More than just another tick mark in our camping night goal, we really had great experiences during 2017. We enjoyed urban camping in Nashville and Chicago, and experienced the famed James Island County Park near Charleston, SC. We discovered state park campgrounds like Traverse City State Park, Babler State Park near St Louis, MO, Old Stone Fort State Park near Nashville, TN. Plus we attended festivals such as the World's Biggest Fish Fry in Paris, TN, and the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI, and we visited great NPS sites like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore and Mammoth Cave National Park. We rediscovered local treasures like Carlyle Lake and Rend Lake; we biked Bentonville, AR as well as the Louisville riverfront. We witnessed first-hand Halloween activities from the campground at Lake Rudolph in Santa Claus, IN, along with a leisurely few days at a resort campground in the Smoky Mountains. We attended a ranger-led hike on New Years Day, watched fireworks over Lake Michigan on forth of July, joined family for Thanksgiving at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, GA.
Camping has dramatically changed how we approach travel, and certainly the frequency of travel. Those three months of 2017 that we were unable to camp were disappointing to us.
All of this travel was enhanced with our faithful travel companion, our 2015 Taxa Cricket Sport. Our enhancements have been extremely minimal this year, and we are fortunate to report that we've experienced no major equipment failures. Perhaps our biggest disappointment is that we've had a mysterious tiny leak from the fresh water basin of our cassette toilet. We suspect the problem with this is over-pressurizing the tank, and we've been releasing the pressure except at night. As an extra layer of preventing a wet floor, we also put an old sheet pan under the toilet to catch any water. We upgraded the kids from blankets to sleeping bags, primarily because they continued to drop blanket on us at night. We are all pleased with this change. A proud solution we discovered was repurposing a deck hook to attach our lantern above a picnic table. We know that lanterns work better if they are elevated and there isn't a camping tool for this purpose. We continued to struggle with the perfect solution for transporting our bikes. Putting them on top of the Cricket works, as does on top of the 4Runner, but this is hard work. We tried using a dual hitch extension with our Thule Bike Rack, but this doesn't really work either. The easiest solution that we've found to be okay is putting them inside the Cricket. We've found that putting blankets on the bed and kitchen counter, and then resting the back tire on the bed and front tire on the floor allows all four bikes to ride safety and we are able to load and unload easily.
This time of the year is fun to both reflect on the current year, but to also consider options for next year. We already have a week booked in northern Georgia in the spring. We anticipate our two big summer trips will be Colorado and perhaps the UP of Michigan. We are staking out all of the three day weekends to travel and hope we again achieve our 50 plus night of camping. We would also like to add a few new states that we haven't camped in; we have our eye on Colorado, Alabama, and maybe Louisiana.
So as we approach a new year, we look forward to chasing 50 nights across twelve months, new adventures, and priceless memories that continue to make Cricket Camping the best investment we ever made in our present. Heck, we might just ring in the new year at the campground!
Shane and Jessica
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