Author Archives: jessicacardwell

Sunshine and Sand


Usually the Cardwell family can be found pursing the mountains, going out west, or exploring locally in Minnesota.  After our stop in the Great Smokey Mountains, we traveled on to Florida to see family and enjoy the warmer temperatures.  I was especially grateful since we had nearly frozen during the night  in Tennessee, where we camped at a higher altitude than we had planned.  I don’t think I thawed until we were almost to the summit.

So after being more accustomed to northern campsites with pine trees and rocky ground, we were pleasantly surprised by our stay at Paynes Prairie Park Reserve in Florida.  Seeing palm trees, tropical plans, and sand at our campsite was certainly a new experience for us!

Our Camp Site

During our typical camping experiences, we hear loons and owls or maybe a coyote or two.  At night in Florida, we heard foreign bird calls and strange unidentifiable sounds which were a bit disarming at first.  Finding large spiders on the picnic table also was a new experience, one that I can do without!  Thankfully none of them made their way into our tent.

Fire

As we were camping over the Thanksgiving holiday, we enjoyed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallow Smores.  Due to a burn ban earlier in the year in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we hadn’t yet had time in 2012 to really enjoy a good camp fire.  Therefore, to commemorate we took to science experiments (mostly initiated by Jayson) to see how quickly different items burn.  I think we probably should have had additional adult supervision.

We rented a Ford Fusion for this trip, and therefore we had minimized our gear to the best of our ability.  This included taking our smallest tent.  The last night of the trip, our son seemed to think we were still in our 10 foot by 12 foot Coleman tent, and not a small 4 person tent.  By the morning, he had effectively taken up nearly 50% of our usable space by laying diagonal this of course had a chain effect on the rest of us. My step-daughter was pushed over towards my husband and knocked him off his pad. Given my state of pregnancy I wasn’t going anywhere and he got smashed in between me and her left him longing for better accommodations.

On Thanksgiving day, we went for a short hike.  It was a nice change of pace as traditionally I’m holed up in the kitchen for  half the day on Thanksgiving.  Enjoying the great outdoors was a nice change and I hope to carry on to future Thanksgiving holidays.  The kids had fun creating different shadow art on the hike.

Shadows

We also took the opportunity to drive to the beach, even though it was a bit too chilly to get in the water.  Drawing in the wide expanses of sand created great entertainment and picture opportunities.

Benjamin in the sand

St. Augusting

Remember how I said it was too chilly to swim?  About 10 minutes after the beautiful picture above, the wave jumping turned disastrous and Benjamin ended up sitting in the waves soaked to his chest.  And his mother didn’t even bring a change of clothes from the campsite 2 hours away.  Oops.  After two emergency stops for new clothes and dragging my wet son through the local Walmart, everyone was (mostly) dry and ready to go again.

Kiss the belly

While we always feel the call of the mountains, we did enjoy being able to explore a new state and experience the natural features that Florida has to offer.  Now if only there were climbing areas there . . .

Categories: Camping, Family Vacation, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Staying in the Game (Part 2)


Ready to climb! (excuse the fuzzy pictures, its part of having a 6 year old take them)

I’m officially half-way through my pregnancy this week!  We are excited for our upcoming ultrasound and I’m hoping it will make baby’s March arrival seem more real. A few weeks ago I discussed climbing in regards to early pregnancy, and things are changing as my belly grows.

Thankfully my new CAMP body harness arrived a month ago.  I can certainly tell that it was NOT designed for a woman’s body, but I didn’t want to stop climbing until January when the Mountain Mama pregnancy harness comes out.  I’ve been able to adjust it for the most part, and it takes all the pressure off my growing belly.

Two things surprised me when I climbed the first time with the body harness.  1) With the belay loop being higher, the stopper knot ended up being close to my nose during important parts of the climb.  Three fourths of the way up I’d gotten slapped in the face by the extra rope one too many times and decided to come down.  Thankfully my friend Eliz taught me how to do a Yosemite finish so I don’t have the rope trying to pick my nose as I climb. 2) I like to climb in tanktops, but the harness straps coming over my shoulders began to rub my skin raw.  The first night I had to finish out my climbing in my husbands fashionable white undershirt just to save my skin.  We’ve considered adding some flair to my climbing harness (yes, this is an Office Space reference) because its just that fashionable.

As for the actual climbing, I can tell that my center of gravity is shifting and the weight gain  makes it a bit more challenging to pull certain moves.  However, it is forcing me to climb a bit more creatively (which is a good thing).  My husband teases me that I only used to climb with my hip into the wall and I’m now having to climb in a position that more resembles a frog.  I was particularly proud of myself for pulling a modified layback move to get through the crux of one of my climbs.  Sometimes I discover that my depth perception is off in regards to my belly and I have to shift my body to avoid knocking it on a hold.

Also, my husband has been losing weight and I’ve been gaining it; so I’ve started belaying him with only one twist in the rope instead of two.  It can be difficult for me to smoothly belay with the twists in the rope, which at one point a while back had ended up knocking his glasses off during a climb.  However, the weight gain has been to my advantage in this scenario and (I hope) I’m a better belayer for it.

I also had the joy of meeting another pregnant climber at the gym.  She says I’m only the third pregnant climber she’s seen in our area over the last few years, and she’s been climbing much longer than I have.  I’ve noticed over the last few weeks my harness and my belly are conversation starters.  People are curious and supportive.

One last thing, I’ve started reading Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, which I would recommend as a great resource for women looking for scientifically sound advice for activities in pregnancy. It’s great to see the research and the wonderful impact of fitness for mother and baby.

So until next time, climb on!

Categories: Climbing | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not all who wander are lost . . . except for us


In our quest to reach 100 miles this year, there are moments that mark our progress better than any mileage number ever could. We recently had a series of experiences on our record breaking hike of 8.6 miles, a family record for our longest hike and a personal longest hike for both myself and our son.

Bonding time on the trail

The first mile or two of our hikes are usually typified by settling into a rhythm. We work on setting the pace, distracting the boy from complaining and setting expectations for our first rest break.  As we made our way into mile 2 on this particular hike, out of seemingly nowhere my son stated “Tell me about the army, dad.”  After explaining the difference between the Army and the Air Force, I had the opportunity to spy on the father/son bonding initiated by my son. Its safe to say that this conversation would not have taken place had we not gotten out on the trail that day.  While we spend time together as a family at home, he generally focuses on asking to watch movies.

Being on the trail with no other distractions created the atmosphere for other conversations as well.  With the upcoming arrival of our next child, he started to ask more questions about his first mother (who passed away 5 years ago) and what my husband’s reaction was when he was born.

Also, we’ve noticed that as we have focused on hiking this year, our son’s ability to hike and his ability to enjoy the trail have grown tremendously.  While I think a comfortable limit for him is 7 miles in one stretch, he did quite well in managing the 8.6.  He even breaks into little songs that he makes up on the trail as we hike.  Every time I try to capture it on video he stops singing, but I’ll keep trying. 🙂

Waiting for our fearless rescuer.

Another interesting occurrence on this particular day was our directional challenges.  Yes, we got lost once again.  This time we weren’t in the car, but on foot, which makes it a much bigger deal.  We discovered after a mile or two of hiking towards the end of our day that we had taken the wrong fork in the trail.  We turned around and dragged on for another 2 miles until we realized that neither I nor the boy could go on.  Pregnancy and a desk job during the week were causing me some hip pain after 7 miles, and we were dragging a good 15 to 20 feet behind Jayson.  So when we hit 8.6 miles and we realized we were still roughly 3 miles from our truck, Jayson decided to press on alone to get to the truck and pick us up before dark.  There was an access road near by, so we were able to wait and make some hot chocolate with the Jet Boil to refresh us and keep us warm.

