All the Comforts of Home

16 Jan

Yesterday, I went over my kitchen supplies.  Today, I’ll round out what’s in my supply box, and what I’m doing to turn my tent into “home” …

General Supplies

There’s not a lot in here that you wouldn’t find in preparation for a weekend camping trip.

  • A tool box:  a screwdriver and wrench set; pliers; a hammer; a staple gun; nails / fasteners; and a rubber mallet for setting the stakes
  • My trusty Swiss army knife
  • A gas adapter, in case I run into a situation where I can refill one of the small propane cans from a larger one, like the ones you typically use on your outdoor barbecue set
  • Rope
  • Zipper locks, to add a bit of security to the tent
  • Laundry and dish soap, scrub brushes and Brillo pads
  • Two flashlights
  • An assortment of A, AA, AAA, C and D batteries (still trying to decide if I go with rechargables and a charger or if I use standard batteries.  Right now I’m leaning to the throw-away ones.)
  • Work gloves
  • Two 20-liter drybags, to store electronics and any other gear that can’t get wet. (Are any of you readers outdoorsy / kayaky / canoeing folks?  I found a very highly rated drybag on Amazon from Adventure Lion … check it out.)  On the road, I’ll use one of them to pack my towels, washcloths and toiletries kit.
  • Duct tape (I’m quite convinced there’s a way to solve the current terrorist threat with duct tape … we just haven’t figured out how to do it yet!)
  • Microtowels … the super-absorbent ones.  If you have insomnia,you’ve seen these advertised on TV by the guy with the Australian accent (have you noticed how all these guys have some sort of British / Aussie / Kiwi accent? Why is that?  Do we think they’re more trustworthy because they call us “mate”?)
  • A vinyl repair kit
  • A first aid kit, complete with snakebite kit, hydrogen peroxide, Qtips and a survival straw for water purification
  • A spade
  • A small electric heater I found on the Camping World website with an automatic turn-off if it tips over
  • Two small propane heaters for those times when I’m without electricity
  • Two small battery powered fans
  • An assortment of tiedowns and bungee cords
  • A hatchet
  • Bug sprays for both me (mosquito) and Frank (mosquito, tick and flea)
  • A 75-foot 12 gauge extension cord and adapters that take 50 amp power down to 30 amp and then to 15 amp
  • A 2.5 gallon gas can
  • A portable radio, hand crank
  • A nifty LED Coleman lantern with detachable lights that can be used as flashlights, along with a recharging base
  • Fresh and saltwater fishing rods and tackle box
  • Firestarter nuggets

Pretty good list, right?  Anything I left out?  Leave a comment and I’ll check it out (and see if there’s any more room in my Azera.)

Creature Comforts

Air Mattress (Chick not included)

Air Mattress (Chick not included)

So how do you turn a tent into a home?  As I was contemplating my plan, what movie should come on HBO but “Hidaldgo,” the Viggo Mortensen flick where he’s a cowboy that goes over to Arabia to compete in a long-distance horse race.  (Another bit of serendipity.)  It was a great opportunity to see a tent (albeit 100 times bigger than mine) that was an actual home for Omar Sharif!  I got a lot of ideas from that:

