So we're wrapping up a meeting with my sister-in-law's Greening Youth Foundation and two of my fellow board members, cracking up about the fact I've still not warmed up to this whole family camping trip thing, let slip that some of our finer national parks have four-star hotels on the premises, bringing much joy to the camping experience. Oh yeah, kids, they have spas there and fancy restaurants and king-sized beds and marble bathrooms with running water and working lights and toilets and stuff. Uh huh. I practically caught whiplash tossing the stink eye at Angelou and her husband, James, because, well, when they were plotting family camping domination… er… this trip, they didn't pick this place:

That would be the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Park, where a girl can find all the creature comforts of home champagne, in-room movies, food someone else caught and cooked. Really nice, huh? But oh noooooooo: James and Angelou picked this place for us to pitch our tents.

That would be Fort Yargo, the state park that, though pretty, looks like it’s short on comfort, looooong on creatures. Nick, the kids and I, along with Angelou and James and their two boys, and our friends Anthony and Jenny and their two kids are all going to set up camp on the grounds, where the toilets are communal and far away, all cooking is done over a campfire, and folks take soap to the lake to wash their behinds. Yeah. Just thinking about it makes me itch.

Lucky for us, though, REI, the world's premier outdoor store, stepped in and gave word earlier this week that they'd be hooking up each of our families with top-notch camping gear from their Georgia-based stores. Thank the heavens somebody over at REI took great sympathy with my plight er, heard about our awesome trip and offered to make our first-time camping experience spectacular so that we'll want to do it again and again again. Um, for the record, I'm still not down with all this roughing it business, but after taking a look at REI's site, I at least found a few things that could make mama reasonably happy while she's out suffering through er enjoying the great outdoors. Check it out:

(Clockwise from top): Reviewers say this tent is easy to set up, UV-resistant, rain-proof, and has more organizational pockets, clips and sleeves than my closet (REI Base Camp 6 Tent, $399); I can get both a broad floodlight and a long-distance, focused beam out of this baby, so I can see creepy crawlers before they get anywhere near me (Coast LED Lenser P7 Focus Beam Flashlight, $80); This ain’t the Holly Hobby sleeping bag you had in 4th grade, that’s for sure. And I know it’s shaped like a coffin but if that bad boy is thick enough to keep me from feeling gravel, oh, hell yes, I will sing it’s praises (Marmot Helium +15 Sleeping Bag, $369); Hopefully, the warm light from this lantern will make the darkest part of our night more sexy, less Blair Witch Project (Brunton Polaris Lantern, $39.95); Um, because I don’t sitting on the ground. Ever. And this bad boy is a rocking chair, perfect for all that rocking I’m going to be doing sitting out in the middle of the doggone woods (Alite Monarch Butterfly Chair, $59.95).

(Clockwise, from top): This solar-powered, hand-crank radio allegedly gets crisp FM reception, even all the way out yonder. Let this bad boy pick up Ryan Cameron on V103. What? (Eton American Red Cross Solarlink FR360 Radio, $50); Long-sleeved shirts will protect us from the sun and the bugs (ugh, bugs!); I don’t have nan long-sleeve summer shirt, but this cute lightweight hoodie will do just fine (Under Armour Proxima Hoodie, $45); James swears a squirt or two of this stuff keeps mosquitoes away from sweet, dark meat like Angelou’s and mine for days on end. You better be right, James. You better be. (REI Jungle Juice Plus Insect Repellent Spray, $8); This cooler will keep 54 quarts of food and drinks cold for three days in temperatures up to 100°, and it’s retro fly (Coleman Stainless-Steel Cooler, $199); I’m all for the S’mores over the open campfire, and my good friends over at the Young Chef’s Academy are hooking me up with some great campfire recipes (I’ll tell you all about them in tomorrow’s post), but you can’t fry fish over open fire, can you? (Camp Chef Yukon Stove, $169.95); This is for just in case somebody gotta regulate (Gerber Big Rock Serrated Knife, $40).

Pray for me, y’all. Two days, one night (and yes, Mari is angling for two, but forget her!) I can do this. I think.

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  1. mommaof4wife2r

    oh my goodness! no matter how nice the tent, i'm still thinking, "no way"

  2. You can do it. You'll have a peaceful view to wake up to. And all the up to date camping gear. I'm trying to help you out here….Is it working????

  3. MBB Founder and Editor Denene Millner

    @Mommaof4wife2r: Exactly.

    @Mrs. Cooper: Uh, a little?! (Tee hee!)

  4. ha ha! I am so not the camping outdoors kinda girl. Lucky for me my girls are pretty much girlie girls so they are not too fond of the idea of camping. Now the hubby and father-in-law offered that they can rent an RV and the girls can stay in there and the boys can use a tent. I might be able to work something out then! Good luck to you girl lol!!

  5. Chocolate Covered Daydreams

    Wow! REI gave you the hookup for sure. With all of that, it will be just like home except for the bugs and things flying around.

  6. Omg, camping sounds fun! LOL!!! Im jealous! I cant wait til Chase is old enough to appreciate something like that. I already know that im gonna have to literally drag DH… but it'll be so fun.


  7. Renée aka Mekhismom

    Um, yes you can fry fish over an open fire! My "auntie" used to do it over a grill in her backyard. You got a grill, just add a cast iron skillet, oil and fish – fry away baby! No air mattress? That is my suggestion. They are comfy too!

  8. Roshni Mitra Chintalapati

    oh yeah, wonderful! But you still can't take a shower or use a stink-less restroom!!

  9. It was a pleasure having you all in our store last night and I enjoyed teaching you a little bit about camping and our gear. One of the best things about working for REI is that we're a cooperative, meaning we don't just serve the community, we are made of the community. Don't forget to join the co-op so you can submit photos from this weekend: (save that giant receipt from last night so you can get a dividend on it!). You should read more about us here too: I hope you guys have a wonderful time!

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