Our family spent the Fourth of July long weekend camping at Moraine Park Campground. It’s a very civilized campground with flush toilets! This campground was also the site of Calvin’s first camping trip back in 2010.

This time I tried a new way to organize camping food. All the stuff that needed to be cold went into the cooler. But everything else got portioned into my cloth grocery bags. I had one bag for each cooked meal. So, in the first bag went everything I needed for the first meal that didn’t need to be chilled. The next bag contained everything for the next meal, minus the items I needed for the first meal (like the camping pot) and so on. Then, at the end of each meal I redistributed the things that would be needed later into the appropriate bags for their next meal. This system worked surprisingly well and prevented me from doing a lot of the rummaging I’ve done in previous trips. I would have preferred to use clear plastic bins for each meal but this was a lot cheaper.

We left for the campground Thursday evening around 5ish. As soon as we got there I put up the bug shelter for the picnic table and then started to make supper. Since we were expecting to arrive around supper I made it super easy. I brought a bag of freeze dried pasta primavera for each of us and a pound of asparagus. In retrospect, I can’t believe I never thought to bring asparagus for camping before. It’s incredibly easy to prepare and cooks within minutes.

After supper we put our stuff in the tent (we have a fantastically huge family tent), got everything organized. I read to Calvin for a while and we all eventually fell asleep.

Thursday night I slept the best I can remember in a tent. The air was pretty warm most of the night and Calvin slept straight through without waking. In addition, nobody else’s child was screaming which was a definite plus. At around 5:30 I was woken up by a loud noise. At first I thought it was the wind violently whipping the tent around. Then I realized a huge herd of deer had decided to go pounding through the campground. We got the tent door open soon enough to see them stampede away. It was not uncommon to see a couple of deer in my backyard growing up but it was still pretty interesting to see a whole herd of deer wandering around a campground.

For breakfast we had scrambled tofu that I had prepared back home, pastries from the Bavarian Bakery, and strawberries. I heated up the tofu in my cast iron skillet so cleaning up was really easy. I just dumped the extra tofu into the compost sack1, wiped out the skillet and then heated it on the stove again to sterilize it.

Our goal on Friday was to hike up to Emerald Lake. Since Calvin loves transportation, and parking at Bear Lake is impossible, we took two shuttle buses to get there. Calvin obviously can hike when he wants but he spent much of the time complaining. However, it was still a successful hike for him.

On the way back we stopped by the Moraine Park visitor center and I got seduced into buying three books. Two are books about park ranger adventures and the third was a picture book about scat. Calvin also decided he wanted to use his allowance to buy a stuffed fox.

For supper we were contemplating hot dogs. However, they didn’t start selling wood till 5:30 so I read to Calvin out of one of the new ranger books. Around 5:30 Jaeger left to get the firewood and it promptly started raining. I changed supper bags and started getting things ready. The bug shelter provided some protection from the rain but not for a particularly large area.

While mom was visiting she took me shopping to Costco and suggested I try using the prepackaged Tasty Bite entrees. They’re shelf stable and it turns out you can heat the pouches up by just putting them in boiling water. This has the distinct advantage of keeping a pot from getting dirty. I paired them with boil-in-a-bag brown rice and called the supper a success. Given the rain it was particularly nice not to have to spend a great deal of time cleaning up.

Saturday I attempted to make pancakes. I haven’t had prior good success with pancakes while camping but gave it another shot. I used a Krusteaz mix so I only needed to add water and then oil for the cast iron skillet. It took me a couple of times to get the cooking time and temp right but eventually I ended up with pretty decent pancakes. Probably a first for me.

Jaeger was having trouble coming up with hiking routes that were both interesting and something Calvin could reasonably be expected to do. Eventually he settled on going over to the west side of the park and taking the Big Meadows trail. This time we explained clearly to Calvin that we didn’t want to hear any moaning or no smores for supper. This hike went much better, especially during the short time when we were walking as the same speed with another family that had kids close in age to Calvin. The meadow was nice but I didn’t find it quite as inspiring as a lake as a destination. On the way back we saw a moose.

Since Calvin did so well, and it was way too hot, we decided a treat was in order and drove to Granby to get ice cream. Then we returned back over Trail Ridge Road to camp.

There wasn’t any rain in the evening so we were able to eat our veggie hot dogs and smores. To my surprise Calvin seemed to think the smores were ok but he only wanted one.

Sunday we ate a fairly boring breakfast of oatmeal then packed up and came home. Remarkably we were on the road by 9:30 so got back home in time to unpack and put things away in a orderly manner.

All-in-all I think it turned out to be a pretty successful camping trip though Calvin can definitely use more practice hiking.

  1. I wanted to minimize dish cleanup so we brought compostable dishes and had a bag we put all the compostable stuff into. It worked fairly well except the bag stunk up the car toward the end. Next time it needs a sealable bin.

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