Our rescuer arrived a little over an hour later, hiking nearly 12 miles total which is the most he’s hiked in one day since his skiing accident.  He was a little worse for the wear, having taken a fall on the darkening trail.
But all is well that ends well, and it was nothing that some food and rest couldn’t repair.  We are looking forward to our vacation coming up where we will be going to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and then on to Florida to visit family.  We will drive through 9 states, and hike about 20 miles.  We hope to summit Chimney Top in GSMNP, which will be only our second summit as a family.  Getting in these miles on gentle rolling hills will hopefully prepare us for hiking at more strenuous level.

Other things worth noting:

We started out the day at 35 degrees.

We inspired a trail runner to get his 7 year old out hiking.

The fall colors were beautiful.

We hit 50 miles for the year during this hike!

So until next time, adventure on (and try not to get too lost)!

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Staying in the Game


For the faithful followers of this blog (and on Twitter), it’s no surprise that we are expecting a new edition in 2013.  I plan to share my experiences with staying active through pregnancy as well as the challenges, so I might help encourage others who hope to maintain their outdoor activities while pregnant.

Climbing

The average person seems to believe that rock climbing and pregnancy don’t belong together in the same sentence.  With the upcoming release of the Mountain Mama & Mad Rock pregnancy harness this topic has been covered by the non-climbing media (see sampling of stories here, here, and here).  I had many friends and acquaintances assume I would no longer be climbing now that I’m pregnant.  With my last pregnancy (not knowing any better) I had succumbed to the popular belief that pregnant women are fragile.  This was during my pre-climbing days, and I’ve not usually been one to sustain regular exercise, so I became more and more inactive and suffered the consequences: weak back muscles and increasing pains as my small frame was not prepared to support my increased weight.

Now, as a climber (if I can call myself that!) I’ve been determined to keep my activity level up and prepare my body for the journey ahead.  Before I began to show with my pregnancy, climbing was not an issue.  I noticed that I was a bit more breathless towards the top of my climbs, so I listened to my body and took more breaks as I needed to.  I kept nausea at bay by eating constantly, and I did my best to press through tiredness to maintain being active.

However, I began to show around week 9 or 10, and with the change in my body it affected my mentality towards climbing.  I began to get nervous and lost confidence for sending.  The following week I used one of my husband’s larger harnesses and positioned the waist above my bump. which was more comfortable.  I was able to climb at my normal pre-pregnancy levels (which is a 5.8, like I said, I’m still a new climber!)

Photo courtesy of C.A.M.P. USA website

Local outdoor retailers that carry climbing gear looked at me quizzically when I inquired about adult full body harnesses.  There don’t seem to be many pregnant women darkening the doors of the climbing gym.  It’s been a challenge trying to find a harness that will work, which is why I’m thankful that Mountain Mama and Mad Rock are answering this need with the release of the harness in January 2013.  I just don’t want to take 3 months off from climbing to wait for it!  I just received my new harness (pictured at left), the Magic II from C.A.M.P. which I will be trying out today.

There are some inspirational women that have showed me that it is possible to climb and maintain an outdoor lifestyle while pregnant.  I’m thankful for examples such as Carrie Cooper, Erica Lineberry, and Teresa Delphin of Mountain Mama.  I’m happy to have found the inspiration and support online that I lack locally.

Hiking

We are also continuing to chip away at our family goal of hiking 100 miles together during 2012.  Before pregnancy, I was always leading the family down the trail, setting the pace.  With pregnancy breathlessness combined with allergies, I found myself falling behind, especially when going up hill.

Falling behind on the trail

It is certainly humbling to lose my place at the front of the pack, but I’m thankful to be staying in the game. 

Categories: Climbing, Hiking | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Our Suburban Adventure


Discovering the treasures

Often we describe our efforts to get out at our local state and regional parks.  However, outdoor fun can often be found right in your own neighborhood! Some days we simply don’t have the time for the drive yet still have the urge to explore. Geocaching helps us to explore our own backyard in ways that are fun for kids and adults.

