Bulldog Carries a Lot of Gear While Cruising the Camping Trail

Bulldog Carries a Lot of Gear While Cruising the Camping Trail

If you’ve taken a look around here on my blog, you know I love to camp. Some folks are into backpacking and carry everything they need on the camping trail on their backs. I’m going to try that one day.

Some folks are into RV’s. Good option for campers with deep pockets but to me it’s like taking a small apartment with you on your outdoor adventure.

My preferred camping style is somewhere in the middle. The term “car camping” is heard a lot on sites and blogs that cover “camping stuff” and that’s the way this puppy rolls! (By the way, the term does not refer to sleeping in the car.)

You’d be amazed at how much gear I can fit into my 2006 PT Cruiser. I added a car-top carrier about ten months ago and I tote around a lot of gear with my rear seats folded down. (PT Cruisers have a rear hatch.) In fact, I carry way more than I need.

I’m big on my tent, the Coleman Picton II. And, yes, you can see it in the Featured Photo for this post. My camping domicile measures 10’×10′ 6″ and is very comfy for one or two happy campers. (Shown here from the back side with the rear vent deployed.) They say it could sleep up to eight, but that would be sardine-style! It’s designed to keep you warm and dry in winds up to 45 mph, believe it or not. If rain is not in the forecast, I like to keep the rain fly off. Makes for comfy, breezy nights. More about that in a minute…

The tent is just over 5′ high and that’s just right for me to change clothes in. I’m not very tall so that works out fine. I don’t like sleeping bags or cots, though I have a good cot. I’m into sleeping in hammocks or recliners. I have a camping recliner that works very well; it’s the camping equivalent of a Lazy Boy (but can be carried by 1 person) and has the added bonus of eliminating the worry of acid reflux being a big deal and spoiling my camping fun. The docs tell me to never sleep laying completely horizontal anyway; so a camping recliner is a great way to go!

One other bonus of sleeping in a recliner: if I didn’t need to use the rain fly, in a recliner I can see the stars above me through the tent ceiling! It’s a great thing, one of the reasons I camp so much! Seeing the boughs of trees above–same awesome pay-off!

I have two different one-burner stoves, one propane, the other uses the “shorty” composite propane/butane tank. That one is so tiny when folded for travel. Most cooking, though, is with my Texsport 2-burner; you could think of this as a “store brand” Coleman 2 burner stove. Just a bit cheaper. It’s been a champ. It’s easy to clean and when folded is really easy to carry around. It uses the 1 lb propane tanks you can buy anywhere; if you have the adapter, you could use your big 4.5 lb propane tank.

I carry three tables with me, one three-footer that uses the screw-in table legs that store under the table itself when not set up. The other two are the type that fold/unfold easily and snap together; those are 18″x18″ and 24″x24″ and are handy in or out of the tent. The three footer is the main thing in the tent but is not bad for cooking with my two-burner stove at sites where that standard over-sized picnic table is not provided.

I could easily put together another post about all the lanterns, flashlights, torches and miscellaneous small gear and tools I take along. It’s a lot of stuff. I’m not going to walk down that blogging path right now, but the main take-away is that if you decide to try the car camping method, you’ll probably be amazed at how much gear you can take along! A 30 ft RV is NOT required to have fun camping!

And besides, camping is way too cool to leave to the RV crowd! I’m not downing those folks at all. But campgrounds are mostly designed with RV’s in mind. In fact, there are destinations that have “campground” in their name don’t accommodate tent campers at all! They’re NOT campgrounds, they’re RV Parks! That’s a pet peeve of mine and I really like sites that don’t treat car campers, aka tent campers, as second-class citizens!

As I type this, I have a reservation to camp later this month at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake. I really love their tent sites even though it’s straight-up primitive camping. But regardless of where you prefer to pitch your tent, there’s nothing like camping for those of us who love to get outdoors. I do a lot of it, but not nearly enough! Get out of the house and out into nature, people! You’ll be glad you did!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

Latest Adventure: Manatee Hammock in Titusville. Nice Park, Horrible Weather!

This was my first foray into a very popular park and campground in Brevard County. That would be Manatee Hammock  Park in Titusville. T’ville is a little north of Cocoa on US 1, for those of you who aren’t too familiar with East Central Florida.

Very nice park. Old school. Allows folks to stay up to six months out of the year. That’s very unusual here in Florida, at least for a county park. Not talking about private RV Parks, that’s a whole ‘nother thang, as the saying goes…

Just to mention a couple of features real quick: lots are small-ish. There is laundry, that’s always a plus. No grill or fire rings on site. That surprised me. Many folks bring a grill, I will next time out. Not the end of the world for me, I’m mostly a propane guy.

I sincerely wish I could have tried this well-known spot for the first time under better conditions. The weather was awful. Just awful. Only a little rain, but the wind was savage. I’ve been in Florida for well over half a century, so strong winds are nothing new for me. But the last two days have been ridiculous. And, as many of you know, I’m a real  camper — meaning a tent camper — not an RV’er, so strong winds are NOT my friend!

I hasten to add that miserable conditions have nothing to do with the park or its management. This place is as popular as any camping spot in the Sunshine State, but we just got off on the wrong foot. I will try her again. I promise.

Are you inclined to ask, “Ben, how windy was it?” Well, I’ll tell you how windy it was: I didn’t fire up a grill or any of my propane stoves for the whole two days. I’ve never done that before. Or NOT done that before, I suppose I should say. Never fired up my Tiki Torch brand skeeter keeper-away device, either. I love that thing and it works. Way better than citronella and all that other stuff. But I was afraid it would get blown over…

The soil — if I can call it that — on my site was so rocky it was next-to-impossible to drive a stake into it. I bent three stakes before I gave up and used gear and gallon water jugs as improvised stakes. Sorta like snow stakes in the winter or using sand anchors for a beach shelter. Kind of ironic that the worst winds I’ve ever had camping came when I was at a site where your tent stakes were unusable. Mother Nature does like to f*ck with you now and then! But I do love my Mother, nevertheless!

Breaking camp and putting away my tent this morning was quite an ordeal. Not even gonna go into that! But I promise to go to Manatee Hammock again before long and get passed this not-so-great first impression.

By the way, this park’s claim to fame is that it’s the one that gives park goers and even some members of the public (for a fee) an amazing view of space launches! Yeah, it’s THAT park! It was very hard (impossible) to book in the Shuttle Era, but now with private launches not quite so hard.

One other thing that was a bit of a surprise to me: they do not have an alcohol prohibition. Read the rules three times. First State or County park I’ve seen without such a rule. Not that I’m complaining, mind you! Just surprised me. In a good way.

Try Manatee Hammock Park if you’re anywhere in or near Florida’s Spacecoast. And tell me what you think. I will be booking again in the near future. There’s nowhere to go but up!

Sequestered safely inside now, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile