Sunday, March 20, 2016

Roof Bag and Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Sleeping Bag

Taking two children camping is no small task. Even an adult alone requires a bunch of equipment. The car is usually stuffed so tight that my girls can't see each other and the passenger seat is filled.

That situation changed when I began using a Sherpak Go! 15 Roof Bag on my Assateague Island Trip of 2016. I packed the roof bag on the ground to see how things would fit but then I took everything out, hefted the bag up to the roof, and repacked it on top of the car.

At first I threaded one strap through the front car door opening and the back strap through the back door opening but the straps buzzed terribly and gave me such a headache I had to pull over. This was, unfortunately, right before I had to drive over the dreaded Chesapeake Bay Bridge. For my next trip I threaded both roof straps through the back door opening and the buzzing was more tolerable.

The roof bag isn't easy to use. At 5'4" I have to climb on top of the car every time to zip it shut and secure the straps. The buckles for both compression straps have broken but I won't really be in trouble unless one of the buckles for the main straps break (the straps that hold the bag to the roof). The Sherpa roof bag works and it does give more space in my passenger compartment but it's not easy for me to use.

For Assateague Island in March 2016 I also had another untested item to try out. I brought a Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Women's Sleeping Bag from REI. The first night of our trip the temps were about 25 at night and I had to used another lightweight down sleeping bag as a liner before I was warm enough to sleep. Maybe if I had worn expedition weight long underwear with two pairs of wool socks I might have been warm enough with the Kelty Cosmic Down sleeping bag alone but I was freezing. My Kelty Cosmic Down is ideal about about 50 degrees.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

I Hate Beach Camping #1

I thought camping at Maryland's Assateague Island National Seashore would be fun during spring break. The temps were cold enough that mosquitoes would not be a problem and the beach would not be crowded during the off season. I was right about the beach not being crowded and the lack of mosquitoes but oh, what a mistake I made going camping at Assateague in March!

From the park employees I met at check in, I learned that March is the windiest month at Assateague Island. Not that they needed to tell me about the wind. I experienced this first hand.

I was really glad I bought sand anchors for the tent. Metal tent stakes, even long ones, would have come out in the 30 mph winds. The sand anchors held fast, though. Sand anchors are a great product. I dug the sand anchors up to my elbows before I buried them. I dug with one of the plastic sand toys we brought to play in the sand. The 40 degree temps and the 30 mph wind froze my facial muscles and make talking difficult. I didn't want to wear my gloves because they would get wet and sandy.

We lasted one or two nights in the windy tent. Two, I think, before I tore the tent down to move to the bay side with less wind. Unfortunately, once I had the tent down I couldn't put it back up. The wind was too strong. My oldest child wasn't feeling well so I left our bikes, our cooler full of food (with bungees on it to keep the horses out), and our fire extinguisher on the site while we went to a hotel for the night with plans to return the next morning. That night my oldest developed a fever and I knew we needed to head home the next day. In the morning, we left the hotel and returned to our camp site to find that the bikes, cooler, and fire extinguisher had been stolen overnight! The law enforcement ranger said there were opportunistic locals who liked to cruise through the camps looking for unattended items to steal. What a bummer! My older was diagnosed with strep throat later that day and she took her first dose of amoxicillin before bed that night.

The trip was a disaster but the ponies roaming around was cool: