For the past few weeks, I have been slowly building a collection of camping gear using a website called steepandcheap.com. The website offers deeply discounted outdoor gear. I have purchased a tent, a sleeping pad, and clothes among other things.
With this new gear, I decided to head out Saturday evening to Ray Roberts Lake State Park. More specifically, I chose to camp in the Hawthorn campsite which has around 30 primitive camp sites (no electricity). My campsite in comparison to my apartment are shown in the Google Map below.
I arrived at the campsite around 7:30pm. The temperature was hovering around 100 F as I pulled into the parking lot. I threw on my pack, which was surprisingly heavy, and walked the 0.25 miles to my campsite with Jade. Once at the campsite, I quickly assembled the tent, which you can see below. The obvious question is “a white tent?” So steepandcheap.com offers heavily discounted outdoor products one at a time. After watching the website for several days, this was the first 2-person tent so I jumped for it. I got a great deal but a white tent wasn’t my first choice. Anyhow, it will surely turn a nice tan color after a few more trips.
You can see the lake between the trees. After setting up camp, I took Jade for a short walk along the shoreline. We saw a large heron but no other signs of wildlife. After the sun had set, there were some fish jumping out of the water which got Jade excited.
One of my main goals from the trip was to capture some nice star trails. To do this, you set your camera up on a tripod and point it towards the sky. With a long exposure, you can capture the trail of light from each star as the earth rotates. For digital cameras, the electronic noise of the sensor significantly degrades the photo for these long exposures. Instead, a series of photos are taken and then digitally combined later on a computer. My camera has settings to take pictures at regular intervals. I chose to do 20 second exposures with a 1 second interval. This would result in roughly 3 pictures / min or 180 pictures / hour. I set up the camera, got it working, and went back to the tent to get some sleep. When I woke up the next morning, my camera stopped for some reason so I didn’t get to capture a full star trail but I was able to put the following photo together.
Getting to sleep in the 90+ temperatures was difficult. Even though I had a little battery powered fan, I was very uncomfortable. Based on the amount of panting and flying slobber, my guess is Jade was having a difficult time sleeping as well. I tried to beat the heat by constantly drinking water and squirting it on my forehead and chest. Slowly but surely I fell asleep. I was awoken a few times mostly for the temperature and once for some commotion outside the tent. I suppose we had some raccoon or possums passing by in the night. I had hung all of my foot above the ground using a pole provided at the campsite. Jade gave a few hesitant barks and the rustling in the forest slowly subsided. I tried to peek out the tent to see what animal was around but I never saw it.
Morning finally came and the temperature was much nicer (around 80F). Although the temperature was the worst problem of the night, I was very comfortable using my memory foam, self-inflating sleeping pad. I was really surprised by how well it worked. Anyhow, Jade and I got up and meandered around the shoreline. I would guess Jade was enjoying the morning more than I was.
I snapped a few photos but nothing too amazing came from it. I packed up camp and headed back to the car in a rush back to civilization, particularly a McDonald’s breakfast.
Overall, it was a tough night. It was really hot both for me and the dog. However, I think I can be more confident that future camping trips will be more enjoyable, especially as things start cooling off as we move toward Autumn.