(January 15 – 17, 2019) For the first time I am car-camping alone. I picked Dupuis Campground in Florida, two hours’ drive from my home. This was to see (1) if I am capable of camping alone, (2) if I like it, and (3) what I must carry. About 80% of my friends didn’t understand my new adventure and/or showed some negativity on my plan. I know that I am happiest when I am in the middle of nature. So, I focused on listening to those who actually have gone camping before. Besides, I prefer sleeping in my own place (my tent) to motels when I am traveling. This camping trip is also to find out if I can or want to do an RV trip in a few years.
While staying at the campsite on the first night, my concern was safety from people and animals. This campsite is gated. When I booked for two nights, I received an email confirmation with a lock code to open/close the gate. As soon as I arrived, I introduced myself to the campground hosts, a very nice couple “Dick and Ruth”. There was a pond about 100 yards from my tent. I saw an alligator sun-bathing on a small man-made island in the pond. There were three other tents nearby my site. I spoke to each group and got myself familiarized with my surroundings.
My new tent “Marmot Limelight 2P” was a great purchase: easy to setup and well designed. At night, I had four layers of shirts and two layers of pants in my sleeping bag. In addition, I have three layers of pads and two blankets. The temperature dropped to 45f (7c). Even though other campers told me that alligators don’t bother you, I couldn’t sleep well worrying about animal attack and because of the cold. I was relieved the next day when the sun came out. Freshly made coffee immediately warmed and cheered me up.
There are amazing hiking trails around this campsite. Living in South Florida, we don’t really know the natural beauty of Florida. On the second day, I met a new neighbor, Johnny Molloy (http://www.JohnnyMolloy.com) who is the author of a camping trip book “Best Tent Camping Florida” that I purchased from Barns and Nobles a couple of months ago. He gave me lots of tips and encouraged my upcoming camping trips. He is a well-known outdoor writer and has written 65 books so far. He has slept over 5,000 nights in his tent in wild. This trip is his 23rd visit to Florida. It is to backpack hike 65 miles on the “Ocean to Lake Trail” in Florida.
I awoke the next day well rested this time, and I saw that my neighbor, Johnny, was counting a pack of flat-bread while boiling water for his morning coffee. He told that his backpack weight is a maximum of 15% of his body weight. He carries everything he needs in wildlife for four nights. He was been sometimes called a “Food Nazi” for rationing food while hiking. Back when we were sailing, we did a similar thing; we had to limit carrying only a certain amount of food supply and boat parts. There are no food stores neither in the wilderness nor at sea.
This trial-run camping was successful. It is time to revisit my checklist for my upcoming long camping trip. My goal is go all the way to Joshua Tree National Park in California. I really want to see many National Parks in Utah (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches). If possible, Glacier Park in Montana also. I have TIME but it is limited considering the fact of the weather window.