really all this knowledge should not go to waste! Thirdly, that poor little sad face at the end is just too darn cute. I bet the whole gang is ready to go back to Markleeville today! I know I want to go…please…take me with you. 🙂
Hope you’re having a great day!!
Ok..admittedly, I am not a camper. But I loved your story. And the pic of little man with the moose. But please, stop doing so much work during Cocktail Hour. LOL.
The Chicken Lady says
Oh man, I NEED to get out on a camping trip. Love the pics, stories and organizing tips! 🙂
Becca @ The Texas Darlings says
Love all the pics of you & the Hubs!! Thanks for all the camping posts- it shed a whole new light on it for me!!
And thanks for the shout-out on my 50 states challenge!!!
I LOVED reading all of your camping posts. They totally took me back to when I was a kid! Camping has always been such a wonderful memory for me. I so can’t wait till I get the courage to try it with my family… that is after I talk my husband into it (he has never camped ever.. how does that happen, especially in Oregon???) and I have to give myself a break from being way too pregnant! I’ve got a 3 year old a 1 year old & one due in about 6 weeks… by the way they are ALL girls — a WHOLE different world then you are used to I’m sure! With all the “girl” drama surrounding me I’m sure I will start a blog one of these days 🙂
Anyways… thanks so much for bringing back great memories & for all your wonderful stories – you never fail in making me laugh!
Impressive…you are the camping queen!
Mama Nut says
We are back from our trip and if I could hug you and thank you for the cabela’s camp kitchen idea, I would. It was excellent to have everthing organized and additional prep areas! Thanks so much! It looks like our take-down procedure is pretty much the same. I do the rubbermade containers, too. But I don’t like the way everything shifts in the green canvas bags when they are zipped up…I wish there was away to make them stay upright after they are taken off the kitchen. Oh well. I just packed their contents into a RM container and will transfer it back to the canvas pantries next time we go up. Our last NECESSARY purchase will be an EZ shade or something to protect my precious kitchen from all that mountain rain! It does no good to have my lovely kitchen if it’s raining and wet all over the place! 🙂
lol-ing about the mad Libs. Yes – every adjective has something to do with poop.
Just found your blog and love it. I adore camping. We are going again in about a month and I am counting down the days!
I just came upon your blog and read all 6 parts of your camping series. What a joy to read and thank you for sharing a piece of your treasured life. Reading this has brought back so many fond memories of road trips and camping with my brother and parents. While we didn’t camp in style, it was still such a blast! Everyone should go camping at least once in their lifetime 🙂