Updated: Apr 25, 2022
With the continued cases and risk of COVID-19, it’s safe to say that this year’s vacation plans were nixed. But I was more than excited to have the opportunity to head to the local mountains to pitch a tent and camp out under the stars for a couple nights and escape the city, the accompanying heat and be well distanced from people. Needless to say, this was a much-needed reprieve after the past year of events and happenings.
Because of the pandemic, we took a few extra precautions on our camping trip this summer including the additional packing of facemasks and hand sanitizer in case any human interactions were made at the campground and to avoid public facilities, we added a portable potty to our list of camping gear. While I am a camping and playing-in-the-woods kind of a girl, my limit is pretty much drawn at squatting over a hole in the ground.
Our first priority with any new outdoor gear is the ability to follow a leave no trace approach. For this trip we wanted the option to still stay distanced and safe and not risk the possibility of facilities being closed or, as we have experienced in the past, busy with fellow campers. After doing some research on the best porta potty options that are versatile for both camping and a future adventure van or trailer, our first choice for porta pottys was a Thetford 365, however thanks to the outdoor supply and demands of 2020 and what we have all found come as a side effect of this pandemic, this was out of stock and not an option, thus we found ourselves scrounging the internet for whatever toilet options were both available in stock and that we would get delivered in time for our trip. Eventually, we settled on the Thetford 260B, which unfortunately was not what we wanted, but serves its purpose just fine for now.
We were also looking into purchasing a popup shower tent, and had our order placed for an Ozark trail camping shower and utility tent, however as I pulled into the store parking lot for curbside pickup I received a notification that despite the online sale purchase, they were sold out and I would be refunded the money. So, unfortunately no privacy tent this trip, but luckily our current camping tent has a separate external privacy room off of the main tent, so we turned that portion of the tent into our own bathroom for the trip and it worked out really well.
Those were the added precautions and alternate setups for our campground this trip, which we were really happy to have because when we arrived at the campground, the place was packed and this allowed us to completely avoid all human contact and never need any public facilities. Apparently, everyone had the same idea as us in regards to getting some camping in, so being able to rely solely on our own basecamp was perfect.
For this trip we were at our current favorite campground at Mt. Charleston, McWilliams Campground. Again, for social distancing and privacy purposes we reserved the best pad available that placed us as far away from people as possible so we were at the end of the campground with only two other nearby pads.
Because of everything that 2020 has dealt, we anticipated that this escape to the mountains for a few days would be the extent of our vacationing for the year, so as much as we would have loved to use the time to hike and explore surrounding trails, we decided to bring our pup and lay low to spend the time simply enjoying disconnecting and being removed from everything. Since the campground was so busy, I was really glad we decided to go this route so that we could avoid crowded trails.
With nothing to do but enjoy the outdoors we did just that, with the exception of some short quarter-mile walks with the dog every couple of hours, which actually ended up adding up to about four miles of walking each day.
The activities for this trip included, walks, reading, cooking, playing games and relaxing, oh and continuously trying to get the dog to lay on a blanket or towel and inevitably watching him choose to only lay on the dirt next to them. The first night was a little chilly but honestly, mid-50s is amazing when you consider the city was experiencing mid-80s at night. However, the 50s was the pup’s limit and he woke up in the morning shaking with the most adorable and pathetic puppy eyes ever as he cuddled under the sleeping bag and blankets until it was time to go for our morning walk. By the second night the temperatures rose a bit and wasn’t nearly as chilly and our dog learned to establish himself dead center on the air mattress and stake his claim to the best bundles of blanket, which led us to work our way around him to get comfy when it was time for lights out. For being such a small dog, when it comes to sleeping, this little 25 pound Poodle pup somehow always transforms into a German Shepard.
We got to enjoy some beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the mountains and forest, some simple star gazing despite the nearly full moon, and on the second night we were even blessed to cook breakfast to the sounds of a Paiute Native American chant or prayer, complete with drums. It was really special, and I was able to get a little video with audio (I’d love to find more information about what we heard, so if you know anything about this, please let me know by leaving a comment).
Whether it’s a camping trip full of hikes and adventures like we’ve done in the past, or as this one was, a camping trip of laying low and simply enjoying the outdoors, these getaways never disappoint. I just wish we could stay in this mental state of simplicity and tranquility forever.