Browsed by
Category: Camping with family

Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Disaster can strike at a moment’s notice & the question always is; are you ready? Our power went out the other night and luckily it was back on within an hour. Jenny and I were in Joplin the day of the horrific tornado in 2011. The 22nd was our first day out without our newest arrival, Eli, who was barely a month old at the time. We left Joplin due to a headache that was bothering Jen and we were headed home to rest before going back to pick Eli up later on. Honestly, we barely had gotten in the house when my cousin called and told us that a massive tornado was headed towards our house. Tornado or no tornado; nothing was going to keep a stressed mom away from her new baby so we headed towards her parents’ home. The storm was no longer a tornado by the time it hit our poor little Subaru, but it was still blowing hard enough that we had to take shelter in a covered garage area of a home on the way to their house. Would we have made it the last two miles to their house? Maybe. Were we prepared for the storm that had hit? Not in the slightest.

I know that the survivalists and preppers think that if you have a bug-out bag, storm shelter stocked with food, and all the tools and weapons to hold off the zombie apocalypse, you’ll be ok in the wake of a natural disaster. Even meteorologists recommend having extra blankets, water bottles, kitty litter and a small shovel in the car for emergencies in winter driving conditions. Are we ready? Common sense dictates having at least a few flashlights, some matches and candles in the house in case the power goes off, but what if that happens at midnight and you can’t see to find them. Nothing stinks worse than trying to replace 3 AAA batteries in the dark by the light of a toy lightsaber. The sound is cool when you’re not trying to concentrate, the fact that they make the fighting sounds is neat when there’s not a frantic woman in the background telling you that you should have checked the batteries a long time ago, and the strobing effect of the light is not the best option of light to check out what’s going on in the house. So again I ask, are we ready?

                      Not these batteries!

My survival game on my phone has made me realize just how badly I like the comforts of modern life. It takes me an hour of surviving a game to get a fake camper 60 miles in the wilderness, and it took about 40 tries to get him out alive. (Plus this was on the easy setting!) It’s difficult because making decisions based on the time of day, how much energy he has left, what he has available to eat and drink, how much the area that he’s in offers in the way of wood for fire and shelter, food and water. All of these factors play a role in how he survives! If you use your bandages for tinder for fire the night before you get bitten by a snake, how are you going to stop the bleeding? If you use all of your food traveling, how are you going to have enough energy left to build a shelter and fire? These are the real life decisions that would come from a major event and most of us don’t want to think about it because we’re too comfortable with our heat and air being on at the push of a button, or now even on our phones! The main reason he dies in the game is the fact of poor decision making, not being focused on how I’m going to get through the situations that I encounter next.

Life comes at us quick, are you ready? I had 2 ½ hours to get ready for my first son to be brought home. Most dads get 9 months to prepare, I got zilch comparatively. Think back with me over the major events that have happened since we were born. I know I am a little older than some, so I’ll start with space shuttle crashes, the Berlin Wall coming down, tornados ripping whole communities to pieces, Hurricanes’ Sandy and Katrina, mud slides, dust storms, snow and ice storms, massive fires….. the list is too endless to even write. Are we ready? Physically, I don’t even know if my body would accept maggots and crickets, but I know I could catch fish. I’m pretty confident that I could kill a deer or at the very least a rabbit or squirrel to have meat. Being a farm kid, I have raised chickens, so we could have eggs and meat that way too.

What could any of us do? When pushed to the limits of what we’re capable, we have survived before. I’m not sure if you like camping enough that you would make it a way of life, but if you like it even a little, then, you would have an advantage, because you have been in situations where you have to cook food over a fire. It may not turn out Pinterest worthy, but it will sustain you. You have skills that others may not ever even thought that they might need. Building fires, pitching tents or setting up shelters from tarps, using an axe or splitting maul, bandaging yourself using a napkin and duct tape, these are all things that can be useful in a pinch. Hopefully, the world will continue towards peace and unity across our globe, but if it ever gets bad, we’re going to know how to survive. You just have to focus on what you would need; shelter, food, warmth, fire, sources of building material.

