Glamping - The Great Outdoors

Camping can mean a lot of things. It can mean using an RV, setting up a tent, or sleeping in your car. It can mean going to an established campsite with some amenities or it can mean going to the middle of nowhere and finding a flat enough place to set up a tent. It can be in the woods, the desert, on the beach, anywhere, really!

Our caravan of cars in the middle of nowhere

For us, we tend to find known campsites that are more of the beaten path. Clearly others have been here before, but they’re fairly far from other sites, and there are no amenities. [Either that, or we go to Disney World 😉]. We recently got a MASSIVE tent, and we like to bring an air mattress so we don’t have rocks digging into our bodies as we sleep. We also recently got a two-person sleeping bag, and it’s great for using body heat to keep warm. We also bring pillows and extra blankets, because you never know how chilly it’ll get!

In addition to the kitchen gear I talked about here, we also bring fold up camping chairs and tables to put near the fire for meals and just hanging out. I’d also recommend bringing some sort of emergency gear, like a car kit and first aid, just in case. Hopefully you won’t ever need to use it!

Depending on your activities, you may decide to bring a number of other things. We saw so many cars towing ATVs, motorbikes and/or mountain bikes. If you plan on hiking a bunch, hiking poles can be nice, and a Camelback backpack is convenient for carrying lots of water easily, plus food and sunscreen. There are lots of canyons around which require climbing gear, so rock climbers can have a lot of fun, too. If you’re a photographer, bringing lots of gear can be great - just be careful of dirt and sand! Night photography is great here, because of the lack of ambient light.

"Vader Rock"

This trip we went to the San Rafael Swell. Our first night we spent near Goblin Valley, at a site we call Vader Rock because the shape of the huge rock reminds us of Darth Vader’s helmet. From this site we can walk up to a nice little notch and look over at the canyons on the other side, or climb Vader Rock itself. We also hear a lot of people on ATVs and motorcycles. You can also quickly drive to Goblin Valley, which is worth seeing!

The next two nights, we went a little further and camped near Cistern Canyon, which we could walk to from our campsite. In order to make it all the way through and out Ramp Canyon nearby, though, you need mountaineering gear - it’s a bit more technical, and we didn’t do that. We did make it all the way to the chokestone in Cistern Canyon, though, which makes for some fun photos.

At the chokestone!

Muddy pups in Muddy Creek

The next day we drove to the Muddy Creek hike. This water really lives up to its name! There were some dogs with us and they got FILTHY swimming in this water. It would be good to bring water shoes (like Tevas or Chacos) on this hike, because you will get wet! I think we got about knee deep at one point, but if you go even farther, you might get even wetter! Also, entering this hike you get to pass by an old mining area, with some dilapidated wooden buildings. It’s amazing that this land used to be utilized for mining so much, and now it just sits there. Do NOT go into any mines, though. That could be super dangerous both because they may not be stable, and because they aren’t cleaned up and you could get radiation!

A lot of people go farther south to Moab and Canyonlands, but we really like this area around Green River - I think it’s a little less off the beaten path, and it’s not far from Moab anyway, so it could be fun to mix things up a little bit.

(edit: reviews.com reached out to me about their reviews of the best air mattresses - check it out if you're in the market)

Glamping - Food Edition

Stopped here for lunch during a hike one day because this rock table was too perfect!

From camping with my husband and in-laws, I have learned that the lack of a kitchen is no reason to eat poorly. Of course it’s nice to have easy snacks like granola, fruit and beef jerky, but coolers can help you transport many of the usual ingredients you have in your fridge, and camper stoves and fires work fine for most of the food you eat. Just remember you don't have an electric dishwasher (but if you do, please tell me where to get one!).

We kept breakfasts and lunches pretty simple. I brought bottles of coffee, one for each morning, and we boiled water to make oatmeal, which I sliced bananas into. We also brought bagels and cream cheese. 😋 For lunch we made peanut butter sandwiches and/or cold cut sandwiches, and threw in some apples and protein bars just in case.

Our dinners were a little more extravagant. The first night we just did mac & cheese, where we boiled the water over the fire! We also roasted sausages over the fire to add a bit of protein to the meal. Our second night, my in-laws prepared caesar salad and pork tenderloin grilled over the fire. The third night we had hangar steak and baked potatoes.

In addition to all this, we had chips, hummus, guacamole, veggies, and LOTS of alcohol. We had beer and boxed wine, and Nathaniel even brought ingredients for one of his favorite cocktails.

For dessert, we made s’mores and had Girl Scout cookies.

This menu actually was quite reasonable, and didn’t require too much work or gear. To prepare warm food, you can pretty much do everything over the campfire with a wire rack, or you can bring a small propane stove. We have a metal kettle, a cast iron pan and a metal pot that we use to cook. It’s also useful to bring a cutting board and knife.

We always bring durable, easy to wash plates, cups and flatware (you can get plastic or metal - we have an assortment). We also like to bring paper plates to put on top of the plastic plates to help with clean up. You also can just put the paper plates in the campfire when you’re done! It’s good to have durable cups for your alcohol, because no one wants to worry about glass shards at the campsite! They actually make wine glasses specifically for camping. We also discovered that Yeti makes beer coozies that keep your beer cold ridiculously well. If you’re into making your specialty cocktails on the go, you can find camping martini kits and shakers, and fun things like hand-powered blenders.

While it would have been fine to bring just easy, no-cooking-necessary foods, there’s something fun about enjoying a nice meal by the fire under the stars. You may be away from your kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to rough it too much 😉

Glamping - Packing Edition

So as you may know, I’m a chronic overpacker - I even wrote some blogs about it when we went to Europe last spring (1, 23, 4, follow up). For that trip, it was super important that I was able to fit everything in a carry-on backpack, so I did tons of research, made lots of lists, and ended up coming up with a pretty decent capsule wardrobe, and totally succeeded in saving space.

The packing process can be very chaotic

Cut to a couple weekends ago - we went camping for four days. We drove, so we had an entire car to pack into, so I didn't feel the need to limit myself too much, as long as I didn't pack more than my duffle.

As far as toiletries and makeup go, I think I did pretty good! I didn't bring any makeup at all, since we were in the middle of the desert and it was just with friends and family who were all doing pretty much the same. I only brought a few toiletries that I didn't use, but I will say that those things took up minimal room, and all could have come in handy, so I might pack things like that the next time we camp anyway.

Used
Didn't Use
Hairbrush Moroccanoil
Wide-toothed comb All-purpose soap
Toothbrush (Sonicare, battery lasted all 4 days) Tampons
Toothpaste Wash cloths (2)
Deodorant Body towels (2)
Face wipes Large hair clip
Multi-purpose wipes Powder sunscreen (for scalp)
Dry shampoo Wide fabric headbands
Hand sanitizer Bandana
Sunscreen
Skin Trip (lotion that's particularly nice on sunburns)
Pack towel (small, super absorbent)
Hair ties
Bobby pins

I probably brought twice the amount of clothes I needed, but with Utah and the desert, the temperature can potentially swing wildly. It can rain (it did a little on us). It can be super hot. It can be quite chilly at night. So, for just 3 nights/4 days of camping, here’s what I brought vs what I actually used:

Item
  Brought  
  Used  
PJ Pants
1
1
PJ Shorts
1
0
Hoodie*
1
1
Zip up sweatshirt
1
1
Long Sleeved athletic shirts
4
2
Long Sleeved button-up shirts
3
3
Cotton Tank top
1
1
Athletic tank tops
2
2
Athletic shorts
1
0
Sports bras
4
2
Bralette
1
1
Underwear
8
4
Socks
7
4
Long warm wool socks
1
1
Shorts
2
1
Sweatpants*
1
1
Baseball hat
1
1
Floppy hat
1
1
Beanie
1
1
Long leggings
3
2
Capri leggings
1
1
Buff
1
0
Swimsuit
1
0
Gloves
1
0
Open-finger Mittens
1
1
Sunglasses
2
2
Down jacket
1
0
Rain/wind layer
1
0
Trail runners/hiking boots (water resistant)
1
1
Crocs (for water)
1
1
Flip flops
1
1

