*This photo was a happy accident, as a kid all my dads photos of him and his birthday cake are of him with his eyes shut because he was facing into the sun. He still jokes to this day that this is a requirement. Though I have no cake I was facing into the sun. *
Well we did it, we finally went camping. We’ve talked about it for the last few years. My husband went with his friends last year, after I had bought him a decent amount of gear for fathers day. I got him a 1 man tent for his birthday, & he got a grill for Christmas from his dad. He’d had a family tent in the amazon cart he was mulling over, I bought for us as a surprise when I was buying myself some flower seeds. Basically, we HAD to go camping or all these supplies we’d been acquiring would be for not. I grew up camping, and camping for my birthday is what I wanted to do.
I researched things to do with kids, planned to go to my favorite lake in my home state. I pinned, I planned, I primed. Set plans with friends for the first time in years. Memorial day was going to be a blast. Then we were blasted with rain. Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain. I pouted. We tried to figure out other things to do or other weekends to go, but this was our chance. Other weekends wouldn’t be as long for the both of us. We looked at other lakes nearby. The whole state engulfed in rain. We both began looking at the surrounding states. 5 hours drive too far. Then campsites filled. 9 hours started looking appealing. Colorado was out, we were not ready to deal with Bears. Maybe next year. Missouri, rain also unless we were going in that 7+ drive. Arkansas we decided was far enough south to get out of the rain, still a drive but we were determined to make it happen. However, Arkansa is a state neither of us had been to in our adult lives.
In all of our research we found a few camping apps, Hipcamp, and the Dyrt. The dirt I really know nothing about other than its like Yelp for camping. Hipcamp seems to be peoples property they allow you to camp on for small fees. Location and Amenities being the driving factors for pricing.
By Luck we managed to book Gateway Getaway in Arkansas because of cancellations.
We had a lovely time. We hiked. We glamped, we sat fireside, slept in a tent, we made ice cream in a bag, cake in a dutch oven, ate farm fresh eggs, chased a boy chasing chickens, swung in a tree swing, ate at a picnic table, and made coffee on the grill, & we cooked in cast iron for the first time ever. I was certain we planned and packed in excess. However, besides extra clothes there is only a couple things we didn’t use and they weren’t large items. I am so happy we had to venture out of our comfort zone and find somewhere new to explore. I can’t wait to do it again. Below are some pictures of our trip in no particular order.
Top 10 glamping items we loved
*These are affiliate links, although to date I have yet to make a cent on this. It didn’t take me long and if someone or a million someones decide to utilize these links I will be happy I made the effort. So if you like the things we have & want the exact ones or something very similar I have found them for you.*
- Camping Lanyard with Hooks
- Plates, cups, silverware you can get a whole kitchen set here if you want everything & it all to match. Having an actual camp set significantly reduced our waste but I know next time we can hands down improve.
- This adorable camping Rug it kept our tent cleaner, we played monster trucks on it & could have taken it on a picnic if we’d wanted to.
- These tent mats not apologizing for this it was my birthday & I was determined to glamp they made our tent cozy, cushy & quiet.
- Cots for us adults, this is not the exact same as ours we found one at academy last summer and the other at menards last fall when we thought I was going camping. Elliott has had one forever from grandma. Its nice & the perfect toddler size but took up a good amount of room in the truck bed as the adult sizes fold down much smaller.
- Cast Iron Cookware
- Cast Iron Skillet – Once we got this seasoned it was wonderful to cook with. Do your homework people you will be rewarded. I found a silicone handle at Menard’s and snagged it. Very worth the extra few dollars, this link has one that comes with your skillet!
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven – this was so an extra only to make my Birthday Cake in, I hope to make this a yearly tradition! Honestly without this challenge I wouldn’t have done my homework and had any clue how to cook with or clean cast iron. The lid for the dutch oven fit our skillet which was a bonus. I believe we have the, 12″ skillet and 7 qt dutch oven. You’ll need the lid lifter!
- Grill I loved the side tables on this! I was sitting there telling Dane how it would be great if we had a table next to the grill and saw these hidden below. They were so handy!
- Tent This tent was great although the light didn’t work. I’ll have to message Coleman to see if we didn’t do something right. Or if we just need a replacement part.
- Cooking Utensils and Dining Utensils – loved that these hung on the lanyard & easily clipped to the carabiners. No hand drying to put them away! No opening of & digging in bins. In fact the cooking utensils came out of my house so I’ll have to replace them if I want to keep them in the camp totes.
- Totes! These were nice for packing and keeping everything organized. We had one for tent items. One for Food & one for Kitchen Items. These are not the ones we had but I will be looking into because they are supposedly weather proof Plano totes
My perfect pancake.
Dad said there were Bears in this cave. Poor little dude. He made us b-line away from the second cave on this trail. Although, in Devil’s Den he seemed to gain a sense of humor and made up stories about the creatures living in those caves.
This is Blake, he did not like Elliott.
He was trying to convince me there were dragons & alligators in this cave. The hike to the waterfall was somewhat long with a 3 year old but we all made it. It took teamwork & patience, and guidance from fellow hikers familiar with the trails as there were many somewhat confusing off-shoots on the trail.
Our campsite was very sweet to begin with, I think some of the little touches I packed set the ambiance, to fun and outdoorsy yet still comfortable. I loved breathing in the fresh air all night and day long. Cooking outside was fun and I feel like we were happy with how well our meals turned out.
I am particularly proud of my cake. I offered some to our host, with the disclaimer it was slightly under done in the middle, yet I forgot to tell her it had no eggs, or milk so it was safe to eat a bit gooey. She politely gave no true answer. LOL, my coworkers scavenged it once they were brave enough to try it. I did disclaim to them it was Vegan (excluding the frosting) so they were very big skeptics.
Little man was very sweet when we could keep him from chasing the chickens and playing monster trucks with the dogs.
We literally just got a swing like this for Elliott, and we’re considering bringing it but space did not allow for it. Not to mention it didn’t come with tree straps so if you get one don’t forget the Tree Straps!
Extras that were nice to have but not necessary.
- Camp Grill – ours would likely be the XL based on sizing, I got it last year before he got the very nice Coleman traveling grill
- Elliott’s Balance Bike, & Helmut
- Solar Lights we got ours at Menard’s, and embarrassingly we didn’t think they worked or that they got enough sun in the shade but there was an on/off switch. Switched to off the whole weekend.
- Cute Car & Camper Salt and Pepper Shakers
- Table Cloths, I thought 2 was too many, But really was just perfect we had one water proof one in a cute print I’d had from Elliott’s beachy birthday last year and & one regular traditional picnic print I got at the end of season last year from Target. I even liked the look of the round cloth on a rectangular table. It glammed up the table & was nice to have a dry table after the rain.
Things to upgrade or add in
- A second cooler for just food or just drinks – with wheels!
- Pantry organizers / more rubbermaid – these saved so many things from the 10% chance of rain we got 2 nights in a row!
- A bigger water jug – I’d probably never buy this but a girl can dream Yeti Water Jug
- Fire poker but we could just find a good stick
- Water proof totes
Happy Camping All!