Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A few camping tips

In my last post, I talked about how our second camping trip went so much better than our first. After a little time spent on Pinterest and a trip to the Dollar Tree & Walmart, I discovered a few tips that made our camping experience more pleasant. 

As I was checking out one of my favorite blogs one day, there was a post for 2 small black tables from Walmart. I paid $22 for both. They were just what we needed for camping. They are the perfect size because they fold up and don't take up a lot of room while traveling. I placed plastic tablecloths on top to help keep them clean. 

Since we were in Florida in July, purchasing a fan was probably the second best purchase( I will fill you in on #1 in a bit) we made! In the middle of the day, sitting in front of this probably saved us from a heat stroke. Okay....so it wasn't that hot but it did make the warmth more bearable. 

I purchased a few different types on bins(from $1 Tree) for organizing inside the camper and outside. I used the green stackable bins outside to hold napkins, plastic silverware and cups. 

This small pop up tent helped keep the bugs off of our food. It is very easy to set up and take down. I may make a trip to the Dollar Tree for another one of these. 
I purchased a citronella candle from Walmart. It definitely helped keep the bugs away while we ate and played cards. 
The last item in the picture is a vinyl tablecloth. I used a plastic tablecloth for the picnic table last time and it was in shreds by the last day. I wanted something I could wipe down after each meal and save for more trips.

On our last camping trip, we really roughed it when it came to s'mores. Griffin found sticks and carved them so we could roast marshmallows. While at the Dollar Tree, I found skewers for roasting. They were great because they expanded for roasting but collapsed to save space in the camper.

I got this idea off Pinterest. Since I usually throw these detergent containers away, I was glad to finally put them to good use. I cleaned it out and filled it with water. We used it to wash our hands outdoors instead of opening the doors to the chilled trailer several times. 

Since we don't have an awning,  our canopy provided shade where the trees couldn't. You can't see them but we also bought a set of solar powered lights to place in the ground around our camper. They  provided light for the walkway to the bathroom.

Camel and I both agree that our number 1 purchase was the memory foam we bought for our bed. We bought(using part of a gift card from Christmas) the Dreamifinity Cooling Memory Foam Mattress Topper from Sams. This topper made a huge difference in getting a good night sleep. Warning if you plan to purchase this memory foam........Let it air out for a couple of days before using it! It has a very strong smell once you take it out of the plastic wrap. Our whole garage was stinking. It was fine after a couple of days.

I am in no way an expert at camping. I grew up tent camping but camping with a travel trailer is new. I hope some of these tips were helpful for you or maybe even inspired some of you to give camping a try. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

4th of July Camping Trip

We just returned from our 2nd family camping trip. I have to say we learned a lot from last time! I will share some of those things in another post. 

For this trip, we traveled a little further this time to Florida State Caverns. Most of our first evening was spent setting up camp, taking a look around and going to the store for some necessities. 

 The next morning, we fixed an egg, sausage and cheese wrap for breakfast. It was yummy!

 After breakfast, we walked to the Blue Hole. This is a natural spring and looks just like it's name.

 Since we were going to the caverns later that day, we decided to wait to took a dip. Instead, I took a few snapshots of our family.

 Later in the day, we took a tour of the caverns. It reminded me a lot of my childhood. During my elementary school days, we took several field trips to Desoto Caverns in Alabama. 

 After supper, we spent the rest of the evening playing card games.

The next day, we walked back to the Blue Hole and jumped in. The water was a very pretty blue. The deepest part of the hole was 30 feet. 

The water was extremely cold! I jumped in long enough to take this next picture. Griffin said he tried to swim down but the temperature dropped dramatically the further down he went.

Several of the locals told us about another place to swim called Blue Springs. This was another natural spring so the water was still cold. This place offered several activities like a diving board, slide, snorkeling, paddle boats and kayaking. We really enjoyed going here.

Later that evening, we went to Marianna, Fl for fireworks.

We ended the night with s'mores on the fire. 

Before we packed up to leave, we went for a hike. It can get pretty toasty first thing in the morning.

If the girl below had her way......she would be sitting in a chair .....being cared by others...... while being fanned by her brother! We are trying our hardest to turn this girl into the outdoorsy type.

Later that night( July 4th), after we got home, we went to a nearby neighborhood to watch fireworks.

 Although the temperature was the complete opposite as last time, we enjoyed this trip more. It could have been that we were better prepared and their were more activities in the area. 

Camping is something we will be doing a lot more in the coming year.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

NYC Day 3

Day 3 was our last full day in NY. Although we were starting to feel the effects of long walks and nights, we wanted to make our last day productive. After breakfast, we took the subway and boarded a bus for a tour of downtown. We were able to see Empire State Building, Chinatown, 9/11 Memorial, Brooklyn Bridge, Time Square, Chrysler Building and many more.

We got off the bus at Rockefeller Center because we had an appt to go to Top of the Rock Observation Deck. This was a first for me. The last trip we went to the top of the Empire State Building. It had great views of Central Park.

After we made our way down, we started to walk towards Central Park by way of 5th Avenue.

My sister stopped in at Magnolia Bakery for some cheesecake. Yes.......I snagged a couple of bites. It was delicious!!!!

Once we arrived at Central Park, we walked around. My first impression upon entering the park was "it's nothing like you see on tv." I am not sure if it was due to the pee smell or some of the homeless sleeping on the grass. As we walked, we realized we were walking next to the zoo. That may have been the cause of the smell. The further we walked the better the park started to look. 

Since we had dinner reservations, there was no way we could cover even half of the park. It is huge! There were paths leading in all different directions. In certain parts of the park, you would never know you were in the middle of a big city.

Our reservations were for Tavern on the Green which is located in Central Park. I had the Stout Braised Short Ribs over stone ground polenta and roasted corn. The meat was very tender and paired well with the polenta.

After a little gift shopping, we went back to the hotel. We had to be at the airport around 9:00 the next morning.

This was an amazing trip! It was the first trip, that I can remember, where it was just the girls. There was no whining....complaining.....disagreements.....etc! We had an agenda(thanks to my sister) with some wiggle room for those unexpected delays or additional fun. 

A huge thank you to my sister who organized and picked up the tab on way to many activities. 
You are awesome!!!!!

We all agreed this should be the first of many girls trips. The only problem is my daughter is begging to go next time. She thinks she is old enough to go now but sometimes mom needs to get away.