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Dick Martin: Camping the solution to cheap, fun vacations |

Dick Martin: Camping the solution to cheap, fun vacations

Vacations seem to be more expensive every year, especially if you like to travel a bit. A night in a name brand motel can run $125-150, and meals and entertainment raise the tally even more. But there’s a simple and inexpensive answer to the problem – go camping and best of all, simple camping.


For many years I did my traveling in a six cylinder pickup truck with a single seat and a full bed behind. I put an ordinary cap over the bed, one tall enough that I could sit up in it with plenty of head room and when I wanted to go someplace, I tossed in a mattress and sleeping bag, a cooler, little two burner camp stove, and a box with canned goods, a skillet, and other cooking gear. When my son was a youngster, we invariably made a summer trip to Kelleys Island and Scott loved those trips.

For a several day visit to Kelleys Island State Park we’d go up on a Monday to be fairly sure of getting a lake side campsite, and I’d add a light little canoe and 1.2 horsepower motor. During the day we swam, walked into town, explored old stone quarries and hunted for unusual driftwood. In early mornings I’d launch the canoe and paddle around the point to spend a couple of hours casting white Roostertail spinners and small crankbaits into near shore rocks for smallmouths and the occasional huge white bass. And in the evenings Scott would cast for white bass right in front of our campsite while I cooked up some dinner. Then come twilight we both fished for channel cats, again right from our campsite. It was fun and very inexpensive. You can still do much the same today.

Now and again I’d go even more primitive on camping trips. Once long years ago two friends and I hiked into Ohio Power Lands in southeastern Ohio. We carried backpacks with a light tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear and two gallons of water, and plenty of fishing tackle. We hiked far back into wild country, found a lake a reasonable distance from the little road and set up camp. Then spent several days exploring and fishing, living mostly on bass, bluegill and the occasional channel cat. There were no other people seen during our stay, and the trip was peaceful and quiet. I liked it fine.

Readers can do much the same on the shores of any farm pond, and it’s a no cost way to have a fine short vacation. Set up a tent or use a pickup cap as I often did, forage for firewood, fish for your dinner, and enjoy the pleasures of early morning coffee and bacon and eggs touched with wood smoke, then spend the day doing anything from frogging and setting lines for snapping turtles to seeking woodchucks. Do it in the fall and you can add squirrel hunting to the fishing and enjoy skillets filled with crisp fried squirrel. A good way to spend a short vacation.

Dick Martin is a retired biology teacher who has been writing outdoor columns for 30 years. You can reach him at richmart@neo.rr.com

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