You have the tools, now go and hone them and have fun doing it now because one day, if we don’t hang on to them, then they will be gone.

I just want to go camping and forget my Adult Problems!!

I just want to go camping and forget my Adult Problems!!

Going for our family walk on a cold night

                   We have been blogging for almost a year now. I started out thinking that this was the silver bullet for all the things going wrong in my
life. My job was boring and driving me crazy every day! My property was not living up to the potential that I had thought it should and that was
frustrating. Probably the worst thing was that I felt so overwhelmed that I was either pulling away from my family or taking out my frustrations on
them, and that was causing loss on such a deep level. We were on a slow descent into a living hell and I knew it and couldn’t stop it; or so I
thought. For me, it was bad because no amount of hunting, camping and fishing could help me conquer the frustrating situations. It would lessen the
pain for a small amount of time, but it wasn’t taking it away like I thought it should. Our title for this post has been popping up all over my social
sites and while I believe that spending time in the outdoors has its perks and even health benefits, it can never fully heals your soul.

                I had a remarkable talent for looking at the heights from where I thought we had fallen from and wondered how I could have lived through it at all. But not being grateful for being alive, I only longed for the days when I thought that I had it all. And so I started this blog, more as a way to
express some of my doubts and failings from our camping trips, but more about the underlying problems we had found ourselves in. Hobbies can only help you to focus on your current situations and sometimes not very well if you don’t take the time to focus on what’s really going on. I was trying to add more and more hobbies to fill my time; fly tying, playing the guitar, camping, woodworking …… And then, the move happened! I finally got to be close to the river and we were down there a lot and we still have been so glad that we did it. It had to be a God thing that it happened, because our house sold in 12 days! Plus the house we bought had just come on the market and we were so lucky to get it and finalized everything on the same day, selling our house and buying the new one.

              Our aim was to make Eli’s life easier by having friends that he would go to school with, could attend church with, and see in our daily
lives. We wanted a good school district and the best for our son. Good aim? I still believe that it was a good move. It has freed up the time to
really focus on our underlying problems, let us have time to come together as a family. And what was the underlying problem? There were many, but the one that I want to focus on is materialism. How does this come together with fishing and camping? Our trip this summer made me realize that we have a ton of gear, sometimes over-abundance. Why does camping truly need that much stuff to make it enjoyable? Truth is that it doesn’t. We used some things heavily and relied on them when it poured ie) good water-proofed tent, shoes and EZ up! Tarps were a must, food and cooler were essential as were the water containers and camp stove. What were the things we didn’t need? All the toys for the boys!!! I read a snippet that said that kids nowadays have as many as 268 per child!!! Did you get that number? 268 is the average, which means some kids have more than that. It went on to say that a child plays with 12 per day on average. Why do we have so many things then? It’s our need for providing more than what we had or thought we had as kids.

                Christmas has become focused on what we can give our children, gift-wise. When really all we need to pass down is our knowledge about what we have. I really didn’t have 268 toys when I was growing up. I had the outdoors. I spent a lot of time in the woods behind our house, spent time with our dogs in the yard. I had a father who was interested more in what he could get out of us kids than what he could put into us. It’s not his fault so much as it was his way. His father was worse and only had kids to help him amass what he thought he needed. The problem was that he let things rot away rather than use them. My favorite memories of spending time at my Grandpa’s were riding tractors that hadn’t been running in years and that wouldn’t run even after he was gone. So much of what he thought he needed for running his farm; we threw into a bonfire when he moved from one farm to another about 8 years before his death. Then there was another bonfire when he died. Why did he think he needed so much? He had lived through the Great Depression era and he saved things that he had been without during that time thinking that his kids might need it just in case. I think he was the original Boy Scout who came up with the motto; Be Prepared! I have been gifted 2 little special boys who are looking to me to prepare them for life and we all have this need to provide for them with material needs, our generation probably more than any other on the planet before us. I take my responsibility seriously and I want to take good care of my sons, but just like camping/fishing/hunting there is gear that can be left at home and the trip is just as memorable and special than if you had toted it along and made yourself more weary by having it. I have finally peeled back the layers of myself to find that I don’t need so much to enjoy my family. I really need only them.

