Tag Archives: camping

Beautiful Fall Foliage

Fall Favorites

What is your favorite season? Mine is the Fall !

While I actually like all the seasons, Fall is my favorite. I love the beautiful colors of the leaves. I love all the hues of the autumn color palette, from the golden yellows to the burnt oranges to the deepest maroons. Some trees are like a magnificent work of art 🙂  I also love the weather – warm sunny days; crisp cool evenings; low humidity … what’s not to love ? Unfortunately, my sinuses aren’t a huge fan of the barometric pressures the change of seasons brings, but the rest of me loves the Fall weather.

Another thing I love about Fall is comfort food. The cooler temps have me yearning for big pots of soup with warm crusty bread. I love serving hearty dishes like beef stew and chili. This time of year also gets me craving baked goods, warm from the oven. I’d say it’s a tie between Apple Cinnamon and Pumpkin as my favorite flavor of Fall. I like pumpkin everything … pumpkin bread, pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkins seeds … btw, did I mention that I love pumpkin ?? However, I also love apple cinnamon everything too! Pretty much anything apple flavored from the bakery – apple pie, apple crisp, apple strudel, apple slice … Yum! And let’s not forget hot apple cider 🙂

I also enjoy the great outdoors during the Fall. I love going on long walks in the forest preserves, going to a pumpkin farm, getting turned around & lost in corn mazes, going apple picking, taking a hayride, and going camping. I love sitting around a fire enjoying a warm (or warming) beverage and having long talks while gazing into the mesmerizing flames. I love when the wood pops and sends up sparks; I just love the scent of the burning logs 🙂

Just so the other seasons don’t feel left out, here’s what I like about them:

  • Winter ~ Freshly fallen snow and Christmas (just wish that it wasn’t so bitterly cold and last so long)
  • Spring ~ Nature coming back to life, trees / plants turning green again and the weather starting to warm up
  • Summer ~ Longer hours of daylight and being outdoors more (if only there wasn’t so much humidity)

So, you see, I do actually like all the seasons, but Fall is still my favorite! Please share what your favorite season is and why …

Maiden Voyage Camping Trip

First Camping Trip of the Year

My husband and I love to go camping 🙂

As you know from a previous blog post, we purchased a used travel trailer last month. That post detailed all that happened, but to sum it up, we were deceived and bought a camper that had several issues. We spent the month of May and many $$ to get it ready for safe travels … everything isn’t perfect, but we repaired what we felt were the most important items.

This weekend we are embarking on our Maiden Voyage with it 🙂

We picked it up from the RV repair place on Thursday, and I have been getting all our camping gear transferred from our old pop-up camper to the new one. It’s been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun setting up house in our new (to us) home away from home.

We have been watching lots of You Tube videos to learn how everything works. We’ve (well I have) read the owners manual cover to cover. We have camped for many years, but never in a camper.

We have to learn how to:

  • level the camper at the campsite
  • hook up the electric and water
  • operate the awning
  • make sure the propane is on and the frig & stove work
  • take care of all the bathroom chemical stuff
  • emptying the holding tanks (you know what I’m talking about)
  • and stuff we haven’t even thought of 🙂

I’m hoping for a wonderful weekend filled with fun memories of this first camping trip in our new camper. And I’m hoping that these new fun memories will replace my first disappointing ones & help me to regain the excitement I had when we first decided we were going to buy a camper with a bathroom – a definite upgrade from our pop-up.

Let the fun begin 🙂

Old Camper - New Camper

Camping Season Has Arrived !

I love the month of May!  The weather is getting warmer, the lilacs and other flowers are blooming … and it’s time for camping 🙂

My kids were older, both teenagers when we started camping with our family. Our first trip was as part of a larger group of families that camped every year over Father’s Day weekend. We bought a large tent, tarps, a camp stove, and a lantern. We already had sleeping bags and other essentials. We bought some old pots & pans / dishes at a garage sale. We had a great time. We did this each Father’s Day weekend for 3 years. It was our only camping trip each year.

