Family Camping in Croatan National Forest

Family Camping in Croatan National Forest

On the weekend of October 14 - 16, Ranger  Bob and daughter Allison Harris with her husband Steven and children Luke, age 12 years, and daughter Josie, age 9 years, went camping in Croatan National Forest at the Neuse River Recreation Area.  I may be a little biased, but Luke and Josie seemed to be smart as whips.  Allison and Steven were naturals with outdoor procedures.  This was the first time that I had camped with her family, and the first time her family had camped together as a foursome.  Some of the gear I had donated to Allison over the last year; and some she had acquired for them at the REI store in Raleigh. 

I was (and still am) suffering from arthritis in my left hip, leading to my hip joint replacement surgery, hopefully in the next few weeks.  The pain flared up badly during the trip, so I skipped the main family hike through the woods around the recreation area on Saturday morning. Steven located the trail on his All Trails iPhone app.  Allison said they went about four miles.  All the hikers did well, except Luke did not have enough water. They also encountered a poisonous snake (copperhead?) on the trail.  It would not move, so they had to encourage it with a stick.

The highlight of the trip was Allison and Steven's delicious and filling menu of homemade food, and Steven's masterful management of the wood fire, which he used exclusively to cook.  We had beer cheese fondue with Polish sausages, turkey and vegetable soup, Monkey sweet bread, fresh sandwiches, multiple styles of eggs, and S'mores.  After this trip, I am going to recommend Steven for three merit badges: trail navigation, fire building, and camp cookery.  Allison should get several badges for tent setup and kid wrangling.  I mostly sat around on my fat butt, traded scientific questions and answers with Luke, and enjoyed things. 

I have sleep apnea and sleep with a CPAP machine.  It runs off either plugged-in electricity or portable batteries.  I had two batteries that were rated to last for three nights.  I only needed two nights.  The advertisement lied to me. Midway through the second night, the second battery died.  I spent the next 5 hours tossing and turning, unable to sleep, due to waking up from my own snoring.

When I retired and Terri and I moved to New Bern, I sold or gave away most of my camp gear and re-arranged my equipment to accommodate my 70 years of age, stiff joints, weak muscles, less balance, and warmer weather activities.  This trip was the most experimental with equipment of my life.  The majority of my gear was new, or old gear used in a new way.  A few things I had never tried before - like a folding chair and cot inside my tent.  Fortunately, everything worked well (except the CPAP batteries). 

The weather was pleasant, sunny, dry (except for overnight dew), and moderately warm.  A good time was had by all. 



GPS Coordinates: 34 58 57,-76 56 51

Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.