When you head out into the bosom of Mother Nature planning is absolutely essential. When three friends and I set out to spend a solid week at Biscayne National Park we made sure we had the kit that we needed to make the trip a pleasure. It’s not easy to get four people together – especially when you’re in your thirties (everyone has responsibilities), but we’d been planning this for a long time. We’d heard good things about Elliot Key Campground – close to the crystal clear waters of the Key, a great base for snorkeling and ablution facilities – perfect.
On arrival, the first thing was to set up the tent. A tent that sleeps four people comfortably is an absolute essential – some of us are fairly large units – so we decided to err on the side of caution and go for a six sleeper. The Kelty Sequoia turned out to be perfect. Great ventilation which is essential on the Keys and excellent weatherproofing. Easy to set up as well (thank goodness).
We hauled out the Igloo Recool – great cooler, made from recycled tree pulp (two of us are certified eco nuts) – and it cost us around $10 (two of us are cheapskates). That was for the immediate beer requirements. The bigger cooler, the Rovr Rollr 60 Cooler was hauled out and placed in the tent. That one was essential for operations. It held enough steak and ‘cold beverages’ to keep us happy for the next couple of days. One of us, smarter than the rest had opted for the customized version with the built-in prep board – ideal for camping.
Off to get out city boy toes wet with a spot of snorkeling before firing up the gas cooker to get those steaks sizzling.
The Waters of the Key are exactly as advertised. Clear and warm. Perfect for stress relief purposes. At the campsite the Camp Chef Everest propane stove – it was recommended by the guy at the camping store and I can safely say that it cooked steak to perfection (of course the cook was key and yes, it was me). Two burners meant that we could fry up some eggs and a side of beans in no time. What else does a group of guys really need? More beer, that’s what.
By this time the sun was setting so we set the Coleman Deluxe PerfectFlow Lantern. It was perfect. Even though it’s compact it lit up the area for around 30 feet. The conversation ebbed and flowed for hours. By the time 1 am had rolled around it was time to call it a night. As I crawled into my sleeping bag (I heartily recommend the Slumberjack Country Squire – huge and comfy) I mused that some things like that trip away with old friends are worth waiting for. The next thought was that someone needs to invent a way to cope with the snores of four 30+-year-old men on the camping trip of a lifetime.