A Trial Run Camping In Our SUV

This past weekend I threw out an impromptu camping trip to my husband where we would sleep in our SUV. Back when we purchased the vehicle the salesman laughed at me when I asked to see all the back seats lowered down and I then crawled in to make sure we fit in the back length wise. I simply looked at him and said, “I plan to sleep back here while camping.” My husband and the salesman then both looked at me with an expression of your kidding right? Ha, would I ever say something I did not mean…NEVER! So, a few months after having the vehicle my husband and I made a trip to the hardware store for a sheet of plywood and he got to work.



And then life happened and we never had to opportunity to test it out due to his back injury and then my surgery. Which meant, this weekend seemed to be the perfect opportunity to finally do so. Campgrounds are not full yet since it’s too cold, which meant we could easily show up at any park and be guaranteed a site without a reservation. After throwing a few needs and some quick food into the vehicle we headed out. We picked a state park about 45 minutes from home.



Upon arrival it was cold…and windy…..very windy. He gathered wood around our campsite for heat and I made up our sleeping area.


Then we did some exploring nearby, did a little fishing, took a drive, and came upon a new park we had never seen before. I can see us returning here when it’s paddle season.




By this time the wind was starting to calm down a bit so we returned to the campground and he made a big fire to keep us warm.


We later took a short walk around the campground and it was so great to see the leaves finally emerging from their pods. Summer is coming:-)


As evening progressed we started to get hungry. Our choice for dinner were freeze dried meals we had on hand from home that we quickly grabbed. Two, new to us, meals that we each chose were chicken and dumplings…super yum and chicken fried rice….again, a winner.



After dinner we relaxed by the fire and later turned in for our first night of SUV camping.Ohhhh, what an adventure this was.


We learned a few things during the night. #1SUV camping is quiet…we hardly heard anything from area campers unlike in our tent. #2 you cannot unlock the SUV from inside and open the door to exit if the SUV was locked with the key pad…the alarm goes off(this was so funny at midnight of all times) #3 our sleeping pads do not stay put in the SUV which meant we kept sliding down toward the door. Frustrating, but we figured it out and turned the opposite way to sleep which was much better. This little transition happened about 2a.m.. #4 down sleeping bags and comforters are priceless when temps are in the 30’s and winds are 35mph off the Bay of Green Bay….brrrr!!!! It was freezing outside but we were quite cozy inside.

All in all, we were surprised we were not cold. We have one adjustment to make with our sleep pad but this is already worked out, I just have to go buy the item we are going to use. And I know without a doubt this will be the way to camp in the spring and fall here in WI. I loved not having the damp, wet, clammy feeling of sleeping in a tent. Plus, there was nothing to take down, dry out or fold up. In the summer however, I will still take my tent. There is nothing quite like falling asleep in a tent staring at the stars above.


Trip Planning Takes Time

One common question I am asked when it comes to our trip planning is…. how do I decided where to go and what we need?

My answer to this common question is…..I go where there is something we will all enjoy and I do research sometimes for months before making our packing list.

And that is when everyone rolls their eyes and says…..and that’s vacation to you???

I simply answer….YES!

Planning an active vacation is very rewarding to me. Accomplishing what I have planned is even more rewarding. Coming home after seeing things we have never seen before and having memories that will last a lifetime is honestly, something I can’t even put into words.

After answering numerous emails on how to plan a vacation like this I decided to write this post to inspire everyone to just go for it. If you have a dream vacation and it involves a lot of planning just take it one step at a time and before you know it you will be there living your dream.

This is how I plan an active vacation in order of importance:

#1Destination and # of people: The first thing I do when I plan one of our adventure trips is figure out where we are headed and who is all coming. This is vital because climate plays a big part in what we need as does the number of people coming which makes the food list bigger or smaller. This is what I actually took inventory of this weekend. I dug out our supply of dried meals and wrote down everything we have at home so I can start making our meal plans for our upcoming Superior Hiking Trip. After taking inventory, I then sat down with my husband and son and we decided who wants what meal and if we need to purchase any more before the trip.


