Cave in and go camping (gourmet-style)!

June 8th, 2009  |  City: | Published in Events & Activities  |  9 Comments

Inks Lake State Park is a clean, beautiful, and safe place to camp for a weekend or visit for a day-trip!

Inks Lake State Park is a clean, beautiful, and safe place to camp for a weekend or visit for a day-trip!

Due to recent events at work, I haven’t been able to travel as much as I’d like to.  But, I plan to change this soon. So, I decided to take advantage of a small day- or weekend-trip that actually quenched my thirst for a much needed getaway. 

Last weekend I accepted an invitation to go camping at Inks Lake State Park on the Colorado River, about an hour an a half Northwest of Austin for….TWO nights! I know, living on the edge.  I had only been camping for one night previously, and didn’t even know where to begin to be prepared. My first question was, “Are there bathrooms and showers there?” I’m not what I would consider high maintenance, but do like the convenience of such necessities, and lucked out since the answer was yes.  My next question was, “What do I need?”  Had I actually collected all of the items suggested on this very comprehensive camping list I received in response, I would have been shopping for weeks.  Good thing some items were optional and my camping group had most of the major camping gear we’d need.  So I only needed to worry about clothes and food. 

Whether you are hesitant to brave the summer Texas heat, you’re not what you would consider a “camper” (like yours truly, even though I went to summer camp for 10 years, this is a totally different ballgame), or you aren’t even sure where to begin when it comes to roughing it in the wilderness, take my advice and “cave in” (I’ll address this play-on-words later) like I did and go camping!  You’re sure to have a great time and at least look like you know what you’re doing with some of these camping tips!

Things I learned during my camping initiation weekend:

1) Try to find a state park to camp at and make reservations in advance. They are usually maintained well, have bathrooms/shower access, and are very safe.  They also might have a park store, where ice is readily available to keep food fresh, and any other items you may have forgotten.  Also, you can reserve a spot with electricity (for music or a fan for inside the tent if you have an extension cord), and a water spigot to wash hands and dishes.

2) If the park is on a lake, try to get there early on in the day so you can get a lake-front camp site.  At Inks Lake State Park, the camp sites were first come, first serve, even with reservations, so getting there early would be a good idea.

3) Bugs are most prevalent during dusk and dawn, their feeding times. Take bugspray, or the new OFF! Mosquito Repellent Clip and avoid the spray altogether when you clip this onto your clothes!

4) Your camping food experience does not need to be limited to hamburgers and hot dogs.  If you appreciate good food (which I do), have a camping stove, and can start a camp fire, you can endulge in quality meals. The key is in-advance preparation before you leave on your excursion. Our menu included:

Drinks

  • Sangria! (We brought pitchers with orange, lemon, and lime slices I cut ahead of time. Then we poured wine in and sugar and let it soak up the flavors! We added a little ice, and it was delicious, and a must-have on your summer camping trip!)

Dinner

  • Steak/Salmon (washed and marinated in advance in zip loc bags) cooked on the camp fire grill with roasted corn (with butter spread on it, and pre-wrapped in foil), sauteed mushrooms and onions with balsamic marinade (made on the camping stove).
  • Chicken (made on the camp fire grill) and pasta (we boiled water on the camping stove and brought a strainer, actually very simple), salad, and pre-marinated asparagus (cooked on the camp fire grill).

Lunch

  • Turkey sandwiches (bread, turkey, mustard, tomato, cheese), chips, carrots, hummus
  • Peanut butter sandwiches              

Breakfast

  • Omelettes with Egg Beaters, frozen vegetables, and cheese (made on the camping stove)
  • Bagels, Apple Cinnamon/Cinnamon Struesel muffins (baked ahead of time), fresh fruit (pre-washed strawberries, mango, blackberries)

Dessert

  • S’mores (marshmellows, graham crackers, chocolate, and chocolate-covered graham crackers- the secret weapon)             

If this doesn’t inspire you to expand your horizons when planning your camping menu, I don’t know what will!   

Camping Entertainment

Activities at the park include cliff-jumping at Devil’s Hole on the Colorado River, kayaking/canoeing, and a 7-mile hiking trail.

I called this post “Cave in and go camping”, because I highly recommend making a stop at Longhorn Cavern State Park on your way back to Austin. The 1.5-hour guided underground tour was fascinating.  Concerts are held underground periodically in the caverns, and the Wild Cave tour involves crawling through small spaces to discover the best kept secrets of the caves. My favorite part was a Flintstone’s-like area of the cave made of rocks smoothed over by the river running through it, leaving round curvy formations. There are also hiking trails surrounding the caverns that will most likely be visited when I return!

Day-Trip/Weekend Camping Getaway Destination Rebeccammendation: Inks Lake State Park and Longhorn Caverns in Burnet, Texas.

Roasted corn and fresh fruit were among the menu items on our gourmet camping trip!

Roasted corn and fresh fruit were among the menu items on our gourmet camping trip!

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Responses

  1. Jodi says:

    June 8th, 2009 at 10:24 am (#)

    Sounds AWESOME! What a great getaway. I hope to go camping soon too. I can’t believe I’ve lived here for over 5 years and only gone for 1 night.

  2. Cara says:

    June 8th, 2009 at 10:51 pm (#)

    fanciest camping meals ever. at least from what I have experienced. wow.

  3. TheRebecca says:

    June 8th, 2009 at 11:04 pm (#)

    As long as you have a camping stove (comes with replaceable small propane tanks that connect to it), a couple pots/pans and a spatula or two, soap to clean the dishes at a spigot, and coolers with ice that can be replenished, it’s totally do-able! It takes careful planning, but it’s definitely worth the prep-time to make your camping trip more memorable and deliciously satisfying!

  4. sharon says:

    June 9th, 2009 at 1:37 pm (#)

    awesome post! also…does that OFF clip thing actually work? i am skeptical but it looks promising :)

  5. TheRebecca says:

    June 9th, 2009 at 1:42 pm (#)

    Thanks, Sharon! I actually didn’t try the OFF! clip, but I am optimistic it works and I am all for minimizing the chemicals we spray on our bodies! I just came across it when I was searching for camping gear. If anyone’s used it, I’m curious to hear your feedback!

  6. Jenn@slim-shoppin says:

    June 9th, 2009 at 5:05 pm (#)

    My brother lives in Austin, I’m going to ask him if he’s heard of that place! Sounds like fun.

    I went camping in high school for 10 days (my jr. and sr. year) in Cananda. The first year, I was packing, make-up, hair spray, my curling iron, hair dryer, etc.. My brother said “Where do you plan on plugging that stuff in?”

    It was a rude awakening! But once I got there I loved it!

  7. rebecca subbiah says:

    June 9th, 2009 at 5:56 pm (#)

    love the name of your blog caught my eye he eh

  8. gocampkit says:

    June 9th, 2009 at 11:04 pm (#)

    It sounds like perfect initiating camping trip; I love your menu. You really went for it and did it like a pro. It always helps to go with friends who know the tricks of the trade.
    Enjoy!

  9. Best of: Top 5 Posts « The*Rebeccammendations says:

    August 17th, 2009 at 1:11 am (#)

    […] “Cave In and Go Camping (Gourmet-Style)”. Weekend entertainment can consist of camping at nearby Inks Lake State Park and you can prepare a […]

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