Friday, May 27, 2011

Spring Camping Tips (Don't Forget Your Jacket!)

I love camping in the spring. After being cooped up all winter long I'm ready to get out into nature and be part of it again.  Especially when everything is green and new and popping open.

We've had a few spring camping mishaps, though.  OK, more than a few.

I remember one spring we left Brooklyn on a day when it was about 80 degrees and sunny. We had the windows up in the car and the A/C on and when we arrived in Maine, I thought it was going to be balmy outside.  Instead, it was freezing! And we hadn't packed jackets! The kids were OK because they had a huge bag of clothes, so they just wore layers. But Pete and I had forgotten to pack hardly any clothes for ourselves so we just huddled together, looking pathetic. The next day we went to Goodwill and bought some very authentic-looking, lined, wool shirts that were super warm. Oh, and a funny, white crocheted blanket that looked like something at Grandma's house but was actually quite toasty.

So it all turned out OK, but, campers, let this serve as a cautionary tale to you. Pack warm clothes. Pack jackets. Pack long-sleeved shirts and even warm, wool caps.  Flannel pajamas are nice, too, and can double as long johns if it gets really nippy.

It also seems like every single time we go camping it rains on us. No, it pours.  And it's a funny feeling when you wake up at four in the morning to the rat-a-tat-tat of the rain pouring down on your tent.  On one hand, you feel cozy and happy to be in your nice tent, but on the other hand, you wonder if you're going to be soaking wet by six. 

Here are a few rain tips:
•  Set up a tarp over your tent.  This means a big tarp, and hopefully one with grommets in it at several points.  Tie it off tightly to the trees so the center forms a peak and the sides slope down, like the roof of a house.
•  Also, put a tarp under your tent for protection against the cold and wet.  
•  Sleep on foam pads, not directly on the tent floor.  That's for warmth as much as for dryness.
•  Pack rain gear like rain jackets or ponchos, rain pants and boots.
•  If all else fails, go out for pizza. We have also been known to pack it in early and go home, but you didn't hear that from me. 

In terms of bugs, one of the many nice things about spring camping is that the mosquitos aren't out in full force yet.  But bring the Skin So Soft anyway - they need to know who's boss.

And of course, pack a board game and a deck of cards. They might come in handy on a rainy day.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Drive carefully!

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