In an effort to be spontaneous (and a profound need to get out of town), Sean and I made reservations at the last available lot at Lily Pond State Park near Moosehead Lake. It’s a two and a half hour drive from our house and we’ll both leave work a little early tomorrow. Our campsite (which was the last available one at this campground) sounds like it may be a hike-to situation and the terrain has been described as “uneven”. This could be interesting.

I have been camping a total of three times in my life:

The first time I’ve slept in a tent was on a white water rafting trip in high school. I booked the trip in the off-season (Octoberish) for our Enviro Club group, thinking it was a good rate. The night, however, decended quickly in the mountains and I found that even putting all my clothes on at the same time was not enough to keep me from feeling so cold. I think this is the coldest I’ve ever been and therefor I couldn’t sleep at all.

The second time I went camping was in college as part of some geology field trip. I slept in the last available tent, in between two snorers in the pouring rain. Did I mention our tent didn’t have a fly? Yeah, we got lightly rained on all night (the tent at least slowed down the sleet) and I was sick for weeks after.

The third last time I went camping was with an old boyfriend. One of the many ways I found out we were not compatible.

So this will be Camping in a Tent 4.0 for me. I’m hoping this experience will be better then my first two (fourth time’s a charm they say?). I’ve sought advice on my Myspace page and have done a little research to compile some camping tips for you. Today’s installment: Camping Tips Before You Leave Your House. and tomorrow’s installment: Camping Tips Once You’re There

Camping Tips: Before You Go

0. As with any trip, get your finances in order before you go. You don’t want to be hiking in the pristine wilderness wondering if you paid the electric bill. Here’s a checklist (from My Dollar Plan) of things to think about before you go.

1. If you camp often, you may feel it’s worthwhile to invest in a Guide To Free Camping. The guide costs $17 but that’s what one night in a campground would run you anyway.

2. Check out state parks. Usually in areas of interest and well-maintained, you can stay cheap and (at least in Maine) book online. Sean and I are paying $33 for two nights at Lily Bay State Park near Moosehead Lake.

3. Pack carefully. Bringing something from home is a lot cheaper then having to buy it in the middle of nowhere en route. Here’s a customizable camping list where you can select what you need and then print as many copies as you need.

4. Plan your meals and snacks. Deli meat and mayo spoil quickly so don’t bring food like that. Here is a great website with camping recipes, including Ziplock Ice Cream.

5. You can make (or repurpose items around the house) for camping gear you’ll need. In particular, tin foil seems pretty darn useful.

6. Do a little research before you go. A little online research will not only give you ideas of things to look forward to but will give you a ballpark price for the activities you want to do. You can even do a little price comparing to see if you’re getting a good deal! Think of local newspapers, Chambers of Commerce, and information centers like national parks and historical societies. I’ve just printed a pdf area hikes and how to get to them from the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce.

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