I have been camping probably hundreds of times in my life. I would go so far as to call myself a seasoned camper. Despite all of these trips and excursions into the woods and mountains, apparently it wasn’t enough times to prevent some very rookie mistakes this last weekend.
My husband proposed the idea on Friday. Randomly, he recommended we go camping on the beach for one night on Saturday. It sounded like a great idea to me! I couldn’t wait to wake up to the sound of the Gulf of Mexico, play with our kite, and bury my feet in the sand. The one perk of living in South Texas may be that you can comfortably go to the beach in February.
Saturday came around, we took care of some household chores, loaded up the truck, and set out for the beach and our overnight camping expedition. The last time we went camping was over New Years, so we were looking forward to disconnecting, even if it was only for the night.
Well, we hit our first road block early into the trip. We first headed to Mustang Island State Park where I read it was free to camp on the beach. A quick 20 minute drive and we were pulling up to the entrance, only to find it was closed. They are still doing clean up after Hurricane Harvey that hit the coast in August 2017. Well we quickly reassessed our situation and headed in the opposite direction to the Padre Island National Seashore. This is a National Park, and luckily since he is active duty military we get an annual pass into national parks for free-I love free. Civilians can purchase an annual pass for $70. About 30 minutes in the opposite direction and we were in the park, our spot scouted on the beach, and we were setting up camp for the night.
Cue snag number 2. I started cooking dinner. Grilled chicken and a salad were on the menu. I immediately realized I didn’t have any aluminum foil to cover the chicken in the pan. Not a big deal, but it would’ve helped the chicken to cook a bit faster, especially since it was incredibly windy. Ten minutes into cooking and I noticed the flame was out on our stove. Fabulous. I thought it was due to the wind, but it was due to the butane fuel can being empty. No biggie, we have a spare in our kitchen gear. Not a full can though. It was about 3/4 empty. So five minutes into trying to cook with that can, and we were completely out of fuel. As a last ditch effort to salvage the protein for our dinner, we put the pan on the campfire. It turns out, cooking on the beach over a campfire, on a windy night, and no cover for your pan, will only lead to your food being completely covered in an extraordinary amount of sand. Making it inedible.
Snag number 3. We have a rooftop tent. This completely genius invention is a tent that can be mounted on- you guessed it- your roof! It is a GAMECHANGER! It’s probably a million times more comfortable than a ground tent, and takes about 30 seconds to set up.
Check it out:
Typically we keep our sleeping bags and pillows in the tent. Everything folds up so nicely and conveniently! Well, as I mentioned before, we went camping over New Years. Since our trip was about four nights long, our linens were due for a wash. In our haste, we remembered to get the sleeping bags from the linen closet, but not the pillows. Balling up a thin hoodie to serve as a replacement pillow is not ideal.
Overall this trip, while it could’ve been better, was still a great time. We learned that we definitely need to not get complacent with our camping prep and just assume we have everything we need in our pre-packed gear. We also learned that the trip is about being together, even in unideal circumstances. And we learned that sandy chicken is gross. I don’t care. I still got to wake up to the sounds of the waves from the Gulf of Mexico crashing onto the beach, just feet from where I was sleeping.