Ah Spring! Like the birds, flowers, and trees, we humans reemerge from winter, ready to get out and play. Campgrounds fill up with a wide array of campers, from minimalists to pack-the-whole-housists. (I’m looking at you RV bus!) You may think that a criticism but it isn’t entirely. I’d much rather see people having a good time out in the parks, albeit heavily loaded, than always at home. I just don’t have a better name for that style. Maximalists?
At any rate, it won’t surprise you that we trend toward minimalist. Remember, we’re not talking about backpacking and back-country hiking. This is car camping. With kids. And dog. So no trolling about how not minimal we are. Let’s keep it in context.
On the heels of the very soggy birthday hike, we packed up the minions, I mean, kids and dog for the first trip of this year. Which was also quite soggy. We knew going in that the forecast was not for camping wussies. But we’re veterans so we didn’t shy away.
We had a couple of big gear changes on this trip which included adding a hitch and bike rack system to Blubaru…which meant bringing bikes and all the associated gear of course. This trip also marked the return of the giant screen house monstrosity which I have conflicting feelings about. As in it’s so big and so not minimalist but, knowing the weather was going to be unforgiving and that we were camping with another family, it tilted more toward necessity than luxury.
We hadn’t used The Beast in many years which means we’ve never packed it since down-sizing to the Forester from the Odyssey. Packing something that big into a car that small will throw a wrench into the works of even a packing goddess like yours truly. But since I am a packing goddess, I worked it.
The other big gear change was the replacement of our beloved GeoMountain tent. I won’t be posting too many details or a review of the new tent just yet. I’m waiting until she’s got another trip under her fly but I will say that she was pretty awesome on the first go round. And even though Big Agnes’ first trip was trial by rain (as opposed to fire you know), I still want at least one more trip before I solidify my opinion.
But I digress…
The point is, we went camping. This trip’s destination? Tugaloo State Park near Gumlog (I’m not kidding), Georgia. One of the fabulous things about traveling is the odd places you encounter. I’m sure that name would make complete sense if I bothered to look up the history.
Tugaloo State Park itself is a pleasant little place right at the South Carolina border. We hadn’t been in almost five years and we wanted to revisit and make a bit of progress on our Georgia State Parks Geocaching Challenge. It’s at the edge of Lake Hartwell, formed by Hartwell Dam that was completed in 1963 so there’s lots of boating, fishing and swimming action to be had.
That is if it’s not storming on you. Which it didn’t at first.
We managed to get through to bedtime the first night without the pitter-patter of raindrops on the fly. We even managed to squeeze in some bike riding for Fred and George, a good run for me, some reading time for Jester, and a little geocaching. Dobby got his sniff on all over the place before things got messy. We even got some good time around the fire with the whole crowd.
The rest of the weekend was a giant slogfest.
Since we’re not ones to let a little inclement weather get in our way, we found alternate routes to fun with friends. This involved cramming ten people and two dogs into The Beast, spending most of the day in a picnic pavilion with said companions, and squeezing in some dinner prep in between rain bursts. It also involved six kids getting into an extreme amount of mud. Oh, and having to dig drainage ditches because you pitched your tent in the low spot of the campsite.
All of that was actually the fun part. Keeps the old gray matter challenged you know. I love the creativity a little adversity demands. And tent camping through intense thunderstorms, well, there’s always the adrenaline rush. You get mad respect from the campground volunteer when you make it through that kind of stuff still smiling.
The not so fun part for this trip was forgetting some of my layers. I was a cold camper. And while I was mildly uncomfortable some of the time, I still managed to have a really good trip. It did, however, wear me out enough that I got miserably sick when we got home. I certainly advocate minimalism but failing to pack your extra layers in cold weather is not recommended at all. There’s minimal and then there’s just plain silly. It wasn’t intentional of course, but silly nonetheless.
And the lesson here is…
Well my granola friends, the lesson is don’t only be a fair-weather camper. There’s fun to be had in rain too. Just make sure you have some quality gear, embrace the chaos, and have a good time. Plus, the parks are much less crowded and you know the only people who will be there are as nuts as you are. You’ll be in good company. Happy camping!