Monday, June 23, 2014

Camping Tips

After cruising the net, I found so many camping tips that are just GREAT IDEAS. Here are some of my favorites:

Tackle Box First Aid Kit
Self-explanatory. Great way to store everything you may need including sunblock, bug spray, bug bite gel, headache tablets, and the usual first aid items. GREAT idea. Easy to carry and store, and easy to find everything at a glance. Or if you don't want to lug around this big thing, customize to any size, pick up a smaller tackle box (I found a small one at the dollar store with 5 compartments on one level and a sturdy latch), or if you are planning a hike, why not throw a couple of these into your backpack --- reuse old prescription bottles (clean thoroughly first of course):

Dryer Lint for fire tinder
We saved up dryer lint for a month and stuffed it in a baggie and will use chunks of it to see how it works. The weather has been very wet and damp and who knows what it will be like in a few more weeks so a little extra help with the fire might come in handy! UPDATE: We did this and it was an excellent fire starter. It burned much longer than paper (I assume from fire retardant material clothing is made from), and I started every fire successfully with it. Yay me!! Will def keep doing this!
You can also store the lint in toilet rolls or brown paper like this:

 We packed a ton of things in giant baggies. I bought a box of 30 from Target for about $2 and it makes things easier to pack (stack'em) and see. We will be camping in bear country so we have to make sure anything that smells delicious (food and toiletries) are always packed up. If we pack it all in these bags, we can easily see if we have accidentally left out some scrumptious spices that Bobo and cubs may want to snack on. I want to see wildlife, but not rolling around in food right outside my tent, thank you very much! I left a pack of crackers out on the picnic table once when I was a young child and I woke in the night to a bear sniffing around the canvas tent right beside my face! When my dad got up to chase it away (yay Dad!), there was a tell-tale trail of cracker crumbs leading away from our site, and the empty bag laying halfway down the path. The bear had a snack in the woods and then decided to come back and look for more. Oops!! Now I will make sure the kids don't leave anything out on THIS trip! My dad was allowed to pack his rifle back in those days, ya know. Somehow I don't want to test out pepper spray on a bear :)

Pancake Mix, ready to go!
Put pancake mix already measured out into a jar, plastic shaker bottle, etc and just add water and an egg when you are ready to make them. I am going to put my mix into two mason jars I have been saving, pre-measured for enough pancakes each morning I plan to cook them, and we will be ready to go. We are bringing along a carton of eggs and cases of water to surprise the kids with pancakes over the fire. YUM. I haven't decided yet if I will use the recipe from this link or use store bought mix, but it all goes in the jar :)
(Note from experience: if you are bringing eggs, grab ones in a styrofoam or plastic carton so it doesn't get wet and mushy in the cooler. Even if you keep it in the top, it can get damp. I have seen several blogs that show people cracked eggs into jars and kept those in their cooler but the egg safety sites do not recommend that so we are bringing a carton)

Camp Coffee
We are going to try something like this:

Awning Clips
I thought this was a great idea.... name badge clips for awning clips.


Next month we will be nestled into our campsite in Yoho so I better get going on listing our tips and tricks so I don't forget any of them!!

Hiking, climbing, sight-seeing, etc can really wear the kids (and mom and dad) out so camping snacks are a MUST! We will be bringing along granola bars and some fruit but it's fun to try some snacks that are just right for the campfire. Smore's are a given.... but we like to bring along some Jiffy Pop popcorn. Here is a way to make your own Campfire Popcorn with aluminum foil, popcorn kernels, and vegetable oil:

As I mentioned earlier, Smore's are a hit for camping. Marshmallows, chocolate, and graham wafers.. Yum! But there are many different versions you can try for mixing it up a little. Like:

Marshmallows, chocolate chips, and Golden Grahams cereal melted into two tortillas... oh my!

Or you can try some of these variations:

And some of you may have never heard of Smore's... what's the big deal? You HAVE to try it to find out! Here are some how-to's for making Smore's indoors or out for Honeymaid Graham Crackers (click photo):

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Tent (and an awning tip!)
 Our Tent

We decided to look for an SUV tent for this year and managed to snag one off Kijiji for $100! Brand new these tents run about $240-$300 depending on size and dealer, so I took a chance and posted my first-ever Kijiji want ad and a family answered right away! What luck! It pays to take a look around. We ended up with the tent in perfect condition, and some bonus pieces that the family added in like extra tent pegs and some pieces of rebar that confused us at first but the 'tent guy' (as I named him) gave us a great tip!

