Camping

18 03 2013

So far, I’m 3 for 3 with my resolution to try/experience something new each month. January was Flyboarding, February was Motorcycle School, and this month I went camping! Can you believe I had never been camping before? Some of my friends in college went a few times and I never went with them. I didn’t have any gear and I didn’t want to drop a bunch of money on a hobby I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy.

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Bill has been talking about camping for awhile now but we never could find the time to go, until now! The day after our mountain trip ended, Bill was supposed to be in Destin, Florida for work. It seemed silly to drive all the way back to Orlando and then turn around and drive north again, so we decided to drive straight to the panhandle from Georgia and spend the night at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. I was on spring break, so I had no obligation to be back in town and I was allowed to accompany him to his event (more on that later).

We arrived around 3:30ish (central time!), checked in at the front gate, and were directed to our campsite.

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Bill got right to work setting up our camp.

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I helped him set up the tent (with his guidance of course), but that was about my only contribution. I really didn’t know what else to do!

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In less than 30 minutes we were ready to relax by the campfire and enjoy an early dinner.

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We had stopped by Publix on our way into town to pick up some essentials: kielbasa, hearty bread, spicy mustard, and Yuengling.

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MMM Perfection!

After dinner, we went for a walk since the sun was still up. One of the cool things about this park is that it is right on the beach! I’d say it was a short quarter mile walk before you spotted the beautiful white sand beaches.
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Unfortunately there were high wind and rip tide advisories, but it sure was a beautiful evening! The wind made it feel colder than the already chilly 60ish degrees, hence our sweatshirts. (Northerners feel free to make fun of me.)

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One of the things about Florida that is so odd to me is that there are state parks that include beaches. I guess that makes sense, considering they’re on the coast, but before moving here, “state park” in my little world meant lots of forest and maybe a lake. That is so not the case, and I thought it was cool that we were so close to the Gulf that we could hear the water lapping on the shore while we were camping. 🙂

We walked around the campground a little more while the sun began to set. We were back just as it was getting dark and rekindled our dying fire. What a better way to end the night then with some s’mores?

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We were in “bed” and asleep by 9:00- still feeling the effects of Daylight Savings time and not yet adjusted to being in Central time.

To be honest, it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, I kind enjoyed being outside, sleeping under the stars, which were SO MANY MORE than I’m used to seeing! I had been preparing for a chilly night- it was supposed to be in the 50s and I’ve become such a wus in the cold weather so I packed a lot of layers. I ended up being just fine in my lululemon pants and my long sleeve winter Nike running top and some Wigwam socks. I was actually kind of toasty under the sleeping bag and ended up ditching the socks. I didn’t need the hat, gloves, scarf, or extra sweatshirts I had brought into the tent. Yes, in retrospect that was probably overkill, but having never camped before and being clueless on exactly what I needed to wear to camp, I feel justified in my rookie mistake 😉

I was proud of myself for “roughing it” for a night, and now I’m curious to put together some hiking with some overnighting. I know that car camping is very different from backpacking, but I’m interested in the experience.

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Since I survived and enjoyed my first experience camping, Bill and I planning our next adventure- maybe a few day hikes in Florida with some camping thrown in before getting “serious” and doing some multi-day hiking in Alaska this summer while Bill is working there! Obviously I have a lot to learn, but Bill’s interest and excitement for hiking/camping is contagious. Only time will tell where this interest will take us!

Question of the day: What’s your best tip for a newbie camper like me?

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