We first tried geocaching through borrowing a GPS unit from a local Minnesota State Park.  While it was nice to try out the activity, we were then limited to park boundaries and availability of units.

With a simple (free!) app on my husband’s tablet we were able to get out and search in our own neighborhood.  We discovered there was a cache about one block from our home.  On our first outing, we only found 1 of the 3 we searched for.  But the next day we found 4 of the 4 on our list!  There are a series of 6 caches near our home named after Star Wars characters which really excited our son.  He also loves finding the caches to pick out a treasure.  We always leave a butterfly in memory of our daughter who was stillborn last year.

We found it!

We did make a few mistakes for these outings.  Since we weren’t venturing far from home I didn’t grab a snack and no on put on bug spray.  We got eaten alive the first night. (In Minnesota people say the state bird is a mosquito.)  I also didn’t make everyone use the restroom before we left, so inevitably everyone really had to go before we got home.

Having Your Own Adventure

Using the tablet to navigate

1. Download the app.  If you have a smart phone or tablet, there are a variety of apps to choose from.  We use this android app, called c:geo. In our experience, it worked just as well as the GPS units we borrowed. This  particular app didn’t require   WiFi access or 3G coverage to work which is nice if you use it in more remote areas.

Signing the log book

2. Set up your account on Geocaching.com. You can learn more about how geocaching works and get started by looking up caches to find in your area.  After setting up your free user profile, the website lets you track all of the caches you find, and there are many more features we are still discovering.

3. Get outside! (Not forgetting the bug spray, snacks and bathroom break. 🙂 )

We’d love to hear about your geocaching adventures.  Please comment below or on our Facebook page.

Until next time, adventure on.

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Geocaching, Hiking, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The first time


Most outdoor bloggers have always been in love with the outdoors.  On the spectrum from being an outdoor hater to outdoor enthusiast, I would consider my former self an outdoor sympathizer.  Sure, I loved scenery and perfect weather, because who doesn’t?  When it came to any adverse weather or having to deal with backcountry conditions (what do you mean there isn’t a bathroom along the trail?!?) I was certainly not interested.

So my husband deemed some car camping with the in-laws to be the perfect gateway drug for this sympathizer.  Surprisingly, we hadn’t attempted camping until 2010.  Before we became aware of the online outdoor family community, everyone we knew said it was too difficult to camp with children, so we didn’t bother to try.  Since our son was approaching 4 years old, it didn’t seem as daunting.

Going for a walk on the family farm.

During my time of being an outdoor sympathizer, most of my outdoor enjoyment was via camping in the pop-up camper of my youth (which graduated to an RV by my teen years), short hikes, and time romping around outside on the family farm. Tents were a rather novel idea to me.

Imagine my surprise when my husband enlisted my help to set up the tent at our walk-in campsite.

Um, what is that you want me to do?  Do you mean this pole?  Where do I tie this?   To say the least, it was a frustrating experience.  That tent has since been lovingly donated to my in-laws and we’ve updated to a more recent Coleman model.  I was about as helpful as a 4 year old in the campsite set up process.

My son “helping” set up the tent at age 3. Still more helpful than my skills at the time.

Organizing a camp site and subsequently finding anything when I needed it was like a game of Where’s Waldo?  yet somehow not quite as fun.

And yet, just a week after our initial foray into camping did we attempt a road trip with the primary destination of Yellowstone National Park.  My husband had been educating me regarding the neccesities of proper gear.  I wasn’t convinced we needed to spend money on new hiking socks and other items I was unfamiliar with.  I’m glad I listened to him as we just happened to go during the rainiest week of 2010.  And there’s nothing worse then being cold AND wet.  Unfortunately some of our gear had limitations.  I don’t think I dried out until we had driven through most of South Dakota on our way home.