Mark off where your tent awning poles will go and instead of just standing them there and tying up the guide lines for everyone to trip over 50 times, hammer the pieces of rebar into the ground and slide the awning poles over them. TADA. Awning stays up nicely with no extra lines creating a dark night hazzard :) So, thanks Tent Guy!

Anyway, back to the tent... these are made in various sizes to attach to the back of a smaller vehicle such as a hatchback car or larger SUVs. Our's fit on our 94 Yukon easily. We met Tent Guy at a parking lot and hooked it up before purchase to make sure all was well and it fit just right. Yay! It's very tall in the middle. My husband is 6'1 and can move into the tent easily and stand straight up inside. There is plenty of room for all of us to sleep in the tent itself, but we are going to have the kiddos sleep inside the cab of the truck so we have more room in the tent for ourselves. It's also handy for parents to stay up later and not have to climb over children when it's our bed time :) The tent does not have to be hooked up to a vehicle so you can use it anyway you like. The awning is a great addition because it is about 6 feet long and most tents I have seen do not come with this feature. You can also upgrade to one that has a full screen house/tent attachment. Cool!

Huge windows on every side, and there are some in the top as well so if the weather is nice, you don't have to cover the top with the fly. Just star gaze as you are falling asleep :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Camping Tips and Tricks - Breakfast

The best part about camping? The food of course! We tend to like the fire-grilled steak, burgers, and hot dogs but I have been collecting some awesome camping food ideas for this trip! These are the BREAKFAST ideas I have found that look great from various sites

(Click Images for MAIN site page, click individual recipe titles for direct links to the recipes)

(You can buy ready-diced potatoes such as McCain Breakfast Potatoes)

(this is to-die-for, cooked at home in the oven, so can't wait to try it while camping as a breakfast surprise)

(bake Pillsbury refridgerated dough rolls inside hollowed out oranges - eat the oranges too, of course)

(if you really want to prepare, make ahead some burritos, roll in foil and store in your cooler - throw them on the fire in the morning!)

(something I've never seen before - cooking bacon and eggs in a paper bag over a low fire/heat from the embers)
 Cheater Skillet Monkey bread 
 (similar to one above but even easier for camping)
 bring a box or two along in your cooler and toss in whatever you like with it (sweeter the better!)
(okay this is prob more for mom and dad, but an idea to steal from this is to bring along a freezer bag filled with a pre-measured amount of Bisquick or your own base baking mix and other ingredients to make fresh pancakes right over the fire - YUM)
(yum!! sounds great - layer sausages or bacon along bottom of foil pack and layer with whatever you want really- can use more of those diced potatoes or bring along a bag of hashbrowns too)
Muffin Tin Eggs - this is my Fave Idea of all!
(I have a 6-tin muffin pan which is perfect for the 5 of us that should be going. Throw those in an english muffin, perhaps, for your own 'breakfast burger', as my 6 yr old calls them)
(my MOST Fave Idea of all - and so easy to find a spot to cook it if you have eggs in the frying pan)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Yoho National Park Camping

Kicking Horse Campground, Site 14, July 2007
©Karrie Trott

In July 2007 we took the kids (ages 4 and 9) to Yoho National Park. We had a fantastic site at Kicking Horse Campground and will be going back this summer (hoping for the same or similar site). One important point to note about camping in Yoho National Park is that it is FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED. You cannot reserve sites at any of the campgrounds there (unlike other National Parks). So that is a big thing to note - if you cannot get there early enough (Yoho lists 2pm as check-in), you may not get a site. Kicking Horse is also the only drive-in one that allows campfires. There are walk-in sites that allow campfires, but only Kicking Horse for vehicle access sites. Check HERE for more information.

