Happy Campers, Part 1

Hidden between the lines of our first post, A New Year – A New Adventure, and behind the “one pedal stroke at a time” tagline, is what the heck are we going to do when it’s time to stop pedaling for the day and rest our tired heads and sleepy legs?

We plan on camping most nights. Some of those camping nights will essentially be camping in the back yard of a warmshowers.org host, where a gracious person will let us use their shower and maybe let us wash some laundry. Once a week or so, we will pay to stay in a room, sleep in a real bed and just chill a bit.

Today’s post is going to talk a bit about our first option, camping.

a "3-person" tenet
a “3-person” tent

Since we will not be riding on a group tour with a van carrying all our equipment, we have to carry it all with us. The exception will be our daily food, which we will buy along the way. We will carry some “staples” with us – think peanut butter, soft tortilla wraps (they pack better than airy bread loaves), a few freeze-dried meals, oatmeal, etc. Regardless, all of it – tent, sleeping bags, clothes and shoes, pots and pans, shampoo and towels, tools and games, has to come along in our panniers.

Now we don’t camp on a regular basis. Lucia has camped a lot in the past, and while I lived on a boat in my past, I haven’t really camped for nearly 30 years. As a couple, the closest we have come to camping was a cool rafting trip along the entire length of the Grand Canyon, where we slept under the stars each night for 10 nights on a fully supported tour.

Grand Canyon Camp Site
Grand Canyon Camp Site
Lucia ready for rafting the Grand Canyon
Lucia ready for rafting the Grand Canyon

To date, we have acquired lots of the items we will need, including the tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, a lightweight alcohol stove, titanium mugs and sporks, headlamps, lots of carabiner clips, lightweight clothes and rain suits (aka, foul weather gear, for the sailors out there!).

We have also actually camped and tried things out. We spent a few nights in our backyard, then we ventured to a nearby park, the beautiful Trimble Park, just 8 miles away. What have we learned, if anything?

Communication is critical!

Well, duh, right? In addition to talking to each other while rushing around trying to get everything packed and ready to go … surprisingly(?) we need to have a checklist

If this is missing, then some of your stuff will be too!
If this is missing, then some of your stuff will be too!

When we arrived and started unpacking, we quickly realized that we had neglected to bring a lighter for the stove and a few other things. We each assumed the other one had packed the missing items. (Assume = Ass+U+Me, BTW!) Since we were only 8 miles away, I jumped on my trike and headed back to the house. While I was furiously pedaling home, Lucia sent me a text … “Please bring fuel for the stove as well!” 

When I returned with what I thought was everything, we realized we didn’t have a way to keep our foodstuffs organized after unpacking them from their designated pannier (and to keep the food away from the resident racoons (all named “Rocky” or “Ricky”, btw). Lucia found us a “pantry” at the campsite. That heavy grill lid kept all of the furry creatures away. Heck, it was hard for me to lift that thing up!

Here's a racoon-proof food storage location. Just don't hope to grill as well.
Here’s a racoon-proof food storage location. Just don’t hope to grill as well!

Here’s another thing Lucia learned while I was picking up our forgotten stuff. We need a pump to blow up the sleeping pads for two reasons. The first is she got pretty light-headed while manually inflating the pads. The second is blowing up the pads manually by mouth introduces moisture into the pad’s chambers. In time, this can lead to mold and a delamination of the insulating baffles that help make the pad a great buffer from the cold, hard ground. Mold and delamination can also lead to the loss of some cold, hard cash. For those of you who are link-happy, here is a nice review link for the sleeping pads that we use, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite.

Camping, Part 2 will feature our upcoming camping trip where we will pedal over 35 miles in one direction, camp, pedal another 35+ miles, camp and then pedal home. Note that my ICE Sprint RS 26 has not yet arrived, so Lucia will again be tasked with carrying most of our gear – sorry, sweetie!

Note the stuffed yellow panniers on Lucia's trike vs. Mike's
Stuffed yellow panniers vs. small black pannier

A few more gear links

The tent, pictured above, is made by Big Agnes and it is a Copper Spur UL3. technically listed as a 3-person tent, 3 people wouldn’t spend more than one night in this and still be friends. For the two of us though, it’s really nice. Not pictured are our sleeping bags, Sierra Design’s Backcountry Bed 800. This bag is a combination mummy bag and quilt that features no zipper. It is also a 3-season down bag, so it’s warm, lightweight and packs into a surprisingly small compression bag. The titanium mugs are Snow Peak 700s with lid. Light weight is a big factor in our gear choices; still, having many light weight items adds up to a heavy weight!

Keep on rolling!

11 thoughts on “Happy Campers, Part 1

  1. M&L … That’s a lot of s**t to be hauling around. I could never get it organized enough to leave home … Buy it, store it temporarily, immediately forget where I put it … my total plan for inaction!

    Look forward to your adventure (and some slight misadventures).

    1. This weekend will mark our longest overnight camping trip in both distance and time. We will be going to Alexander Springs where the campsites are first-come, first-served. It’s only a 25 mile ride and the weather looks perfect. We appreciate you following us and we definitely hope to celebrate when we return. Of course, we’re not leaving until June, so there could be pre-departure celebrations, right?

  2. I’m really enjoying sharing your adventure and learning some things with you. Looking forward to the next episode!

  3. One bit of advice for you unless you’ve already thought about it, is when you pack, put things exactly in the same spot, bag or compartment everytime. Makes things easier and quicker, and you don’t have a mess to try and pack again. Really comes handy in bad weather. Also, put things in quart or gallon freezer zip lock bags. Helps compact them, keeps things dry and organized. Many years of being a Boy Scout and Scoutmaster came in handy…ride on!!

    1. Thanks Mike, that’s great and welcome advice. We have a pretty good selection of stuff sacks and dry bags, but zip locks are a simple solution that can be used along with them.

      Our packing things in the same spot so far has been a bit “temporary”. We are waiting for my (TTTMike’s) panniers to arrive, so when they do, we can really begin to sort “what goes where”.

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