Depending on where you live and how thick your sleeping bag is, it's camping season! So today I'm giving a shout-out to a great little spot in my own neck of the woods, East Lake near Newton, Kansas. I mean, come on, how cute is this campsite?
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Spending a night here made for the perfect quick getaway for the hubs and I last fall. We love camping for several reasons: First, once you've got the gear, camping makes for relatively inexpensive lodgings. A tent, sleeping bags, camp chairs, roasting sticks, and a head lamp should set you up nicely. (Scroll to the end of this post to check out my personal favorite gear!) Most parks charge a nominal fee of $10 to $15 per night for primitive sites (those that don't have electrical hookups).
Also, there's something about getting close to nature and away from modern conveniences that helps you to take a deep breath, step back to consider your life from a less frantic vantage point, and reconnect with your people. I'm convinced that many movements have been birthed, problems solved, passions fueled, relationships strengthened, and souls saved while regular people stared into a campfire.
The final thing that endears camping to us is the same thing that endears any other trip or experience to us--food! If your camping trip is short or you'll be back and forth to town, you can throw just about anything into your cooler--like jello jigglers...because why not? If you've got a Contigo or other super awesome thermos, boil your water at home, then enjoy hot chocolate or apple cider several hours later! You need something sweet to sip on while you're strategizing for world peace.
If you'd like a non-hot dog option for supper, you can't go wrong with foil packet dinners, frequently referred to as hobo dinners. There are tons of creative foil packet dinner recipes on Pinterest, but my favorite combo is pretty basic--ground beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, butter, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Assemble the packets at home, stick them in your cooler, and then cook them over your campfire until your veggies are soft and golden brown and your meat is done and just a bit crispy--yum!
You can't camp without roasting marshmallows! Well, you can. But it's not advisable. I like to enjoy a s'more or two and then continue to roast marshmallows until the bag is empty or my companions comment on how many I've eaten--whichever comes first. People can be pretty zealous about the correct way to roast a marshmallow--have you noticed this? I prefer mine toasty-golden on the outside and ooey-gooey on the inside. I can't handle it when decent folks light the whole thing on fire. I have two words: eww and hairspray.
If you're a coffee drinker, you must not attempt camping without a small espresso maker like the one pictured here. This is how my husband won my heart years ago. (Ok, fine, it's one of many ways.) We were camping with a group of friends, and the girls' tent was slower to rise in the morning than the guys' tent. (Shocking, right?) When I finally stumbled sleepily to my designated chair near the fire, Greg grinned at me and said cheerily, "Coffee?" I said, "Yes, please," and silently petitioned heaven to let me marry this generous miracle man who had produced coffee out of thin air.
Bacon! Enough said.
Who knew there were so many ways to make cinnamon rolls over a campfire? We tried two methods, which each used tubes of refrigerated cinnamon roll dough. If you like gooey, and I mean gooey, you'd probably love these cinnamon rolls, which are baked individually inside of scraped-clean orange peels. The hubby and I prefer a slight crunch on the outside of our cinnamon rolls, so we weren't crazy about these, not to mention that it's a bit tedious to scrape out a whole orange for each one. Ain't nobody got time for that!
These cinnamon rolls, on the other hand, were delish and didn't take as long to cook. Wrap the dough around your roasting stick, and cook it over the fire, rotating constantly. Remove from stick, and top with icing--crispy-chewy perfection!
So when are you going to go camping? Because I will judge you if you make cinnamon rolls on a stick in your living room fireplace. Just kidding. If you live close to Newton, you can learn more about camping at East Lake here. No matter where you live, you can find a nice campsite near you here. Hey, if you camp, let me know! That would make me a happy camper.
My Favorite Camping Gear
Do you have a favorite camping spot? What about campfire food?