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Old 08-20-2012, 10:20 AM   #1
tmarquez
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Pre and Trip Report: First time tent campers 8/17 - 8/19

This whole experiment started in June when my DD(9) told us she is the only kid in her class that has never been camping. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Of course you’ve been camping, remember when you had a sleepover on the air mattresses out in the screen room? Oh! And we stayed in the cabins at Fort Wilderness a few times. Rented a golf cart, ate marshmallows…”

DD: “That is NOT camping! You have to rough it (you’ll see that “roughing it” is a little different in our family)…in a tent. And ride bikes. And cook on the grill.”

Me: “Oh, well, your father’s not going to like that.”

Well she is an only child and daddy’s little girl, so he’ll endure whatever for her. Neither of us have ever been camping either, so I talked to some friends and read all the message boards I could, to see what it was all about. Hmmm…sounds like fun…AND we can do it at Disney! We live about 45 minutes away so if things get really bad, we could go home.

Of course we have no equipment so we had to start there. I thought of renting stuff, but I was really thinking that we might like this. We go quite often over to Disney for weekend trips and usually stay at a value resort…this camping thing could save me money (haha!). So I did some research and decided on this (the tent on the right, more about the tent on the left later):


It’s a Coleman Instant tent (for a VERY close group of 6). I seriously had my doubts about DH liking the whole camping experience so I wanted to get something that I could put up by myself. I’ve heard horror stories of it taking HOURS to put up a regular tent…and it scared me! This tent is awesome, I could go and on about it but won’t unless anyone has any questions.

I also got one of those easy up canopies and some large Rubbermaid containers for our stuff. Oh and a Coleman Extreme cooler, highly recommended…man stuff stays frozen in there…I was shocked. Plus I bought all the other miscellaneous stuff you need over the months of June and July.

DD and her friends took the tent out to the backyard for test run a couple of times. I sprayed it with a hose. I tried to scare them by making bear noises. They still thought it was great. DD was ready to camp. Reservations were made and we were READY!

Or so we thought. One night the girls were sleeping in the tent and our dog decided he missed DD. He jumped on the tent and clawed his way through the mesh window in the door and jumped in with them. So now I have to figure out how to fix this mess. You can see in the photo that the screen on the door is a different color than the other other screen...that's my repair. A nice old lady at our local fabric store sold me some mesh and told me what to do. It took me 2 weeks and much cursing...I'm NOT crafty.

Somehow along the way a friend asked is she could share our site with her 2 kids (9 and 5). She said she has been camping many times and it'll be great! Errr...ok...I guess that would be alright. The sites are certainly big enough for 2 tents, right? And the kids get along great...right? Well...we'll see I guess.

August rolled around and we now have everything we need, plus it's DH’s birthday…time to go camping! But wait…it’s mid-August…and Florida. I’ve read all the boards, it would be completely insane to go camping now.

But we are 3 Floridians…we like HOT…we're used to the heat...and we have a fan…and there’s a pool to cool down in…no sweat, right? <--- Pun intended!

Last edited by tmarquez; 08-20-2012 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:20 AM   #2
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:48 PM   #3
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This is something I want to do too, I'm 56 and would love to tent camp... Can't wait to see how the rest of your trip went....
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:58 PM   #4
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Tent camping in August.

Okay, I'm in.

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Old 08-21-2012, 07:23 AM   #5
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Arrival and Day 1

DD and I cut school and work on Friday so we could get an early start. DH was going to come after work with everyone’s bikes. The plan was for DD and I to set up our site, and be chilling by the pool with a cold one waiting for DH when he got there around 4:00. Ahhh…what is the saying…”the best laid plans…”…ya unfortunately that was us.

We were packed up and left the house at 10:30, we stopped by our camping buddies house since they had never been there and wanted to follow us.

Now DD and I are totally new to camping but we had practiced, plus the family that came with us has been camping tons of times (so we were led to believe), so we felt pretty good. We checked in with no line by 11:30. I did the online check in and requested something close to a comfort station, thinking it would be good with the 3 kids. It only took a couple of minutes and we were off to site 64 in the 2000 loop. It was located directly across the street from the comfort station. I started to have second thoughts about that location…but really it was perfect. There wasn’t too much noise or too much foot traffic.

The comfort station itself was impressive. Very clean. DD loved the acoustics (sorry for any of you who had to endure her shower singing!). The ice machine was out of order so I called the front desk and demanded an upgrade to the Grand Floridian…that wasn’t happening so instead I made it up to myself and parked 2 cars instead of the allowed 1 at our site. I felt better.

We all started unloading and setting up. Things were going as planned! DD set up our tent, fixed it all up inside, set up the easy up canopy…then started making a small list of all the things we forgot. We do this no matter what. Luckily DH always comes later so we can text our list to him and he can bring all the stuff we forgot. Let’s see…forgot pillows, forgot DD’s stuffed animal, forgot the 2nd fan, forgot DD’s Disney gift card, and most importantly forgot the container of margaritas that I made up before we left!

