We are back from our camping trip. First off, I want to let you know we ended up not tent camping. We were offered, and of course I accepted, the use of an old cabin out in the woods. It is in the process of being remodeled and rebuilt so the person wanted me to stay there to give my opinion. I was told to bring what I would normally bring for camping because they didn't know exactly what would be completed by the time I arrived. The first thing I noticed...a brand new hide-a-bed sofa. That's mine. I don't care if it's in the middle of the living room, I get the brand new bed.
This cabin was about 650 square feet. It had a small private bedroom with two twin beds on military style bed spring metal frames that held older twin mattresses, an open bedroom with one twin bed again on the metal frame, a room with a toilet, and a room with a shower, sink, and hot water heater, a living room with the sofa and a wood stove, and the kitchen which was my favorite room. The kitchen was brand new. The cabinets were handmade from local pine. The counter top was a 10 foot long 2 inch slab of pine. There was a huge table that took up most of the floor space but would easily hold 10 people. The stove and refrigerator were both propane. There was a ceiling light in the living room and also one on the wall of the kitchen that were plumbed into the propane. The bathroom and bedroom had a candle holder up on the wall with the reflective backing to help light up the room. There was spring water continuously flowing through a pipe about 25 feet from the front door, but the cabin did have piped in water from a water tank about 1/2 mile away and uphill which made for great water pressure. The ceilings were only 7 feet high, which made heating it much easier. We didn't actually need the wood stove. Running the propane lights in the living room and dining room warmed it up in the evening to take off any hint of chill. We slept in our sleeping bags on the beds so we didn't need heat during the night. In the morning I lit the lamps and again it took any chill off. It didn't get that cold out since we were only around 6000 feet in elevation.
Since we were camping with a couple of friends I offered them the cabin too. One couple pitched a tent with themselves and their 3 year old. The other person took the private bedroom. Girl wanted to sleep in the open bedroom and boy wanted the floor next to me. The person who offered the cabin came over for dinner last night. We had five adults, 3 kids, and three dogs just hanging around. I think this was the most pleasant time I've had camping in a long time...OK, it wasn't really camping but it sure was fun.
I asked how long the propane would last for the water heater, lights, stove, and refrigerator. They didn't know other than it's a 250 gallon tank. One thing I would have done differently would have been to put in an electronic ignition propane stove top. Even though the place didn't have electricity, I'd rather have the propane shut off and have to light it with a match than to have the two pilot lights burn round the clock. The place doesn't have electricity but it has outlets in each room because it's set up for a generator.
I'd also put in a solar hot water line to go with the water heater. That would preheat the water and again cut back on the propane use. Otherwise the place would have been perfect - if it wasn't within 1/2 mile of a large campground!
I did have the luxury of cooking on the propane stove, which I did for breakfast. We put a fire into the firepit in the evening and cooked the evening meal over the fire. My cast iron cookware worked perfectly well for that. Boy and girl learned a new skill with the campfire. They learned to take a hatchet and split pieces of wood to make kindling. They learned how to gather dead pine and cedar needles for the fire. They gathered enough needles, twigs, and split kindling and stacked it all like a Lincoln Log tower. One night Girl got to start the fire the other night Boy did. They were given two matches. Girl needed two, Boy, only one. Each night one of the kids was in charge of keeping the fire going...at least until they went to bed. Then the grownups took care of it.
This morning we went fishing. We weren't successful at catching fish, which was fine with me. If we fished yesterday I would have wanted fish for dinner! The kids really spent their time gathering up grubs and putting them on the hooks. The also tried casting with my rod and reel, but more importantly, they made cane poles, with long narrow branches they found in the woods.
We picked wild raspberries, thimbleberries, and blackberries and brought about 1/2 gallon of blackberries home. The rest ended up being eaten. We saw one deer during a hike. We talked about the abundant amounts of food in the woods but most people would come out and starve to death. They'd think they can eat berries all the time or something but that wouldn't work. There isn't even enough deer population to support people if "everyone" came out hunting. You'd have to rely of native plants, especially the type that don't look like food! But that's for another day in the woods.
Both the bug-out place and our home have propane. I'm going to look into buying some lights that I can plumb right into the propane pipes. I'd have to stock up on mantles but it's a great source of light and heat. I think the uses for propane was the best part of the trip. I keep wanting to get off grid, but also to not have to rely fully on solar. Propane isn't infinite, but I could put in a much larger tank than my 500 gallon tank. I will follow up with the cabin owner to see how long the propane lasts.