Ringing in the New Year//Camping in Ocala National Forest

I woke up New Years Day to Craig on the computer looking at camp sites. Let's go camping, he said. OK. So I packed up the blankets and a duffle bag of clothes. 2 hours later we were in the car heading to Ocala National Forest. The kids had been talking about camping for months, so they were beyond excited.

Ringing in the New Year camping was the best decision we could have made. No technology, just nature and a fire. I was able to read an entire book by the campfire in one day. (WHAT?!) The kids did not miss the TV or their tablets, they ran around with their walkie talkies, collected wood for the fire and looked for bears. Best part- they slept like babies (I was worried about this!), I don't know if it was the cold or all the outdoor activity, but they were all snuggled and sleeping before 9PM each night.

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It was colder than we had planned for. But for our very first camping trip as a family, it was perfect. We camped at a primitive site. Which means there was no running water, no electricity and no bathroom- just 1 outhouse (gahhhh!). But we made it 3 days/2 nights. And I think we prefer the primitive sites- less people. We brought left over enchilada's and heated them over the fire with hot dogs for the kids. PB&J's + s'mores for the kids and they were happy campers.

We were able to relax and really reconnect as a family. Putting our priorities in line and do some goal setting for the new year- which includes camping as much as possible. The thing I loved most about the primitive campsite is that it breaks you down to your most basic needs of survival- Food, Shelter, Water. It's really all we need.

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I compiled a list of my top 5 must-haves for next time. Of course you have all your other things that are must haves- like the tent, chairs, food & jugs of water. But these are the things we wish we had or things we did have and don't want to forget next time.

1. Lantern- we did not have one- a lot of campsites have lamp posts (at least the ones we went to when I was younger did)- but since we were at a primitive site, when the sun went down, it was DARK, and flash lights just don't cut it with little ones walking around a fire. This lantern is on my MUST HAVE list, a candle lantern will help warm up the tent a few degrees too. We definitely should have grabbed the headlamps also- slackers.

2. More blankets- we don't have sleeping bags and we definitely did not bring enough blankets. When you grab all your blankets- grab a few more. You can't have too many blankets!!! Eventually we'll get sleeping bags + sleeping pads are on the want-list. Northern Florida gets pretty damn cold at night in January, FYI!

3. Cookware + Drinkware- A Steel Cookset for boiling water + French Press. We can't live without our coffee and these two things were necessities. And some pots, like these- grab some rice & beans + tortillas, some noodles + pasta sauce. BAM! You're all set to eat like Kings over a campfire.
The Yeti Tumbler came in handy- we got these from my parents for Christmas- and they are amazing!!! They keep your coffee HOT for hours, as well as your ice beverage cold- it takes forever for the ice cubes to melt in this thing! We also have SubZero metal water bottles for the kids that are amazing.

4. Hatchet- we did not have this, and Craig kept saying how much he wished he had one. We had the knife- but you can only do so much with a knife.

5. Wipes + Toilet paper- ya never know if the campsite will run out of toilet paper or you might just have to pop a squat- always good to be prepared! And the wipes came in handy- one gets pretty dirty out there in the woods. Also, no running water = whore bath.

As soon as we got home, Craig was online looking for our next site. Everglades National Park, here we come!

Brought my must-have oils with us. And good thing, since Stone got a tick! Tea Tree for the WIN!

Brought my must-have oils with us. And good thing, since Stone got a tick! Tea Tree for the WIN!

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