Tuesday, February 22, 2011
We all know it's not a camping trip without a campfire. Sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows and hot dogs, maybe drinking a couple of beers and swapping stories - well, there's just not much better fun to be had. Bundled firewood, however, can cost, well, a bundle.
The gas stations and grocery stores in the area of our favorite campground sell firewood for about $3.00 a bundle. We use 2 bundles of firewood a day; that's about $18.00 alone for firewood for a 3 day camping trip. Your mileage may vary. Here's how to save some money on firewood for your next camping trip.
Bring firewood from home. Check the rules and regulations of your local campground to see if this is permitted. There are signs around the campground that we frequent telling us to burn firewood where we buy it (at the campground, of course, not at the gas station) and not to bring the firewood home because of the State of Illinois' efforts to stop the spread of the emerald ash borer (an insect).
There are many ways to get free firewood. If one of your neighbors is having a tree cut down, ask the tree trimming company what they're planning on doing with the wood. If they tell you that they'll be putting the wood in a chipper, tell them that they'll take it and ask whether they could cut it in pieces for you. It will save you a lot of elbow grease - cutting wood is hard work. If the tree trimming company is leaving the wood for the homeowner (and if you're brave), ask the homeowner if you could have the wood. The homeowner may be relieves that he won't have to find a way to dispose of the wood. And of course, if you're having a tree cut down on your property, you can tell the tree trimming company that you want to keep the wood and that they need to cut the branches and trunk to an easy-to-carry size.
You can also check on craigslist.org and on freecycle.org for people who are giving away firewood. It may be well worth a bit of a drive to pick up free firewood.
Once you get the wood back to your house, however, you can't burn it right away - it's still green. You need to season (dry out) the firewood in order for the firewood to burn a long time when you make your campfire. The easiest way to season the firewood is to just stack it up in your garden shed or your garage for a few months. So you don't have a garage or garden shed? Stack the firewood up outside and cover it with a tarp. Secure the tarp around the wood so that water or snow doesn't get to the firewood. Fall is a great time to obtain wood and store it up for spring camping trips.
Look around the campground. While you're taking a hike through the forest or just walking around the campground, pick up branches and limbs to use for the campfire. You may even find a log or two. This is, of course, to supplement either store bought firewood or firewood you've brought from home. You're also doing the campground a favor by picking up branches and limbs to keep the campground clean.
Other sources for firewood. The convenience store at the campground we frequent also sells wood. They have a fenced enclosure with firewood in it - you pay $3.00 at the store and they give you a tote to use. You can take as much wood as you can fit in the tote, put the firewood in your vehicle and then return the tote to the store. We usually do this on the first night of our camping trip since we don't have time to go to town to purchase firewood.
If you bring wood from home to the campground, you might want to consider purchasing a large plastic tote so put the wood in so that the tree bark doesn't get all over your vehicle. It will be easier for you to cart the firewood over to the fire pit in the tote. Just don't leave the tote too close to the fire or the tote will melt!
Are there other places that you obtain firewood from? Comment below and let me know!
On another note, in order to make a reservation at any Illinois state park campgrounds, you have to use the recreation.gov website. This means you have to pay for your entire reservation in advance, plus a $5.00 handling fee. Ugh. It was nice when you only had to pay $5.00 plus the first night's camping fee in advance. We will finally have the money soon to reserve a campsite for Memorial Day weekend. I only hope they have some good spots left.
Do you have plans for camping soon? Comment below and let me know!
See you all soon!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
It's been such a hot summer, we haven't been camping since Memorial Day weekend. Tent camping is miserable in the heat. We did that one July 4th week - never again! The annual Labor Day weekend camping trip is 2 days away, and I'm excited. It may even be too cool to go swimming (well, not by my son's standards! LOL!) The high on Friday is supposed to only be 78 degrees and it will be down in the 50's at night. Perfect weather for a campfire and perfect sleeping weather!
I've talked about what to pack when you go camping, how to set up your campsite, campsite etiquette, etc. But there is stuff you need to do at home before you leave for a few days. These tips are also useful before you leave home for vacation.