Snow around our tent

The Yellowstone I remembered from my youth was from the perspective of a tween relaxing in the comforts of an RV every night.  During our stay in 2010 the snow was not yet gone and it rained or drizzled for a good portion of every single day.  I was a fair weather camper and setting up the tent with snow on the ground was far outside my comfort zone.  We ended up accomplishing a trip that I would have formerly described as a trip for only the serious “hardcore” camper.

In spite of the many challenges we encountered, the trip solidified me as an outdoor enthusiast.  As I have embraced that which my husband first loved, I have grown to love it too.  Experiencing the serenity of creation, and the joy of discovering it with my family has gotten me hooked.  I’m now even open to adventures such as hiking the John Muir Trail or climbing one of the Teton Mountains, which are both  goals that my husband and I have.

What about you?  Where you born loving the outdoors or did a significant other warm you up to the idea?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Categories: Camping, Family Vacation, Insight, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Rhythm of Success


A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a rare opportunity to climb without our son tagging along to the gym.  Now that I’ve overcome my fear of belaying my husband (2 twists in the rope helps boost my confidence!), we were looking forward to some focused climbing time.

Only I bombed.  For some unknown reason, my brain was not in the game that day.  I was getting short of breath, failing to execute simple moves, and that compounded my exasperation.  I wondered if it had anything to do with my time off from injuring my shoulder.

As I considered why I was so off, the closest comparison and explanation I could come up with was that my rhythm was off.  When I play piano, I have a certain ritual of arranging the bench, the music, even my hair.  I do it without thinking.  I didn’t even know it existed until my biggest fan (my mom) pointed it out to me.  These simple arrangements allowed my mind to focus, distractions to fade, and I could execute my performance with excellence.

This was not the case for climbing that day.  It went something like this:

Bouldering at the Climbing Gym

“On belay?”

“Belay is on.”

“Climbing.”

“Climb on.”  I climb up two holds.

My wedding ring is still on!  How did I forget to take it off?  I reach with my right hand, move my left foot into position.

It sure is grinding into my finger. Climb a few more feet.

Which of these holds is actually on this route?  There are 5 different colors here!  Move another move up.

I hope I don’t hurt my shoulder.

Not the most helpful, focused internal dialogue.

While I’ve been taught to tie in and go through the climbing commands and checks to ensure safety, I don’t think I’ve yet embraced the process as my mental preparation.

The more I climb the more I believe climbing is 50% mental and 50% physical.  If I don’t have it together in my head, its better to not even get on the wall.

For much of my life, playing piano meant that distractions would fade, music would surround me and for a time I’d be transported elsewhere.  It wasn’t my experience when I first started however.

I hope that as I progress in climbing, that when I hear “climb on”, distractions disappear, my thoughts fade away and I send with confidence.

Until next time, send on.

[Also: I have to apologize publicly to my husband for my last post.  It was never my intention to paint him as someone who is inept.  In fact he is quite the opposite.  He is truly inspiring for all the trials and challenges he perseveres through.  I thought I was being funny in my last post, but I realized later that it could be interpreted as mean spirited or demeaning, and that is certainly not my intent.  My first post on this blog more accurately describes how I view him.]

Categories: Climbing, Insight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Missing the Mark


In our attempt to hike 100 miles as family this year, many lessons are presenting themselves.  Contrary to popular belief, young children can cover more than 1 mile on a hike.  Our 5 year old has made it up to 5 and a half miles at a relaxed pace (learn about some of our tricks). Two weeks after discovering this, we inadvertently put it to the test.

On the trail

One Saturday we started a hike mid afternoon in an area we had never hiked before.  A few short miles from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge seemed like a good idea for a short 2 mile hike.