So we have all of our stuff set and I turn around and our camping buddies have what appears to be a large sheet of yellow tarp splayed all over and various flimsy sticks they are trying to feed through guides…”trying” is the keyword. They tell me that this is their tent. DD look at each other and laugh. Turns out that they REALLY have only been camping once with this tent and she didn’t even put it up herself, someone else did. So much for my grand plan. There were no instructions and it was it was around 2:30 when we realized she was missing parts of that tent.

I was pretty annoyed and sat down to take a break and to text DH the “forgotten list” when his truck pulls up in front of our camp site. What?! He NEVER gets there early! My margaritas! The horror! After being revived, I realized it was good he was there because he is really good at jury rigging and he would be able to get her dumb tent up…while I went to the liquor store. Two crises averted.

The kids learned the lay of the land on their bikes while the adults did the important stuff (tent building and liquor buying). All the kids really loved being able to ride everywhere…apparently they found one of the stores as was apparent by the Mickey bar ring around the 5yo’s mouth.

We were ready to hit the pool. We didn’t plan on going to any of the parks this weekend, just wanted to hang out at the campground. The kids showed us a nifty little shortcut between the 2000 loop and the 900 loop that came out pretty close to the main pool. We were able to walk or ride to the pool in just a few minutes. Wow is that a crowded pool! It was even sort of a rainy day and still the pool was packed. I’ve heard that the locals like to crash this pool and apparently it’s true…but I don’t get why…it’s a hassle to get to the pool, they’d have to take a bus and all that.

Tonight is the night we planned to cook at the campsite so when I heard thunder rumbling in the distance I decided I better go ahead and get the grill going before the deluge. The grill was pretty clean but I had brought some disposable grill liners so our meat wouldn’t touch our camping buddies’ veggies since the mom is a vegetarian. Thoughtful, huh? Anyway the grill was just right for what we needed and the food was good. I set up the easy up canopy over the picnic table and we sat there and ate while it poured rain…hoping the new tent wouldn’t flood like some of the reviews said it would.

The rain stopped and I checked the tent. Dry as a bone…whoopee!

Things were good. We went to the campfire and movie, watched a little of “Finding Nemo” and the kids were on a smores sugar high. Went back to the campsite and played some dominos before going to bed.

Now you have to remember, this is the first time DH or me have ever slept in a tent. We had a queen air mattress for us and a twin for DD. We used sheets and blankets from home and the pillows I bought at Wal-mart when I made my liquor run. I was afraid that it would rain and I wanted to leave the tent windows open for air so we moved the canopy over the tent and it fit just right. There was a light rain that night but everything stayed dry. It was pretty humid, and we were COLD. I ended up turning the oscillation off on the fan and aiming it at the ceiling…that made it tolerable for me and DD, but DH was still cold so he went and slept in the truck!

I read on one of the boards that someone suggested a portable heater for a tent…in Florida…in August. People thought that poster was nuts. But now I can totally see how it could cut down on the humidity a little and also keep people like us warm. I’m just wondering if we will ever be able to comfortably camp in other seasons and be warm.


Day 2

Day 2 started at about 3am when I noticed DH was no longer in the tent with us. I figured either a bear ate him, he checked into a Holiday Inn Express or was in the truck. Whatever…what this meant for me was an extra blanket! I pulled DD onto the queen bed with me and now we had an extra blanket and slept well for the rest of the night.

The real morning started out around 7:30. We woke up to the sun shining and the birds chirping. Yeah! We made it through our first night of camping! We all went to shower and when we got back our camping buddies were up. DH, DD and I decided we would check out the Trail’s End take out for breakfast. I didn’t even know they did this, read it online recently…maybe it’s new? Our camping buddies ate Lunchables for breakfast. Not sure what veggie Lunchables are…but what do I know.

We got a blueberry muffin, a cinnamon roll, a bagel sandwich with no cheese (yet for some reason it had cheese on it), and potatoes. We sat at a picnic table by the playground and split everything. I thought it was all pretty decent for the price. The kids played…the kids fought…we decided it was time to move on.

We went and checked out the ponies, the girls were too big to ride and the boy was too scared so we went on and checked out the big horses. We pretended not to speak English and petted some of them…it was fun and nobody got bit. Then we rode around and checked out some of the other areas. We saw the dog park…it looks very nice…but there were no dogs playing. Our tent wrecking dog will never play there either because he is a BAD BOY!

DH got a Disney gift card for his birthday so he decided to use it to rent a golf cart…he loves those things. But he was so jealous of the private ones and all their decorations! I see one of those in our future.

The weather started getting bad so we decided to drive over to All Star Music (where we usually stay) and play in the game room, have lunch and let the kids do some of the poolside activities that they move into the food court when it rains. Our camping buddies got bored because they were too shy to play any of the games…but DD won a rubber ducky at Disney trivia so we didn’t care and they had to suffer through it with us.

Our camping buddies mentioned that they would like to check out some of the deluxe resorts so we went back to the campground then took the boat over to the Contemporary and had a nice drink at the Outer Rim bar while the kids played in the game room. The waitress took our drink order and then asked us if we’d like “something to eat”. I said, “Oh, do you have a menu, I didn’t know you served food?”. She said, “No, we don’t serve food. We have bowls of crackers and nuts.”. Ahhh…bar kibble…yes please. I just thought it was weird how she asked if we wanted something to eat.

