Advice for Camping: Test Everything.

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I love my Queen. Potrero War, California. May 2017.

So as I have mentioned before, I went camping this weekend and, while it was a lot of fun, so much went wrong in a fabulously, messy way. I’ve written a lot about how important it is to go over all your details before you set out on a trip just to avoid any unpleasantness down the road.

Well, easier said than done, apparently.

This was our first time using a period tent since a friend of our just bought an extra one off of another friend. We weren’t sure if we were going to use it as a sleeping tent or as a cooking tent but this time around the former was planned.

Packing was so easy. Without a tent, I could change things up. We used wardrobe bags (like the kind you might store your winter clothes in when they aren’t in use) instead of suitcases which laid out nicely in the bed of the truck and, since we are now using Coleman cots instead of smaller ground mats, we still had plenty of weight to hold down the driving tarp.

Well, when things settled and our tent arrived (about two hours after we did), we went around making camp. Between five of us, we had three tents of different designs and a Dragon Wing to set up. We had everything set up except our tent  before starting in, and that is where things went to hell.

The body of the tent itself is a single unit: a canvas roof and sides sewn together opening at each corner with pole holes at the top. Then there are poles; 6 sides and a double, stacked center pole twice as thick as the others. The poles are on a system that are held vertical by pulled ropes and steaks.

This is where two errors in planning popped up. First, as we uncoiled ropes we discovered two were frayed to the point where they no longer helped hold the tent upright. This was quickly remedied by borrowed rope but unveiled the larger issue: our number two, tent was hanging about a foot of the ground. That’s right, our poles were about a foot too long.

I ended up digging pole holes which cut down our gap, but after a short frustration meltdown, I said F-it and finished setting things up (this is also were I started digging holes). Luckily, our cots (once the holes were dug) were a few inches above the bottom of the fabric.  All in all it wasn’t too bad.

Cut to late that night, when getting into bed, I heard a small rip. It was dark and I wasn’t too concerned, so I went straight to sleep. In the morning when I work up, I noticed issue number three: my Coleman air mattress that goes with my cot was eating me, ie it was deflating and quick. My sister is quite a bit heavier than I am and her mattress was still exceedingly full so I knew it was an issue with my bed, not just basic air mattress things.

Then I got out of bed and looked down; issue number four: I was covered in feathers. I didn’t investigate further. I just saw the feathers, said nope, and went about my morning. Then I told my friends and one wanted to come look. On the second inspection, it looked even more like I had slaughtered a chicken in my bed (or at least plucked). Turns out I had ripped a hole in my down-comforter along two seams and that one square was linked to two others. Once again, I put the bed back and lived with it through the weekend – though I did run one more square out before the weekend was out.

Some of these we could have planned for – checking on the air mattresses before every trip and setting up new tents before getting to camp even if it is from someone you trust (apparently we did get the wrong poles and at least the cot part was comfortable without the mattress part) – and others we really couldn’t have – how could I have known about the blanket? However, as I have said time and again, you have to choose on trips like these how you are going to react.

We rolled with every punch life handed us and our weekend was so much better for it. We laughed and I am sure we’ll keep laughing through to the next one. Until next week,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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Advice for Camping: Test Everything.

Because Packing is Always the Worst.

And right now in SoCal it is very hot and I am very unmotivated. We are coming quickly to the end of May and, as I have said in previous posts, this month definitely has it out for me.

I have worked all month, visited with friends from out of town and have had at least one event going on every month, the majority of which have required multi day packing for events that varied so drastically the there has been no way to put together a prep-kit for most of the items that need to come with me.

Which is really the biggest pieces of advice I can ever give when facing the absolute horror of packing: create a packing document. This goes double if you have routine trips – ie. SCA camping trips. Have a list for formal trips, casual trips, those require specialty outfits/items, and then go through length of the trip. This may be because I am a Excel-nut but seriously, pre-made packing lists that cater to you because you have tailored them to you are the biggest lifesavers you will find. (If anyone is interested in seeing examples of what I mean, I can probably be persuaded into making a post all about it!).

One of my major packing issues – which I am sure I have covered before – is a really common issues: I pack lighter for long journeys than short visits.

There are many reasons why this happens to most of us. Long journeys usually mean that you’ll be living out of your suitcase longer, having to keep track of more stuff where you go, and a higher probability of having to move said luggage more than once which is a pain when there’s a lot. People tend to pack more versatile clothing when they travel further so the number of things you’ll need drops drastically. Also, with long trips, people figure they can buy and discard as they go so you aren’t lugging around items like hefty shower supplies and other bathroom tools.

During short visits, however, this seems like a waste of time and money so we pack everything just in case we need it. We tend to have more specific ideas of what we’re going to be doing at every second but tend to load ourselves with more options (especially clothing) for each of the activities we have in mind and even those we don’t (sporadic club night, maybe?).

In my last trip up to Fresno – another quick trip that I felt lackluster to pack for – I waited and waited and then packed and cleaned for an hour before getting into the car. I was up there for graduation for two days (three if you include the day we drove up) and I had exactly three outfits in my suitcase: day one (a simple wide leg trouser and crop top), Pjs, and day two (a dress and colored tights). The only thing I had to worry about was whether or not I was going to switch out my days. There was no complication over possible changes because I simply didn’t have the option. It was amazing.

And yes, I am aware that the last minute nature of last weeks packing contradicts my first ‘have a plan’ advice but it is this experience which is now helping shape my future plans. For short trips, pack only what you need and leave behind what you think you might.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Because Packing is Always the Worst.

