Sunday, June 2, 2013

My First Camping Trip - Part 2

The big excitement for Sunday morning and donuts!!  Turns out the concession stand sells hot coffee and hot chocolate and donuts every Sunday morning, and we'd been looking forward to the coffee since Friday night.  In Wired's blog, she talks about how thru hikers look forward to trail towns and the hot meals they can get there, and when we were camping I got a tiny inkling of what that must be like.  We had cars and could have gone for some hot drinks whenever we wanted, but we still had Sunday morning's hot coffee on the brain the whole weekend.  The ironic thing was that Sunday morning wasn't actually too terribly cold, and since I'd bundled up so well the night before, I wasn't in as dire need of hot beverage as I'd been the day before.  It was still a nice treat, though.

After breakfast on Sunday, we packed lunch and some snacks, and headed off to a nearby park, Lake Loramie, to check out their hiking trails.  It was only half an hour away, and it was one of the parks we'd looked at before settling on St Marys.  Once we got there, I was glad it had been full and we had to camp elsewhere.  It's a lot bigger than St Marys, and you can see the road from the campgrounds.  The lake is fabulous and huge, and we drove around it for a bit looking for a park office.  We finally found one, and it was closed, but we were able to grab a map of the trails from the campground check in office.  We picked one, and headed off to find the trailhead.  On the way, we got a bit turned around, and in the process drove by a house with two alpacas in the backyard!  So cute!

When we got to the trailhead, there were a couple of people fishing on the lake who seemed annoyed by the noise we were making getting settled and figuring out where we were going.  Heh.  Oh, well.  After some looking, we found the bridge crossing that would take us to the Blackberry Nature Trail on an island in the lake.  I was looking forward to checking out the island, but sadly, the bridge was closed.  :(  After some picture taking, we headed back to the other trailhead, for the Lakeview Trail.  Once again, we were stymied when we followed the wrong sign and ended up at an almost immediate dead end.  We decided we weren't meant to jump across a giant gap onto a log in the lake, so we went back to the parking lot and found the actual trailhead - complete with giant signage and everything.

The trail started off in some woods, but very quickly opened up into a view of a farm - like it was reminding us that we were still in Ohio!  Most of the trail was right next to the water, but there were hardly any mosquitos unless we were in the more wooded sections.  We saw an eagle lookout that was built by an Eagle Scout troop, which was pretty cool, and come swampy areas covered in water lilies that made it look like we were in Florida!  The trail was very flat, which was nice, since it was 2 miles. It was hot in the sun, but not horrible.  The halfway point ended at the campgrounds, and then looped back to where we parked.  We were going to take the alternate route back, to complete the loop, but it appeared that section was a bit less traveled, b/c it was more enclosed and much buggier, so we turned around pretty quickly and just went back the way we came in.  There were several more branches off the trail than the map indicated, and I think A was worried about getting lost, but I figured one way or another we'd find our way back.  There was a moment of disagreement when we backtracked as to which one of the branches to take - ultimately, A was right and I was wrong.  With my family's famous directional sense, I should have expected as much, lol.

Once we got back, we made our way to a park for some lunch.  There was a beach on the lake with a lot of kids swimming.  I stuck my hand in after we ate, but with all of the signs around warning of the blue-green algae and its toxins (we had those at our lake, too), I'd have been too nervous to swim in it even if it wasn't too cold for swimming.  There were a lot of families out for the day enjoying the sunshine.  And we saw a confederate flag bikini, which I would not have expected that far north.  Just goes to show there are rednecks everywhere, I suppose.

When we got back to our camp, A had a headache and took a nap, and I took my chair out to the beach and read for awhile.  It was very peaceful until some kids came over and started playing in the sand.  Luckily, A came over soon after and we headed back to the tent to play some games.  We also headed up to the concession stand for a raffle - we'd bought tickets the day before from another volunteer driving around in a golf cart.  The campground had a lot of activities going on that weekend - a scavenger hunt, putt putt and bingo tournaments, etc - but the split the pot raffle was the only one we took part in.  Alas, neither of us won.  Even though it wasn't really an activity per se, it was kind of cool to be there while a lot of the campers gathered together for a few minutes.  We built a late fire that evening and used up the last of our firewood, and while we were cooking a late dinner, the nice lady who hauled our firewood for us the day before drove up and gave us a free chocolate cake!  I guess it was left over from the cake walk.  Wired talks about trail magic, which is when people will do nice things for hikers on the trail - give them a hitch into a nearby town, or have stashes of water and/or food on the trail, or sometimes have a set-up on the trail with food and drinks and chairs and the like.  You can read about a pretty cool example of some trail magic on the PCT here.  Anyhow, after scoring free chocolate cake, I remarked to A that we got some awesome camp magic!