Then my hubby and I decided we were getting tired of sleeping on the ground, so we bought a used pop-up camper. We continued with the annual trip each June for a few more years. Now the kids, ahem … young adults go on this annual trip without us. Over the past few years, it has been just the hubby and I, and we really like it. We enjoy the peace and quiet 🙂 We usually plan a 3 day weekend camping trip for June, July, August and September.

This Spring, we took the plunge and bought a used travel trailer!  No more middle of the night trips to the bathroom for us 🙂 We actually bought it off EBay and went to pick it up last week.

We were so excited when we first saw it. We knew from the eBay description that there were a couple of minor things wrong with it. It’s a 1999 model, so just age alone was a contributing factor. We trusted the seller when they said that there had been a previous leak but it had been completely repaired and no longer leaked. We trusted the seller when they said the awning had a tear but was still usable. We trusted the seller when they said that the crack in the plastic vent cover was only cosmetic.

Then we drove home with it, six hours in the pouring rain. Then we parked it outside our house for the night, and it rained all night long. The next morning, the sun was out, so we decided to start moving our camping gear from the pop-up to the new trailer. The first thing we noticed when we went to unlock the door was that the entire plastic vent cover was gone … it must of blown off during the long ride home from southern Indiana. So, I taped a piece of plastic over it so the back of the refrigerator didn’t get any more wet than it already was. Then we went inside to discover that it did leak … not giant puddles, but the wall was moist and soft to the touch in the same place the previous water stain was. We then opened the awning to find the tear was nearly half way across. I was mad … so mad. I hate being lied to. So I waited a couple days to cool off, then sent a (very professional, not emotional) ebay message to the sellers explaining that we were very upset that we had been deceived by their description, and that we thought they should be responsible for the cost of the repairs to get it to the way it was described as perfectly usable.

I waited a week for them to respond, and then I opened a resolution ticket with ebay motors. EBay has strict guidelines about items being “as described”. They will investigate the situation and try to work with us to get some of our money back.

We are taking it to a RV repair place to get an estimate for the needed repairs. Hopefully eBay will convince the sellers to cover those costs.

We really do love our new (to us) little camper and can’t wait to take it out for her maiden voyage 🙂 We just didn’t expect to have to put a lot of money into repairs so soon 🙁

Oh, and by the way … our pop-up camper is for sale … make us an offer we can’t refuse 🙂

Autumn camping

I Love Autumn Camping

Autumn is my favorite time of year to go camping. I’ve always enjoyed camping, but I enjoy it even more now that the kids are grown. Now that it’s just me and my hubby, aka – couple camping, we plan one long weekend each month, May – October. Each month has its own charm, but I really love going in September & October.

One of my favorite things about autumn camping is the weather … not too hot, not too cold. As long as it is sunny, it doesn’t matter to me how chilly the temperature gets. I always dress in layers of clothes, so it’s easy to take one off or put another one on. Another plus to autumn camping is hardly any bugs … sometimes the bees are bad, but they only seem to bother you when there is food out. Continue reading

camping

My Top 10 Best Camping Tips & Hacks

I love camping, but if you know me at all, you know that I love to have a plan. Even if things don’t always go as planned, you can go on to Plan B 🙂

Here are some tidbits of wisdom (no particular order) that have served me well …

#1  Plan all your meals and snacks (I suggest lots of snacks) ahead of time – then use your menu plan to create your shopping & packing lists

#2  Create a separate plastic storage bin (with tight fitting lid) to store camp essentials – one for your “camp kitchen” aka, pots & pans, dishes, utensils, dish towels, etc. – one for your “camp gear” aka, tools, flashlights, rope, fire starters, bug spray, etc. – one for your “camp pantry” aka, to store all your non refrigerated, dry food items.

#3  Have 3 separate coolers – one for meats (freeze ahead of time and put in zip lock bags (to catch blood from the meat so it doesn’t mix in with the water from melting ice)) – one for beverages (I keep these separate because the lid is opened so often). I also fill a gallon zip lock with clean ice for my glass each time we get more bags of ice. – one to serve as the “frig” … for your fruits & veges, condiments, butter, eggs, etc. I freeze gallon jugs of water before hand to keep things cold and then use the melted water to make lemonade.