#2 Means of travel: The next big thing is how are we getting there. Plane, boat, car, etc.. I research nearest airports if we are flying, check out rental car rates, shuttles or transfers. If we are driving, this is simply getting the directions and deciding how far to travel each day to reach our destination. Another very important thing if driving is to make sure you have the proper vehicle type if you plan to do any back roads.


#3 What we plan to do while there: This is by far the part that takes the most time. Typically, we hike when we go on vacation. So I need to find trail maps, check if permits are needed, check for shuttles to trail heads if needed, watch the weather forecast if hiking in/near canyons, and read what others have said about the trails we plan to hike.


#4 Hotel, resort, campsite: This is another part of planning that can be either easy or hard depending on where we are headed. For instance, when we hiked Michigan’s Pictured Rocks Lakeshore finding a hotel was easy. We had no problem finding a nearby hotel for a reasonable price. When we hike in Zion National Park, this needed some planning ahead. Hotels near national parks book up fast so planning ahead makes all the difference especially in price. Early is cheaper and you have more selection. Campsites in national parks book even faster and honestly, after hiking the mountains of Zion, I need the comfort of a real bed and would pay almost anything for it. (We have a favorite if your searching for one near the park)

#5 Packing list: This is probably the biggest and will ultimately make or break the entire trip. Being prepared for what you have planned is vital to having fun. In many remote places supplies are very limited and if you do find them they are extremely expensive. My motto is, bring what you can from home even if it cost you another checked bag on the airlines. If you don’t, your likely to spend more than that trying to find what you forgot and paying for it when you do find it. If your driving, this is not an issue because there is always more room somewhere.


6# Relax: This is the one thing I learned on our first trip to Utah. We went from sun up to sun down without one single day to relax and rest. It was torture on our bodies. So now I plan every day we are gone except one. One day is simply set aside to rest which clearly is needed by all.


#7 Have a backup plan: Things can and almost always will go wrong during any vacation. It’s best to make a backup plan for these instances. From flight delays, flat tires, to torrential rain/snow…..all this can make a vacation plan impossible. In our experience we have been snowed out completely from one vacation and never left Green Bay. This was devastating and we could do nothing about it. On another vacation our road to camp was washed out by flooding and we had no where to stay until almost half way to our destination. However, this was not our problem. Thankfully, this was our first and only guided vacation we ever took so the company worked on this dilemma from cell phone the entire three hour drive to our destination and we all ended up in resorts for the week. On our last vacation we luckily hiked one trail the day we did because the next day it was closed off for the entire day for a rescue of a fallen hiker into the canyon. So believe me, things happen whether in your control or not, they happen.


#8 Be realistic:¬†Don’t forget you are on vacation. Don’t book yourself and your family so tight that you forget to smell the roses. Take it in, enjoy the ride and make the memories last.


These are probably the most important pointers I can give while planning an adventure vacation. Of course most would say that money should be one of these pointers also but as you can see I did not touch on this one. Why you might ask? Well, in my opinion, if you don’t have the money to spend on a vacation you would not be inquiring on how to plan a vacation. I cannot tell you how to save money for such an adventure, only you know what you can stash away and how long it will take you to get the amount you need. And since that amount differs greatly from place to place, I did not add finances to the list. I believe if you want/need a vacation bad enough everyone can stash away a bit from their daily lives to eventually make this dream come true.

If you have any you would like to add please feel free to leave a comment. I am sure I missed something and you may be able to offer another suggestion.




Supplies To Have On Hand For Stress Free Fun In The Outdoors

Every year I stock up about this time on the supplies we use most during the next few months. This makes it so much easier to pick up and go rather than make time to run to the store every time we get the urge for fun. I keep a big rubbermaid type box and gradually it becomes full as I see things we use often during our kayaking,camping, and hiking trips.

