A Guide to Camping

by Sissy, age 10

I define camping as getting outside and living like the pioneers did.  However, I do it in a tent instead of a covered wagon.

Tents are one of the most important things you need to go camping.  They provide shelter from weather and protection from bugs and animals.  It is important that you get the right tent for you.  If you are bike touring like me, you would want a light-weight tent with the fewest metal parts (because they are heavy to tow).  If you were going camping alone or with one other person you most likely want a small tent, but if you are going camping for a family reunion or a getaway with lots of your friends you would probably want multiple large tents.  To set up a tent you generally put poles up in some way or another to keep your tent up and then stake the tent to the ground.  Take down is basically the opposite: unstake the tent, take down the poles, and fold up the tent.

Campfires are the same as they were for the pioneers and are key for heat and camp cooking.  They can be tricky to make, and are not always allowed, so make sure you read all the rules where you are about campfires first.  A simple way to make a campfire is this: 1. Make a tipi-like structure out of twigs and kindling; 2. Add dry moss or twigs to the center of the tipi; 3. Light the fire (unlike pioneers we use a lighter instead of flint); 4. Add larger logs.  Always remember to keep a close eye on your fire.  When you are ready to go to bed you have to put out your fire.  The way to do it is: 1. Pour some water on it; 2. Smother the fire with sand; 3. Keep an eye on it till it stops smoking.

You are going to have eat while you are camping.  Some supplies you should bring for camp cooking are utensils, bowls, plates, cups, something you can use to stir, aluminum foil, maybe a two-burner stove with propane bottles if you don’t plan on cooking on a campfire, and possibly coolers to keep your food frozen, a luxury the pioneers didn’t have.  Some easy meals I have for breakfast are oatmeal, pop tarts, muffins, and granola with yogurt.  I usually have sandwiches and fruit for lunch.  Some easy meals I have for dinner are the classic hot dogs and hamburgers.  I also sometimes have tuna noodle casserole.  It’s very good!  Here’s how you make it: 1. Get egg noodles, cream of mushroom soup, shredded cheese, canned tuna, peas, and potato chips.  2.  Once everything that needs to be cooked is cooked, mix together the noodles, soup, cheese, tuna, and peas.  3.  Crush the potato chips over the tuna noodle casserole.  4. Enjoy!

A lot of the things we do for fun while camping are the same as they were for the pioneers.  You could go fishing and try to catch a fish to eat or you could use the catch and release method.  You could go hiking on a nearby trail or you could just explore the area and talk with the locals.

While you are camping you must follow the rules of the park or campground you are staying at.  Make sure you pay attention to rules about fishing or hiking.  If you’re unsure about anything like a campfire or a map, talk to a ranger or a more knowledgeable person.  If you follow all the rules of camping and prepare appropriately you can have lots of fun and get a glimpse of what life was like a long time ago.


Odds and Ends

Funniest quote by Otter this last week: “I don’t know why this is, but I really like barren wastelands.  Really, I like anywhere that is good for farming or ranching.”

Cause for celebration:

A moment of triumph: two too-cool-for-school teenage boys passed us on their bikes while overtly ogling our bikes and making sarcastic comments to each other about them.  Eventually, we caught up with them and they immediately sped up to prevent being passed by the uncool, sluggish minivans of bikes.  The bike path sharply turned into a steep hill.  Both boys had to get off to walk their bikes and immediately turned to look back at us to watch us as we came upon the hill, obviously making snide comments between themselves as we approached.  Cool as cucumbers, we hit the hill, Lil’ Mo proudly launched out of the saddle (“I’m going to launch out of the saddle, Papa, okay?”) and pumped those little legs of hers, the rest of us bore down and chugged up that hill.  Sissy and I looked back at the formerly smug teenagers to see them watching our ascent with their mouths open.  I refrained from making any self-satisfied comments, but triumphantly thought to myself, “Fools, we may not look like much, but we’ve taken these beasts of bikes over the Rockies; this hill is nothing!”

We are currently being blessed with a support vehicle to ferry our load each day, enabling us to cover ground faster through the windy, sparsely populated, eastern half of North Dakota.  And the vehicle came with a load of groceries, home-baked goods (thank you, Mom!), supply boxes we pre-positioned, and a grandpa to cheerlead our journey and indulge our fatigue!  To top off the week, a beloved couple is currently driving out from Seattle to meet up with us on Saturday!  We will be soft weaklings by next week after so much spoiling.  Good thing we encountered those teenagers last week….

Our fishing pursuits continue.  No more fish.  However, the boys, specifically Otter, are now earnestly bedogging other fishermen in effort to glean greater skill and knowledge to improve our outcomes.  Despite not getting any fish, one fisherman’s wife brought us freshly baked kuchen (traditional prairie food, so she informed us, because farmers always have excess milk and eggs) either in flattered response to the boys’ attention toward her husband or out of concern that the boys were so dedicated to learning more about fishing out of desperate hunger.  Either way, freshly baked anything is a win for us!

Who knew there are pelicans in North Dakota?!  We didn’t.

We have departed the Lewis and Clark Trail.  The Mandan Village south of Bismarck concluded our ongoing history lesson.

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8 Responses to A Guide to Camping

  1. Rebecca says:

    “You are going to have eat while you are camping.”


    Man, I miss Sissy. I love living vicariously through your blog, and the travel bug is biting me. I don’t pretend to have the courage you do, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eileen Faken says:

    Happy Summer! It’s supposed to be 89′ in Seattle Sunday. Hope it’s cool there.
    Love your blog. I think you guys are awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kimberlee says:

    That encounter with the teens made me laugh out loud. Awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. michelle says:

    Sissy, that’s a great essay. Topic sentences and conclusions and well organized!!
    The “Seattle couple” is loaded down with well-wishes for you all (and a few books).
    Happy pedaling!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda Cook says:

    I love hearing your stories and look forward to another new one. Sissy, your camping story should get an A+++ Very informative and well written! I’m so happy for all of you to have your support team with you now. You are an amazing family, I’m soooo glad we had the chance to meet you. You’re a once in a life time experience. We (Ty, Jerry and myself) still have happy memories and discussions about you all. Continued health and safe biking!

    Liked by 1 person

    • melewatson says:

      Linda, Thank you!!! We continue to reminisce about our time with your family. It was such a treat! I hope you got our thank you note– we tried to figure out your address from googlemaps, but if we’ve learned anything on this trip, it is that googlemaps is not fool-proof!


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