Looking Forward: Germany.

So it turns out that my best friend from high school who I’ve been spending almost all my time (that I’m not working) with while he visits SoCal will be moving out to Germany later this year and he’ll be staying for another 3. In that time, I will definitely be heading out there for at least one visit and while I need more research once I pick out the exact when.

Yes, I have been to Germany briefly in my WWII adventures with mom and Bex but the more that I research the more that I feel the urge to jump on a plane as soon as possible.

From my last experience with Germany, I’m already convinced it’s the land of fairy tales. Looking through Pintrest, I’m convinced more and more. Wile I am nowhere near finished (and I should probably take those I’ll inevitably travel with into consideration) a few broad ideas are definitely on my list.

First up, Burg Eltz Castle. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful castles in Germany but Burg Eltz has a totally different feel – based on the pictures that is. If you are here in April to November, you’ll be able to take a castle tour, but if not, everything I’ve read indicates great views and hikes that will still be worth the visit (Don’t forget to bring good shoes!).

While Berlin and Munich are amazing cities, there are little towns straight out of fairy tales that are dying to be explored. As with most of these kinds of sights, you may need a car to get to them but, when there’s a will right? Also, as a personal joke, I want to visit the city of Dresden. This is a cultural center and filled with natural features from the river to parks and forests.

Finally, Germany is a country that is really well traversed so, essentially, without much work, there is probably a plan already out there on the internet waiting for you to discover it. Try searching road trips through Germany and you’ll probably find some great guides with more than a few hidden gems.

Even though this trip is a long way off, researching is making me more and more excited at the prospect. If you have any other suggestions – which may include where to take a bestie who is less travel savy (as a civilian at least) than I – leave them in the comments!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Looking Forward: Germany.

Rules for Road Trips: Knowing your driver

This past weekend, I was at a camping event that seemed to be fighting the environment. We were all sandblasted by a veritable dust/dirt storm the fist two days and had off and on showers (more on than off) on the final day – mostly while trying to pack everything up (which brought out many more bugs than is ever necessary).

I camp with my sister, meaning that we have a easy system. One works and packs in the wet, flooded tent while the other takes a break (you can nap, eat, try to get warm, whatever) inside the car and then you switch. Once camp is broken down, we work together to get everything in the back of the truck and settled. most things have a specific place or weight-derived order – to limit the chances of flying debris later – so again, this all goes rather quick and without incident.

I am also the driver and I like to help pack everything up so that I know I won’t have issues when driving. I also like to be the person pressing the buttons to look for music when we drive – I know where everything is without driving and it keeps me going and she knows not to touch my buttons unless asked.

Ki is the passenger. She looks for food, keeps an eye on the navigation, puts up with my music and – most the time – my rants or weird topics of conversation, and she makes sure that when we get food, I am easily able to access mine without killing us both.

The point? She knows her driver. we are partners in this and very rarely – with the exception of terseness over hormonal or exhaustion fueled outbursts – do we have any kinds of problems and ever those are usually apologized for and waved off before the drive is even finished (usually within 5 minutes of said outburst).

Not everyone gets to have these kinds of relationships.

This was abundantly clear while watching others in our group trying to pack up over the course of the day. These ladies were trying to balance multiple duties while tearing down so they had more to accomplish than ki and I, however, I’ve seen this happen on more than one occasion.

Packing their car is insane. Everything has an exact order and placement to make it all fit which makes sense but was easily thrown off by the incremental packing and the elements (rain) fighting against them.

The big problem comes to a head in a matter of workload and conflicting ideas on who and how things need to get done. This groups driver has very specific ideas on how things should go in the car for all three ladies things to fit. She also seems to think that the others should know how to pack said car the way it needs to be packed so that she doesn’t have to guide every step of the packing. As she puts it, she can’t tire herself out with all the packing, because she need to conserve her energy for staying awake while driving so if it looks like she’s lazing around during the process, that’s what’s going on.

Her passengers, however, know that she will get frustrated if things aren’t packed just so – even when certain things don’t make sense to them – so they will need her input and help to do things like set up and tear down. They have admitted that changing some of the tearing down order would probably be done before hand to smooth out the wrinkles.

Despite years of camping together, these small bumps between passengers and drivers makes me believe communication is a real issue and if you are going to road trip with someone, the very first thing you need to do is find out what your companion(s) needs from you. Every driver is different and as someone who fills this road a lot, it’s really nice when we don’t have to think of everything. But drivers, don’t forget to speak up and even set some ground rules.

Every ship needs a captain – figure out how your ship sails best and I wish you many happy adventures.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Rules for Road Trips: Knowing your driver

And the Maddest Month: May

So I know that I’ve recently been mentioning that I feel the need to get out of town and when May turned out, boy, did it deliver. Maybe more than I am at all ready for!

While work has amped-up to the nth degree, every weekend this month is filled to the brim with travel and activity ranging from 20 minutes to 5 hours away. So, here it is:

I have a camping trips a few hours north and another one 20 minutes above the Mexican border, a graduation trip up to Fresno State to watch my baby sister finish school, and the 20 minute trip to an event I’m hosting before a sleep followed by mothers day. I honestly don’t think I have a day off this month.

Still, summer is fast approaching and with my parents flying off for their 30th anniversary and another cruise, I’m thinking of a few different local trips I can manage while still getting home to feed the animals.

So it’s go, go, go, but I’ll still see you here, week after week, so thank for tuning in.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

And the Maddest Month: May