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Time flies, as many like to say (or perhaps lament), and Thanksgiving in 2018 is upon us. Actually, it is happening at the earliest time in the month that it ever does, but that provides little solace when you consider that mere weeks later, the Christmas holiday will bombard us, then it’s New Year’s, and then we wake up in a new year. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Thanksgiving is a really good time of the year, but it always feels to me to get overshadowed by the Christmas holiday. I work to push back against that, and this post is just another way that I strive to remind people that they need to take stock of their lives and to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. This might be one of the only times during the year that some people do this, so that makes it even more important to emphasize this time of thanksgiving. To that end, I wanted to do a Top 10 list of the things that I am most thankful for this year. Really, I could go on for hundreds and hundreds of items, but with the focus of this blog I’ll keep it to only 10. You’re welcome. Now, the list, in no particular order.
I am thankful that I was able to start this blog. It started originally as a side project, one that meshed well with my personal interest in tent camping and the outdoors, but it quickly moved into the realm of ‘more important’ with the choice I made to leave my job to seek greener pastures. One of those pastures is this blog, and it requires a lot of work. Fortunately, I’m enjoying the work, and writing these posts and interviewing interesting people is definitely a great way to define my new “work”. This blog helps to give me purpose and gives me something important to do, and provides me a schedule, albeit relatively easy, but a schedule nonetheless to adhere to of posting every other Tuesday. I like to rely on that, and you the reader hopefully finds this comfortable and enjoyable, knowing that you have a new post to look forward to on a regular basis. Growing is being stretched outside of our comfort zone, and I’m definitely growing with this blog, and for that I’m very thankful.
I am very thankful for the tent that we have. This is a tent that we purchased a few years ago for a driving trip through the upper peninsula of Michigan. It is a Coleman Hooligan tent that is for, at most, 4 people to sleep in. That means that it’s perfect for my wife and I and our gear. Within days of us first using the tent, we experienced a heavy rainstorm. That little tent was up to the challenge and we stayed bone-dry all night long. Dried it out the next day and continued on our driving trip. It’s very quick and easy for us to put up and take down, and I can see us using it for many years to come.
While these are not flashy in any sort of way, they are workhorses in our gear set. One of our two lanterns that we have was a gift to me by my brother when I was a groomsman in his wedding. That was 23 years ago, and the lantern is still going strong, so this one has sentimental value for me, in addition to just being a reliable piece of equipment. (You can read more about this lantern in my equipment review HERE) The other lantern I actually found at a flea market several years ago just outside one of our favorite state parks to camp in. It is a double mantel, dual fuel lantern that came with a case. Normally a setup like this would be nearly $100, but I scooped it up for only $20! A heck of a deal, and it’s been working like a champ from day one. I always bring the “twins” whenever we go camping, and I’m very thankful that I have them.
I remember the days before headlamps became popular. If you wanted to see what you were doing, or to go to the bathroom, you needed to grab a flashlight. These handheld devices are great for providing light where you need it, but sometimes it gets difficult to do things when you need to have one hand on the flashlight to direct where you want the light to go. Sure, you can have a friend or family member hold the flashlight for you while you do your work, but some things just don’t lend themselves to having a friend with you. (hello, bathroom stall??) Enter the beloved headlamp! With this wonderful device, you can once again have both hands free to do whatever you need to do. And they are getting better all the time. My newest one, which was a replacement for one that was several years old, has a red light which is great for late at night when you don’t want to blind yourself or others with harsh light. It also has an auto-dimmer feature that provides infinite adjustment to your lamp so you can adjust from a soothing ambient glow to a powerful spotlight. It also features several bulbs that work in various combinations, so you can have additional light adjustment that also works to extend your battery life. All in all, I’m quite thankful for my headlamp.
Now this might be a weird thing to be thankful for, but I’ve found that ratchet straps can be VERY useful. So much so that I now have at least one of them in my tent camping gear for a variety of situations. Of course, we use them for tying down things on our vehicles, such as the canoe on our Jeep or truck, bikes on our hitch hauler, and other things. But I’ve also used them as clotheslines, lantern hangers, handwashing station straps, and many other uses. I’ve actually done several posts about them, and you can read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, and Part 3 HERE. I’ve got a fourth post in the works, because they are so versatile. As you might imagine, I’m quite thankful for our ratchet straps.
Totes For Our Gear
This was a great investment that we did years ago to house all of our camping gear. We actually own two totes: one we keep our cooking equipment in (dishes, silverware, cooking utensils, pots, etc.), and the other has our other necessary gear (tripod, insect repellent, hatchet, saw, lighters, etc.). These totes are great because they allow us to load up for a camping trip very quickly. Additionally, we don’t have to worry about what we might have forgotten because it will all be in the totes. It also helps to keep things organized while we are camping, and prevents the need to “hunt” through everything to find an item. We have a couple of the Rubbermaid Action Packer totes, and if we wanted to add small locks to them we could for extra security. Every time we load up for our next trip, I’m thankful for those totes.
Our State Parks
My wife and I live in the great state of Wisconsin. We are blessed as a state to have many natural resources. Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to have a state park in 1878, a mere 30 years after our official entry into statehood. It was called “The State Park” in the northern wooded area of the state. Several decades later a second state park was created, Interstate State Park, in 1900. Since then many other state parks have been developed, and I have personally visited several of them so far (my goal is to visit all of them at least once in my life). From an island in Lake Superior (Madeline Island) to the highest location in the state near Wausau (Rib Mountain), and from amazing waterfalls (several, including Copper Falls and Amnicon Falls) to many other natural and historic wonders, the Wisconsin State Park System is, in my opinion, the envy of the region, if not the nation. With our enjoyment of four distinct seasons each year, the state parks are a place I am always thankful to visit any time of the year.
Our Camping Friends
There are a few friends of ours that we tend to go camping with several times over the course of a year. These friends are great and we get along very well. They camp like we do, and have many similar interests to us. I would hope that others have great friends that they could go camping with as well. If you don’t go camping with friends, I highly encourage you to find some. You’ll be able to share responsibilities, get introduced to new camping recipes, have great conversations about different equipment, and just generally have a fun time sharing an activity with others. I’m so thankful for the camping friends that we have, and I hope to find more friends to share camping experiences with.
Our Pie Irons
First off, if you don’t know what a pie iron is, or a pudgy pie, or a mountain pie, then you need to do some research so that you know what these are. Think of them as your own personal hot pocket-style sandwich. You can put whatever you can imagine in them, then cook them over the fire. OMG! I’ve been using these since I was a kid (we’re talking 30+ years ago), and I enjoyed them so much I even created my own recipe book (check out Pie Iron Recipes on Amazon). Dessert pies are my favorite, but you can make tasty sandwiches for any meal of the day. These always come with us, and whenever we talk about going camping with anyone, pie irons always come up for meals and desserts. This is a tasty thankfulness, for sure!
You, The Reader
Yes, I am very thankful for you reading this post and other posts. I’m thankful for any assistance that you provide by way of telling other people about this blog, sharing a post on social media, commenting on a post, or sending me an email. Without readers, this blog is merely words that have no impact on anyone. With readers, like you, this blog lives and breathes and provides information, and hopefully to benefit other tent campers so they have better outings with friends and family. So thank you, dear reader!
The above 10 items are just scratching the surface of all of the things that I have to be thankful for, and that’s just in the realm of tent camping! So many things to be thankful for, and I’d like to hear from you. What are the things you are thankful for?
Got some feedback on this topic? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, send me an email or share it on social media! Happy Tent Camping!
Featured Image photo courtesy Caleb Wood, 11/9/2017. Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@caleb-wood-229552