Great Grandma Lives and Camps Totally Off-Grid

by Mary
(New Mexico USA)

I went camping/fishing three times this summer. two times out of state and one time under 100 miles from home. Several days each trip.

Took my newer eight-man tent with a small screen room entrance to try it out. It stood up to winds and rain just fine. I took my shower/bathroom tent twice with a 5-gallon bucket and fitted toilet seat. That worked out fine as well. Stood up in winds ok. I didn't use the stakes that came with the tents. I used new better stakes purchased at Walmart. Very happy with them.

The twin air mattresses I brought for all of us worked out great except one new one lost air. I'd only paid $3 for it on a close out sale so I didn't feel too bad. I've purchased a repair kit and will inflate it again when I have time and repair the slow leak.

I didn't take the solar shower bag but I've used it before and it's OK.

The Dutch ovens and cast-iron skillets are my usual cooking utensils from home. I did pick up a used wok to keep with the camping gear. It was great for quick stir fry meals and with the separate lid I bought to use with it, it made easy crawdad boil. I cooked on propane camp stoves and and a rock enclosed fire pit. The secondhand metal folding table was perfect for food prep, cooking, and eating for the three then four of us.

I did buy two crawdad traps at a nearby Walmart on the first trip and we caught 49 crawdads in 3 hours on catfish guts. That made a generous meal for five. We invited an older couple at the camping area to join us.

The last trip I invited a friend from church to join my grandson and me for the two nights. She had never been camping and thoroughly enjoyed it. Wants to buy a tent for her and a son to use. My two new 56 qt., 5-day ice chests with long handles and wheels were perfect. Even with frequent opening the one with sodas and water bottles held ice for three days. The one with meats and vegetables lasted five days and was cold enough for the trip home without buying more ice. I did start out with mostly frozen meats.

My son had helped out assembling a homemade solar generator. We took it along for all three trips. We put up string lights inside the tent along with a plug in strip for charging phones, camp lanterns, radio, etc., and a light on a long cord with a switch on it for outside light when wanted. I also have a small solar panel with multi-use plugins that I usually charge my phone and flashlight, lantern, and radio on. That works well. I have two, four-battery, size AA battery chargers. I use those all the time at home and I'm happy with them. I'm off grid solar at home. So I use small solar flash lights, lantern, radio, etc., as my everyday items to save the battery power for the fridge, washing machine, etc.

I'd picked up used estate sale folding chairs, four in a bag for $5. They were strong enough to use for us two old ladies to get up from our air mattresses and handy as bedside tables for glasses, her C-pap, etc. I have two old metal and canvas directors chairs, a sling chair, and two end-of-season-sale long recliners for outside. That made for comfortable seating for a small group. I have a small, low, four-man tent we used as a pantry on the first trip. That was handy. But I used the screen room as pantry on the next two trips and that was also fine.

With the homemade solar generator, tents, ice chests, sleeping bags, clothing bags, food for up to a week, fishing gear, etc., it made a pretty full truck bed. But was easy camping with almost too many of the comforts of home. I'm used to more primitive camping and still love it. But we could comfortably stay four seasons with my small camp heaters that I use in my little mobile home.

I have an ax, hatchet, bow saws, rocket stove, old Coleman liquid gas heater with cooking grid top, two propane heaters with cooking grids also. A candle frame that will hold an old fashioned percolator to make coffee over two candles. So it would be easy with BOB'S to grab what is needed and some totes of canned goods or Mylar packs and leave in a hurry.

At the two first camp sites there was great foraging available for wild onions, leafy greens, wild rose hips, berries, several edible mushrooms and puffballs in Fall and within days after the second trip wild grapes would have been ready. We found enough for eating with one meal. By now the biggest crop I've ever seen of acorns could be harvested starting in Fall through to Spring. I've made acorn soup, and patties much like course tortillas in past years. Cracked acorn meats will leach nicely in the mud along a slow flowing stream or in a basket in the edge of the water. As soup they look and taste much like a pot of pinto beans. Wet, soaked, more broken up acorns with oak ashes added are a pleasant bread with soups. Mushrooms with greens are nice side dishes or make a good soup. While yarrow or pine needle teas are medicinal they are pleasant warm teas as well. Fish or rabbit cooked on a stick over a campfire are good and simple. Add mushrooms, wild onions and wild greens for a lovely gourmet meal. That was at 6300 ft. elevation in Arizona. At 6200 ft. high mountain desert in New Mexico there are some but far fewer edibles to forage. But both places made for fun camping.

This 75-year old great grandma plans on camping at least once or twice every summer. And fishing is addicting. I have metal forks, long handled metal baskets, long handled sandwich toaster or pie makers, and more along with my skinning and butchering tool set in a grab and go bag. I raise and butcher much of my food at home and do pressure canning on my sturdy propane camp stove. So I could happily live out of my truck and refill glass jars year around. An ammo can holds all my seasoning mixes. They are nice but I've camped and cooked only hunted or foraged foods without the seasoning and its still good.

I camp as often as possible. This year I tried out setting up and repacking my newer equipment and found I could have easily done it alone. My grandson helped the second trip and with two it's certainly faster.

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