              We all want the best for our children and are just coming to the realization that we can’t just hand them all they need for life.Finding out
that we can’t just ignore our problems or gloss them over with gifts is one of life’s lessons that is hardest learned, but so well worth the time it
takes to achieve. Our kids have to work for it just like we did, maybe not quite as hard for some as others, but hopefully they can appreciate the
climb, the sacrifices that we have made for them and give some of their abundance back. To those that haven’t found your joy in the outdoor world
that I do, meet up with someone and find out why we are so crazy about life in the wild. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all, peace be unto all
who haven’t found HIM yet!

5 Reasons We MUST Pay Attention to the Small Things

5 Reasons We MUST Pay Attention to the Small Things

I’ll let you decide which one is Alpha and which is submissive in our relationship! But you all know who is REALLY in charge!

Wolves fighting
Wolves fighting

Small details can make things go so much smoother. For example, it’s not impossible to be without a hot dog roasting stick when the woods are full of sticks, but it makes the ride a lot quieter if you don’t forget to pack them and don’t remember 200 miles from home and say UH-Oh out loud. Yeah that was me on this last trip! Lesson learned! But here are some more examples from our other adventures.
1. Small details can add up in a hurry
– So I have done a lot of odd jobs getting more flexible hours so I can be with my family. The most recent was working at a carwash. I can’t believe the amounts of pennies that I will find lying around the vacuum areas, in the wash bays themselves or just on the ground period. And not just pennies, I found a bag full of quarters around the wash once. People must forget where they drop the bag and then figure that no one is going to pick them up until they come back looking for them four days later. I collected these and granted, I’m not raking in big bucks, but how does an extra $30-40 a month add up? $30 times 12 months = $360 How many things can you do with that extra cash?

2. Small details provide opportunities to explain life to your kids
– Eli and I made the cardinal mistake of catching crawdads and mud guppies (sculpins) one day at the river.

sculpins

This little guy and his friends made it a lovely day for the critter getter and for showing him how things live together. Raccoons made it possible later that night and the next morning to explain the importance of food in the wild and how they LOVE a free meal left in a critter getter. It was almost impossible to get the lid off for me, but somehow the little buggers did it and made off with everything that was in there. Important note, the next batch we caught went back into the creek before we left to give the little thieves some harder work to get the next night’s meal!
3. Small Details can trip you up
– Have you ever seen a guy line on your tent as your feet are over your head and you are eye level with the ground? A little detail like a small line connecting your tent to the ground can be a life saver when the wind and rains of a storm are blowing and trying to tear down your tent with their force. They can ruin a trip as well as the storm if you fall and crack your skull on a rock. Even small falls can lead to back pain, neck pain, and overall discomfort which can make you a grouch ie) everyone else can hate having you there.

4. Small details make life more beautiful
– Have you ever been on a long hike through the forest and it is hot and brown everywhere you look? Then, shining through the blah is a tiny flowerflower on forest floor and it seems to draw your attention for a minute and lets you believe that everything is not going to dry up and die under the canopy today, namely me. Little things count so much that in our busy rush schedule, even if we take the time to slow down and hike, sometimes we miss the most beautiful little things. Slow down and smelling roses is a part of my daily routine when they bloom. They just refresh me.
5. Small details keep things running the right way
– Have you ever left the switch on for the car lights when you are desperately searching for some little item you know you packed before the trip and it must’ve fallen out of your bag and you have to have it to go to sleep? What happens the next morning when you have decided to cut the trip short a day and the car won’t start? I’ll tell you what happens. The trip gets very frustrating very quickly. Small things like flipping switches, changing oil in the car, making sure you have dry matches all can make or break adventurers and they are small details that shouldn’t matter all that much but in that moment, they do.

