Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

How to Camp - US style!

Camping in India is wayyyyy wayyyy different from how its done in the US. Yeah the tent and the campfire are same, but everything else is totally different.

Firstly, the campgrounds are usually accessible to roads and each site even provides a car parking! This is unless you are determined to go into a forest, trek a bit and then camp. Thats the only situation where you need to do donkey work. Otherwise, your car will carry everything. So whats advantageous is that you can stuff all necessary as well as unnecessary stuff and take it along :-D. Also since its accessible to road, you can get firewood, fuel and even ready-made food if you don't want to cook in open fire ;-).

Secondly, you get camping accessories of all sorts. One major example is a air-filled bed! In India, the couple of times I went trekking, we hardly had blankets to sleep on. Here a bed is almost mandatory :-D. You get a pump which needs to be charged before and all you do is place the bed in tent and pump it up :-D. You also have camp chairs, battery-lanterns, coolers (for cold drinks), fire-grills, gas-powered grills (if you don't want to cook directly on the camp-fire) and people actually use these! Believe me, I've experienced it when we had been river-rafting.

Thirdly, you can rent a campsite in which water/power outlets are provided! These make much sense here as people own trailers which they bring to campgrounds to enjoy the "camping" experience! Worse, this time I actually saw Television sets and even dish antenna receivers on a few campsites!! Looks like the definition of camping is not what I thought it was :-p. Camping and luxury go hand in hand here.

Lastly, the most important are the restrooms! Most of these campsites come with pretty good restrooms, which also have showering facilities! Personally, I like this luxury, but again its not "camping" according to me ;-). Well, who am I to protest when facilities are available :-D!

Coming to my story now (finally :-p). We have been wanting to go camping for a while now. We had bought the equipment (tent, camp chairs and bed ofcourse :-D) last year itself, but never got around to going camping. After dilly-dallying away half the summer, we finally managed to go on 30th June 2007.

Since this is a how-to story, here are the steps to successful camping:

1) Buy equipment:

To camp you need a tent. As I said before, this does not change no matter where you are. Choosing a tent is pretty important. You have to carefully judge the height/width you require. Also you sometimes get good deals ;-). Rest are optional. But camp chairs and an air-bed are good to have :).

2) Buy food and accessories:

Depends on what kind of food you eat. Since we are vegetarians, we carried corn cobs, veggie patties (Indian store ones, as I have said numerous times the American store ones taste like rubber tyres :-p), burger buns, various veggies for the burger and for grilling (like onions, capsicums, tomato, cucumber and lettuce), panner and lemons. We also carried paper plates, water, knives and grilling accesories (to roast the corn/patties). And yeah, you need firewood if you plan a campfire. But usually firewood is available at the campsites.

3) Book a campsite:

If you are in US, another advantage is that you can book a campsite online. But you need to do this atleast 2 days in advance. We didn't do it in advance but drove straight to Kincaid State Park (which is about an hour's drive away). Thankfully they did have some spots available. We were ready to come back if there weren't any.

4) Put up the tent:

Well, if you want to sleep, then you need a tent. Unless you want to sleep in the car. That experience will not be camping but car-ing :-p. The instruction manual is usually available with the tent, so the main thing is to follow the instructions ;-).

The first step is to spread the tent on the ground.

The second step is to take the long curved rods provided (these will be a collection of small sized rods whcih you have to join to form a bigger rod) and insert them diagonally to the top portion of the tent and fasten them. This helps in raising up the tent like this:

The next step is to fix the roof (this will have smaller rods similar to above) to the top of the tent. The final step is to attach hinges to the floor of the tent and hammer them to the ground so that the tent cannot move (slide off or blow away due to heavy winds if any :-p). Finally the tent looks like this:

And this is how the entire campsite looked like after putting up the tent:

Note that it has ample space to park the car, place the tent, space for a campfire, camp chairs and a wooden picnic table :).

5) Enjoy the surroundings:

Once the tent was up, we took a stroll around. Our campsite was almost next to the lake.

And the lake was absolutely beautiful. We sat near the lake for sometime before sunset (Sunset currently is at 9 PM :-p) and later returned to the camp.

6) Make a campfire:

Now that the living quarters is taken care of, next thing to worry about is food. For food, you obviously need a campfire. So better start off early and get the fire hot enough to cook food. The equation is simple:

Firewood + some starter fuel + matches = FIRE!!

We already had the starter fuel as we do some vegetarian barbeques sometimes. So Sri, with some amount of help from me in arranging the firewood (well actually I also gathered some wooden chips and sticks to start off the fire :-D), successfully had the fire going.

7) Cook the food and enjoy:

As I said, we roasted corn, grilled veggies and later grilled burger patties and had a comfortable meal (didn't really take photos :-\). Moreover since we had some cool drinks in place, it was nice to have in the hot weather. We put some soft music in the SUV and basically enjoyed sitting in front of the fire :).

8) Get the tent ready for the night:

Two important things here - one, don't forget to take pillows and two, make sure the air pump for the air bed is funtioning and recharged. We didn't do both and had to struggle a bit. Sri did recharge the pump for 2 hours, but it wasn't enough (its supposed to be recharged for atleast a day). The air bed was almost flat by the time the pump gave out, so to say the least, the bed wasn't comfy at all. Another important thing is to find how the waether will get in the night. For us, though we had taken blankets, it got really cold in the night, so we could have done with a couple of extra sheets ;-).

Morning, we had a breakfast of croissants, packed up the tent and left. The camping was only for a night, but it was worth it. It was basically a relaxing time without TV/Computer/internet :-D. Well, we all need come time away from the gadgetry :).

We are planning to go camping again probably this weekend. And yeah this time, the air pump has been replaced and checked :-D, so hopefully there'll be no further troubles :).

1 Comment:

Chickoo retorted...

Nice! Brought back my own memories. I have camped in Shenendoah (Virginia), Adirondacks (NY state) and Sagadahock bay (I hope i got the spelling right) in Maine and absolutely loved it. Will probably try it again with my little one, I hope she enjoys the experience.