I’d recently been on a kick of watching wilderness survival shows on Netflix (such as Man Woman Wild) so I joked about taking a firestarter, makeshift shelter, headlamps and other assorted survival gear.  My husband pointed out that we would not be far from a major freeway and an international airport and suggested in no uncertain terms that all we should take was water and snacks.  At the last minute, I threw in our brand new trekking poles to see how our son would manage with them.  Also at the last minute, my husband decided to throw rocks, a cot, and other assorted bulky items into his pack.  Why? Because he’s crazy . . . and he thought it’d be a great idea to test himself and “train” for future backpacking.  No better time than a short 2 mile hike, right?

After picking up our trail map, neglecting to stop at a bathroom, and adjusting our poles we were off and away.  We soon came to a fork in the trail.  Our map only showed one trail, so after best guesses by assessing the terrain, we kept moving. This happened a handful of times.  Due to trail maintenance, signage wasn’t great, but major markers were still in existence.  We kept watching for the trail marker for our turn around point, however, we realized somewhere along the way that we ended up on a bike trail.

Testing out the trekking poles and his new REI pack

This bike trail seemed to be parallel to our original trail.  Convinced we would still cross the marker that we had determined would be a turn around point, we pressed on.  When we realized we could hear freeway traffic and there was no longer water along our left, we had blown past our goal by over a mile.  It was now dinner time and it would be fairly dark in an hour and a half.

Our average speed for hiking with our 5 year old has historically been about a mile per 45-60 mintues.  This includes stopping to take in the beauty that surrounds us and water and snack breaks.  We calculated that we had 2.5 miles to go in 90 minutes.

Now my headlamp suggestion wasn’t looking so foolish.  I offered to jog back to our vehicle and have them take the much shorter hike out to a road, as both of my traveling partners were starting to feel worn.  My husband declined and we started at a fast clip back to the parking lot.

Surprisingly, we made it back with 30 minutes of daylight to spare.  Although it wasn’t without a great deal of complaining (I’ll let you guess if it was just the young one or both 🙂 ) All of our hiking trying to meet our goal has conditioned our son for the trail more than we had realized.  Jayson was a little worse for the wear as he had his light hikers on and not his backpacking boots.  Oh yes, and the rocks in his pack.  Being properly outfitted for “training” exercises is all the more important when one has a disability.  He was thankful for his amazingly insightful wife that remembered our trekking poles.

Lessons learned from this specific adventure:

1. Always stop for a bathroom break before getting on the trail, no matter how short you plan it to be. (This hike solidified  my plans to purchase a Go Girl.)

2. Keep headlamps and more snacks than you think you need in everyone’s pack, especially if getting a start later in the day.

3. Monitor husband’s “training” exercises.

4. Trusting maps and signs to determine a turn around point on a hike is not reliable.  Its good to have a turn around time determined before the hike is started.

5. Adult trekking poles do work for kids (and will grow with them!), but teaching them to use them properly is another post for another time.

Have any of you encountered some unexpected situations while hiking?  Please share in the comments!

Until next time, hike on.

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

First Ascents


It’s been over a month since our last post.  We’ve been busy living rather than blogging, and my husband has some non-outdoor projects he’s been focused on.  We also realized that we could be slipping into the dangerous area of focusing on creating content rather than enjoying life and what we love, a concept that Jon Acuff recently blogged about.  So while our posts may be more infrequent for a time, rest assured, we’ll be back at some point or another.

A few weeks ago, we spent a gorgeous spring day exploring a local climbing area, Interstate Park.  Unfortunately there was no climbing for the adults since we were both healing from shoulder issues.

The first few moves of Banana Cookie (with intensive spotting from me!)

And the minor detail of not yet owning a rope and anchors.  That’s right, no free soloing for us. We were relegated to hiking and trying not to drool while watching others climb.  This didn’t prevent our son from topping out on a first ascent of a boulder problem he named “Banana Cookie”.  We are tentatively calling it a VK (for kindergartner) and for locals who dare to try it’s located off the Echo Canyon trail on the Wisconsin side of the park.

