the secret lives of prothros.

November 8, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — prothro @ 7:25 pm

Camping is an art form. It requires vision, planning and execution. I want to be a master of camping, a Monet, a Rembrandt, a DaVinci. I realized this weekend that I’m far from being a master camper.

mapOn Friday, we headed to McKinney Falls State Park to enjoy a quick camping trip. The park is about a 30 minute drive from our home and just 10 miles away from downtown Austin. It’s kind of an anomaly. As you turn off 183 onto McKinney Falls Parkway, you can hardly believe there is going to be a park there. You’re winding away from the airport, past industrial sites but then sure enough, there it is, a state park filled with deer and streams and trees. You feel hours away from Austin yet every once in a while you can actually hear and see signs that you are, in fact, just next door to the Capitol City, an ambulance siren, the glimpse of some lights in the distance. The weirdest “we’re actually really close to civilization moment” happened when we saw four f-16s fly over our campsite on their way to their fly-over for the Texas football game. Yeah, it was weird.

Due to some other commitments, we were only camping for a night. This really brought into perspective how important it is to pack well and efficiently. You never want pack/unpack time to overshadow actual camp time. This is where my amateur status really hurt us. We’re great at packing the basics: tent, sleeping bags etc.

Not so much at the rest.

We’re usually camping with master campers who take care of the food prep etc. I want to be one of those camping masters. Our tent, bags etc. are in a large duffle in the attic just waiting to be thrown in the car to camp. Well, I want all of our camping essentials to be in similar fashion. Packed and ready to be thrown in the car on a whim. That, combined with some awesome fire building, tent assembling and food prep skills are what makes someone a master at the art of camping. The Rembrandts all have these qualities.

The masters of camping don’t forget the can opener, aluminum foil, lantern, salt and pepper, milk and towels all in one trip.

Busch league. Amateur hour. Totally lame.

I decided right then and there to take steps to master camping. After I got home I made a written checklist of all the necessary items for a camping trip. Here is the list:

Duffel #1

  • 2 Sleeping Bags
  • 1 Two Person Tent
  • 2  Thermarest Sleeping Pads
  • 1 Tarp

Duffel #2

  • 2 pillows
  • Blanket
  • 2 Folding Chairs
  • Hammock and Nylon Webbing
  • 2 Towels
  • 2 Washcloths

Toiletries Bag

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Chapstick
  • Bandaids
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Tweezers
  • Aspirin

Luggage(per person)

  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Underwear
  • T-shirts
  • Long Undershirt
  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Wool Socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuits
  • Pajamas
  • Sandals
  • Hiking Shoes

Bucket #1

  • Can Opener
  • Chip Clip
  • Dish Soap
  • Dish Brush
  • Trash Bags
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Antibacterial Hand Soap
  • Knife
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Skewers for S’mores
  • Dish Towel
  • Paper Towels
  • Tongs
  • 1 Cast-Iron Pan
  • 1 Small Pot
  • 1 Small Cutting Board
  • 1 Mixing Bowl
  • Coffee Kettle
  • Pot Holder
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 2 Serving Spoons
  • Hot Cocoa Mix, Tea, and Coffee

Camp Stove and Fuel (optional)

Bucket #2

  • Games (Dominoes, Cards, Phase 10 and Yahtzee)
  • Frisbee
  • Football
  • Plastic Forks/Knives/Spoons
  • Plates/Cups/Bowls-Plastic or paper
  • Pocket Knife
  • Lantern
  • 2 Flash Lights
  • Hatchet
  • Duct Tape
  • Lighter Fluid
  • 2 Lighters
  • Dog Leash
  • Food/Water Bowl
  • Dog Food
  • Leash Stake
  • Dog Toys (Ball, Rope)


  • Ice
  • Nalgene
  • Water Bottles
  • Beverages (Beer, Root Beer, Juice, Sodas)
  • Meals and Snacks (See Suggested Recipe List)

So there you have it. I’m on my way now. More pictures later this week.



  1. Get my dad to give you a tour (or self guide yourself) through his very organized camping corner of the garage when you are in Dallas for SausageFest ’09.

    Comment by Brad — November 8, 2009 @ 7:34 pm

    • Your parents, in fact, are what I had in mind when referring to Master campers. Although, they did once forget a domino table, luckily my car always comes through in the clutch.

      Comment by prothro — November 11, 2009 @ 5:17 pm

      • In truth, it was I who forgot the domino table. Although they did forget to remind me to bring it (as if that should have been necessary).

        Comment by Brad — November 12, 2009 @ 10:19 am

  2. My wife and I graduated from tent camping to a camper about 18 months ago and you would think that would help with the “whoops I forgot it” moments, but alas, even in a camper its easy to forget something. You’ve got the right approach though. Making a pre-departure checklist is the one way to make sure you’ve got it all before you head out on your travels. Good luck with your next camping adventure, and good choice on McKinney Falls State Park – I enjoyed my last visit. If you want to follow our camping adventures stop by Little Travel Notebook

    Comment by Robert — November 9, 2009 @ 6:30 am

    • Looks like yall have had some great trips

      Comment by prothro — November 11, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  3. Did this camping trip compare to the Forgie camping trip that you did a few years ago? 🙂

    Comment by Suzanne — November 9, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

    • Not quite. That trip came up quite a bit though. Man, unpleasant but very happy memories.

      Comment by prothro — November 11, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  4. Hi. I have a blog at where I feature people’s posts about camping, and I would like to send my readers your way. Of course I would give you credit for quotes and would link back to your site.

    Thanks for considering this,

    Jean B. in SC

    Comment by Jean B. in SC — November 21, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

  5. […] bags, buckets, etc., devoted to camping (not to mention personal luggage). We haven’t had a list of camping essentials in some time, Dear Reader, so I thought this one might be […]

    Pingback by “The Secret Lives of Prothros: Camping” | Picture Camping... — November 29, 2009 @ 6:28 am

  6. Hey that seems like a pretty exhaustive checklist. Would definitely refer to it next time I go camping!


    Comment by Tan — December 1, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

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