Got S'mores?

Updated: Dec 22, 2018

Learn the do's and don'ts for a few camping places in Virginia. It's an experience to explore the outdoors, but it's another thing when it rains, or things don't go as planned. Here are a few things to do to avoid them, or be prepared for when they happen.

Of course, Virginia is a beautiful state with mountains, flat lands, beaches, and large cities depending on which area you end up in. I've camped near the beach at First Landing and in the mountains at Crab Tree Falls. The latter was more successful.

First Landing is located right off the beach in Virginia Beach. My friends and I decided on the trip early in September for the second weekend of October. In southern Virginia, the weather remains on the warmer side until about end of the first week of October. 2018, the temperatures have been higher than normal *cough* climate change *cough.* We didn't want to camp in high heat, and fall seemed a bit more ideal for our first official tent, non-glamour camping. We did cabin camp in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in 2016.

Our campsite was $24 each. We purchased two, but could have easily fit three tents in one. Split the cost among friends and you're spending about $6 each- not a bad deal for a small getaway.

Virginia, like many other states, goes through weather changes so frequently it's hard to trust the local weather predictions. The week before our trip, it was projected to be sunny and cooler, perfect. However, as the days grew closer, the weather changed to downpours. We decided to proceed with our plans and wait it out.

While it did stop raining for a time, the ground was drenched. For this reason, it's best to have a couple of tarps, something we didn't have the first time. Our tents were okay for the one night we stayed- until later that morning.

Tyler was able to start a fire and we all roasted hot dogs and s'mores. We had music playing and beverages, told ghost stories around the fire, and just enjoyed each other's company. It is illegal to drink or carry alcohol on Federal property, so be sure not to do that. Also, a "lights out" rule is strict here. Basically, there should be no noise coming from a campground after 9pm. We blasted our music and laughed until 10, unknowing of the rule. A trooper came around and told us to be quiet, then informed us of the rule. It was a damper on the vibes, but rules were rules. So we tried our best to be quiet. It was a rather difficult, so we decided to take a walk in the dark. We packed a couple lanterns, but our flashlight on our phones were also enough. The beach wasn't too far, and we were far out enough by then that we could be a bit louder.

The wind was ridiculous, and it was a bit chilly. It's not hard to guess we didn't stay too long before heading back to crash. A few people stayed up until 4am before crashing. I wasn't able to sleep per anxiety and being in unknown territory, so I unsuccessfully tried to sleep. The ground was horrible, stiff (of course), and hurt my sides and back. So the next time around, I came prepared and ordered a queen size blow up bed. I highly suggest it, especially for anyone with back problems or just enjoys restless-free sleep.

On top of restless sleep, it started violently down-pouring at 3am. By 6 everyone was awake because no one could sleep well- a tent broke in the middle of the night so some friends and their dog switched to their car, another tent leaked water, and others (I mean Tyler) slept like a baby like he was right at home.

I heard my friend, Ashley, calling out for help. "SOS. It's the Titanic, we are sinking. SOS!" Her tent had leaked the worst and she was surrounded by water, along with her then boyfriend.

While the camping trip was memorable, we learned a few lessons. Like, don't go camping when it's predicted to downpour nearly all night and be sure your tents are leak proof.

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