As you can see, the small details in life are the most profound in certain situations. Usually, I’m not a fan of nit-picking and behaviors that see all the little things that I have missed. That’s why Jenny and I have had some pretty good fights. But, I have learned that little things are great motivators to get life back on track, to have discipline in your schedule, and to see the value in the people around you. Pick out small details and focus on them. They could be as small as leaving a note that says I love you in a lunch box or on the counter for your spouse to see. It could be a small paper clip that holds your son’s favorite motorcycle toy together after he’s broken it. Focus on something that seems small to you, but can have a huge impact on another person. You won’t regret doing it!

10 things I learned from our Road Trip: Part 2

10 things I learned from our Road Trip: Part 2

This is a continuation from my last post, Part 1. Please read that one too for more great tips!

20160802082255

6. If possible, make friends with the Campground Hosts (also called Park Hosts).

These people know the park inside and out as they live there for extended periods of time. They are a great resource for information and can be very helpful. We made dear friends with the hosts at Lake Ouachita and even exchanged phone numbers at the end of the trip! They helped us find the best hiking spots, provided us with local maps and outing information, told us the best times to visit during the year, and even let us know where the cleanest, newest bathrooms were in the park!

7. ALWAYS spray your tent with waterproofing BEFORE going on a trip, even if your tent is brand new.

We took our tent that was a few years old and it hadn’t been unpacked for about a year. Bad move. It leaked from every seam! After spending one very soggy night, and then subsequently having to wash all of our laundry and bedding the next day, we went to a Wal-Mart and bought a new tent to continue our trip in. This tent held up extremely well, despite storms, and we only dealt with a few droplets. We were so impressed! Even still, it is now currently set up in our backyard and has been sprayed from top to bottom with waterproofing to make it an even better tent! (Click on picture to take you directly to our tent’s website.)

Screenshot_20160811-204456

8. Stop at a Park Ranger station in the state you are traveling.

Most states have Travel Books, or something of that like, that details the State, National, and CCC parks in that state. Having one for Arkansas was a huge help when we had to come up with a new destination. It listed parks that allowed tent camping, allowed pets and told us what to expect before we arrived. Rangers themselves are also a wealth of information so don’t be afraid to ask questions!

20160811_204322

9. Make lists… Of Everything!!

Make a list of meals ahead of time, and be sure to write the recipe if you need it. You will be so tired (and sometimes frazzled) that you may forget what you wanted to make with the chicken you brought. You don’t want to waste food and you don’t want to forget an ingredient so it helps to glance at a list.

Make lists of what you have packed. We needed a foil cooler insulator the whole week and were so frustrated that we didn’t have it… only to find out once we got home and unpacked that we had it the whole time. UGH!!

Make a list of the necessary items to pack for a hike. (My personal hiking list will be in a post to follow.) Nothing worse than being well into a hike only to find out you forgot to pack a baby’s diaper!

10. Last but not least, always take spare rope.

We used rope to tie tarps around our Easy Up to protect our “kitchen” from rain. We used it for a make-shift clothesline. Tie down lids on totes or coolers to keep critters out. Handy to have if a guy-line on your tent breaks. So many uses!

20160802081307

I hope a few of these tips make your next camping experience better and easier!

Was there a tip on here that you haven’t heard before?

10 things I learned from our Road Trip: Part 1

10 things I learned from our Road Trip: Part 1

You can quickly search online and find lots of articles on camping; telling you what to take, wear or tips to make it easier. I’ve read many of them myself! I hope you find a few things in this post that you haven’t read anywhere else.

20160802082239

1. Have a Plan B and a Plan C… and if all these fail, be prepared for spontaneity.

Our original plan was designed around locations with gorgeous waterfalls. What we didn’t realize was that a recent lack of rainfall had dried all of them to a trickle (not really worth hiking miles to see that!). Ironically, the week we chose to camp was the end of the drought and we had torrential rain for 6 of the 7 days. We had to come up with a new destination, while trying to outrun the rain.

2. Don’t set your expectations too high.

Was it reasonable or realistic to assume we could camp for 12 days with a (soon-to-be) Kindergartener and a toddler? Ummm… in hindsight, probably not. BUT we survived 7 days, in pouring rain and excessive heat, so I consider that a huge success!

3. Have TONS of snacks… and keep some with you EVERYWHERE.

I have two little boys so not much more explanation is needed on this.

