Prepping & Packing for Your (My) First Camping Trip!
I am 31 years old, and I have never gone camping.
I grew up in New York City, and have never slept in a backyard or on a beach. The closest I've gotten is sleeping in a hatchback car with the seat folded down, when I was a kid. This summer, I am spending 10 days at The French Acrobatics Convention, and I will be camping.* I will be sharing a tent with someone who I hope will still like (love) me afterwards, so it seemed like I should get my first camping experience out of the way.
In case I haven't mentioned before, I am both a research junkie and a serious foodie. This means that pre-camping prep was exceptionally fun. In this post, I'm going to share with you our Camping Menu and What to Pack to Go Camping.
Once I knew I'd be spending spring on the West Coast, I reached out to a high school friend who lives in Los Angeles about a possible camping trip. There are a number of spots near LA we considered: Zion and Joshua Tree National Parks, and Big Sur State Park.
Zion is booked through the year and Big Sur is better in warmer weather, so we settled on Joshua Tree. It's a desert, so spring and fall are the sweet spot; summer is unbearably hot. The southwest US had seen a lot of rain this winter, and was experiencing a once in a decade bloom of flowers that had been lying dormant in the desert. As somewhat/total rookies we decide on 3 days, 2 nights.
*This isn't entirely accurate. The FAC is held at a campground, which has toilets and showers, and food is taken care of by the event. But it is still 10 days in a tent, with my acro partner.
We started investigating the various campsites and hikes... and I started researching gourmet camping food ideas. We decided that my LA friend (who shall remain nameless... stay tuned for more on that) would take care of acquiring gear for us, and I would be food czar.
Most campsites are first come, first serve, and two areas (Black Rock and Hidden Valley) allow for advance reservations. All the research indicated that as long as we arrived early on Friday, we would be just fine. More to come on this topic in a future post as well.
What Food & Gear to Pack for Camping?
Camping Food Can Be Delicious.
The Boys expected to eat protein bars all weekend.
Not on my watch!
Breakfast: Fruit, Horizon Organic 8 ounce Milk Boxes (which do not need to go in the fridge!) Coffee, Oatmeal, Honey.
Picnic Style Lunches: Cheese (Brie, Gruyere, Gouda), Crackers/Brioche, Cured Meat, Canned Smoked Salmon, Baby Carrots, Grape Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, Avocado, Lemon, Fancy Mustard, Dark and Milk Chocolate.
Night 1: Marinated Veggie Kabobs, inspired by this recipe from Epicurious, Sausages for the meat eaters, Green Salad.
Night 2: Trader Joe's Pre-made Indian: Chana Masala, Yellow Dal, Precooked Chicken, Curry Sauce. Small Potatoes to Roast, Mango Chutney,
Snacks: Trader Joe's Individual Trail Mix Packs (keeps dirty hands out of the communal bag, also an easy way to make sure you're never without a snack), Chocolate Chip Coconut Almond Flour Cookies (above; & I sub honey for sugar), Marshmallows.
Extras: Red Wine, Whisky, the Recommended 2-3 Gallons of Water/person/day.
What To Pack To Go Camping?
My LA friend took care of the serious gear, such as tents and sleeping pads/bags, but I still made sure to bring along a few necessities of my own.
GRAYL: I've written about my favorite water bottle before. Joshua Tree is a desert, so we packed out a lot of water, just in case. The park/campsite did have a number of grungy looking taps, and I was very happy to have my Grayl to do a quick filter press.
SOLOMON HIKING SNEAKERS: These are my favorite sneakers of all time. I'm on pair number 2; pair number 1 lasted almost 10 years. I know some people are devoted to hiking boots, but I can't really justify owning a pair; they're too heavy, most of my hiking is the day hike variety and I try to have fewer things. And these have served me well. They are Gore-Tex and waterproof (unless you get water inside) and 21-year-old me hiked Patagonia, played pick up frisbee and rode horses in the original pair.
AEROPRESS: I've alluded to my coffee love/addiction. My Aeropress is second only to my GRAYL, and travels everywhere with me to ensure this coffee (ahem) aficionado doesn't become a grumpy monster or have to resort to instant coffee (shudder).
Other Stuff: Sports Bra, Warm Jammies, Big Fleece (for cold nights), my Favorite Lululemon Jacket, 1 pair of shorts, a few tank tops, 1 Long Sleeved Shirt, Socks. Oversized Hat, basic toiletries, sunscreen, sunnies, flip flops, undies. Book, portable phone battery/car charging cable.
How was my first camping trip?
Was I prepared?
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