It finally happened our Little Guy has a name. Thanks to Gabby, who named it "Guy" the Little Guy. Oh yeah, we also finally went on our maiden voyage. Minus people forgetting socks and underwear, the weekend went off without a hitch. The weather was fantastic, the food was great, the campsite and campground at Johnson Shut-In's were perfect as always. Even though this was a short two night trip we were still able to test our set up and take down procedures as a family.
You all know that when you travel and camp with someone else you learn to become proficient at certain set up and take down jobs. This trip was the truly first go as a family for us to find our role as it pertains to setting up Guy, the side tent, the kitchen, chairs etc. In a matter of 30 minutes everything was up and operational, which was fantastic as we didn't get into camp till just after 8pm.
At 8:45pm there was nothing left to do, but relax. Having owned a 31 foot travel trailer and having car camped for ages it has always taken longer to set up and there was always this overwhelming feeling that something needed to be done, but not this time. After we were set up the girls were eager to get into their cots and I was happily surprised to be sitting in my camp chair enjoying the fading remnants of the sunset and some liquid appeasement.
For those of you who have followed me and Hiking Forward for a while, you know I like to cook and even more so in the outdoors. I knew I would enjoy cooking behind the Silver Shadow under my new REI Alcove Tent on my GCI outdoor folding table top, but I didn't know how easy it would be. I feel like I designed a million dollar kitchen, just in the outdoors. People when they like to cook and are thinking about kitchens like a triangle set up, you never want to be more then just a couple steps from everything you need. I am happy and excited to report I have a triangle set-up and I am super efficient in my cooking outdoors. No more Rubbermaid bins of cooking stuff, running back and fourth from the picnic table to the Coleman stove or firepit, essentially cooking is no longer a workout.
If you are ever in the Midwest, we as a family highly recommend Johnson Shut-In's State Park. The park is about an hour and half southwest of St. Louis and features a clear river for walking, swimming and playing in. In addition the campground just a short drive from the black river where the shut-ins are located features a well stocked camp store, a total of five distinct camping loops as well as cabins for rent and most importantly extremely clean bathrooms, and hot showers. The park also maintains staff on-site at the check-in facilities, maintenance personnel and programming staff. This may not be of note for some depending on where you live. But here unfortunately in Illinois our state Department of Natural Resources and our state parks have been going down hill for over a decade. To be able to go to a park and know there is programming at night especially when you have kids is such a joy. Our girls still remember the name of the Missouri DNR staff person who came by our campsite last year at Johnson Shut-in's and every detail of the programming we attended. This is what makes them want to continue to camp and experience the outdoors and I am very grateful for that.
We now interrupt this Hiking Forward blog post with a food shot.
The outdoors is for all of us, how you choose to enjoy the outdoors is your decision. I have been a Boy Scout, spent whole summers outdoors, car camped, backpacked, rv'ed and now we are venturing out with our tear-drop. Sometimes half the fun is just researching the type of outdoor activity you want to get into. Researching backpacking and hiking led me to writing this blog and I surely would not trade this experience over the years for the world. I knew we made the right decision to purchase our Little Guy when I saw smiles on the faces of my girls and my wife. I knew that being outdoors will happen more frequently (probably way more then I anticipated) when my wife told me she was truly relaxed.
To say I am stoked is an understatement. The outdoors, road and adventure awaits.
Get busy living or get busy dying... damn right!
10x10 Side Mount Screen Room Tent by PahaQue
I had previously set this up to ensure proper set-up and sizing for the cots and gear prior to the trip. It's a simple set-up but as advised by previous reviewers you surely need two people at a minimum to get the tent upright. After a first go with the wife and kids they now know where to be when setting it up. As for as space and function with the Little Guy it was worked amazing. Being able to have them essentially in the same space (technically speaking) made the trip. Take down is a breeze given PahaQue provides a tent bag that actually can hold the tent after it is rolled up.
Teton Sports Fahrenheit Mammoth Sleeping Bag
Yes this is a zero degree bag, but we had the fan from the air conditioner blowing on us in the Little Guy and it worked out perfect. We love this bag and it will continue to be a staple piece of gear in the teardrop for years to come.
Teton Sports SOMNIA ULTRALIGHT CAMP COT
Gabby enjoyed sleeping on this cot (pictured above) versus sleeping on a air mattress. Having the storage from the bag attached to the side rail is a design feature she really liked, so that she could keep all her stuff at hand. We really liked having all of her "items" in a central spot as well to keep the tent tidy and mitigate stepping on something in the middle of the night.
Teton Sports OUTFITTER XXL CAMP COT
Grace slept in the Outfitter, which is far larger then her but in the future our dog will have room to join her on this cot.
Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Grill
This is one those pieces of gear I just can't stop using. I love this little grill. I use this grill all the time at home and really enjoyed using it while on this trip. The only problem with coming in the fire for being is being bent over or hunched over constantly. Using the Sportsman's Grill allowed me to get the same result but while standing upright.
Lodge Cast Iron 12 Inch Carbon Steel Skillet
Every camping experience should have cast iron as part of it. This pan is one of my standby skillets for cooking on the Coleman grill. No matter if it's for a side dish, eggs or breakfast meat this pan has not let me down. With a little maintenance and care, my grandkids will be using this pan.
GCI Slim Fold Cook Station
Thanks to my REI dividend this piece of gear helped me perfect my outdoor kitchen. I have used it at home a few times when barbecuing just to get a feel for how I would use it when in camp. Having used it this past weekend, I won't ever camp with the teardrop without it. It served multiple purposes and I am excited to have it as part of our camping experience.
If you have questions about any of these items please let me know I would be happy to share insights.