After years of camping in a vintage 1978 caravan that we customized, we changed to tent camping for two reasons - Brakes and Breaks:
- Our vintage girl was done mechanically (after being stuck on the roadside with a failed braking system)
- Taking drive breaks in towns and cities became a mission - where do you park the caravan?
After some thought and research, we bought a four-man tent … ‘coz space. We packed our patio furniture cushions, ‘coz comfort, and the motherload of all camping fridges … ‘coz food.
The Funny Side Of The 3 Don’ts!
1. DON'T PUT UP YOUR TENT AT THE CAMPSITE FOR THE FIRST TIME
Ya don’t look smooth when ya don’t know what ya doin’ … just sayin’.
Our gear was brand spanking new and everyone could see we were the newbies on the block.
Out of the corner of my left eye, I happened to see a seasoned camper and his wife set up deck chairs, not facing the scenery no, facing us! It was clear that we were about to be someone's entertainment for the day. They even made a cup of coffee and sat with a smug look on their faces.
Once we erected the frame of our kitchen tent in 25mph winds, we tried to attach the canvas. We are not the tallest people, so we had to jump to throw the canvas over the frame. The wind would blow one side off and we’d dash and grab that side only for it to happen over and over again. By this time, I'm not even daring to look in the direction of the peanut gallery.
After some time with no help from the cavalier coffee drinkers let me add … we realized we could remove the bottom portion of each pole to lower the entire frame. No brainer really, but it took my engineering husband quite some time to solve that particular dilemma.
2. Don’t leave food unattended around Steven Seagull
Ever seen Finding Nemo where the gulls see food and they all start saying “mine, mine, mine, mine…” – Were they well-cast extra’s in that movie or what!
Our campsite was a well-known tourist attraction which meant we were surrounded by foreigners who did not know anything about seagulls, and did they leave food unattended? Yes, yes they did.
While they were out touring the vicinity, we saw the gulls grabbing packets of chips and ripping them open on the rocks. Then they would scream and squawk over who they actually belonged to, for the better part of the day … and night.
Which brings me to my next point:
3. Don’t camp around seagulls who, like Joey, don’t share their food.
Abort, abort! You will not sleep. I repeat you will NOT sleep. Unless you sleep like the dead, then you’ll sleep. Those chip packets and tourist junk food became the catalyst of a fight club by nightfall, and sleep became virtually impossible.
Another thing seagulls really enjoy is the meat you have on your barbeque. You need two people to barbeque around seagulls. One to barbeque and the other to stand like a sentinel protecting something of great value.
They will intimidate you with a calculating fly-past to see what you’re cooking for them. They’ll watch you, and the moment your back is turned, they’ll be there in a second, swooping in to steal your supper squawking: “mine, mine, mine.”
The Slightly More Serious Side of The 3 Do’s!
1. Enough of “Sleepless in Seattle” - Get enough sleep!
Let me tell you how comfortable our patio chair cushions were. VERY.
If you’re going to camp in a tent, at least make tent camping comfortable. Even though the moody gulls serenaded us the entire night, we were at least comfortable and warm.
You may be the type that can sleep anywhere, anyhow. A standing ovation to you 'coz I'm not sure how that's done. For those who are light sleepers and need more than a yoga mat to sleep on - this is most definitely for you my friend.
2. “Neighbors” can be interesting - get to know them a little.
You meet the most interesting people while tent camping. Foreigners are not going to be pulling a caravan around, they’re going to tent. Not everyone wants to make friends while on holiday but the odd hello and short conversation might be nice.
The French couple on our left camped so simply. They had a tiny two-man tent to sleep in and they kept all their food and luggage in the back of their hired vehicle.
The French know a thing or two about romance. They arranged a lovely red and white checkered tablecloth on the ground and after preparing their food, they sat on the blanket with a glass of red wine and a picnic of appealingly well-plated food. They chatted, watched the scenery, and picked at the shared platter. Simple romance.
The younger Israeli couple on our right were hard-core, long-hike types who woke up, hiked, and slept.
The great part was getting to know each side just a little bit – we even shared a meal with the Israeli’s, which was awesome. When you’re traveling and you need to pack really light, there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal from locals who can tell you where to go and the best sights to see.
3. Tidying up (like) Marie Kondo
Stay safe and protect wild animals.
We believe in and advocate the LNT principle (Leave No Trace). Once you leave any camping ground, it should be like no one was ever there. While you’re out for the day, pack your food tightly away, not just for gulls but for bears, wolves, and coyotes.
All animals have a keen sense of smell and they will come to investigate. So while you’re camping, pack away your food and when you leave, make sure you’ve left nothing behind. Human junk food is bad for animals... and for humans.
You to know
Except for a few Gulls who may have had digestive issues and pooped Cheetos.