4. Take a Rubbermaid tote.

Make sure you pack something in it that you will be using so that the tote is empty. A spare Rubbermaid tote makes for a fantastic bathtub or splash pool for little ones. (A large tote worked as a tub for my husband and I when we were desperate for a bath!)

thumbnail_20160728_165944[1]

5. Invest in QUALITY hiking boots AND good socks.

These two things will make a huge difference in the outcome of your trip. I am generally a very frugal shopper, but when it comes to hiking boots, I’ve learned the hard way that you get what you pay for. Cheap boots = blisters and misery. Same goes for cheap socks. Quality hiking boots are REALLY worth the money!!

I personally LOVE my Ahnu boots! (Link to similar ones from Cabelas) They are the only shoes I took for the entire week and they kept my feet dry and comfortable the whole time. Not a single blister! I especially love them because they do not need any “break-in time” either… perfect fit from the moment I laced them up!

thumbnail_20160725_170446[1]

Next post will include tips 6-10, so check back!

What are YOUR best tips for camping and/or camping with kids?

Follow our Journey!

Follow our Journey!

20160725_085602


Our blog will be quiet for the next 2 weeks as we enjoy an awesome camping trip as a family. Please follow our journey on our Instagram account @2crazycampers.

Check back for lots of great posts upon our return!

Experts?!

Experts?!

So I have been doing research on this job change for awhile now and I have to take issue with one of the quotes that keeps popping up. “Read at least 3 books on any given subject and you’re an expert on the subject.”  Really? 3 Books is all it takes to become an expert on a topic! I guess they’ve never experienced camping! I mean I’m no Henry Ford, but even I know that you can’t know everything by reading 3 BOOKS!!!

Henry Ford

I suppose that when you read about the great outdoors and how unpredictable it can be, you may be inclined to believe that by packing everything in your house and your kitchen sink, you’ll be ok in the outdoors. Oh so wrong!! I am a firm believer in the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” But what I know from experience is that sometimes, you just have to ride out the storm in the truck/car.

Take for instance, our first camping trip together as a married couple. We were young and in love and trying to camp at our favorite camping grounds, only to find there were no spots available. No problem, we’ll just move to another campground just around the lake from where we were. We had just bought our first tent, just received a camping certificate for free rental, and had only been married maybe a month, two tops. This was going to be great!!!!!

This turned out great, but we watched as a storm rolled in and filled our little campsite with over 6 inches of water, not to mention that the grounds where we did find a spot, dug out the tent location and put small gravel into the area so as to provide a good level spot (6 inches below the ground level). So as a young and dumb couple of kids experienced the torrential rain, and we watched as a box of facial tissue started soaking up the 12 inches of rain that was sitting in the bottom of our tent, we didn’t make out like I had planned. Jenny cried, HARD! I was mad at the campgrounds and what was worse was the rental was non-refundable. We did manage to finagle another night rental certificate from the host on our way out, soaking gear in the back of the pick-up. I remember not even folding the tent, I just pulled the stakes out, managed to undo as many connections from the poles that I could, and stuffed it under the Tonneau cover that I had on my truck at the time. I’m not even sure that we unpacked the sleeping bags from the tent floor, or the clothes for that matter. I do remember telling Jenny on the way home, that we would park the truck, behind the garage, so no one would know that we were home and we would “camp” at home, which we did.

Experts as we were at that point, we didn’t take into consideration things like weather when we camped, or even location and conditions of the site. We were just like I said, young and dumb. Please don’t get me wrong, I have read a great many books in my life, and continue to believe that reading is fundamental in the knowledge of something, BUT you have got to have real-world experience in order to be an expert. That is where my philosophy and many of these other people’s has differed. I was taught a process of learning that I believe has to be incorporated into every experience you want to learn.

