We like to get up and out the first full day of camping. It seems counter-intuitive and certainly your miles may vary, but for us, getting out and seeing things when we are fresh works. Since we were at Lake Placid, we decided to look at the Olympic sites. (Luckily, they were already there. It’s like they knew we were coming. – Lee) One of the nice things about us as a couple is we always like to try new things and we never say we are ‘too cool’ to do something. We pass on things because they are too scary or physically demanding, but never because we are too cool. Giant ball of string? I want to see it. Cornhenge? Let’s go take a look. (You can skip cornhenge. We might not be too cool for it, but you almost certainly are. – Lee). Sometimes these roadside attractions are lame, but generally we are delighted by what we get to see.
When we went to the first Olympic site they were selling a multi-pass to four different events for $32 a person and I felt a twinge. I am trying to keep budget in mind during these camping trips, although it’s tough with all the one-time purchases we have to make. Lee felt it was a good deal and, as much as I hate to say it, he was right. (This is a common occurrence, me being right, and her hating to say it. – Lee) Coming from the Midwest, I need to guard against being penny-wise and pound foolish, as my grandmother says, and Lee is great at balancing our money. (She misspelled a word in there, she meant to type “Lee is great at spending our money.” It’s true, I rock at it. If there were an Olympic event, I would be unable to stand from all the gold medals around my neck. I should get a statue, or a parade. – Lee) Suffice it to say, it was a bargain and gave us enough relatively cheap and interesting activities for 2 days.
We went out and about the first day seeing the sites and doing a little shopping. We bought our second magnet for the fridge; I spent forever deciding which one to buy. We also bought a little sign to hang on the front of the camper. This was a major decision 🙂
Having learned our lesson from last time, we got back in plenty of time to start the fire and cook the chicken. One really fun thing for me was stopping at one of those roadside stands and getting additional wood. The wood at the campground was pretty cheap (only $5.75) and came with a fire starter, but I always wanted to buy bundles from a roadside place–I know, I’m weird like that. You have to have cash, though, and exact change; luckily I had $4 in my purse and we grabbed a bundle, which made me very happy. It’s the small things in life. The only downside to the day was when my allergies really kicked in. It’s high pollen season here in the North and sniffling all day was a bit of a drag. We stocked up the medicine cabinet and the over-the-counter medicine helped some but I’ll definitely keep this in mind for next time.
One other thing that was a bummer was the lack of a decent Wi-Fi signal. The campground says Wi-Fi but it’s largely unusable (kicking us off after a few minutes every time we tried to use it) and although I don’t want to spend a ton of time connected…it’s a nice option to have especially on a rainy day (more on that tomorrow). It really wasn’t a campground issue in this case but an area issue because cell phone coverage was extremely spotty as well. As much as I enjoy getting away, not having GPS or Google Maps forced us to go old school with navigation. Let’s just say we are a bit rusty and got lost a lot. (I don’t recall ever being lost. I was sightseeing. – Lee)
There is raging debate–ok, maybe that is an over statement–over the relative merits of independent sites versus KOA campsites. I’m going to give the newbie perspective but fully reserve the right to change my mind at a later time. Both seem to have advantages. The independents are cheaper and have the seasonal residents. I like the seasonal folks a lot, generally people who are retired or semi-retired and have a place at the site. They keep an eye on everything and there are definitely fewer kids at these sites probably because they have less kid related activities. KOA campsites, on the other hand, have more employees, more family activities, and guys in little carts constantly monitoring the site. Both seem pet-friendly, although I did see more big dogs at the KOA site. In both cases they had nice helpful people at the front desk and an assortment of those immediate necessities you might need. In a nut shell, more weekenders with kids at KOA and more seasonal folks and fewer kids at the independents.
I think, given a choice (and there often isn’t one, believe it or not), I would choose the independents because we don’t have kids and I really like talking to the seasonals, but I have one major caveat. We often see independents with no websites, and we had an opportunity to drive through and scout one of those on this trip. It was pretty scary. I’m sure there are many nice independents without web sites, but this place was scary. It was pretty wild and unkempt and the full hookup area was a wide field, which we are not really interested in. So for me, unless personally recommended by someone I trusted, I would stick with independents with websites, and that significantly shortens the list of available places. I am glad KOA sites are an option because you do always know what you are going to get, which is comforting.
On a totally different note: we worked out the showers. You have a limited hot water tank so you need to take a few minutes and talk about how you are going to handle showers. There are basically three options: take extremely short showers, use less water in the shower, or have a break between showers. We went with a combination of the first two. Lee gets wet, turns the water off for soap and shampoo, then turns the water back on. I take a pretty quick shower. So everything works out fine. The main point is: communicate about this in advance. One more thing–if you both like a morning shower, make sure you save the breakfast dishes until after the showers are done! (Personally, I had a fool-proof plan which involved both of us taking a shower at the same time. Sadly, this would be impossible because the shower is very small. Our next camper will have fewer couches and a larger shower. – Lee)
- Carry cash
- Allergy season is different in different places, so be prepared with your medicine cabinet
- Allow for extra time in your meal prep time calculations to get the fire hot
- Chicken takes an hour to cook on a fire (no way around it that I’ve found, yet!)
- ‘Wi-Fi’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘usable Wi-fi’
- Be extremely cautious when going to a campground with no website
- Have a shower strategy and avoid the fight that happens after someone uses all the hot water
- Save the breakfast dishes until after the showers are done
Campfire Wishbone Chicken
- 1/2 cup Wishbone Italian dressing
- 5 chicken legs
1. Pour salad dressing over chicken and let sit overnight in the refrigerator
2. Get the campfire started and build up a nice base of coals
3. Cook chicken on a flat grilling pan over fire for one hour, turning over at least every 10 minutes
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