It was supposed to rain that night, so we stashed our stuff in either the tent or our cars.  Sadly, we didn't think about bringing the coolers into the tent - they're waterproof, after all! - so when we woke up to rain the next morning, we had no breakfast.  :(  Luckily it subsided to a drizzle for long enough for me to emerge and grab some food.  We munched on chocolate cake, bananas, and soy yogurt in the tent on Monday morning and played some more games, waiting out the rain.  It finally stopped, in just enough time to take down the tent.  I grabbed my first shower of the weekend in the shower facilities - you're supposed to be stinky whilst camping, right? - which were pretty nice.  I'd forgotten my towel, though, so I used A's trick of using clothes to dry off with.  Not quite as effective, especially on my hair, but good enough.  Check out was at 1, and we squeaked in just under the wire.  It was a little eerie how empty the campground was by that time.  And sad, too.  A fabulous weekend come to an end.  :(

On my way home, I stopped by the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, which was only a few miles from our campgrounds.  Neil Armstrong grew up in Wapakoneta, hence the museum's location.  There must be something in the water up there, b/c apparently there are an awful lot of astronauts who are from Ohio.  Perhaps it has to do with Wright Pat being close by, who knows.

All in all, a fabulous weekend, and I can't wait to do it again!  (Cold and all, lol.)  I learned a lot of things for next time:
  1. Get a sleeping bag that fits.  I've read that they're less effective when they're too big and when they're too small, and I think maybe part of my cold toes problem was due to the fact that my feet were right up against the bottom of my sleeping bag.  Even though the thing's supposed to be good for people up to 6'2", it isn't.  It's not really that big a deal for a casual camper like me, but it's something I wish I'd known before I bought my sleeping bag.
  2. Bring something to heat water for hot drinks in the morning.  I know there are coffee pots you can plug into the cigarette lighter in your car, or even a tiny camp stove would work, I suppose.  Something that doesn't involve lighting a campfire just to warm up water.  (Which we did not do - hence the excitement over Sunday morning coffee.)
  3. In a similar vein, cooking over a campfire was a fun experience and all, but in the future I think I'd prefer to bring a camp grill, and save the campfire for sitting around in the evening.  Food that can be stuck on sticks and held over the fire would be fine, but for regular food it's a bit of a pain, especially if you have food that requires heating for both lunch and dinner.
  4. When obtaining firewood, make sure to get enough medium sized logs to balance out the bigger pieces.  The campgrounds only sold the bigger pieces, and we had to go hunting for more.  I know you're not supposed to transport wood, so I'll have to investigate how far you have to travel before that restriction takes effect.  Hunting around for other wood like we did is only so successful, especially if every other camper is doing the same.
  5. Go RV or camper camping someday.  Some of the campers had some pretty sweet setups - and I'll bet they didn't wake up with numb toes!
  6. Also, WOOL SOCKS for sleeping in.  I bought some the very day I got home, even though my next camping trip isn't planned for a few months.
  7. Bring shoes for the showers.  Maybe not a necessity, and my feet seemed to have weathered the public showering just fine, but it was in the back of my mind the entire time I was in there.  Next time I'll have them, just to make me feel better.
  8. BUG SPRAY.  We had no troubles with bugs at our campsite at all, but every mosquito in the park swarmed me when we were hiking.
  9. Tablecloths are not frivolous, they're a necessity.  I didn't see a single picnic table not covered in bird poop.
  10. Bring one of those canopy shelter things that's basically a tarp on poles to put over your picnic table.  We see picnic tables covered in tablecloths and coolers and food as part of a nice camping adventure.  Birds see them as signs that read "RESTROOMS HERE".
  11. Since this was my first time camping, I obviously have nothing to compare it to, but I have to say that I very much enjoyed not having to crawl into our tent every time I had to go in and out.  If I ever buy a tent of my own, I'm definitely getting one I can stand up in.
  12. And last, but certainly not least: always bring a towel.

(I'll add pictures here once I've figured out how to get them off of my camera.  I seem to have misplaced the transfer cord...)


  1. Replies
    1. I know! I haven't been able to figure out how to get them off of my camera yet. :/ I'm pretty sure the transfer cord has been lost to the ether, so I'm going to have to buy a new one. Humbug.

  2. Jenn....what happened? You stopped posting. :(