Preparing for a camping trip does not have to be painful or time consuming.  A few years ago we were hitting the road every other weekend, and wanted to be ready on a whim.   No scrabbling around the house, throwing stuff together;  everything in its place, ready to go.

We keep a large canvas travel bag filled with the necessities for setting up our weekend get-away.  It is not a fancy bag;  we found it at a five-in-dime type of store, and it only cost us $20.00.  It is great because not only is it large enough for all of our gear, but it has wheels, which makes it easier to get around.  Inside we keep the following gear:  a tent, a tarp (goes under the tent), a roll-out mat, 2 therm-a-rests, 1 blow up mattress, 3 sleeping bags, and 2 fold out chairs.

The next important part of camping is being ready to cook a meal that you would eat at home, without bringing half of your kitchen.   As well we were tired of the waste we were creating by using paper products on every trip.  Our kitchen gear had to be easier and more environmentally friendly. We purchased a large plastic storage container;  they are easy to find at Target, Walmart, or Kmart.  As with our above gear bag, this is always stocked and ready to go.  Inside we keep the following items:  1 two-burner propane stove, 4 propane containers, 1 moka pot, 1 stove-top frother, 1 enamelware percolator coffee pot, 2 small cutting boards, 2 medium sized saucepans, 2 plastic plates, 2 small plastic bowls, Ziploc full of utensils, 2 knives (one for dicing/cutting and a bread one), 1 medium plastic serving bowl (great as a mixing bowl as well as for serving salads), 1 box of foil, a roll of paper towels (Ziploc and some garbage bags are stuffed inside the tube), bamboo skewers, 2 marshmallow forks, 2 small glasses for wine, 2 medium glasses for water, 2 coffee cups, and a portable grate (grill top). As well there is a Ziploc bag filled with a small container of dish soap, a sponge, a couple SOS pads, a brush for dishes, and a flour-sack towel.  This sounds like a lot of stuff, and expensive;  but it isn’t.  Most of the items were things we had at home, but weren’t using.  The plates, glasses, and serving bowl, I found at Target at the end of the summer and did not pay more than a $1.00 for each item.  The utensils, pans, and knives were stuff we weren’t using any longer, and instead of giving away, we added them to the camping box.  We did purchase the stove and the percolator coffee pot.  Everything fits nicely instead the box, and the only items I add before a trip, is a cast iron pan, and a griddle.  Granted this is for two of us;  but, you can do the same for a family.  My mother kept a medium sized trunk full of the same items, probably even a few extras.  With a little pre-planning, and creative thinking, you can be ready to go at the drop of the hat.

Last week we decided to take a week long holiday, as it may be our only time to do so this year.  We wanted to keep it affordable, and we didn’t want to get on a plane.  We have been looking at Teardrop trailers as a purchase;  but, thought we should try it out a few times before doing so.  We found this knitchy little place called Vacations in a Can, and booked one of their teardrops for the week.  Originally our intentions were to drive south, in search for Farmers Markets, write, shoot photos/video, bike and relax.  Since we had to pick up the teardrop north of the city, and since Lenny has not seen some of the Northern coastline, we switched our directions.  We have no real plans, just playing it by ear as to where we will sleep.  We are still doing the things we intended to do, just a different venue.

After picking up the Chili Pepper (name of our cute little teardrop) we headed towards Bodega Bay.  The drive was gorgeous;  blue bird skies, cliff-dropping beaches, flowers in all shades of summer, baby calves nursing from their mothers, and simple living.  It was towards the end of the day, and our plan was find a campground, drop off the teardrop and then head 30 minutes inland, to the Occidental farmers market.  We needed to pick up some vegetables and fruit, as well we heard there was live music.  The perfect way to begin our holiday.  There are quite a few campgrounds in and near Bodega, but we had our hearts set on Wrights Beach.  As we drove by all of the other campgrounds, and saw the full-signs, a bit of “OH NO” started settling in.  As we came up to Wrights Beach, we saw the sign, FULL.  Even though, the sign said it was full, we decided to ask;  just maybe there was a small spot for our Chili Pepper.  NO!

