I’m still composing the political post in my head. So much to say, but I will say – the press is doing a great job jumping all over it. I have more to say, from my own (worthless) personal perspective, but I think the camping post is more helpful.

So before we went camping, we did all sorts of internet research. There is a DEARTH of good tent camping information for clueless people! We did not want information on how to set up a tent or whittle wood, but we did want good information how to not die. Since we succeeded at not dying once (for two WHOLE NIGHTS), I am going to impart my new knowledge to you. You’re welcome. 🙂 (And if you have any additional helpful hints, please do stick them here. Thanks!)

1) This is actually posted lots of places, but it is very good advice. LEARN HOW TO SET UP THE TENT BEFORE LEAVING. We didn’t get in to the campsite until way, way, way after dark, and MAN was it dark, and we were so thankful that we had actually taken the time to practice tent set-up that morning. (Plus, we have this insanely complicated tent.) You will preserve marital harmony if you know what you are doing, AND you will not start off your trip looking stupid. (We waited until the next morning to showcase our ineptitude.)

(That’s me in the tent. See how massive it is?!?)

1b) A ground cover is a Really Good Thing. (See the brown thing underneath the tent?) We purchased ours at a big-box hardware store.

2) Bring lots of food that does not require cooking! We did that, but we also totally destroyed the bulk of our food, so it was very depressing. Being able to make a meal out of non-cooked food will make you very happy if you happen to oh, say, botch your meal(s). (More later.)

3) Bring more than one light. You know those lanterns at Target for camping? We sat in Target, on the way to the campground, debating between one (DB, who tends to be cheap and minimalistic) and two (me, who tends to be cheap but practical! Ha! DB says this is my blog and I’m not supposed to talk about him, so I am going to be a little generous evaluating my spending practices. Ha!) I yielded to DB, and we sat in the dark. In all fairness to him, he said we should have bought two (he said this when we were sitting in the dark, though).

Take it to heart: you will be very happy with at least two lanterns. It is REALLY DARK out there in “nature”.

4) Those headlights are awesome. See #3.

5) A flashlight that does not stay on for a long time is pretty much useless (aka the tactical flashlight DB got as part of his survival gear for war-zone country. Yeah, it’s great at lighting up stuff, but it’s supposed to be a “flash-and-turn-off” kind of thing. Worthless.)

6) Bring lots of bug repellent. Those hankerchiefs that are treated with permethrin did an awesome job of keeping bugs away – DB refused to use one, but I had one around my neck all the time. When I took it off, the bugs swarmed. I don’t get paid for this, but I’m telling you – they’re awesome. You can also just buy permethrin and treat your own clothes, but I was lazy.

7) It gets hotter than hell in that tent. I don’t know how great tent fans are, but man, if they worked…it sure would be nice! Although then I talked to a guy this morning (at the dog park) who said that they went camping in the desert and it was freezing cold, so I think the take-home message is bring lots of options: warm clothes and layers for cold, tank tops and shorts to sleep in if it’s hot, and lots, and lots, and lots, and LOTS of bug repellent with a good amount of DEET in it (because all of that exposed skin and bugs? Bad, bad, bad, bad idea.) (And if you’re uncomfortable with the notion of inhaling DEET while you sleep, contemplate Lyme disease or West Nile virus, and I guarantee the idea of a little DEET inhalation will become much more attractive.)

8) OK, cooking. We ended up going to MacDonald’s (horror of horrors) because we were so hungry and we had so badly sabotaged our meal! We did not think we needed a camp stove. We found this website and figured we could not go wrong.

You can definitely go wrong.

We stuck the foil in the campfire, as billed, and waited for culinary delights to emerge. And, oh, emerge, they did:

Apparently the melting point of aluminum is far below the temperature of a campfire. DB said that as soon as he plopped the foil packet in the fire, it melted away the foil. I can’t show the picture of DB tasting the foil-seasoned food, but I’m sure you can imagine…yeah.

Intimacy and nature and food:

Eating bad food did not do great things for our sex life. Behold! (Prudish people, avert your eyes…)

(If you aren’t giggling now, I’m sorry to have offended you. Honestly, I am normally more mature than that, but I just couldn’t…pass…up…the opportunity.)

(To clarify, I have absolutely no idea how DB or my brother could have done this to a poor little hot dog.)

The one thing we did make that was reasonably successful was this:

(Yes, it’s Jiffy Pop!)

And this:

(This is a donut-come-pineapple-upside-down-cake. It was GOOD.)

And that’s because the fire had died down and we placed it on a flat piece of metal OVER the fire (aka the grill. That we had previously categorized as extraneous and unnecessary for our cooking.)

Thwarted by our own cooking skills, we ended up at McDonalds. So sad!

Moral of the story: Those camp stoves are a Really Good Idea. The little partridge family next to us (hard-core campers who clearly had a clue) had a little camp stove, and they were enjoying all sorts of yummy-looking (and -smelling) food.

9) We also brought Little, our massive Giant Schnauzer who apparently has opinions about everything. Although he had a blast in the beginning, eating s’mores (just the marshmallows):

Swimming in the water:

And sleeping in the tent:

He decided that he was probably done with camping around the time that we were packing. He jumped in the car:

And…refused to get out.

I threw a stick for him (it’s a fake stick) – he ran out, retrieved it, and returned to his spot on the van floor!

So the upshot…

Camping again? Yes, once more. We are going to try to go in October when there are fewer bugs and it’s cold outside. Being cold isn’t too much of a concern since we sleep all attached together and Little has recently decided that the ONLY way to sleep is to spoon with…us. So October leaves, here we come.

If it sucks, it’s back to hotels forever.