You want to make sure that no one can tell that you are not at home, to deter thieves. Here's what you need to do to take care of that:
1. Stop delivery of your newspaper(s) during the time you are gone.
You can take care of this by going to the newspaper web site. You can enter a vacation hold under subscriber services. If your local newspaper doesn't have a web site, you can call the circulation department and they can take care of this. A bunch of newspapers accumulating in the driveway is a big hint that you are gone for the weekend.
2. Put a hold on your mail.
This is done very easily on the U.S. Post Office web site - click here to go directly to the place where you can put your mail on hold. Or you can also go to your local post office and fill out a form.
3. Leave lights on in the house (or set them on a timer).
We have 2 lamps that we leave on while we're gone. Both of them can't be seen by folks passing by, but they still make it look like someone is home.
4. Lock the doors and windows.
That should be self-explanatory, but people often forget about locking the windows. Thieves can get in through the windows too.
5. Don't leave trash cans and recycling bins at the curb or out in the alley.
When your trash cans and recycling bins are out at the curb and your neighbors' aren't, that's a big sign to thieves that no one's home. Conversely, if you're going to be gone (like on a week long trip) on a day that trash is collected, see if a neighbor will take your trash cans and recycling bins to the curb and put them back. If everyone's trash cans are out and yours are not, that's also an invitation to thieves.
Here's some hints for the inside of your house:
1. Take care of your pets.
Most campgrounds allow you to bring your dog, provided you clean up after it and keep it from barking during quiet hours, but if you have to leave Fido at home, make arrangements with a neighbor or a pet sitting service to look after the dog. Cats can take care of themselves, but make sure that there is plenty of food and water and that the litter box is clean.
2. Turn off and unplug all electrical items such as the computer, TV, etc. or if not unplugged, make sure they are plugged into surge protectors.
It would be horrible to come home from a fun camping trip to discover that all of your electrical items are fried due to a lightning strike or a storm.
3. Wash the dishes and put them away.
It's no fun to come home from a trip with dirty dishes in the sink. Dirty dishes can also attract bugs and your cat or dog would love all the little leftovers, which can make your pet sick.
4. Water indoor plants.
Plants can dry up quickly if you don't water them for a few days. You can also buy those water globes to make sure your plants are watered.
5. Put all food away.
Any food that is left out on a counter top or table is a temptation for a house pet. It can also attract bugs.
6. Tell a trusted neighbor that you are going away for a few days and give them your cell phone number.
You need to be reachable in case of a disaster that damages your house, or if someone breaks in your house despite all your precautions.
If you think of any other home preparation tips, please make a comment. I would love to hear from you! Hope you all are going camping this holiday weekend and that you have a great time with great weather! See you soon!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tomorrow night will be hectic with packing up all the necessary items. I don't have a dedicated cookware set for camping, so I will be packing up the utensils and cooking equipment I'm going to need. I will also have to make our weekly library trip. Trash pickup is Friday, so we have to make sure the trash can and the recycling bin is out in front of the house for pickup.
My husband is off of work on Friday, so he and our son (whose last day of school is tomorrow) will pack up the tent, the screenhouse, and the coolers and they will head to the campsite. I will have everything else in my vehicle and will drive there once I get home from work.
Wow, just typing about all that work is making me tired! LOL! But it will be worth it once we sit in front of the campfire on Friday night, drinking a beer and relaxing. This has been such a long week at work!
I hope all of you are going camping this weekend! Don't forget the real reason for this holiday weekend - Memorial Day. May God bless and keep all our veterans and our military presently serving, and may all those who made the ultimate sacrifice rest in peace.
Monday, April 19, 2010
We went to the campground Thursday evening to set up the tent so we wouldn't have so much to do Friday evening when we arrived for the weekend, since we live an hour away from our favorite campground. We found a nice corner lot right across from shower house number 2 and set up the tent. Our tent takes about a half hour to set up. We paid the campground host, went back to the camp site and put up the ticket and left for home.
We should have went to shower house number 2 to see if it was open or not. We discovered on Friday evening that it wasn't. My husband complained to the campground host, and she told him that that particular shower house would not be open until May, due to state budget cuts. Thanks so much, Governor Quinn. [/sarcasm] You'd think that they would have put signs on the bathroom doors to let folks know the shower house was closed. Shower house number 1 was open, but there are only 3 shower stalls in each restroom. Six shower stalls for 175 campsites - yikes! Sure, not all of the campsites were occupied, but we had to plan our shower times carefully. Luckily, shower house number 1 was only about a 5 minute walk from our campsite.
It was chilly Friday and Saturday nights - the temperature dropped into the low 40's. Most of the week, the highs were in the 80's and the lows were in the 60's and we got spoiled. Even with a sleeping bag and a comforter, it was still chilly. I wish I had remembered to bring our space heater to use in the tent. Our tent has a "power port" - a 1" zipped opening to run an electrical cord through. I began to be jealous of folks with RV's and travel trailers.
I also forgot my husband's toothbrush and our hairbrushes. I discovered that I had forgotten the hairbrushes when I took a shower Saturday morning, and my hubby discovered that I had forgotten his toothbrush on Friday night when it was bedtime. There's a Walmart Supercenter about 2 miles from the campground, so we went there on Saturday morning to purchase the forgotten items and supper items for Saturday evening. On our way to Walmart, three does (female deer, not the song) crossed the road about 20 feet in front of our car. So cool!
On Saturday afternoon, we walked around some of the roads at the campsite. I saw some beautiful little white flowers with purple stripes (you can't see the stripes very well on the photo above). Does anyone know what kind of flowers these are? We also took a hike on one of the trails at the state park that the campground is a part of. This trail ended at a very old cemetery with graves from the 1860's. We then rode around the park.
Late Saturday afternoon and late into Saturday evening, we listened to the St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets 20 inning marathon baseball game on the radio. When the Cardinals scored in the 17th inning (I think - I lost track), you could hear cheering all over the campground.
When we woke up Sunday morning, the guys were really cold, so I got up and made breakfast. We then packed up and went home. :(
Our next camping trip is set for Memorial Day weekend. That weekend will be a little warmer (I hope - it wasn't last year) and we'll be staying an additional day.
That's all for now - until next time -
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The calendar says March, but the warmer temperatures stir my heart to thoughts of spring. My son is going camping with his Boy Scout troop the last weekend of March and I have to say I'm envious. I enjoy so much being out in the warm sunshine and breathing the fresh, crisp air. Being outdoors inspires my writing. My husband says that we may be able to go camping one weekend next month, and I can't wait. I've been looking at web sites of private campgrounds and wondering if they would be nicer than state or Federal run campgrounds.
But before you can go camping after the long, cold winter, you will have to do some housekeeping chores. Here's a list of spring housekeeping duties for a happy camping experience:
- You should inspect your supply boxes to see if any supplies need to be replenished, or thrown away if they have spoiled.
- You also should check your air mattresses for leaks and repair them, or purchase replacements.
- Check any lanterns or flashlights to make sure they still work. Buy a package of the appropriate batteries and extra bulbs to keep with the camping supplies in case your flashlights and/or lanterns burn out.
- If you have lights that you hang on your screen house or over your campsite, plug them in and make sure they still work and they're not falling apart.
- Make sure any bedding, whether sleeping bags or comforters and/or sheets, are clean and make any necessary repairs, or purchase replacements.
- If you use citronella candle buckets or torches with citronella oil, make sure the candles aren't melted and you have plenty of citronella oil. Keep replacement wicks on hand. My husband also uses rubber gloves to pour the citronella oil in the torches so his hands won't get dirty.
Living and Dining Quarters
- Put the tent up and check for rips or leaks. Don't forget to clean it. Spray waterproofing on the tent, and apply new seam sealant if necessary. Sweep out the inside.
- Make sure you have all the stakes for the tent and rainfly. Check to make sure the ropes for the rainfly are not rotted.
