Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Little Camping Luxuries

Before we left for our camping trip Friday afternoon, after we had our gear all assembled, with nothing to do but leave C to jigsaw-puzzle it into the car and an hour before the school bus was due to arrive, I did what any sane person would do, and sewed up this bunting to decorate our campsite:

I told myself it was to bring a little sunshine to an otherwise gray weekend, but really, it was because of this picture:

Check out those sweet banner flags, not to mention the sweet camper vans.

I've become obsessed with two books I've purchased over the last few months:  The Happy Campers* and The Camper Van Cookbook.  Now, I've been camping my whole life, and I don't need a book to tell me how to do it, but these books tell how to do it better.

They're both from England--I didn't even know people in England went camping, but apparently they do, and like most things, they do it in a much more refined way than us 'Mericans.  For instance, real china for serving tea and coffee, and check out that gorgeous tent set-up (I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a granny squares afghan):

Instead of making myself crazy, trying to recreate the perfectly-perfect camping experiences depicted in the pages of these books, I thought I'd pick out a few little things from each to try each trip.  Thus the banner flags (from The Camper Van Cookbook).

I also tried out this camping smoothie (from Camper Van Cookbook):

I lacked the vintage milk bottle, as well as the fresh berries--I made mine with a mashed banana, blueberry yogurt and some orange juice.  It turned out rather grayish in color, but tasty and definitely worth repeating.  (I also ordered a copy of that book it's sitting on--The Cloud Collector's Handbook--mainly for the fabulous WPA-style artwork on the cover).

Cultural stereotyping aside, I adore this Indian headdress (from Happy Campers):

I took along several pieces of ribbon, needle and thread in case an opportunity to construct one presented itself, which it did after E collected several feathers as part of his solo BeachQuest:

And, because melted cheese is my favorite food group, I absolutely had to try this campfire fondu (from Happy Campers) made from a wheel of camembert cooked in its own little round box.  It was a big hit, and, because I made two as well as too much of a lot of other food, there was a whole one left over, which I've been eating as leftovers at lunch (stale bread torn into hunks and placed in the bottom of a mug; cheese on top; microwave for about a minute and a half--yum!).

I think it worked out great, keeping my expectations minimal, but trying a few new things.  It's easy to get stuck in the same old rut of what to do, what to cook and how to be while camping, as well as in life, so it's fun to be exposed to different ways of eating and enjoying yourself.

And, in a great twist of irony, yesterday I got out my lightweight backpacking book after my mom told me my brother is considering hiking the Colorado trail, with a mind to sending it to him, and I started re-reading it and got as (re)excited about minimalist tarp-tents and half-sleeping pads as I've been getting about camping with real bedding and gourmet foods!

*Small warning--The Happy Campers is very poorly constructed--the cover came off first copy I got before I finished looking through it once; the copy that replaced it had already lost its cover by the time it arrived.  But, a slathering of white glue seems to have remedied the problem.  Still, aggravating when it's not an inexpensive book.


  1. Haaaa--melted cheese is one of my favorite food groups too! Do you know how much I love that you actually sewed a bunting on the way out the door?

  2. Your flags and fondue make it a true holiday (please add the British accent)!

    Do you have any advice on how to keep the fun in a camp-out that doesn't allow fires, and where the weather calls for rain and temperatures no higher than the mid-50s?

  3. Jaimie--I'm so glad someone out there appreciates my madness.

    Rachel--That sounds JUST like our weather! As long as there is a water body (to chase waves or throw things into) and some sand or mud, you should be fine. Just take about 5 times the number of pairs of pants and socks you think you need. And I'd be happy without a fire--a lot less "don't poke your brother with that flaming hot stick" yelling.

  4. Cannot agree with the commenters above MORE--
    1. Love the flags.
    2. Love that you were making them in the last minute before the trip.
    3. Love melted cheese.

    Would so love to go camping with you and your fellas someday. The birthday camping trip is a great, great tradition.

  5. Thanks for the advice, Andrea, I'll have everyone pack extra of everything.

    There's a stream nearby and the group we're going with (Audubon people) have activities planned. I'm just going to keep smiling, even when my teeth chatter from the cold and damp, and everything will work out all right!

  6. I LOVE the book Happy cracks me up (and yes, mine too fell apart nearly as soon as I first opened it up). I love how the packing list includes "dress ups." And the photos are so inspiring. However, Hubby wasn't so thrilled with my insistance that we pack our bedding ("We have a duvet, we NEED to bring our duvet--and the pillows, ALL the pillows!) when we were trying to sqeeze in sleeping bags, clothes and all the food I insisted on for five people and a dog. We barely fit in our Suburban with a Tulle (sp?) on the ample bedding was a no-go. ;-) Love your bunting! I think I will insist on making one last minute next time. ;-)

  7. I love that you sewed a camping bunting, I just think that rocks. I had never heard of those two books, but after seeing them here, they are on their way to us. I love the idea of sprucing up our camping adventures. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. I'm so glad someone else recognizes the centrality of melted cheese in any well-rounded diet. I myself strive to eat it at every meal.

    I am what one might call an indoor girl, but I think that even I could get into the idea of camping with all of the lovely touches you add to it!


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