You may be thinking…..it’s only March and they live in Wisconsin how can they go kayaking? Well, we have been on the river as early as March dodging ice chunks. Are we crazy? Absolutely! Is it fun? Honestly, it feels great to paddle again after so many months, but it is not fun, it’s COLD!

Anyhow, here are a few of our favorite snacks that can survive the roughest kayaking trip, last minute camping trip, or the hottest trail hike.


Clif Bars

Luna Bars



Vitalyte Electrolyte Replacement Powder

Granola bars


Fruit pouches

Dried fruit

Mountain House Meals

I am still missing a few favorites but you at least get the idea. With a few bottles of water, dry bag/backpack, and the right foot wear for the activity, we can literally be out the door and on our way to adventure in under 30 minutes. Now that is what I call stress free fun!






While On Dry Land We….

This was a water free weekend for us and I can assure you we do not hope for many of these. Even though we did have some fun this weekend, it just did not happen in a body of water anywhere.

After planning all week to finally get our son to a beach and let him see if he was able to paddle a recreational kayak (not his whitewater kayak quite yet) mother nature seemed to have a better idea for us. He has not touched a paddle since his accident and misses kayaking so much. However, with storms predicted mid afternoon, cloudy conditions¬† and wind on Saturday…this all meant the beach was not a good idea. That was ok, but then Sunday mother nature thought it would be funny to predict a high of 72 degrees (which it never reached) in the middle of August….which also meant the beach was off limits. I would have froze. And in our home, when mom is not happy no one is happy.

Instead we made a trip to our favorite veggie market Saturday.


Stocked up on cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, corn, zucchini and one peach for my hubby. Then we came home and started cooking. First we made fire roasted salsa,


then refrigerator pickles,


and I used a wonderful idea from Jen and decorated a store brand hummus for a get together we had planned for Saturday night. I also plan to make our favorite zucchini bread this week with my daycare kiddos. They love to do cooking activities.

While we are on the topic of food, let’s talk about our dinner plans that happened Saturday. We invited our neighbor over for some taste sampling before our camping trip we will be taking together for the first time in the near future. She had never had a freeze dried meal and we have an entire case for emergency purposes. You know, in case I have a bad day and feel the need to hike up a cliff away from it all….not the natural disaster type of emergencies, we are not that organized here:) Anyways, we picked out three of our favorites and prepared them at home for dinner and we each had a little of all of them. Along with the meals, I also served that jazzed up hummus, salsa, chips, veggies, and spinach dip.


Her reaction to the meals before preparing them were amusing but when she was served a sampling of each she was even more skeptical of the outcome. Much to our surprise each meal passed her approval.


She is even talking about trying a few of her own now that she has a little experience with this form of food.

Switching the topic from food to camping brings me to my wonderful buy of the weekend. Since our last camping trip at Copperfalls State Park, my husband and I decided to invest in two self inflating sleeping mats. I think we are either getting old or the ground is getting harder, either way we needed something to make us feel more mobile in the morning. Well, I am proud to say, I came across a spectacular buy and could not believe it when I found them. We shopped around locally testing out various mats and had our minds set on Therm-A-Rest  Basecamp mats.


Although, at our local sporting goods store they were quite costly coming in at $109.00 each, so I came home to research how cheap I could find them online. The best I could do online was $98.00 for the size we wanted and that was still to much for my frugal mind to spend. Then I just happen to drive past another store near the grocery store I needed to go to on Saturday. I thought, what the heck, it does not hurt to check, right? In I went, found the correct size right away and saw a red sale sticker for $69.99 and could not believe my eyes. I even had the sales associate do a price check and he happily came back and said, yes that is correct….SOLD I took two immediately. So of course we had to do a trial run and see if they would be comfy all night on hard ground. So hubby and I camped out on the floor Saturday night and could not have been happier. No hip or back pain at all. I was thrilled:)

As for Sunday, we decided to take a drive to one of our favorite disc golf courses. It’s a little bit of a drive but worth it. I will share all the good information later this week regarding the course and how we did.