A couple of years ago my wife and I struck up a conversation about how we never went camping before. Neither of us have ever experienced going camping or what it was like to hang out by a fire in the woods with a tent roasting marshmallows or making s’mores in our 40 or so years on this planet.

So after a few moments of silence, I said “Let’s go camping!“. She looked at me like I had 3 heads and I said “Yeah!“, “Let’s get some camping stuff and figure it out and go.” We talked about it a little bit, but I wanted to make sure if we were going to camp, I wanted to do it right! A primitive campground was on the horizon with no car access, toilets, water, electric, etc..

Dante 5+ months

Dante 5+ months, now 2.5 yrs old

After a little bit of research and a trip to our local sporting goods store to pickup our 3 man tent and some supplies that included a double person sleeping bag rated at 35 degrees, a water filter incase we needed it, lots of extra clothing for layers (was mid to late October), at least a couple of good knives I had for wood and of course 2 of the swiss army knife (my all time favorite!), some dog food and doggy stuff for our german shepherd Dante, and lots of other stuff we didn’t need for the trip but didn’t know at the time.

The night before we packed a couple backpacks filled 80% of what we didn’t need and 20% of what we actually used.

We made reservations at Wharton State Forest at the Lower Forge Campground deep in the forest.

On our way into the forest

On our way into the forest

The day of the camping trip drove out there and in my Hyundai Sonata somehow managed to get out there as far as we were allowed to drive near the trail that lead to the camp.  Sandy road that only got worse the deeper we went into the woods.  We hiked out a little ways and set up camp.

We had the entire campground to ourselves due to the colder weather and setup camp.  I didn’t bring any firewood so I set off to find some once we got there, I found some fallen branches and another site had a big pile I took a little from which was a nice find.



Soon after setting up with Dante running around.

Soon after setting up with Dante running around.

We struggled to get settled in and with it being our first camping experience but I think we did just fine.  The night was cold and the fire was pitiful and we heard some wilderness sounds were weren’t used to (like owls and coyotes howling) that kinda scared the crap out of us when we heard it, lol.  When the first signs of light came in the morning we both (already awake) looked at each other and I said, “It’ll be daylight in about 45 mins, let’s pack up.” She agreed and we started packing up. haha

Overall I don’t regret the trip at all and I figured anything after that experience is a piece of

Our Camping rig

Our Camping rig

cake.  Since that day we camped (car campsites) quite a few more times and continue to grow more and more fond of it!  We LOVE camping now and have since upgraded our 3 man tent to a 9 person tent to a semi converted 5×8 cargo trailer. The trailer is small but it’s better than a tent and fits a queen size mattress pretty good.

For the last couple of years we stuck with Fall/Winter camping excursions and this year we gave the little trailer an air conditioning upgrade that I’ll talk about in another post that enabled us to go and do a trip this summer.

Some of the gear I picked up for the first trip and still have today:
* my ka-bar bushcrafting blade
* Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife x2, also bought one for my wife!
* Decent water filtration
Estwing Sportsman Hatchet