Learning From Our Mistakes

Camping is one of our family’s favorite activities, but it requires some preparation. Camping with two kids and three dogs requires the ability to plan a camping trip.

As with anything planning ahead will make your life easier. Book your reservations well in advance of your trip, plan your menu for the duration of your stay. You’ll have everything you need and reduce your superfluous items. If you were missing items and/or ingredient during your camping trip create a checklist that you could use for our next trip. Keep most of your camping gear in big storage containers. Remember part of the hassle of planning a camping trip is having to rummage through the garage and make last minute runs to the store to gather all the supplies you will need. For the items that cannot be stored in the containers, create a permanent checklist that you can consult before each trip.

So for our Spring Break trip we went on a couple of weeks ago, did we follow those tips….. A resounding NO…

Due to unavoidable events we didn’t have the ability to confirm our dates and reservations until 3 day before we left.  All the camping sites in south Texas were all booked — big surprise — however we had no problems finding a spot at Lake Arrowhead State Park.

Lake Arrowhead SunriseThe normal temperature around this time is in the mid 40s. The park was great, I would definitely revisit the park later this year. The park consists of 524 acres in Clay County, 14 miles southeast of Wichita Falls. Lake Arrowhead itself is a reservoir on the Little Wichita River and covers approximately 16,200 surface acres, with 106 miles of shoreline. Built primarily as a water supply by the city of Wichita Falls, the lake is also a major recreational site for the North Central Plains. The land surrounding the lake is generally a semiarid, gently rolling prairie, much of which has been covered by mesquite in recent decades and is home to a black-tailed prairie dog town. The park offers fishing, lake swimming on an unsupervised beach, water skiing, disc golf, picnicking, camping, nature study, hiking, horseback riding and boating.

The morning of our trip we had a cold front coming in, originally it was supposed to be 50-60s, but mother nature decided to give us high 30-40s for the weekend. My wife got the all the items that were not stored in the garage plus the kid and dogs gear.  I packed two tents, sleeping bags, cots, padding, cooler, dishes and cooking gear.  The two tents were a 8 person family, the other a smaller 4 person tent extra which was only intended to house our gear. I didn’t check to make sure we had everything together (the flies, posts, stakes and ground tarp).  Rushing to get everything back and onto the road, I forgot my jacket, gloves, hiking shoes and some cooking supplies like Pam spray, salt & pepper.

Lake Arrowhead Camp SiteWhen we got to our camp site the cold front had already hit; we had high winds blowing through the site which made for an exciting time setting up the tents, and camp fire. We got the 8 person tent setup when we discovered that it was missing its wind/rain fly. So with 4 of us plus 3 medium size dogs (40 lbs) we crammed into the 4 man tent. Luckily my wife brought some heavy blankets just in case. Originally we planned to cook most of our meals over the camp fire, but with the strong gusts and cold temperatures it made it virtually impossible for the food to cook properly. I then tried to use the Coleman stove we brought with us, we didn’t have any wind barriers setup around the cooking area so it too struggled. After an hour of fighting we were able to get the kids and dogs fed and off to bed. The night was cramped, cold and long. We managed to get through the night to a bright sunny morning. The first thing the dogs did was to scrabble into the car so they could warm up. The kids didn’t leave their sleeping bags till the temperate got closer to the mid 40s.

We ended cutting our trip short because the next night was going to be almost freezing and we didn’t have the proper gear, we barely had the right gear for the previous night.  We have definitely revised our planning after this trip, a lot of lessons were learned. We also decided to make a chuck box to aid with gathering the cooking supplies, using large tubs to house our tents, sleeping bags, reorganized the permanent checklist, and use a menu checklist.

Looking back it was still a great time with the family and hell of a learning experience.

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