A Socially Distanced Plan
With my trip booked, I started my preparations for how to accomplish nine days on the road while having limited contact with other people. I considered what that meant. To me it was only stopping for gas at stations where I knew I could pay and fill my tank without going inside. Ideally I could use my phone app to make payments without touching the screen at the pump.
I looked into purchasing a portable electric cooler, but it would be weeks before I could get one delivered because local stores didn’t have them in stock. I also checked within my circles of camping and hiking people to see if they had one I could borrow. No luck. So I planned to find a way to be able to take some things I would need to have in a cooler but not purchase ice every day.
I evaluated how I could feed myself for nine days without stopping at any stores or restaurants. For me that would mean taking a few fresh items from home like oranges and cheese. I’d supplement with freeze dried meals that I’ve stocked up on over the past few years plus some new ones I wanted to try. It meant adding dry goods and snacks to the mix. There was popcorn and Oreo cookies. Coffee packets and a few cans of ginger ale along with 5 liters of water in my collapsable water jug. I’d take the ice I’d purchased and repack it in clean ziplock bags, supplementing the water in my jug as it melted, trying to keep the overall waste to a minimum.
Finally, I researched every park and what the medical clinics or hospitals would be near the parks should I need medical attention of any kind.
All of this went into a rather detailed trip plan. I do one for each trip I take that’s longer than a couple days, whether solo or with others. I use a simple spreadsheet format. My plan is put together by date and includes everything from the driving distance between parks to campsite and park address/phone as well as notes that might be important. For this trip that included whether or not park offices would be open, where I could get water and find pit toilets. I added the information about the local hospital or clinic. I also include a description of my car, my pack, my tent and any other identifying gear.
When my plan is complete of it goes electronically to a few trusted people who I’ve notified I am traveling. I do it in advance so they can look it over and I can clarify anything they might need. With the information in my plan it means that if I don’t check in at specific times, the folks on my list can check in with me or send help if they haven’t heard from me at a specified time. The more details that they have the more likely I am to be found.
For this trip, since my goal was to be as prepared as possible, I took more gear than I normally would. My gear list looked like this:
Tent and Hammock – my preferred sleeping set up is my ENO hammock set up. I use a Double Nest, Guardian Bug Net and Profly Rain Tarp whenever possible. But knowing I’d be camping in areas of prairie as well as forested sites, I knew that having my tent as backup was important. My tent is a two person Slumberjack that has held up to many years of camping and I can set up quickly.
Tarp – I just got a new Ultimate Survival Technologies Tube Tarp 1.0 on clearance and wanted to try it out should the opportunity arise.
Backpacking Pack – while I wasn’t expecting to be backpacking, I’ve come to appreciate my Granite Gear Blaze 60 pack for walk-in sites. I had two included in my itinerary so I packed it up with my usual backpacking kit that included my camping pad, down quilt and cooking kit.
Day Pack – My go-to day pack is currently a Marmot Kompressor Pack which is always packed and ready with the 11 essentials. This would allow me to quickly be ready for each day’s two hikes and be prepared with my basics.
Food and Water – a couple of tubs of freeze dried food, a cooler with a few perishables, a couple Nalgene bottles and my 5 gallon water jug and I was set.
The Kitchen Sink – ok, so not the real kitchen sink, but a proverbial one for sure. I have a bin with my extra car camping gear so I threw that in as a “just in case” security blanket, an extra sleeping pad and synthetic sleeping bag, more boots and shoes than I thought were needed and a couple of towels in case I took a dip somewhere in one of the many lakes and rivers I’d be near.
Cleaning Supplies – unlike many of my previous trips I added a huge jug of hand sanitizer, a small bottle of bleach and even a bit of laundry soap. Normally a small bottle of hand sanitizer would do the trick, but again, in my goal to not spread or pick up germs anywhere I was at the ready to kill any virus!
Needless to say, the back of my car was full. But with all the gear, I was ready for any eventuality. I knew that when I got home there would be a bunch of stuff I hadn’t touched which would help me be better prepared for my next car camping adventure.
Next Post Preview: It’s time to hit the road and head west to Greenleaf Lake.
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