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13 August 2009 @ 12:51 pm
It's All Survival Mode These Days...  
I've got a break between birthdays to make a regular post, so I'm updating on last weekend's solo-camping trip.

Obviously, I survived. I didn't kill the kids, though Christopher got sent to the creek a LOT because he would not stop pestering Lauren. And there was more fighting than I would have liked, though some unexpected sweetness too (toward me, not each other).

We got the tent up Friday night without much difficulty, other than the kids being shorter than HalfshellHusband, but I do most of the work anyway. The people with the popup tent-trailer at the neighboring campsite gaped at us like a zoo exhibit, but whatever. *eye roll*

Friday night was cold, even with lots of layers and a stocking cap and dragging my coat over my head to create a pocket of warmth. It's usually not that cold up there until September-October.

Caveat: I'm not sure I've ever camped anywhere that wasn't at altitude. I have no idea what that would be like! My experience is with the Central Cascades, the Northern Sierra Nevada and (once) The Uintas. The usual camp elevation is a minimum of 5000-6000 feet, where it's hot during the day and coooold at night.

We hiked 6 miles on Saturday, on my favorite route. Lauren fell behind a lot before lunch, but she made it the whole way (lots of groaning, though). Christopher was unfazed, and loved the scenery (lots of lakes on that hike - Little Bear Lake is especially glassy and beautiful). We returned to the campsite around 2pm, and discovered what goes on midday when everyone's away: chipmunks and golden-mantled ground squirrels run around on the camp picnic tables looking for treats! Damn, but they're cute. Christopher tried out the swimming hole in the river, but it was shaded by then and the ambient temperature too cold. Later, we played whackball in a fairly wide spot that wouldn't lose foul-balls or major hits too easily. Whackball, invented by HSH, is played with a collapsed hiking stick and a small nerf football. This controls the distance, and makes the game more unpredictable. ;)

Saturday night we wound up eating at the expensive place with the trout pond again because the places we were aiming for were both closed. The food was good, though, except for the ice cream (Christopher said it tasted like laundry detergent, and it did). We made s'mores, then put the fire out and waited for dark to look at the stars. Gorgeous.

Sunday morning's takedown of the tent was verrry slow. It's an excruciating task anyway, but we must have come during a different month last summer (where the morning sun falls in a different place). Sunday, the whole tent was in the shadows (that's new), the rainfly was soaked, and the underside of the tent was a little muddy. What a mess. Plus, I didn't roll it tightly enough to cram back into its microbox (as if anyone will EVER take a tent this size backpacking). I've been planning to re-roll this week after a bike ride, but both biking days have been 100-degrees. Suckage!

One last hike, lunch by a beautiful waterfall (the kids waded around and skipped rocks), then we set off back home again. It was over too soon, and I'd stay another day if the place had showers, but I can only take the unwashed hair for so long.

After I got back, I talked to the coworker who had borrowed another coworker's popup tent-trailer to camp at Tahoe. He says the popup tent has a heater, which makes me even more envious!

HalfshellHusband missed us all, and we him, though he was much better by Saturday afternoon and the vomiting backed off to just nausea. Thank goodness!

jeyhawk: orlando: orangejeyhawk on August 13th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a lovely trip. :0) I don't think I've heard of pop-up tent trailers... Sounds like magic to me.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 13th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
The problem is that you have to keep them around and store them the rest of the year, but if you camped a lot (instead of once a year) they'd be wonderful.

Here's a link to one, though it's fancier than the people across from us had. Theirs was low enough that you couldn't stand up in it, but the two sides formed flat sleeping areas, and there was a storage compartment underneath.

I have no idea how fancy the one is that the guy at work owns. They're ALL fancy compared to the basic nylon tent that we have. :D
jeyhawk: normal: rosejeyhawk on August 14th, 2009 07:47 am (UTC)
Cool. :0) I can see why it's not something you'd want if you just go camping every once in a while.

Personally I think part of the charm with camping is to put up the tent, even if it normally leads to a few more white hairs than you began with. *g*
Serena64serena64 on August 13th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a beautiful place to camp.
Glad to hear that HSH was feeling a little better when you got back. Thoughts and prayers to you all.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Starry Nighthalfshellvenus on August 13th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
The area is gorgeous, and the campsite is in a wonderful location (called "The Lakes Basin" for a reason). The outhouses are pretty clean, and there are water spigots (a luxury), though the water's coldish and they don't want you to use too much of it. It's from an aquifer, so there isn't an unlimited supply.

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. HSH was lonely without us, but he was so sick on Friday that it was better he stayed at home near a real bathroom and with a comfortable bed.
Princess Robot Bubblegum!astrothsknot on August 13th, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
You've never washed in the wilds? Or used a solar shower?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 13th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
I've only washed in the wilds as a child, when backpacking. And no-one had solar showers back then!

This is car camping, where you're essentially "in public." The river is snowmelt, and you'd need biodegradable shampoo to wash with, but it's still environmentally "unfriendly." And you'd have to lug your own water for a solar shower, either from home or from the river. The campsite has spigots, but they link to aquifers, and the water supply is limited.