Then we took the boat to the Wilderness Lodge where we checked out the lobby and grounds. It’s very pretty to look! We were going to take the boat back to the Fort but there was a huge line of people waiting to get to the Hoop Dee Doo, so we decided to find the walking/riding trail that I read about that goes between the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. The concierge gave us a little map and off we went. It wasn’t a bad walk at all…very pleasant. Would do it again.

When we got back we went to the pool again for awhile. Then we all started to get hungry. I went back to the Trail’s End take out and ordered chicken meals for my family because the camping buddies wanted to eat PB&J that they brought. They gave me a restaurant style pager and said it would be 20 minutes…I was a little surprised it would take so long, but no biggie. DD and I waited for the food and DH took the camping buddies back to the campsite to make their dinner. It took them forever…so they missed the Electric Water Pageant but DD and I got to see it. It was one of the highlights of the trip…I love that silly show and so does DD, plus a little alone time with her was nice.

They got back in time to watch the fireworks (no music…I thought they piped in the music?). Then we went driving around looking at all the other campsites. That was a lot of fun and probably DH’s favorite part…he’s a lights guy…he’s like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation. Look out Fort Wilderness!

Went back to the campsite for another round of showers and more dominos. This night we got brave and didn’t put the canopy over the tent. It didn’t rain and everything stayed dry. I closed 3 sides of the tent and this kept us a little warmer but we were still cold. DH made it through the night though so that was good!

Last edited by tmarquez; 08-25-2012 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:44 AM   #6
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Yeah! A new trip report!

I'm joining in.
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Old 08-21-2012, 01:51 PM   #7
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Joining in too!! YAY!
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Old 08-21-2012, 06:59 PM   #8
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I'm in as well!

Kudos to you guys for practicing the tent set up pre-camp trip!
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:31 AM   #9
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Sounds like something a camping trip could cure
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I'm reading.
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:57 AM   #10
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Joining in! We'll be camping in June of next year for the first three days of our trip
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:56 AM   #11
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"demanded upgrade to Grand Floridian" ha ha
enjoyed reading. thank you ! My best Disney memories are camping! But it is work! So nice you did this for your daughter she will always remember!!
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Old 08-24-2012, 12:44 PM   #12
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Day 3
We woke up around 7:30 and really wanted to go have a relaxing breakfast at Trail’s End before packing up our site. I knew our camping buddies wouldn’t want to go there due to the prices so we tried to…be…very…quiet as we headed off to the showers.

When I got back, DH was back already and the camping buddies were awake. They decided we would be going off property to a cheaper buffet for breakfast. This was really the last straw for me and the moment that I decided we wouldn’t be sharing a site with anyone else in the future. DH felt like since we were there with them…we should do things together. I would normally agree, but I knew our camping buddies had special eating needs and also were on a different budget than we were…so I thought we had settled all of that pre-camping.

So after watching our still sleepy camping buddies wander aimlessly around the site for over an hour we all pile in DH’s truck and we found a Golden Corral. I have to admit it was pretty amusing watching 3 kids eat nothing but stuff covered in chocolate. Oh and the 5yo also had about 5lbs of bacon, I didn’t know bacon was a veggie either…but now I know and will be eating more of it.

The down-side to this thing (besides the stomachaches) was we had to rush to pack up to get out of our site by the 11:00 check-out. Our camping buddy asked what would happen if we were late…would they charge us? Well…they might charge ME…because it is MY credit card they have…so how about we just get it done? DH helped our camping buddies while DD and I took care of our stuff.

It was definitely not as much fun tearing down as it was putting up!! But I have to tell you again how awesome that tent it. It’s just as easy to take down as put up…and it just rolls up and fits right back into the bag. My one complaint about the sites is the shells/sand that they use for the tent pads. It gets everywhere…no matter what you do to try to keep it under control. We pulled out at 11:15.

It was turning into a really nice, sunny day. We implied we were heading home since we had work/school the next morning. Instead we spent some much needed family time over at the All Star Music.

All in all I thought camping was really fun, and way more comfortable than I thought it would be. I think the family agrees. We will be buying an additional tent so that next time DD can just bring a friend (or maybe grandma, since she is now interested in going after hearing about the trip). I would also like to go for a longer period of time as it seemed like we were always on the move and never really got to relax much.

Someone from work told DH about a campground by Lion Country Safari near West Palm and we are thinking about doing that soon. They say you wake up to the roars of the Lions…sounds pretty cool! Anyone been there?
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:50 PM   #13
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Glad you had fun! I enjoyed reading your T/R. Thanks for taking the time to write it up
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarquez View Post
...eat nothing but stuff covered in chocolate. Oh and ...bacon, I didn’t know bacon was a veggie either…but now I know and will be eating more of it.
Sounds like my kind of diet. That's one veggie I won't mind eating more of.

Everything tastes better with bacon.

What I want to know is did anyone have chocolate covered bacon?
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:07 PM   #15
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What happened to day 2? I don't see it.
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