Gone Camping


We’re going camping! I haven’t been really, truly camping since I was a kid. As a non-driver I’ve never been able to get my feet wet in the world of tent pitching in the wilderness since getting out of the city into the great outdoors is a bit of a jaunt without a car. Sure we could take a bus and then hike it out into the forest or take an epic bike ride to the outer regions but I can’t say that any of those possibilities have ever entered my mind as options. I’m enthusiastic, just not THAT enthusiastic.

Anyways, we’re very excited about this trip and have been frantically preparing for it for the last two months. The very first thing I did was pull out “Let’s Get Primitive” by Heather Menicucci a book I blurbed a year or so back. Reading Heather’s book the first time ignited a spark in me to rekindle a childhood love of camping and the book really proved to be exceptionally handy as a second time read now that we’re really going to do it. Even my partner Davin gave it a read-through, taking notes along the way of items we might need, proving that books with “girl” in the title are useful for those of the male persuasion as well. I think he also liked that it gave him an excuse to indulge in his insatiable love for M.E.C. He’s always looking for an excuse to go in and browse or pick up some such piece of equipment for this or that, primarily bike-related. All I have to say is that we had better become avid campers after this because we’ve got a whole lot of gear and nowhere to store it. I have a feeling that we’re going to be sharing the living room with a tent, sleeping bags, and self-inflating sleeping mats for the next two months. Yes, we have self-inflating sleeping mats. We don’t have proper rain gear during the rainiest summer on record, but by god our backs will be “cushioned” on a pad that inflates itself with air. Unfortunately the mat does not deflate itself. Or generate heat. Or keep biting insects away. For that I plan to employ three brands of herbal bug spray simultaneously.

Of course as a gardener and plant lover I am most excited about the plants. I have already packed my Edible Wild Plants book and am considering creating space for a wild flowers field guide. A bug book might be handy too. And another that covers trees. Davin is packing a bird field guide. That should just about cover it.

We’ll be four or five days without internet access. I have set some photos and posts to go live while I’m gone. However, if you don’t hear from me by next Friday then all I ask is that someone water the plants.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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8 thoughts on “Gone Camping

  1. Yes, and don’t forget the amphibian feild guide. Oh and one for dragonflies….where do you stop? I always regret leaving any field guide behind because it never fails that I NEED it. But, I guess that’s what cameras are for. You can always look it up later. Have fun!

  2. LOVE the bug netting helmet thing. We don’t have bug issues very badly in Oregon where I go camping, but I think I could find reasons to wear that puppy around town just for kicks.

  3. Ciao Gayla-

    So where are you going, cara? We just spent 9 days at Algonquin Park and it was absolutely fantastic, just what we needed.

    Don’t forget to stop and eat the daylilies, blueberries, and quite possibly, blackberries along the trail.

    Enjoy your trip!

  4. hmmm… I usually prefer to do my “camping” in an RV or cabin. That sound you hear is me applauding you for roughing it–even if you do have inflated mats. No shame in that game.

  5. Hey, those matts may not generate heat, but they do prevent your from losing heat to the ground. And once you reach a certain age, shoulders and hips area not so happy about contact with the hard ground. I see nothing shameful about a mattress.

    (In fact, we, the hardy tent campers, just went and bought ourselves a pair of four inch foam mattress pad thingies at Costco after our recent trip. Ahhh, luxury!)

  6. Have a great time.

    For what it’s worth, I typically divide my field guides into two types. Quick use guides on the trail vs. reference book for back at home, campsite, in short places where you sit down and read. On the trail I have come to use the quick guide that is a bunch of heavily laminated panels that fold up like a map. Not loaded with text, but great for identification quickly. The one I have for local wildflowers has them organized by flower color and within that to a small extent by other features. This makes differentiation between like types MUCH easier. The comprehensive field guide with 1 or two pages per species can be used later to delve deeper into the facts about the specimen.

    As far as wild foods go, make sure you know how to identify both the edible plants, AND the toxic species that grow alongside them. I took cub scouts camping this weekend and found bright red nightshade berries hanging right next to clusters of just ripening blackberries. This caution is doubled when a toxic plant resembles an edible one. For example, Hemlock is becoming more and more prevalent, spreading north along highways between West Va, and central Ohio, and is very similar to Wild Carrot (Queen Annes Lace).

  7. hope your camping trip went well…can’t wait to hear about it!
    what kind of herbal bug sprays are you using? do they work well? because i finally broke down and got some *gasp* off. it’s working great, but has a lot of yucky stuff in it. (i had to do something, with at least 20+ mosquito/fly bites i was loosing my mind)
    anyway, happy camping!

  8. katiedL: The most effective one is by a company called Butterfly Weed and the product is called “In the Bush.” The only downside is that it is soy oil based so we had to pile sunblock on top to avoid being burned when wearing it in the daytime.

    Jack: Yes I agree about always knowing the toxic mimics. I stay away from anything like that.

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