  • Extra blankets to use as rugs
  • I’ll use my Gear Box, Camp Box and Tool Box as tables – one in the bedroom for my c-pap and the other two in the living room as needed for fans, heaters, lanterns, etc.  The boxes are about 2 ft x 1.25 ft x 14 inches in height.  (The Food box and cooler will have to be kept in the car overnight … coyotes and bobcats and bears, oh my!)
  • Two blow-up airline pillows to lean against (and they won’t take up much room in the car when deflated)
  • A heavy duty air mattress … with emphasis on “heavy”.  After reading the reviews, I decided on the Quick Luxe ® Queen Size Raised Air Bed Mattress, with a 500-lb weight capacity.
  • Two comforters and a pillow … at this point, I’m not planning on a sleeping bag.  If experience dictates that I need one once I’m on the road, I’ll pick one up.
  • I have a great beach / camping chair that I bought from the “X/L Direct” website when I moved to Charleston.  It’s a great chair, but Frank isn’t going to be happy because he likes to spend evenings sitting on the arm of my recliner while I watch TV and he won’ be able to do that on this chair … but it’s really not useable inside the tent as the legs would do damage to the floor.  I’ll be on top of a blanket, leaning against the airline pillows. Hopefully he’s okay with that!
  • A number of camps I’m going to offer free cable TV to meet the needs of the RV crowd.  I found a USB adapter with a coax input that would allow me to hookup my laptop and watch TV if I felt the need.  I don’t see that happening much though … if I’m in the mood to watch something, I will take advantage of the free movies and TV shows I can watch via my Amazon Prime and Hulu subscriptions over WiFi.  I’ll also sign up for so I can continue to watch my Red Sox on the road – I consider that my one true “indulgence” on this journey.
  • I found an inexpensive, compact generator on Amazon .. a very small footprint and will be enough to power my c-pap machine at night and my coffeemaker in the morning when I’m away from electricity.  It’ll run 10 hours at half power on a tank of gas.  (Okay, my coffeemaker might be my other indulgence!)
  • I’ll be bringing my guitar, of course.  That’ll ride in the back seat, on top of all the other gear, pushed back into the rear window well as much as it can (I finally have a use for that automatic window shade).

What About Frank?

Frank is my navigator, compadre, caregiver dinner mate and friend.  He instinctively knows when I’m having an “episode” of blackness, because he’s right there, asking to get up in my lap.  His comfort is as important to me as my own.  His supplies include his food and bowls (he’s definitely a chowhound and will benefit from getting back into long walks as much as I will). I found a “cave” bed that will give him extra warmth and I’ll bring along another blanket for him, too.

He’s going to have two issues with this journey.  First off, he’s going to have to be on a leash almost all the time.  Most campgrounds require him to be on a leash or tether no longer than 6 foot.  I’m going to bring along his retractable leash for walks and a screw-in tether for when we’re at our campsite.  I’ll have both 6′ and 10′ tethers. I’ll be upfront with you – I’m going to give him as much rope (pun intended) as I can to start off with and if anyone complains, I’ll put him on the shorter one.  In deference to him, I’ve booked us at a number of campsites that have “free run” areas for dogs, and we’ll be visiting quite a few dog parks during our journey.  I’m buying a reflective dog collar for him to wear. He really does like to impress the chicks … wait until he gets to be my age and could care less!

True Love

There’s NO WAY that duck will stay behind!

He’ll be free in the tent of course, but that brings us to the second issue:  I’m bringing his crate along.  When he arrived, I bought a collapsible crate and it’s never been unpacked.  I feel I should bring it just in case – there are going to be times (like my showers and morning constitutionals) when he’s going to have to be alone and I don’t think it would be a good idea for him to be free to chew at the tent in order to find me.  I’m also going to bring a muzzle, again just in case he decides he wants to “call” me when I’m gone.  Sorry, Frank … it’s for your own good.

The other issue is protection on our hikes (the ones I hope to work us back into).  Depending on the park, he’s allowed on a few trails.  Remember the “coyotes and bobcats and bears, oh my” remark?  I didn’t mention the gators we may run into along the gulf., either  I’m going to pack a tomahawk I found and plan on carrying that with me on our hikes.  I’m also going to get a nicely weighted walking stick that I can use if the need arises, which I pray to God won’t happen!

Duck is coming too, of course.  He loves that ugly thing!


This is easy.  I have two weekender bags. One will be for winter (and inclement weather) and the other for everything else.  I live in stretch shorts and t-shirts and that won’t change.  I haven’t worn jeans or regular pants in over 8 months.  And in the “too much information” category, I’ve gone commando for years … that’s not going to change, either.  One suitcase will carry those along with some socks.  I’m going to buy some hiking boots and those will probably go in there, too.

The other bag will hold sweatpants (light and heavy), a poncho, a couple of sweaters and sweatshirts.  I haven’t worn a heavy coat in a long while and will have to buy one – I have one of those fleece jackets that’s been fine for me so far.