Unfortunately, there were not any campgrounds available in or near Bodega Bay, so we had to head North.  The drive was gorgeous, but, the outlook for a place to sleep was getting grim, as we itched our way North.  Just past Timber Cove, we turned a corner, and saw Ocean Cove, and a vacancy sign.  It was not the intimate campground we had hoped to stay at;  but, the folks running it were friendly, it was affordable, and available.  We lucked out as most campers preferred to stay more inland (there is a reason why) and we got an ocean view campground, that was the perfect fit for the Chili Pepper.  Gorgeous views all day long.  The only draw-back, beach camping gets windy at night, I mean really windy at night.  Lucky for us, we weren’t tent camping this time, as I am sure the tent would have blown away with us in it while we were sleeping.  By morning, our spot was fog free, with clear blue skies all around us, and no wind, at all.  Absolutely perfect.

Saturday morning we decided that we would spend one more night at Ocean Cove.  We were anxious to starting writing, and shooting our first Farmer’s Market write-up as well we needed something to go with our blue-cheese burgers, that we were going to have for dinner.  After a couple cups of coffee and breakfast, we decided to head back to the Bodega Bay area in search of a market.  There was farm country around that area, it wouldn’t be that hard.  Right?  We drove, looked online when we could connect, one article would say a market was open Saturday, another would say Sunday.  We finally headed into Sebastopol as there was suppose to be a Farmers Market either on Saturday or Sunday.  Turns out it was not on Saturday.  It was looking grim, and we did not want to go more inland.   So, we found the next best thing, Whole Foods.

Picked up some sweet white corn, tomatoes and blueberries;  we were set for the day at least.  We decided to take a different route back to Ocean Cove, and along the way we found fresh cherries and peaches being sold alongside the road, almost as good as a market.  So, we didn’t find a market, at least we had a great adventure trying too, as well as had some delicious, sweet white corn to have with our dinner.  Oh, we also found out, after returning to our campground, that there was a farmers market in Duncan Mills on Saturday afternoons;  we had just missed it.

Do you enjoy camping?  Tips you’d like to share?

Follow along on our road trip – will update when we have connection.

If you are traveling in the Sonoma County area, and would like to explore the area’s farmers markets, here is a list, that may be helpful:

Friday:

  • Occidental, year around, 4:00pm – dusk
  • Sonoma Farmers Market, year around, 9:00 am – noon

Saturday:

  • Duncan Mills, May – October, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Gualala, May – October, 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
  • Healdsburg, May – November, 9:00 am – noon
  • Petaluma, May 24 – October 25, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Santa Rosa, year round, 8:30 am – noon

Sunday:

  • Sebastopol, April – December, 10:00 am – 1:30 pm
  • Windsor, May – November, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Tuesday:

  • Guerneville, year round, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Healdsburg, June – October, 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
  • Valley of the Moon, May – last Tuesday of October, 5:30 pm – dusk

Wednesday:

  • Santa Rosa, year round, 8:30 am – noon
  • Santa Rosa, May 21 – August 27, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Thursday:

  • Cotati, May – September 11, 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
  • Windsor, May – November, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Addresses for all markets.

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Recipe:  Chipotle Grilled White Corn
  • 2 ears white corn, silky threads removed, husks still attached
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle powder

Mix the butter with the chipotle powder.  Pulling the husks out of the way, rub the butter all over the corn.  Wrap the husks back around the corn, snugly.  Before putting on the hot grill, I emerge the corn into a bowl of water, quickly, just to lightly wet.  Put onto a hot grill.  Cook the corn, turning about every 5 minutes;  do this for about 15 – 20 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is.  The husks will be slightly burned, but the corn will be warm, buttery, and sweet.

 

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