Episode 118 – Mid Winter Camping Fixes

Winter’s grip seems particularly strong this year and we are only half way through it! For those that love to camp that snow covered trailer in the backyard is like an ice cream sunday to someone on a diet.  I have compiled a list of things to make that longing a little more bearable.

  • Stay at a Lodge – Make reservations at a state or national park lodge. Each year we take a midwinter trip to Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, West Virginia and take advantage of the parks beauty in the winter. Sitting by the roaring fire after a hike to the falls in the snow is like a tonic to the spirit. The Lodge has a great restaurant, comfortable rooms and great gathering areas for socializing.

Blackwater Falls in winter. Photo courtesy of Tucker County CVB.

  • Gateway Communities – Gateway communities is the phrase the tourist industry uses to describe towns near attractions such as state and national parks. If the parks lodges are closed for the winter, chances are that the local hotels are open and prices are cut for the off season. Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a great gateway community that gives you access to the Smoky Mountains, great restaurants,  and entertainment. It’s a great time to visit the parks and see them without the crowds and in a different season.
  • Do A Trailer Project – Sew a set of sheets that actually fits an RV bed! Make new curtains, matching napkins or pillowcases. Think about something that bugged you last year and find a solution. I need a magazine rack and key holder this year. Think about what needs upgrading and do it. Make a new First Aid Kit and throw away all the expired things in your old one. Order storage containers, new floor mats or something collapsible for the RV.
  • Practice Your Camp Recipes – Learn how to master dutch oven cooking at home in your oven or on your backyard fire pit. Start making foil packet meals on Friday nights in the oven and create new recipes for when camping season begins. Break out the pie irons and get inventive. I use my Toastite Pie Irons at home all the time in the winter. Having a camp meal beside the fireplace helps! Light the firepit and eat outside on your back porch even if its in the 40’s. That’s what we do when camping!

I’m practicing new cast iron recipes in the off season.

  • Online Collecting – Pinterest is full of beautiful pictures of campsites and all of the accessories, collectibles and antiques used in them. We swoon over them but don’t think to look for those items. Gather some things to set a magazine worthy dinner table at your first camp out. I collect vintage flashlights, wool throw blankets, vintage metal pie tins which I use as plates, souvenir plates with state names on them, vintage Coleman camping gear to name but a few! Usually there is a buying lull after the holidays and that is when I hit up Ebay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace looking for hidden treasure. I really use the things I collect though. I pass out wool throw blankets to guests at my campfire. I use vintage thermoses to store coffee, rice, sugar and pasta. I display and use my vintage flashlights at home and while camping.

I use my collectibles while camping and at home. This was our Christmas dinner table full of red and green vintage flashlights!

  • Trip Dreaming – While we are chilly up here in the northern parts of the USA our southern friends are camping. I am just a bit jealous but I am also trip dreaming about where I might want to go this coming year and someday. It’s a great time to crowd source friends favorite places, study maps for hidden gems, contact CVB’s and tourist offices and get information about what you can see if you visit, and search the Net for documentaries about those someday locations. Before you can trip plan, you have to trip dream.
  • Go To an Outdoor Retailer – Grab a friend and visit an outdoor retailer. Make a day of it. Sign up for one of their classes. If they don’t have the class you want, ask if they can find someone to teach it. Treat yourself to a new piece of gear. Pick an associates brain about the gear you are interested in and gather information. Soak up the outdoor vibe.
  • Host a Camping Party at Home – Invite your camping buddies over and have a camping party. Create a slide show of some of your best camping trips from last season. Serve your favorite camp food. Do a craft project for next season – fire starters are always fun to make. Watch a good camping movie like  The Long, Long, Trailer with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Relive last years fun and make plans for the coming year.
  • Read All About It – Gain knowledge on any camping subject. I love to read old camp guides and ‘how to’ outdoors books that are at least a couple of decades old. They were written in a time when most people tent camped and are full of practical wisdom and evoke lots of sentimental memories for those of us that grew up camping. One of my favorites is, The Complete Book of Camping by Leonard Miracle and the Camp Fire Girls Book which are both full of inspiration not only for camping, but for improving yourself on all levels.
  • Waste Time On Line – Spend time researching  people, places and things. Get the story behind the story on that tiny plaque you read at a stop along the way. Go to YouTube and watch ‘how to’ videos on anything! Dutch oven cooking, leveling your trailer, draining your black water tank, or knitting mittens. Read the blogs that you bookmark because you’re too busy to read them when you see them. Roam the Internet and don’t feel bad about it.
  • Take A Factory TourThe Airstream Factory in Jackson Center, Ohio gives tours weekly as do most of the RV manufacturers. I had some fun googling “factory tours in Ohio” while I was making plans for my summer travel. I was so surprised by how many there were and the variety of them from the Dum Dum Lollipop factory to the largest makers of American Flags.  Find a factory to tour near you.
  • Shop Online for Preseason Bargains – Start stocking up on the items you know you will be buying for your RV and camp outs next season and spread the cost of starting up again  over a few months. Many retailers offer discounts  and free shipping during their slow season to entice buyers to purchase now. Stock up on tank, awning and black streak remover supplies.
  • Visit a Year Round Campground – Stay in a cabin at a year round campground. Last year we left our trailers in hibernation and drove from NJ to Tybee Island, Georgia and stayed at a campground with rental cabins. It was a great midwinter fix. Many campgrounds that do not allow trailers in the park because their water is shut down still rent out their cabins. You are still camping, spending time with friends and enjoying a good campfire.

Whatever helps you make it to “Opening Day” is all good!

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