Farewell Summer Days...
We recently posted a new podcast about how to squeeze the most fun out of the last few summer days we have! It seems like school is starting early this year, but we still have the weekends! If you missed Episode 8 on the podcast click on over and catch up! I wanted to share a few more tips with you guys before you head out on your adventure.
Kayaking, Canoeing, or Paddle-boarding the Suwannee River:
Out of all the rivers I've seen, the Suwannee River is my favorite. It's actually a really beautiful blackwater river. The water isn't muddy it's stained from plants and when it gets really low you can see the clean sandy bottom. It's considered the only major waterway in the Southeast that's still unspoiled and contains the only white water rapids in Florida. It's beautiful, but can be dangerous if you don't know what to look for. Since I mentioned this on the podcast I wanted to follow up with some pointers to keep you safe.
If the river is "high" don't get in. The river can be very dangerous at certain levels and you can check for warnings on the Suwannee River Water Management District website for information, but here are some basic ways to tell it's too high.
The water is moving fast.
You see big logs, branches, or other debris floating
There are large boils - water moving in a circular direction. These boils can be very, very strong and can pull objects down. Steer clear.
You can't see much of the bank, either limerock or sand. Most of the banks are high on the Suwannee. If there is very little distance between where you're standing and the water, it's probably too high. There are exceptions in some places so you may have to look for other signs.
You may see other people on the water, that doesn't mean it's safe.
As mentioned on the podcast I LOVE camping, but you have to do it right to enjoy it. Some of this may seem pretty intuitive, but we've made all the mistakes...so maybe we can keep you guys from making all of them.
Tent: If you're camping with kids, get a tent you can stand up in. There is nothing worse than standing on your head to get you and your rat pack dressed. Also, make sure it has a bucket bottom...again from experience this is a biggie. If you look close, you can see it in the picture below.
Potty: This is weird...I get it. I thought it was weird when my in-laws suggested it...but they were right. A camping potty will save. your. life. Seriously. I've used this camping potty in a traffic jam in the middle of Phoenix, AZ...trust me...I know. Also, late night potty runs to a bath house all the way across the campground...not fun. If it's in the tent you can save yourself the scenic route to the bath house. (Obviously we're not very modest around here.) The potty set-up is basic. It involves thick trash compactor bags, which are WAY cheaper than the official "camping potty" bags and kitty litter. I pre-load several bags with some litter and they're ready to go..."litter-ally... (I'm really cracking myself up with all these puns! ;) Obviously I live with guys... Sometimes we decide to keep it simple and leave the potty at home and I've regretted it every time.
Gear: We employ the less is more philosophy here. If you want to sit, pick a tree stump, picnic table, or the ground. If you want to cook, grab a pack of hotdogs and a palmetto branch. If you want to shower, bring a pack of baby wipes or jump in a stream. If you want to change clothes, don't. They're just going to get dirty again...just kidding! I had you going there didn't I? But really, pack light. You won't change as much as you think, especially jeans. So, don't bring a full blown wardrobe. You're camping... The more you bring with you, the more it feels like a chore. Surviving is really part of the fun if you ask me...but I'm the person who hates to shop so take this advice with a grain of salt. We do bring lighter/clicker for campfires, bug spray, baby wipes, and a few essential oils like digize, lavender, and tea tree.
Inverter: This thing is a must. Sometimes we end up camping with no electricity which is AMAZING!! No lights, no radios, nothing but the sounds of the woods...also no air mattress...I can only go so far y'all. An inverter plugs into your cigarette lighter and offers several standard plugs. So I can have my cake and eat it too... Although you can get air pumps with DC plugs, ours are in our mattresses (so we don't lose them or leave them). The plug also comes in handy to charge our cell phones.
Bikes: Skip the ice-chest (unless you're hauling a YETI) the ice keeps melting and it's a pain to keep up with it and then the eternal question, "You think this is ok to eat?" Pack the bikes instead. There are so many trails throughout the south for bikes. Usually campgrounds have amazing areas to ride so make a couple trips to the jiffy for cold foods and pack your bikes instead. I think it's way more fun to have them. Plus if everyone gets hangry you can bike into town and try out a cute local cafe. Less cooking is better in my book anyway.
Listen y'all being outdoors is more than just...being outdoors. There's really scientific, biological stuff happening when you get outside and into nature. Try it a few times and see if you don't end up enjoying it. If you have any questions shoot me a note and I'll do my best to give you some good advice.