June 29, 2015

Happy Camping Month!

We are back from the Ontario wilderness feeling refreshed. It was an amazing three days of good company, good food, good drinks, good laughs and most importantly, reconnecting with nature. I can't wait to share photos and stories from our trip, but for now, I will leave you with a sneak peak of our adventure at Canisbay Lake, Algonquin Park

Whether you learned something new, or just enjoyed the photos and stories, a BIG thank you to everyone that tuned in to T.O. & fro's Camping Month series. I enjoyed sharing and hope that I've inspired you, even just a little bit, to get outdoors and reconnect with Mother Nature.

And, in case you missed in on the action, here is a quick recap of the series.
Favourite Camping Memories
10 Reasons to Go Camping
Favourite Camping Gadgets
Celebrate Dad with Energizer Headlight
Talking Camping // Sponsor Spotlight
Camping With Your Dog
Tips for Planning a Camping Menu
Favourite Camping Recipes
5 Camping Activities

Camping Month is not over yet - use code 'letsgocamping' for 50% off all Small Town ad space (promo code good until July 1 at 12pm EST).

Do you have a camping trip planned this summer? 
What was your favourite post from T.O. & fro's Camping Month series?


June 26, 2015

5 Camping Activities

You've picked the site, you've got your gear and you've planned your menu. Next up? Planning the activities! Depending on where you will be camping, there are a number of camping activities you can take advantage of. Here are our 5 favourite camping activities.

Play games. Card games are perfect for camping and a deck of cards can be easily packed into any camping bag. Board games are also fun to pack, especially if you have a picnic table or other surface to play on. Some of our favourite games include Scrabble, when its just the two of us, and CatchPhrase, which is handheld and can be played around the campfire with a group of people.

Explore nature. Part of the excitement of camping is being closer to nature. Explore the great outdoors by grabbing your camera and going on a photo safari, creating a scavenger hunt and using the binoculars to view the wildlife. When exploring, it is important to always remember to keep a safe distance from wildlife and take only memories, leave only footprints.

Relax. One of the bet parts of camping is the escape of every day stress and busyness. Relax and let the rest of the world fade away by listening to nature, taking a nap, reading a book by the campfire, floating on the water and stargazing. 

Gather around the campfire. Sitting around the campfire is one of the most memorable parts of camping. There are plenty of activities to do around the fire both at night and during the day including, reading a book, cooking a good meal, making s’mores, singing campfire songs, playing a musical instrument and telling stories.

Get some exercise.  Get up and get moving. There are a ton of sports and physical activities that can be done while camping. For example, play bocci ball or horseshoes, cast a line or go for a hike, swim or paddle. 


June 24, 2015

Camping Recipes

Planning a camping menu doesn’t have to be scary, but a lot of people get turned off from camping because it is not something usually associated with good food. Hot dogs, marshmallows and more hot dogs usually fill the menu because they're easy. Whether you’re grilling, cooking over an open fire or using a gas stove, food prepared outdoors has a unique flavour. Food is a big part of the adventure for us. While we do like to cook the occasional sausage over the fire, we also like to treat ourselves, and take the opportunity to cook food we would normally eat, in ways that we wouldn't normally cook it. Here are some of our favourite camping recipes.

camping recipes

Breakfast Burritos

pre-scrambled eggs (such as egg creations)
pre-chopped onions and red pepper
salt and pepper
leftover sausage
pre-shredded cheese
oil for frying

1. Fry onions and red peppers.
2. Add pre-scrambled eggs, then add sausage.
3. Once egg is scrambled, add cheese and allow to melt.
4. Add salt and pepper.
5. Wrap in warmed tortilla and serve.

camping breakfast burritos

Teriyaki Chicken 

pre-marinated chicken thighs

1. Wrap thawed, marinated chicken thighs in a double layer of aluminum foil.
2. Place packet(s) on a grate and allow to cook over the fire for about 2 hours.

Tip: Before the trip, add chicken and sauce of choice to ziplock bag and freeze. Not only will they be marinated when you are ready to eat them, they will also keep longer in the cooler if they are frozen.

Cheesy Potatoes

mini potatoes, sliced in half
chicken bouillon cube
pre-shredded cheese

1. Place a pot or pant on a grate above the fire. Fill with water and allow to boil.
2. Once water has boiled, add the bouillon cubes to create a stock.
3. Add mini potatoes to stock and cook until slightly tender. Stock should be reduced.
4. Wrap potatoes in a double layer of aluminum foil. Add butter before closing packet.
5. Remove pan/pot from grate and replace with potato packet. Allow to cook over fire until soft.
6. Once potatoes are cooked, open packet and add shredded cheese. Mix until cheese is melted.

cooking over the fire
camping recipes

Even though you're camping, you still need dessert.

Cinnamon rolls

Pillsbury cinnamon rolls

1. Open the cinnamon roll can and remove individual rolls.
2. Wrap around a roasting stick. Make sure to only wrap one layer or it won't cook through.
3. Hold away from flame to cook (unless you like the taste of burnt cinnamon roll).

cinnamon rolls over the fire

Beverages are of equal importance. Here are two of our favourites. 

hot toddy recipe

Hot Toddy
1-2 oz of whisky or rum
1 pack of apple cider mix
hot water

lemonade shandy recipe

1 can of light beer
1/2 pack of lemonade drink crystals

And last but not least, to make these meals a success, don't forget about including these staples in your camping gear: reusable mug, aluminium foil, reusable cups, plates and utensils and salt and pepper.

What are your favourite camping meals? Do you have any tips for cooking outdoors?

Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:
Favourite Camping Memories
10 Reasons to Go Camping
Favourite Camping Gadgets
Celebrate Dad with Energizer Headlight
Talking Camping // Sponsor Spotlight
Camping With Your Dog
Tips for Planning a Camping Menu

June 22, 2015

Tips for Planning a Camping Menu

One of the hardest parts of planning a camping trip is trying to figure out the menu. What can we prep in advance? What will keep? How much do we need? So many questions. A lot of people get turned off from camping because it is not something usually associated with good food. Hot dogs, marshmallows and more hot dogs usually fill the menu because they're easy.

We like to turn it up a notch when we're camping. Yes, we may do the standard sausages over the fire, buuutttt our camping menu also comes with plenty of other tasty options. How can you do the same? Follow these 10 tips for planning a delicious camping menu.

tips for camping menu planning

1. Plan ahead.
Write a detailed list of what you will be eating for each meal. This will also help when grocery shopping for the trip.

2. Choose meals that travel well.
How will you transport the food? How much space do you have? Choose menu items that don't take up a lot of space, or can be packed tight, get banged up and stored in light weight containers. You want food that won't spoil easily or leak in the cooler.

3. Be wary of the equipment.
Choose meals that do not require a lot of equipment to make, such as cooking stoves, pots and pans. If you can't avoid bringing a certain piece of equipment, make sure that it is utilized for every meal.

4. Wash, chop and store ahead of time.
You don't want to spend your mornings chopping while you're camping, so do it ahead of time to save the hassle. Put the prepped items in labeled ziplock bags or containers.

5. Marinade and freeze meals ahead of time.
If you're doing any type of meat, pour into a large freezer bag with the marinade and freeze. Not only will this marinade the meat, but freezing it will also help it stay colder for longer.

6. Put condiments in smaller containers.
Need ketchup, mustard or mayo? Instead of bringing the whole honkin' bottle, why not squeeze the amount you need into a smaller container to save space? Or, stock up on condiment packets the next time you hit up a fast food restaurant. The same goes with salt and pepper.

7. Aluminum foil is your friend. 
Make sure to have a  roll or two handy on your trip. Foil can be used to wrap up leftovers, to keep food warm, or to even cook food in the hot coals.

8. Take advantage of leftovers.
Incorporate leftovers into the next day's meal. For example, add leftover sausages or hot dogs to a breakfast burrito, or turn leftover bbq chicken into a chicken salad sandwich for lunch.

9. Be creative.
Just because you plan on cooking all of your food over the fire, doesn't mean you're limited to what you can cook. Ah, the power of aluminum foil. Get creative!

10. Be flexible.
Sometimes camping can be unpredictable - animals, weather, etc. may throw a wrench in your plans. Make sure you secure your food properly so it  is safe from animals, and cover any firewood if rain is predicted so that it stays dry. In the event that something does happen, prepare to abandon your camping menu and be able to think on your toes. 

Hopefully these tips and recipes have inspired you to want to go camping, or in the least, shown you that camping food isn't all that bad. You just have to get creative.

Do you have any other camping menu planning tips? 

Happy Summer Solstice! Use code 'solstice50' for 50% OFF all Small Town ad space.

Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:
Favourite Camping Memories
10 Reasons to Go Camping
Favourite Camping Gadgets
Celebrate Dad with Energizer Headlight
Talking Camping // Sponsor Spotlight
Camping With Your Dog


June 19, 2015

Camping with Your Dog

Are you thinking about taking your dog camping this summer? The outdoors is one of the best places to spend time with your furry friend. Like us, dogs need time to unwind and love to explore new places.

The key to a successful camping trip with your pet is to be prepared before you go, and while you are enjoying nature. Here are a few tips that will make camping with your dog a bit more enjoyable and safe experience.

Prior to the trip:
  1. Check that the park is dog friendly. Rules regarding dogs vary from park to park, so make sure to check before you go to avoid disappointment.
  2. Talk to your veterinarian. Make sure your dog is healthy and up to date on all required vaccinations, including rabies. Ask your vet about other precautions - such as mosquito, flea and tick control.
  3. Pack a copy of your dog’s medical records. This is especially important if you are crossing province/state/country lines. Have a local vet's number on hand in case of emergency.
  4. Bring extra drinking water for your dog. Do not allow your dog to drink out of standing bodies of water as it can make them sick. 
  5. Bring your dog's regular food and treats. To avoid problems, keep them on their regular schedule.
  6. Pack the other essentials - waste bags, bedding, toys, leash, collar and ID tags. Consider bringing a bear bell if camping in bear country. Consider the weather and sleeping arrangements when deciding what to bring.
  7. Know basic dog first aid. The most common injuries are to a dog’s foot pads, so be prepared before you go. Carry a first aid kit that includes a few extra supplies for your furry friend. Ask your vet if you need help knowing what supplies to include.

During the trip:
  1. Allow your dog plenty of time to adjust to the new surroundings. Being in a new location can often be overwhelming and stressful to your pets. All of the smells, sights and sounds can be stimulus overload. Take them on a walk around the area to explore and allow plenty of rest.
  2. Keep your dog leashed at all times. Never leave your dog unattended. This will help keep your dog safe, and avoid unwanted visitors. Most parks require a leash that does not exceed 6 feet in length.
  3. Be attentive to your dog’s health at all times. Consider your dog's needs during camping activities. If going on a day-long hike, allow plenty of time for your dog to rest. Remember, they overheat quickly. Give them plenty of water to cool down. If your dog begins acting unusual and you cannot figure out why, seek a local vet.
  4. Remove any leftover dog food. Store the dog’s food with your own, in a place where it will not attract unwanted wildlife.
  5. Always pick up after your dog. Make use of designated walking areas and remember, you are not the only one using the area. Carry environmentally-friendly dog bags to dispose of your dog’s waste in appropriate trash containers.
  6. Keep your dog under control at all times. Do not allow your dog to bark or wander off as it may disturb the wildlife and other campers. 
  7. Have fun!

Please note, while I would love to call these two pooches my own, Boomer and Kona belong to our friends in Alaska. We had the pleasure of going on many Alaskan hiking, fishing and camping adventures with them.

Do you take your dog camping? What are your tips for exploring the great outdoors with your furry friend?

Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:
Favourite Camping Memories
10 Reasons to Go Camping
Favourite Camping Gadgets
Celebrate Dad with Energizer Headlight
Talking Camping // Sponsor Spotlight


June 16, 2015

Celebrating Dad with Energizer Headlight

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DadsMyHero #CollectiveBias

energizer headlight

Father's Day is about celebrating the dads in our lives and what makes them a hero. I am not afraid to admit that my dad is my hero. Ever since my brother, sister and I were young, he has worked extremely hard to provide for our family - to make sure we had, and continue to have, the best opportunities, including attending all of those out of town soccer and hockey tournaments and graduating from university debt free. I am forever grateful for what he has scarificed for us. Not to mention, the guy's a volunteer firefighter. In his spare time, he helps those he doesn't even know, which just ups the coolness factor. 

dad balloons; energizer headlight

One thing that I can always rely on my dad for is good advice, like when my husband and I were given the opportunity to move to Alaska. "What do you have to lose?", were his exact words as we hummed and hawed over whether it was the right decision. We had no idea what to expect, or what to pack - we only knew what we had heard, that it was cold and it was dark. I will never forget “packing day” - we were sprawled out in my parents' living room, with entirely way too much stuff already, and my dad handed us a headlight to put in our bag. He told us it would come in handy, and he was definitely right. We used that headlight for everything - taking our routine after-dinner winter walks, warming up the car in the dark morning hours, reading in bed and even during our many camping trips. It was the perfect hands free accessory for our Alaskan adventures.

My dad has always put the needs of others above his own. So, with his retirement fast approaching this summer, we decided to make it all about him by bringing together friends and family to celebrate this milestone. After plenty of good food, good drinks and good laughs, we ended the night with a bang by putting on a spectacular fireworks show. Thanks to the new Energizer headlight that I recently purchased from Walmart using 
this couponwe were able to show dad just how much we really care. 

energizer headlight

Dad, we are extremely proud of you and can’t thank you enough for what you have done for us. Happy Father’s Day!

energizer headlight

Be sure to check out more amazing uses for Energizer Headlights here, and purchase your own with this coupon

How do you celebrate Dad?
What would you do with your Energizer headlight?


June 13, 2015

Camping in Bear Country

Bears are opportunistic omnivores with incredible senses, and in the scent-driven world that they live in, they rely on their nose to find their next meal. Because of this sense of smell, it’s extremely important to be "bear aware", and maintain a clean campsite on your summer camping adventure.

Growing up, "bear" was not a normal word in the vocabulary whenever my family was camping or at the cottage. But as time has passed, the word has become more and more popular as sightings of black bears in southern Ontario continue to grow. In a place where bears were once non-existent, or at least during our time, people are now unsure of how to deal with their presence. Where we once put our trash in a wooden box by the side of the road when we left after a long weekend, there is a metal structure, bolted down that only those wiith small fingers can access. It has become as much about changing the attitudes of the people, as it is about the bears.

Whether you are camping in black bear or brown bear country, it is important to be aware of your behaviour and surroundings.

10 Tips for Camping in Bear Country:

  1. Select an appropriate campsite. Use designated sites when available. Avoid areas near berry patches, dead animals, streams/waterfalls and wildlife trails, and watch for bear signs (footprints, scat, tree scratches, etc.).
  2. Never approach wildlife. Give wild animals plenty of space (at least 100 meters). Watch for bear cubs especially, and be sure to never get in between a mama bear and her  babies. Bears may become aggressive if they feel their young are threatened. 
  3. A fed bear is a dead bear. Do not feed the wildlife - their natural foods are much healthier. Once an animal becomes accustomed to being fed by humans, they become a threat to public safety. Keep the animals wild. 
  4. Keep your sleeping gear and tent free of odours. Never cook or eat in or near the tent. Store the clothing you cooked in with your food. If possible, cook at least 100 meters downwind from your sleeping area.
  5. Pack all garbage back out of wilderness areas. Do not bury garbage as bears can easily locate the remnants and dig it up. If burning food, ensure every last bit is burned. Store garbage in a tight container, with your food.
  6. Use a flashlight at night and make noise when out walking. This will reduce the likelihood of surprising a bear.
  7. Listen to park officials. If a park official tells you to avoid a certain area, please listen to them. They are the professionals.
  8. Carry bear spray. When sprayed directly in the animals’ face, it causes eye and respiratory tract irritation. Before spraying, ensure you have read the instructions and have the ideal wind conditions (i.e. you don't want to spray it in your own face).
  9. Dog safety and behaviour. Keep your pets on a leash at all times and never leave them unattended. Store their food and dishes properly. Also keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour - they will be the first to tell you if you are in the presence of a “visitor”. 
  10. “Bear proof” your food! Store all food and scented items (see list below) in bear resistant food storage facilities where available, or create a bear hang in the trees (instructions below). 

It is important to note, you cannot entirely ''bear proof" something. There is always the chance a crafty bear will come along and destroy what stands in its way. The idea is to create something that is resistant or deterrent, something that the bear will have to put way more effort into than what it's worth. And, even if you are not in bear country, these tips are 
still good to follow as there may be other hungry critters out there, such as raccoons, mice and squirrels.

    Items Considered Bear Attractants:

    • Food and beverages
    • Coolers, food storage containers
    • Garbage
    • Pet food/dishes
    • BBQ grease
    • Perfumed items (soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.)
    • Wastewater from cooking and washing dishes
    • Tablecloths, napkins, etc.
    • Cooking utensils (pots, dishes, cups, etc.)
    • Clothing that you cooked/ate in

    Tips for Properly Hanging Food:

    1. Place all food and scented items (those on list above) in a waterproof stuff sack. Our favourite bag to use is The North Face Base Camp Duffel.
    2. Find a sturdy branch, about 20 feet from the ground.
    3. Tie a rock to the end of your rope, and throw it over the branch.
    4. Tie the end of the rope to your sack, and haul it up towards the branch. The bag should be at least 12 feet from the ground, 6 feet from the branch and 10 feet from the trunk of the tree.
    5. Tie the other end of the top to a nearby tree trunk or branch. Make sure it is a tight knot.

    This diagram is not to scale - it simply demonstrates how a bear hang should look. What works for us may not work for you, so please do your research on alternative methods and practice hanging a bag at home beforehand. 

    Please note: There are so many things to consider when camping in bear country that this post could have easily been a series in itself. I am also not a bear expert. Having worked at a zoo that cares for black, brown and polar bears, as well as living and camping in bear country, I have learned a thing or two about their behaviour.

    Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:
    Favourite Camping Memories
    10 Reasons to Go Camping
    Favourite Camping Gadgets

    Have you camped in bear country? Do you have any advice or questions about camping in bear country?


    June 11, 2015

    8 Favourite Camping Gadgets + GIVEAWAY

    Although we like to keep things simple during our camping trips, we also love the option that technology has given us. Camping wouldn't be camping without the gadgets. You could call my husband a 'gear junkie' - we have faaarrrr too many gadgets in our camping gear box. Some that we use every single camping trip without fail, and some that would be lucky to ever see the light of day. Today, I'm sharing with you some of our favourite camping gadgets.

    favorite camping gadgets
    1. Seal Line Dry Sac // Whether you will be out on the open water, or the weather is not in your favour, adding a dry sac to your camping gear will help protect your clothing, sleeping gear, food, camera, and save you added stress.
    2. Spork // If you can only bring one eating utensil, make sure it is this one. Extremely inexpensive and handy for whatever is on your camping menu. 
    3. Gerber Multitool // Multitools get their name because they have multiple uses - whether it is used for cutting rope when tying a tarp, removing a hook from the mouth of a fish or cracking a can of beans. Gerber is a name you can trust.
    4. Energizer Headlight // When out in the wilderness, it gets dark real quick. A headlight will come in handy when putting out the fire, unwinding for the night with a good book or that bathroom break in the middle of the night. Energizer headlights come in many different varieties, with different light strengths, settings and battery lengths.
    5. Gerber Knife // Whether you need to prep food for dinner, cut kindling for the fire or pass the time by whittling away at a stick, bringing a good knife along on your camping trip should be a no brainer. Like the multitool, Gerber is a name you can trust.
    6. Stanley Flask // A flask is a necessity when sitting around the campfire with family and friends. This flask is small enough to be easily packed away, but has a large enough capacity to share. Stanley products are quality products.
    7. Jetboil // This cooking gadget does exactly what its name states - boils water, and fast. It comes in handy when boiling water for safe drinking, making dehydrated food or brewing coffee (has a coffee maker attachment). It is extremely lightweight and compact, perfect for any backcountry camper.
    8. GoPro // You will need to document your camping adventures, and this camera is your safest bet and a great investment. Not to mention it is waterproof and takes video. 

    Do you go camping? What's your favourite camping gadget?

    Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:
    Favourite Camping Memories
    10 Reasons to Go Camping

    Going camping this summer? Need some new fancy smancy gadgets? Or maybe just a new summer wardrobe? To celebrate Camping Month and the last year of my 20s, I'm teaming up with 9 amazing ladies to give you the chance to win $110 paypal cash! Good luck!

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    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    June 9, 2015

    10 Reasons to Go Camping

    I truly believe that being outside is good for the soul, and one of my favourite ways to get outside is to go camping. Camping doesn't have to be scary. Whether you're a glamper, camper or outdoor survivalist, camping is for everyone. 

    Make a plan to get outside this summer, whether it is a camping trip, or just a walk in the park. But I favour the first. Here are 10 reasons to go camping.

    10 reasons to go camping

    10 Reasons to Go Camping

    To escape the hectic city life. 

    Stressed at work? Leave the to do lists at home and head for the trees. Studies have found that those that spend a few nights in nature have lower levels of cortisol, hormone used as a marker for stress, than those that stay in the city. A dose of fresh air is the perfect way to reset before the work week ahead.

    To unplug. 

    No wifi, no electrical outlets, no problem. Leave the technology at home. Instead, pick up that book you've been meaning to read. Give your brain, and eyes, a break, and enjoy the quiet time.

    To develop a new found love of nature. 

    Being outside isn't just about being in a new environment. It's also about gaining a new appreciation for Mother Nature's beauty. Take a walk in the woods - close your eyes, open your ears and take a deep breathe. 

    To spend time with friends and family. 

    Camping doesn't have an age limit. Relaxing around the campfire, telling stories, playing games and having a few laughs is the perfect family bonding experience. But don't forget about your pets, sometimes they need to unwind as well.

    To reset your sleep cycle. 

    With crazy work schedules and the increased exposure to artificial light, our internal clocks can easily get out of rhythm. Studies have shown that we actually sleep better when we set out sleep cycles with those of the sun. So leave the alarm clocks at home and allow your body to rest.

    To explore new places. 

    Whether it is your local campground, or a campsite a road trip away, choosing different places to camp each trip allows you to explore what your own city and others have to offer. Do you research - you'd be shocked at the places you can find within a short drive from your home.

    To eat meals you don't normally eat. 

    Camping gives you a good excuse to cook hot dogs over the fire or treat yourself to s'mores and other things you wouldn't normally eat at home. Get creative with your campfire meals, the opportunities are endless.

    To do something affordable. 

    Camping is often cheaper than planning a weekend trip to a popular tourist area, and fees are much less than the average hotel stay. Sure the gear can be pricey to purchase but consider it more of an investment. If you invest in the good stuff, it will last you a long time, saving your money in the end. 

    To learn new skills. 

    You can brush up on old skills, or learn new ones. Want to learn how to tie the perfect knot? Go camping with someone more experienced and soak up all of their knowledge. And no matter how much of a "seasoned camper" you think you are, you'll learn something new with each new camping experience. 

    To get a different form of exercise. 

    Not all camping trips have to be strenuous, but they can give you the opportunity to take a break from your regular exercise routine and try something different. The opportunities for exercise during a camping trip are endless - canoeing, climbing and hiking are just a few. Your body will thank you.

    To have fun! 

    No explanation needed.

    Sometimes there's just nothing better than sitting around a campfire with your best friends and family.

    What do you enjoy about camping?

    Enjoy this post? Check out more from my Camping Month series:


    June 7, 2015

    Favourite Camping Memories

    Happy 'Camping Month'! All month long T.O. & fro will be the place to find all things camping - from personal stories to menu planning tips, camping in bear country and more! So whether you are a seasoned back country vet, prefer the comfort of an RV or simply love reading about others' adventures, this series is for you. 

    We're kicking off the series by talking favourite camping memories...

    T.O. & fro's camping series

    For as long as I can remember, we have been a “camping family”. Whether it was a weekend at the local provincial park, popping the tent at night on a cross country road trip, an RV trip down to North Carolina to visit family or even hauling our pop up trailer down to Disney World, when summers weren’t filled with soccer or hockey, we would head out on a new camping adventure. I am lucky to have married a man that also spent his summers crammed into a tent with his family, and only hope that we can carry on the tradition with our future generation.

    While we’ve both had many memorable camping trips, some of our most memorable were those spent together…

    A Rainy Fourth

    There had been talk about a weekend backpacking adventure since we moved to Alaska, so to go “easy” on us first timers, our friends chose a relatively simple hike in, located fairly close to home. With backpacks loaded to the brim, we celebrated our first Fourth of July by hitting the relatively flat 5 mile trail, with the sun shining. As we passed through the mountain valley, the terrain continued to change from pine and spruce trees, to the characteristic alpine shrubs and mosses. The only sounds we could hear was the chatter from our group. We were all alone and it was such an incredible feeling. Our destination finally came into view, approximately 6 hours after we kissed our cars goodbye for the weekend. We set up camp for the night along the ridge of the glacier-fed Eagle Lake. It's milky green colour stood out against the greens and browns of the mountains and bright blue of the sunny summer sky. We planned fishing in the lakes and hikes to a nearby glacier, it looked like it was going to be the perfect weekend. But, who were we kidding. After all, it was a weekend with the Wards, and no weekend with us was, and probably still is, complete without some rain. What went from being a sunny weekend, quickly turned into a soggy and cold one, confining us to our tents. Nonetheless, it was a fun weekend and amazing adventure to cross off our Alaskan bucket list.

    Read more about this adventure here.

    camping at eagle lake alaska

    A Record Snow

    We were all about weekend adventures, and a weekend trip to Valdez was high on our list. The beginning of the adventure seemed pretty promising - it was sunny, the sky was blue, and the 6 hour cruise along the Alaska Marine Highway to Valdez was breathtaking, with views of mountains, ice bergs, orcas, otters, seals, sea lions and otters galore. But as soon as our destination can into view, the clouds rolled in and the rain came down. Not having a plan, as soon as we docked we frantically started calling to find a place to stay, including the nearest campground. “You’re kidding,” said the man on the other line as we asked about open sites, “There is still 5 feet of snow on the ground here.” Even though it was the beginning of June, it was also the year we had received a record amount of snow fall, 14 feet in Anchorage to be exact. Of course it hadn’t melted yet. And so we drove, passing the walls of snow on either side of the highway, the Alyeska pipeline and even a mama moose teaching her baby to swim, all in the rain and arguing about where and when we were going to stop for the night. Before we knew it, it was 1am. We were tired, we were hungry, we were definitely ‘hangry’, and we were half way home, back in Nelchina, where we had camped the weekend before. To top it off, it was still raining. Long story short, that night we ended up blowing up the air mattress and sleeping in the back of the truck. Not something I recommend.

    Read more about this adventure here.

    snow in valdez

    Our First Encounter

    Being bear aware is a top priority in Alaska, especially when camping in bear country. We were spending the weekend at a friends’ house, 3 hours south of Anchorage, but decided to camp for a night along the way. We found a small state campground and as we pulled in, we a noticed “bear in area” sign. “Just a precaution,” said the person working the booth. We found our site and began to set up for the night, when I looked up and saw something black, fuzzy and moving across the road. “Bear!”, I quietly yelled to Steve, grabbing my camera to get some shots of the small black bear that was trying to find dinner in a dead tree stump. Probably not the brightest, but seemed like a good idea at the time. When it was time to hit the sack, we cleaned the site well, packing everything in the truck and not leaving anything the bear would find inviting. I had a great sleep that night. Steve, not so much. Apparently that bear spent part of the night outside, taunting Steve. I had a great sleep and didn’t hear a thing, even called his a wuss a few times. When we drove out that morning, we noticed the “bear in area” signs were now “aggressive bear in area” signs. Apparently, Steve wasn’t the only one that didn’t get much sleep that night.

    kenai river black bear

    What is your most memorable camping experience?

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