*worn by the fire so they could get embers on them

Of course there are always the odds and ends, too:

Odds & Ends
iPhone & charger
Apple Watch & Charger
GoPro & Charger
Extra battery chargers (+ car kit battery)
Instax & film
Headphones
Large ziplock bags (water protection)
Journal & pen
Glasses
Yoga mat
Ukulele
Books

Why did I bring so many chargeable things? Well, my iPhone doubled as my main camera, the GoPro is super fun, and, while I probably could have let the Apple Watch fall to the wayside, I really liked seeing how far we went and I like to keep reaching the daily goals it sets for me (we got up to 26,000 steps one day!!)

I learned that I could re-use a lot of what I brought, and I probably could have gotten by with even less than what I used. Some things, though, I wouldn’t leave behind just because I didn’t use them this time. We don’t typically go camping for more than a few days (because of our schedules, and because it gets difficult to live out of a car and cooler for much longer without finding more modern amenities). After this experience, I think my ideal complete packing list would be the following (and this is not including things like tents, kitchen gear, etc. - that’s hubby’s job)

As I grow older, I find myself more at ease in the middle of nowhere. I used to be so concerned with how I presented myself and I wanted to be perfect all the time. Camping with my husband has shown me that I really don't need all that much, and that it's good to disconnect a little now and then. While I do still want to look cute (because pictures last forever), a more natural approach to that seems to fit into my lifestyle as I get closer to 30.

Goblin Valley

Most days (actually, pretty much everyday) I identify as a girly-girl. I like to be able to wash my face and brush my hair and I typically make sure I look and feel clean. Camping sort of goes against these general feelings of cleanliness and girliness, but my boyfriend grew up going camping with his family, so he's dragged me a couple times.

In March, we went to Goblin Valley in Utah, about 6 hours west of Boulder. We stayed at a campsite that he named Vader Rock, because the big rock formation next to it looks like Darth Vader's helmet (see pictures above). While we were there, we did some hiking (up Vader Rock and in Little Wild Horse Canyon), shot some guns, and had some nice big campfires.

The Little Wild Horse hike is a pretty good one. It's not too technical, but you either need to wear shoes that can handle getting wet (like Teva's or Chaco's) or be willing to take off your shoes and socks at a certain point because there is usually a bit of water in the narrowest part of the crack canyon. I ended up taking off my sneakers, but I think I might invest in some Chaco's for next time. Climbing Vader Rock was not my cup of tea at all. Because Utah is a lot of sandstone, most of the steps you take end up breaking a little (or a lot) beneath your feet. Having to be cautious of the way my knees twist, this type of hike freaks me out a bit. We did get to a nice overlook, though, and I was able to unwind with a nice cold Woodchuck Cider once we got down.

I was impressed with the level of food we ate. We had mac and cheese, hot dogs, fajitas, gumbo and sausage! Not a bad menu considering there was no electricity or running water. Just coolers and a nice camping stove. For breakfast I had fruit and instant coffee, and for lunch, snack foods and sandwiches.

We also explored Goblin Valley itself. It looks like a bunch of stacks of rocks, and I guess someone thought that they looked like goblins, and the name stuck. They are pretty huge - I wouldn't want one to fall on me - and there are just so many! I think an epic game of hide and seek might be in order someday. I heard that a Boy Scout Troop knocked one formation over and got in trouble. I can't imagine ruining something so naturally beautiful! This park is also other-worldly - some of Galaxy Quest was filmed here!

Another thing about being a girly-girl: I don't like guns. However, a bunch of the men we went with do, so we went far from camp and shot at a pile of dirt. I suppose it was kind of exhilarating, but I don't think it's ever something I would choose to do on my own.

1911 .45 Auto in slow motion, shot by my guy, Nathaniel

I am glad I went, but I look forward to my next vacation being somewhere less dusty (maybe Disney World).

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