#4  Try to choose a shady campsite – it is cooler during the day and you can always find a sunny place to hang out if you want heat & fun in the sun.

#5  Get inexpensive solar garden path lights from the Dollar store – place them around your site so you can see where you are going a night … darkness fall very quickly. These generally work even if they don’t get direct sunlight during the day, maybe not as bright, but enough to light your path.

#6  Use aluminum foil and aluminum pans – the grates over the fire pit are usually pretty dirty and gross, so I use foil grill pans to cook my meats – plus easy clean up 🙂

#7  Have two matching (size/shape, so they can stack) laundry baskets – pack your clothes in one with the empty underneath. Each night as you change clothes, put the dirty clothes in the bottom basket and stack the clean clothes on top of it.

#8  Have small mesh bags for carry bath & hygiene essentials to the shower house – make one for males & one for females, or one for each person. I also set up a hand washing station at the campsite for quick clean ups. I put a bar of soap in an old knee high nylon stocking and hang it with a towel near the water / dish washing area.

#9  Always take your trash to the dump station every night before going to sleep – you do not want animals prowling around your campsite because they smell your meal leftovers! I also fill all our water containers at this time too – I need fresh water for my morning coffee 🙂

#10  Always have a well stocked first aid kit with a basic first aid manual. I use a jumbo vitamin/pill day of the week type container and re-labeled them for a supply of Advil / Benadryl / Pepto-Bismol / etc.

Do you have any tips or tricks or ideas about camping that you could share with us? Leave a comment … I’d love to hear them. We can all learn from each other !

Camping - Nap Time

There’s nothing like a relaxing afternoon nap while you are camping.

Happy Camping 🙂

Enjoying "Me Time" in St. Louis

Relaxing “Me Time” Helps Prepare for Fall Schedule

 

The month of September is a transitional type of month for me.  The weather often is reminiscent of summer, but the schedule definitely says it is time to get back to a more normal (sometimes hectic) routine. It’s a bittersweet time of year for me. While I love the carefree nature of the summer, being the creature of habit that I am, I also crave the structure of a routine. That being said, I’m sure I’m not alone (at least, I hope I’m not alone) in finding the right balance between being busy but not too busy … it’s not as easy as it sounds. I also know from experience that I need to schedule in some “me time”. Taking a little time for myself every now and then gives me a little break, rejuvenates and refreshes me.

For the last few years, I’ve been attending a women’s conference in St. Louis in mid September with one of my best friends. It’s a wonderful atmosphere where I enjoy some “me time”. It helps me get focused on what’s important in my life and try to let go of what’s not. It helps me sort out the activities that are beneficial from those that are time wasters. Over the years, I have learned that my time is a valuable commodity and I want to be wise in how I spend it.

After the conference, we meet up with my wonderful husband at a (previously chosen) campground somewhere between home and St. Louis. He spoils us by having our pop-up camper and the whole campsite set up before we arrive. We give him a call when we are about an hour away and he makes us a delicious hot dinner … yep, He’s a keeper !!

We generally just chill out and relax around the campfire after dinner (we may or may not share a bottle of wine). The next day we like to hike on the trails or take a nice bike ride. We have fun playing games, reading a good book, or working a jigsaw puzzle. We also love a nice nap (don’t judge). It’s nice to just enjoy the great outdoors and not be tied to a regimented schedule just yet.

Don’t get me wrong; being a planner and organizer by nature, I know for a fact that I function much better with a structured routine. They don’t call them lazy summer days for nothing 🙂

When we get home from this weekend away, I feel refreshed and rested. I’m ready to get back into the faster pace of the daily grind. I do realize that I am blessed to be able to take the time off to enjoy this type of weekend. One reason is that my children are now grown. The other is that I own my own business, which has many perks. One of my favorite perks is scheduling my own time.

My hope is that you can find some time (even if just a few hours) to relax, unwind and enjoy some “me time”, before the fall schedule truly takes hold.

As always, remember to contact Tracy Helps You if we can do anything to help free up some time for you 🙂