Have you camped much with Stewart? You have a forest area you like to go to, don't you? Probably not as cold as the mountains at night, though. :0
Princess Robot Bubblegum!astrothsknot on August 13th, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
Stewart's never camped. It's easier to stay in a guest house near where we want to go. I've not camped in years, though I do have a decent tent that says "Take me out!"

I used to camp wild, because I don't feel secure around people and we have nothing that will eat us. Other than midges.

*yes we've big cats but they don't go near people. And everyone is in denial about them, anyway.

There's wallabies where we like to hike. It's so cool.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 13th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
HSH would prefer to stay in a bed-and-breakfast and hike during the day, but that's not really possible or affordable with kids. ;)

How big are your big cats? Are they bobcat/lynx-sized cats? Ours are cougars/panthers/pumas/mountain lions (all the same thing), which are large and quite deadly. However, they don't like crowds, so they leave campsites alone.

Bears are a problem in some areas here too, mostly a problem for your food, unless you get between a mother and her cubs.

Are your wallabies imported? Do they hop around? We have some at our local zoo, and they mostly snooze all the time. Though it's not as if Sacramento's an unfamiliar climate-- it's very much like Australia, with the seasons reversed, both in the summer AND the winter!
Princess Robot Bubblegum!astrothsknot on August 13th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
We've always stayed in in B&Bs when we hike. The trick is to negotiate. I've ended up getting meals free and Stewart half-price, especially when I mention I've US friends and will give them a good write up.

I've had breakfast free a lot because we only eat toast and we've either straight out said at the start can we get breakfast free or I've guilted owners into it when I got there. Or even when you've seen their rates, call a few others in the area tell them B's doing such a deal, can A or C do you better?

Going midweek as well is good.

We have rock wallabies in the UK. There was an outbreak from a safari park in the seventies in Yorkshire and other escapes from private policies and they just took off in the wild. Shitload around Loch Lomond

The big cats seem to be black panthers. As in leopards. The theory goes that they were held in private zoos until the 1960s when the law changed and people released them into the wild, where they've been breeding ever since. There's footage, spoor, and eyewitnesses - some of them who were attacked - but official opinion is we're all imagining it. Only one percent of the UK is populated, there's no predators, there's plenty of places for them to hide. Plenty prey, rabbits and sheep.

I don't know how people can keep denying it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 14th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
Even I've heard the panther rumors down here in the U.S., plus the standard denials of them. ;)
alienmom: heart grows on treealienmom on August 13th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
you are a far braver woman that i! i don't go anywhere without large kidfolk or manfolk to do all the heavy lifting! LOL

sounds like you had a good time! nothing like hanging out with mother nature! =D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Starry Nighthalfshellvenus on August 13th, 2009 11:23 pm (UTC)
:D HSH is taller than I am but not much stronger, and I'm far better with tent assembly than he is. One of us is a software engineer, and the other was an English major. Guess which one is me?

Though it's nice to have another adult there so you can take turns getting far, far away when the kids start driving you nuts. :0

We did have a good time, and it's not usually that cold, so I'll chalk it up to randomness. Now October is iffy (it's usually around 29-33 at night then), but early August is usually tolerable!

Notice the lovely icon I'm using for the occasion? :)
brigid_tannerbrigid_tanner on August 14th, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
Glad you had a good time and HSH is feeling a little better! You're making me want to go camping when the weather cools off some. It's been a while since I've gone. I've NEVER gotten a tent back into the original packing. But since I always car camped, it wasn't an issue. Rolling up a wet tent does suck. Couple of time we broke camp in the rain and I had to set the tent up in the backyard when I got home so it could dry.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Starry Nighthalfshellvenus on August 14th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
I can't remember which part of the South you live in - Georgia? Alabama? Do you have nice scenery nearby? I'd love to visit the Smoky Mountains or the Ozarks someday.

I have almost always gotten the jumbo tent back in its packing, though you have to quadruple-fold carefully and roll slowly and tightly. And then use a bungee cord. The other tent (the 3-person one from the before-kids days) is easier, and Lauren was able to get it tight enough to go back in its box.

Ugh, wet tent folding! Ours was slimy with mud, despite my constantly brushing it off with a little broom. That's probably why it's not tight enough-- you have to grip hard with your hands and roll it in stages under your knees to keep it tight enough. Pain in the a$$!
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The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Starry Nighthalfshellvenus on August 14th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC)
What I really love is the hiking, so I'll put up with the cold (and mosquitos) and the dirt for the rest of it.

It's funny, my parents always did backpacking with us. We went on a trip when my sister was 5 and I was 6, where we hiked twelve miles up into the Uintas and camped there for several days. My parents were damned lucky that worked out, because that is an insane physical effort to expect from kids that age.

By comparison, car-camping is practically luxury for me. And for my husband, who grew up car-camping and has been backpacking only twice, even the car-camping is pushing it. :0

Thanks for the good thoughts!