I think I’ve covered about everything. Like I said earlier, if there’s anything you think I’ve missed, let me know via comment.  Which brings me to …

H O W   T H E   H E L L  I S   A L L   T H I S   S H I T   G O I N G   T O   F I T   I N   MY   C A R ?????

I’ll go over that tomorrow.

Florida’s campground reservation policies suck!

Florida’s campground reservation policies suck!

Update … yesterday, I mentioned how Florida requires payment in full for a campground when you make the reservation and offers no discounts unless you’re a disabled or 65-year-old resident.  Well, screw you, Florida!I just booked my reservation for that time period – at Meaher State Park, near Mobile, Alabama!  It’s right on Mobile Bay (the reviews I read said the sunsets are incredible) and I have a campsite right on the bay with electricity and water.  But that’s not all.  The base rate is a dollar less than Florida’s Gulf Shores State Park, but they offer a 15% discount for each night except Friday and Saturday (Florida offered no discount for out-of-state visitors).  And the ranger who took my reservation said they don’t even hit my debit card until I arrive … they just keep the number on file and if the person doesn’t show up, they’ll hit the card for one night.

I’ll only be adding 20 minutes onto my drive time that day, which is good, since Frank and I were already going to be in the car about 5 hours, excluding stops.

Very cool.  This worked out nicely.


Posted by on January 16, 2015 in Planning


Tags: , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “All the Comforts of Home

  1. Andrew

    January 18, 2015 at 10:33 am

    I haven’t caught you up on my personal shit, but judge awarded me certain days parenting time until this divorce is final. I’ve gotten an apt but no furniture, so I too got an airbed. I find its comfort acceptable, but not great. (OH SHIT I JUST HAD A BREAKTHROUGH IDEA!!!!). What I did was buy a 4″foam topper. Note the air bed is more comfortable than most mattresses I’ve slept on! Seriously! Even as I was writing this down I was thinking about the bulk of the pillow top/foam top. On to my idea. Have you seen the TV ad where the guy puts all the seasonal clothes in a bag then shucks the air out? The bag becomes a quarter the size of the original size. Clothes are wrinkle free and sealed in an airtight/watertight bag. This means all of your soft items could be packed this way; clothes, bedding, mattress, franks cave, a future sleeping bag, tarps and even the tent! This may be a key for efficient packing! It could very well work using the same pump you’ll be using to blow up your air bed. What do you think bout that idea?


    • ustabe

      January 18, 2015 at 12:14 pm

      Andy, the “Space Bag” storage system is a great idea! The only issue is that they’re designed to be deflated using a standard vacuum (and the air mattress I’m looking at has a built-in pump). Since reading your post, I’ve been searching online for an alternative pump and haven’t had much luck. The manual pumps that are offered on Amazon as an “add-on” item to the Space Bags all got “meh” reviews. I’ve contacted Ziplock customer service asking them if they have a list of compatible devices suitable for camping. I’ve also contacted Coleman about two of their small air pumps as to whether they are compatible with the Space Bag nozzle. Will let you know. Thanks again for the suggestion.


  2. Andrew

    January 18, 2015 at 11:11 am

    In regards to the foam top, forgot to mention when camping on the ground or sleeping in a coot the rule of thumb is two blankets under you for every blanket over you. That’s needed to maintain body warmth. It’s especially true with nothing under you but cool/cold air. A foam top would be superior at keeping you warm.
    PS. A beer says Frank’s ‘cave’ will be the space between your back and the covers!


    • ustabe

      January 18, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      I am using a thin tarp underneath the tent and a second, thicker one inside the tent (to protect the floor from Frank’s nails). I was planning on using another product on top of that … a “tent carpet” I found on Amazon that adds a bit more thickness. I was going to pack two comforters and 4 blankets (in addition to a smaller blanket for Frank’s bed).

      I know Frank will get up in bed with me, but I’m a little concerned about that because I don’t want him to punch a hole in the air mattress. The foam top might be a solution. I’d just need a way to secure it on top of the mattress so it doesn’t move. Fitted sheets don’t work for me because I move a lot in my sleep – they’re always pulled up in the morning. I’d need some sort of strap that would go around the mattress, I think.

      The mattress is queen size … I was planning on putting his bed on top of mine on cold nights.



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