But don't let that deter you! Yoho National Park is amazingly beautiful and if you can get Kicking Horse Campground, you are right in the middle of several attractions. Takakkaw Falls is amazing and a fairly easy walk to view (after driving a crazy switchback mountain road that you cannot take trailers on, and have to back up if you are taking a camping van/bus/etc). But you will get to see one of the highest waterfalls in Canada and it is stunning. Here is one of my shots:

Takakkaw Falls - July 2007
© Karrie Trott

Another nearby attraction is the Natural Bridge, which is on the way to another stunner - Emerald Lake. We did not get to visit Emerald Lake in 2007 so it is at the top of our list this summer. The Natural Bridge is a rock formation that has been carved by the waters of the Kicking Horse River. 

Natural Bridge - July 2007
© Karrie Trott
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park
(check out more photos at the She Loves Glam blog)

Each of those attractions is within a half hour drive of the Kicking Horse Campground. Perfect idea to take a drive each morning (when there may also be fewer visitors if you do not like crowds - like my spouse) and then return to your campsite for the rest of the day (and more exploring).

One idea for exploring around the Kicking Horse Campground is the Kicking Horse River - it runs right along-side the campground! Here is a shot of my daughter's well-traveled Purple Bear, enjoying the fresh air and the roar of a gorgeous river - less than 5 minutes walk from our site:

Purple Bear at Kicking Horse River 2007
© Karrie Trott

Camping in Yoho National Park has it's advantages. Depending what you are looking for - compare the smaller campgrounds in Yoho to the several individual campgrounds with 600+ sites in the Banff area and you might just want to delve a little deeper into the Rockies for pristine air, unbelievable views, and larger camping sites. We like our space. If we are in the middle of the mountains, surrounded by forests and rivers, we do not like having another campsite 2 feet away. But that's just us - you may like something a little less remote. But keep in mind that the town of Field, British Columbia is a short drive away if you need supplies or more human contact. And it is a STUNNING mountain town. You won't believe it until you see it.

Camping Tips and Tricks - Flooring

So.. the last time you went camping was with your parents when you were 6.

Somehow we never realize how much work can go into planning a camping trip so it's not a total disaster. It might even seem daunting as you start to make a list of 'things to pack' that gets longer and longer (especially when you have kids to entertain and pack for and feed). But there are tons of tips and tricks out there that I have either done myself or am going to do this summer when we take our two youngest children to Yoho National Park in British Columbia for a few days. Some tips are so easy you can't believe you never thought of it before! I will be posting my FAVORITE ideas, tips and tricks right here in this blog.

Some tips will be handy for those camping in potentially colder climates like we will be. The days can be scorching hot in the summer, even up high in the mountains - but don't let that fool you! It can be very cool and damp at night. Damp likes to creep right into your sleeping bag and snuggle up to you. It is not pleasant.

So how about this tip (that is on the TOP of my to-do list for this summer's retreat) - use Foam Floor mats for the base of your tent. TADA. How easy is that? I have two dozen sitting on the floor in my kids' toyroom right now. Before we leave on the trip, I will pop up the tent and place the floor mats inside to measure out exactly how many I need (and pack a couple extra in case of unforeseen circumstances - of which there is probably going to be at least one). This will keep all of your sleeping bags, bedding, etc off the base floor of the tent and also provide extra comfort. It is also a lot easier to use than the 'foam rollies' that I always camped with... they are not exactly easy to unroll and keep in place. But an interlocking foam floor? HOW EASY IS THAT?

Tip from "A Little Campy"

This will also be great on the feet! Normally you don't want everyone tromping around in your tent with their shoes on - especially if you are camping near sand, gravel, pine needles (sticky!),  or other unmentionables. Normally we take our shoes off outside the tent - and it is NOT fun to then step on a rock that is under the tent flooring. That can also wear holes in your floor. I recommend sweeping the area where you want your tent set up before placing it but there is always just that ONE rock that escapes attention and finds your bare foot. So it only makes sense to have your entire tent floor covered with nice foam mats. Keep each edge a little bit away from the side of the tent (an inch or more) in case of rain as an extra precaution. But most tents these days seem to have a waterproof bib around the bottom to help prevent that. Have you camped in a tent when it started to rain and something was accidentally pushed up against the canvas wall? It's not a good plan - water wicks in and you find yourself waking up cold and wet! So avoid this by placing your flooring a couple inches away from each side if possible and that also helps as a guide for where to put your gear. But my favorite thought from this idea is no more rocks in the feet, and no midnight fighting with a foam rollie that will not cooperate!