Friday, August 17, 2007

Day Fifty - Gone Campin'

Getting Back to Nature the Eco-Friendly Way

Well the laundry's going (in the new energy-efficient front-loader), the dog has reservations at "Uncle Ray's", and the mini-van is being loaded up with tent, sleeping bags, camp stove and marshmallows. Sounds like we're going CAMPIN'! Woo hoo!

Yes, the lazy suburbanite is taking yet another "mini-vacation" and is heading out to the woods of Southern Pennsylvania for a weekend of natural beauty, quality time with family and s'mores. This is the first summer that I have been camping since I was a kid and I am LOVING IT! Whenever we head out, we try our best to be good campers and follow some basic rules for treading lightly.

1. Camp where you will have minimal impact. This means don't go setting up a campsite in a brand new, pristine area. Use a pre-existing campsite whenever possible. Personally, we have really enjoyed making use of National and State Park camping sites.

2. Bring two trash bags - one for real trash and one for recyclables. No need to stop recycling just because you're on vacation.

3. Use that trash bag to keep your site clean. In fact, go the extra mile and leave your site cleaner than when you found it.

4. Don't bathe without a tub! Don't use any soap in streams, creeks or lakes. The fish don't like the bubbles. Besides, if you're in an area that remote, odds are there's no one around to complain about how skanky you are anyhow.

5. Does a bear shit in the woods? You betcha, but he doesn't leave a toilet paper trail and you shouldn't either. Remember rule #3 and pack up ALL your trash -- especially TP! Also, if you're doing #2, be sure to dig your hole 8" deep and bury it.

6. Only build campfires in designated rings.

7. Use only dead, downed wood for campfires, don't go breaking live branches off trees. That's just mean.

8. Never burn plastic in campfires. It releases nasty toxins and makes the marshmallows taste funny.

9. Be sure your campfire is 100% extinguished before going to bed or leaving your campsite. Forest fires are no joke.

10. If you go hiking, stick to the trails. Do not go trampling over local flora in an attempt to find a shortcut. You'll kill native plants, get lost and end up with poison ivy.

Hope you all get a chance this summer to get back to nature, whether it's a day trip to the ocean, a weekend camping trip in the woods or an afternoon hike at your local park. It's nice to get out there and be reminded about all the beauty in nature. Remember to "take only pictures and leave only footprints". Have a great weekend everyone, I'll be back online Monday!


gregra&gar said...

Good post, Erin. Succumbing to the call of nature, gastronomic or otherwise is always a good move, even though it is usually little more than a reminder of harmony absent in civilized society, like a school kid daydreaming on the boughs of a tree blowing in the wind outside the classroom window. While good advice, your number 10 seems a bit too prohibitive to anyones curious urge to take that path less traveled once away from city pavement. Respect for the flora and fauna should be all one requires to go anywhere in the world. Getting a bit lost is the whole idea. lol ;)

Gary M. Comins said...

Rule 11. Don't try to run healthy trees over with your husband's blazer while back at the camp site ... especially when the trees are much larger than the vehicle.

Gary M. Comins said...

So while we were at the camp site on Friday night, the sun was just setting and Brian and I were on the porch with the kids. As you looked out over the camp site, its all you could see was the haze of camp fires burning at everyone's site (... well almost everyone's site since the park was sold out of firewood when we had finally arrived ...).

My question ... camp fires, environmentally good or bad?