Winter Camping

Baby, it was cold outside. Of course that's a relative term isn't it? Whereas Northerners endure temperatures in the 30's and 40's, Floridians begin shivering when the temperature drops below 60, and on this trip, we did our fair share of that. Still, it was loads of fun in spite of the overnight cold. Think 43 degrees!

The other day Nancy asked, "so just what do you do while you are camping?" The answer is, pretty much what we do at home, just at a campsite. Meal times take up a fair amount of time between the prepping, cooking, and clean up. We sleep, sit by the fire, walk, ride a bicycle, and on this trip I did some swinging as the playground was our next door neighbor. Mostly all Bruce wanted to do was read and I can't say as I blame him for that because he's reading The Hearts of Men which is entirely engrossing. His kayak made the trip, however, he was none too keen to step in the cold water, so it merely sat on top of the car, adding a huge pop of orange to our "home away from home."

Our destination was Anastasia State Park, just outside St. Augustine, about 115 miles away. The drive, taking the scenic route, was lovely.
The road less traveled is our preferred route, as you well know. Eventually though, around Crescent Beach we crossed over to A1A and made our way North, finding the park easily as it is right off A1A. Driving in, we got our first taste of what we would be seeing for the next three days.
Blue skies, lots of water, and more sand than you can imagine. Yes, those dunes are for real!

Finding our campsite, #33 in the mostly tent area, the first thing we did was make a quick lunch, using our new Falconware that Matt and Tom gave us for Christmas.
This site could not be anymore different than our last adventure to Ocean Pond Campground where our tent was set up on grass.This time the site was both smaller, and set on sand, however, although that sand wanted to enter the tent, we mostly kept it at bay.
On that trip there was a lot of dew that made our picnic table wet in the morning, so this time Bruce set up a shelter in hopes of keeping things dry. Actually, I once thought all of this sort of thing was too much trouble, however, I've learned to really enjoy the set up part. Recently I read that if older folks want to keep their mind intact, doing new things is just the ticket.Learning about camping is my new thing. Seriously, I'm obsessed!

Once the site was to our liking, we walked to the beach and holy cow, was it not only beautiful, but HUGE!
Just before arriving, Bruce pointed out a large bird, and on closer inspection, it was a very large Osprey having a meal.
Well friends, that was not the only bird we saw because as we made our way across the huge sandy expanse, woo hoo, look what we found!
Sitting on a rise those fellows are only a few of the group. Royal Terns and a few seagulls in the above photograph. Every now and again I'll hand my camera to Bruce because, who doesn't want their photo made with a big flock of sea birds?
This moment in time was the warmest we would be, having to take off jackets rather than put more on! For four miles, it is but sea and sand, a rarity along our Florida coastline.
Every day there we met some interesting and friendly folks like this couple that live in North Carolina, who bring their RV to Florida at this time of year, traveling from park to park. Turns out they like birds too!
Super fun seeing the vintage airplanes fly by!

So here's the thing about winter camping....it gets dark very early so mealtimes are adjusted accordingly. We headed back to our site, about a mile walk, to begin dinner preparations. Several folks have applauded us for sleeping in a tent which is seriously not hard at all. What is hard for me is thinking of meals for four days ahead of time, packing what I need, that sort of thing. Generally, I just wing it most days, checking my freezer in the morning, or using what is in the pantry. This planning business puts me way out of my comfort zone. I forced myself to write down some meals, gather the ingredients, packing the cooler and a large bag for drygoods. I sort of stuck with my plan.

Sort of.


On this night, following our walk to the beach, I had decided to make a pork stew because it was going to be so cold. Simmering meat in the pan, I cut up the veggies next. And that reminds me of another thing about winter camping, our usual plethora of bugs is almost nonexistent. My Florida readers can surely appreciate that.
Yes, I did use the Revereware.
Back in September I always had to have Bruce light the stove, but I've got that down now. Well, I did. Before leaving we bought this Coleman stove because it is slightly larger and the oven fits on it better. The thing is though, the controls seem sort of backwards; for two days I kept asking Bruce which way do I turn the knob? Sounds kind of silly doesn't it? Finally the stew was ready, the clean up done, a roaring fire going in the fire pit and that was day one. Night one was so cold we kept waking up trying to warm up. What we should have done is taken a space heater with us because we had both water and electrical hook up, but we didn't think of that ahead of time. Now we know!

Waking up early, I rode my bicycle to the beach for the sunrise, arriving just as it sat below the horizon.
The campground has about 130 sites, yet only a handful of folks decided getting out in the cold was worth it! It must be noted that this was the only day I braved the dawn cold. :)
Upon my return I found Mr. Peck cooking the cinnamon buns, watching the temperature as we learn this new piece of equipment.
Unreal how well it worked!!
It's the little victories while camping that make it so much fun!!

Day two coming soon.

your friend,

Gail