As we don’t yet own crash pads, the endeavor was accomplished with an intensive two spotter method.  When I realized he was actually going to make it to the top and my arms couldn’t reach that high, my husband jumped in to spot from the bottom, and I climbed up the back of the boulder to be ready to reach down from the top if needed.

One move before the mantle finish of Banana Cookie.

So now my son, at 5 years old, is the first in the Cardwell household to climb (for real) on real rock and top out a boulder.

100 miles update

We are now down to 81.6 miles to go for the remainder of 2012.   We’ve found out that we can actually do longer hikes now that all 3 of us have trekking poles.  It’s a psychological advantage that we are milking for all its worth.  Even though the little guy still really doesn’t know how to use them, he believes he can hike farther now. 🙂

Banana Cookie Boulder Problem

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Climbing, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Camping: New Uses for Old Things


With spring getting closer and closer, I have been eagerly awaiting our first camping trip of 2012. Winter has been unusually mild for most of the country, Minnesota included, and  I’m hoping that it means we’ll be out camping sooner than we usually do.  (And no, I don’t camp in the winter as much as my husband has lobbied for it.  I’m just not that hard core.)

Like me, you might be itching for that first trip as well.  So when the weather doesn’t let one camp, some do what my husband does, which is spend time shopping for gear (he’s a bit obsessed if you didn’t already know).  But there’s good news!  You can find items around your house and give them a second life in your camping gear!

Besides being a fan of the outdoors, I’m a fan of Real Simple magazine, and they have a running column of new uses for old things.  So without further ado, here is my version of new uses for old things:

1. Diaper bag as a Picnic Basket/Food Storage

First I need to point out the obvious: this will need to be stored in your car if you are camping in bear country.  Unless you are filming a documentary about what not to do at a campground, then you can place it strategically in front of your camera.

My husband is the genius behind this idea.  We had an old diaper bag that I didn’t really care for, but didn’t want to donate it to Goodwill because our last name was written in big black letters with permanent marker.  My husband writes this compulsively on almost everything we own.  Anyway, we were packing for a camping trip and we didn’t have anything to store our dry goods.  It worked perfectly as there are smaller pockets for storing granola bars, oatmeal, chocolate for smores, condiment packets, etc. and larger pockets for items that take up a bit more space.  Our old diaper bag now is a standard part of our camping gear.

2. Clorox Wipes Container Reused as a dispenser for plastic bags

As much as I would like to remember our reusable bags every time we go to the grocery store or department store, inevitably they are at times left behind and we accumulate a small army of plastic bags.  We reuse plastic bags as much as possible, and one use we have for them is as trash bags when camping. I came across this idea and pinned it on on Pinterest one day and it struck me as an excellent way to stay organized at the camp site. [You can find the original blogger’s post and instructions here: Tatertots and Jello]  If your family doesn’t use cleaning wipes, we’ve found that an empty oatmeal container will do the trick as well.

We don’t generate much trash at our campsite so a full trashbag feels like overkill. Its the perfect size to make sure we don’t leave anything behind.  When camping in bear country they come in handy since all trash and food items need to be cleaned up thoroughly after every meal.  If we were to use a regular size garbage bag, it would feel like we are dumping a ton of unnecessary plastic in the dumpster since there would be just a bit of trash floating around in the bottom .We also carry one plastic bag to clean up trash when we hike as its a great way to teach children about caring for the world we live in.

3. Plastic Zippered Packaging reused as First Aid Storage

When buying curtains (as well as many other things) sometimes they come in this wonderful zippered plastic pouch.  These are wonderful for reusing in a number of ways, but when it comes to camping, its a great way to store your first aid supplies.  My husband and I generally carry a small kit in each of our daypacks, and I have an additional one made up with extra supplies, sunscreen and bugspray.  The great thing about reusing packaging such as this is that it is highly durable, and since it is clear, you can easily see if any supplies are missing.

What other new uses for old things do you or your family incorporate when camping?  Please comment, share your tips, and camp on!

Categories: Camping, Family Vacation, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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