Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Southeast Road Trip, The Planning and Day 1

I know I've been absent for a while.  I have a great reason for that though, we were on another epic road trip!  This particular trip wasn't quite what you'd call a wise financial decision, but was much needed for our sanity and to reconnect as a family, so we took it anyway and did a lot of camping and making our own meals to keep costs in check.  To add to the drama a bit, we were supposed to leave on a Monday, but I was chaperoning a girl scout trip the weekend before and my car was rear ended on our way home Sunday.  My car would no longer start and Josh's truck would have been an okay stand in if it was just the two of us, but we didn't totally trust it to cover the distance and didn't want to get stuck with the kids.  The police at the accident wouldn't give me the insurance information on the person who caused the wreck, so we were in a holding pattern on getting a rental car until the police report was done (this has since been sorted out).  We were super grateful when my brother and sister-in-law called us and offered to let us borrow their car for the trip.  We ended up leaving a day later than planned, but the trip was saved!

Our goal was to make our way out to North Carolina to visit with Josh's family and go to our niece's high school graduation, but we took our time getting there and kept drive time short each day.  Secora tends to get car sick really easily, so we weren't sure how much time she'd be able to tolerate before she hit the maximum daily dosage of dramamine.  We also wanted to get the kids into extensive camping trip mode and see how they handled it.

The big girls have mentioned interest in backpacking, but they haven't camped more than 2 nights in a row, and only in car camping situations.  While we were still car camping on this trip, the length of time made it necessary to still conserve space where possible so that everything would fit in the car.  For my own sanity, I also had a very detailed and organized meal plan.  I started out by creating a spread sheet that listed what we were doing each day along the top and then the plan for meals (based on how much time I thought we'd have to cook) underneath that.  For each day, I packed a gallon ziploc bag with the day's meal plan written on the outside and all the ingredients for the day packed inside.
Because our schedule got changed a little bit, we actually did not stick strictly to the meal plan, but having ingredients sorted by meal still made food prep easier.

I also packed a snack bag for each day for each of the girls so I didn't have to dig through all of the food every day.  What they had was based on what we were doing that day.  We gave them their bag in the morning and they could eat what they wanted when they wanted it, but we didn't have to go looking for snacks during drives.
Almost everything food related was packed into large rubbermaid containers
We took a styrofoam cooler (Josh gets a lot of them at work) so we could keep a few things cold, but also get rid of the cooler when we were done with it. We froze a large portion of our water to keep the cooler cold and it had a few things like cheese and sausage that were going to be used early on in the trip.

I also made some fire starters by dipping cotton make-up rounds into melted wax and then letting them dry on wax paper.  These worked great and will definitely be included on any future trips where we plan campfire cooking. I stored the fire starters in an old peanut butter jar.
For daily clothes, each person had 5 shirts, 5 shorts/pants, 7 pairs of socks and 7 underwear.  Each person had these clothes packed into a plastic grocery bag and these were stacked in my backpack.  I have a 60 liter pack and it was still stuffed pretty full.  The detachable top pouch held our daily hygiene supplies like toothbrushes, deodorant and sunscreen.  I think packing this way made it a lot easier than trying to get into a separate bag for each person every day.  Another smaller pack held rain gear, flip flops for wearing around camp, and pajamas.  Everyone's pajamas were packed into one plastic grocery store bag so that the bag could be pulled out and thrown in the tent (I often have the girls change in the tent or, if we're isolated enough, just outside the tent).

I had my small first aid pouch that I carry daily (hey, between tri practice and two kids with migraines, you'd be surprised how often I find myself doling out meds or band-aids while on the go) accessible all the time with migraine meds, benadryl, advil, neosporin, hydrocortisone, alcohol wipes, bandaids, single-use eye drops, tweezers and nail clippers.  An old baby wipe box with extra medicine and bigger first aid supplies was packed in the car.

Of course we packed the tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, bug spray, head lamps, etc, etc....  The last little extra thing I added in were geocache kits for the girls.  You'll see these show up in pictures of the trip.  They each had an altoids tin they could fill with trades and I made a paracord pouch to hold the tin, then there was a small carabiner to attach it to their belt loops.  I used the directions I found here to make the pouches, but found some parts of the directions weren't quite clear.  By the 3rd pouch, I'd found ways to make it a little easier on myself, so I'll probably write up a whole post on that after I make them with our girl scout troop later this year.

With everything packed up, it was time to hit the road!!  Day 1 was a short drive to Lake Bob Sandlin Sate Park near Pittsburg, TX.

We were a little worried all the recent flooding we've had would close down the campgrounds here, but they remained dry.  We had left after lunch and arrived early evening, after the park headquarters had closed.  We drove around to find a site we liked, then went back to the front to pay using their envelope and lock box system.  We chose site 49, it was close enough to the bathrooms for any nighttime trips the girls might need, but not TOO close.

We didn't spend a lot of time exploring this park, but it was a really nice campground.  Sites were a little isolated, not right on top of each other.  The bathroom was spacious and clean, with convenient showers and attached changing stalls.

The tent pad was soft and mossy (though that might have been due to the rain)

After getting everything set up, we sat down for a quick hot dog dinner.  I tried a new dessert, apple crisp foil packets.  At home, I mixed up the dry ingredients and put them in a gallon ziploc
 Instead of transporting butter, I pre-measured an equal amount of coconut oil into a ziploc and double bagged it in case it leaked (and it did leak).  At the campsite, I squeezed the coconut oil into the dry ingredients and also added some apples I chopped and peeled at the site.  After closing up the bag, I passed it off to a kid to mash and mix
 After spraying some heavy duty foil with non-stick cooking spray, I put some of the crisp in the middle and folded it up into a packet for cooking over the fire

 It worked great!  Setting a packet in front of each of the kids brought about much chowing down and the first moment of peace and quiet on the trip


After dessert, it was time to crawl in the tent for our first night.  We quickly discovered we can no longer sleep all facing the same direction.  We use a Kelty Grand Mesa 4 that we bought after Sedona was born with the intent of having something that would hold us all and still be light enough to backpack with.  Now that there are 5 of us and the kids are getting bigger, it's a little cramped.  We managed, but we do need to alternate which direction the sleeping bags face now.  Hopefully the big girls will get a little more confident soon and we can switch to two smaller backpacking tents.

We all slept well the first night.  Skies were clear so we left the rain fly off and woke up with the sun and the birds.  Ahead of us, day 2 held geocaching, another state, diamonds and Lake Greeson!


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