- You should put your screen house or gazebo up to make sure it doesn't have any tears and clean it if it's dirty.
- If you have an RV, travel trailer, or 5th wheel, dewinterize it and replenish the supplies.
- Make sure the tires are all inflated and the hitch is not rusty and the tongue on the hitch moves freely – if not, get out the WD40 and spray it on the hitch.
- Hose the trailer down if it's dirty. Make sure all awnings work and are not ripped or dirty.
- Make sure the propane tanks are full and remove any tire covers (on the tires that hit the road, that is – leave the cover on the spare tire).
This sounds like a lot of work, but once all of this is done, you'll be ready to go camping the first warm weekend and not have to worry about getting things together at the last minute. You can decide on a Thursday evening, "Let's go camping this weekend!" and all you'll have to do is plan your menu, get food supplies, and pack your clothes and health and beauty items!
Well, that's all for now. Until next time –
Friday, January 1, 2010
In Illinois, reservations for state campgrounds start via mail on January 4, so we will be sending in our reservations for either Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day weekend tomorrow. Compounding the decision as to which holiday weekend we will make reservations for is the fact that my son is in marching band at his school. They usually march in the Memorial Day parade but not in the Labor Day parade. However, the parade has been rained out the last few years. We used to camp on both weekends, but with the State of Illinois raising the cost to $30.00 a night for holiday weekends, we just can't afford to go both weekends anymore. That's $90.00 for a three night stay, not counting the extra expense to use the pool, food, and beverages. Yikes! So much for camping on the cheap!
I hope to go camping more often this year. I quit the choir at church because 2 out of the 4 Sundays, it was taking up more than three-quarters of the day through singing in services and rehearsals in the afternoon. My husband works in the bookstore at church on the other Sundays, so camping those Sundays are not an option. And if the results of my diagnostic mammogram on January 15 are not good (see more details on that here), I may need some camping trips to cheer me up.
I hope that you all have a Happy New Year and are looking forward to the camping season, like I am. Until next time -
Saturday, October 3, 2009
For this post, I will discuss camping etiquette. Not only will these make your camping experience more enjoyable, it will make it more enjoyable for the other campers in the campground.
Follow the list of rules that you are given when you pay the campground host your camping fees. These rules vary by campground, depending on the amenities available.
Keep your campsite tidy. When we go camping, we will go for a ride around the other camping areas. Nothing turns me off more than a untidy campsite with stuff all over the place. At home this is fine, since no one is there but you and yours, but at a campground, everyone who passes by can see what you have laying around. When you are done using something, put it away. Stack things neatly on the picnic table.
Wave and say hi to whoever is passing by your campsite. You might make some new friends this way, and ones who enjoy the activity you do, to boot.
Help others who are having difficulties. If you see someone struggling to put up a tent or start a campfire, stop by and offer to help. It's the friendly, neighborly thing to do. Who knows, the person you are helping may be a newbie to camping, and your helpfulness may be what he or she needs to go camping again.
If you fish, don't clean your fish at the campsite! Dead fish = nasty smell. Most campgrounds have a place especially for cleaning fish, so use it.
Don't use foul language! There are usually children at a campground, since camping is a family event. You wouldn't want your children hearing that language and asking you what that person was talking about. Save the cursing for when you're out on the lake and there's no one else around except the fish - and they may not want to hear it either.
Don't walk through other people's campsites on your way to somewhere else. Talk about an invasion of privacy! The Golden Rule applies to camping too.
Observe the quiet time, which is usually after 11 PM. Don't drink and get loud around the campfire all night. We all need our sleep, some more than others. Some people (and I am one) have to have it quiet in order to get to sleep.
If you are an early riser, try not to disturb those who aren't.
After you pack up all your camping gear to leave, check over your campsite one more time to make sure the campsite is clean. We were taught in Girl Scouts to leave the campsite cleaner than when we arrived. That means picking up all the small pieces of trash, etc.
Well, that's all for now. I welcome your comments and any other camping etiquette items I might have missed. Until next time -