So what’s the process? Think about how you’ve learned anything in your life. If you have a thing in mind, remember back to the first moments that you didn’t know anything about this. It’s really hard, but the not-knowing was scary and exciting at the same time. Who was there? Usually it was a parent or a teacher. What were they doing? They were doing the thing that you couldn’t. They were showing you the right way, hopefully, of doing this process successfully. So, first must come some form of example, followed by a little experiment with the parent/ teacher around to show you, hands-on what to do, and then they have to let go and let you do it, ON YOUR OWN! You are going to make mistakes, but that is where the expertise comes to be finely polished and you become more and more proficient. You don’t just stand up and walk as a baby, nor do you just start riding your bike, driving (I wish I had been around for teaching some people how to do this!) or anything else. You must have practice to be good enough to perform any task. Camping is not something to give up on. If we had given up after that first experience, we would never have gotten to see our little boys enjoy throwing leaves at the campsite, never enjoyed taking naps on the hammock, not gotten to spend time with valued members of our family on a more personal level. We also wouldn’t have the bad experiences, but when you look back on your experiences, MOST of the time, only the good memories remain and the bad are a whole heap funnier than they were at the time. Keep trying, it’s a lot more fun to try than to quit and give up.

 

 

Got stress? Go Camping

Got stress? Go Camping

I posted this to our social media sites, with the exception of what we have been doing the last week (MOVING), this is so true.

20160601_113314

Camping can help you relax and unwind, let go of the worries that accumulate in our day-to-day lives, but mostly connect. Connecting with my family has been amazing, it has tested our bonds, but I think that we’ll come through this obstacle even closer than we have been in the past. I want other people to have this peace that I have found, especially in the world we find ourselves in today.

America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful

John Muir once said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” Even if we can’t agree on religion, politics, social issues….. the list could go on and on, we do agree that being in nature heals our souls and we believe it well enough to uphold our forefathers requests to keep wild places alive.

Yosemite water fall

 

What does history teach us about the views of people about the great expanse that was opened up by the Louisiana Purchase? People were scared of what was out there! A vast nothing that lay between themselves and the Pacific coast is what most people saw the land as. A huge financial burden that our fledgling country couldn’t dare afford to make. Many didn’t want America to take on the challenge of this great unknown, but there were intrepid men, Lewis and Clarke, who made the expedition to find out what was out there. Aren’t we glad they did? Imagine what our legacy would be without the bulk of what is now the United States.

Then there comes the industrial age and building of the great railways that cris-crossed the nation. If something was in our way, we just pushed through or over or displaced it/them (the Native Americans). But then someone started making the decisions to set aside wild places for the good of our nation. These great forward-thinking men made the decision to force through their opinions that to be in the wild was likened to being in a great museum of art. I simply can’t imagine how the landscape of America would look if these thoughts hadn’t impressed themselves onto the thinking of President Theodore Roosevelt. How would we be now if we didn’t have the Yosemite Falls to inspire the great artists in photography? What would be our destiny if Alaska had stayed in the hands of the Russians had Secretary of State Seward not made his great political folly and bought Alaska? Who would we be if George Washington Carver hadn’t been inspired by the wilds of Missouri and developed his interest in science and the bounties that were uses of peanuts and sweet potatoes? Can we even imagine what would be the landscape of our lives if we didn’t have something to fight for in World War I and II after we saw in the devastation that rolled throughout Europe?

As we celebrate the 100 year mark of the monumental decision to create National Parks, places set aside for us to fight for and continue to conseve, let us renew our dedication to conservation and saving the wilds for the coming generations. We know that they heal us. Can we not share that healing with others?

Welcome to the Camp

Welcome to the Camp

What do you think of when you hear the word “camping”?

Bugs? Forest animals? Peeing in the woods??

Yes, those things might have a place in camping but that’s not all there is to it!

I’m not into “glamping” (the new fad of glamorous camping) but I also don’t necessarily want to “rough it”.  My camping style has a nice mix of convenience and simplicity.  And it’s done in a tent, not camper-trailer!

We do have cook stoves, queen size air mattresses, electricity (occasionally, when the site allows it) and bathrooms.  But what we ARE missing is the best part… tv’s and other electronics and the hussle and bussle of everyday life.

When we camp with extended family, we jokingly say that we set up the “camp compound”.  Here is an examples of our setup: