Hocking Hills Camping Adventures

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on September 20, 2011

As the days of really warm weather come to an end, we are trying to take advantage of every minute where we can be outside comfortably…without shivering or having to bundle up until all we can see are our noses!

This past weekend, Steve and I took the kids to Hocking Hills State Park for an overnight campout.

The last time we talked about camping out was 2 years ago this time when I was 8 months pregnant with Tyler. The thought of sleeping on the ground, even on an air mattress, and stumbling in and out of a tent with a giant belly just didn’t seem like a lot of fun. So I refused. Politely. (If that’s possible to do when 8 months pregnant!)

This was our first time camping with all the kids…and what fun we had!!! And not only was it a blast, it was so wonderful to completely disconnect and enjoy nature and our time together as a family.

After checking into our campsite and getting the tent setup, we set off on a hike to a waterfall nearby. As we were walking along the gorge, I heard a loud screech.

I looked up, shrieked and starting running the other direction, scooping the older two boys (who were walking right behind me) with me…running for cover.

A barn owl…who just so happened to be carrying a squirrel it just caught…and whose tail was still wriggling and writhing…was flying RIGHT TOWARDS ME.

As I shrieked, it flew up to a branch right over us. I thought it was going to drop the squirrel right on my head. AAAHHH!!!

(For those of you who are new around here, you should go back and read about my fear of something getting caught in my hair. It will make you giggle. And help you understand why my heart skipped 7 beats upon seeing this owl and squirrel flying right at me.)

The owl sat on the branch right above up long enough for Steve to run over and snap a shot.

You can see the tail of the squirrel hanging below the branch. Whoooo.

After I finished shrieking and came out of my hiding place, the boys had all sorts of questions about why their mommy was behaving neurotically…but we managed to turn the conversation in a more scientific direction and talked about food chains, etc.

Of course the one that stumped us…”But mommy, I thought owls were nocturnal. Why is that owl awake right now?!”

Still got nothing for that one.

So after watching another barn owl appear…and then the 2 of them fly away…we pressed on to the waterfall.

What a handsome bunch!

We headed back to the campsite to get dinner started…on the menu…hobos and smores!

The boys were so proud of the fire they helped Steve build…and they got a kick out of the fact that we were actually cooking our food on the fire. Novel concept for them!

Hobos – Thinly sliced potatoes, green peppers, carrots, red and yellow onion…olive oil drizzled over top and garlic and onion seasoning…with a little salt and pepper. Simple, yet so tasty!

In the morning, we all dawned our hoodies and braved the 50 degree temps. On the menu for breakfast…

Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Sausage Patties…with some apple slices and Clementine oranges.

While I was skeptical to let Tyler near the bowl of batter, he was very serious and did a fantastic job of stirring the chocolate chips around. I was (and still am) shocked that he didn’t reach into the batter to try to eat one…and that he didn’t tip the bowl over to see if gravity was still working!

We cooked the pancakes on a Coleman stovetop that we got for our wedding. (Because these are the kinds of things that end up on your wedding registry when you are marrying an eagle scout and outdoorsman!)

Now, I’m so grateful for this stove…and that we got to have a warm and tasty breakfast.

Ryan did a great job helping with the sausage.

(Closely supervised, of course!)

And now, little brother’s turn to dish out the sausages.

After breakfast we did some more hiking, then headed back to Dayton. It was so wonderful to get away and spend quality time together as a family…I very much look forward to our next camping adventures! (I just hope they don’t involve an owl flying right at me carrying a still live squirrel!)

What’s your favorite campout food?! Cooked on a fire, or on a Coleman stove?! I’d love to try out some new meals on our next camping trip!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Denny September 20, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I love the photos of your camping trip! We like beef stroganof cooked in a Dutch oven (over and under charcoal briquets–your former Boy Scout can handle that!). Easy! Yummy! It’s from the Lodge cookbook. We like it so much, I make it at home in the enameled Dutch oven.

We like thinly sliced (or diced) potatoes cooked in the skillet and then eggs scrambled in with the potatoes for some breakfasts.

Steak and burgers are good cooked on a grill. We take our own grate to put down inside the campground fire ring–propped on 3 rocks. Usually, the supplied grates are too high above the fire to cook anything.

Apple crisp in a Dutch oven. Wonderful! Also from the Lodge cookbook. Leftovers, if there are any, are really good warmed up on oatmeal the next morning. Probably on pancakes, too!

My husband does rich instant coffees for breakfast and I do hot cocoa.

We’re going camping in a couple of weeks so you’ve got me thinking about our menu!

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alexis September 20, 2011 at 6:57 pm

puddgie pies over the fire in a pudgie pie maker (I don’t know if that’s the exact name its a sandwich press for over the fire) but they sell the tool at Target/Walmart etc. You can make anything from warm sandwiches to dessert in those things!

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Cheire September 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm

My boyfriend calls them pudgie pies he takes bread butter and pie filling then after they are done they toss them in sugar and let me tell you the are the bomb..lol

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LuAnn September 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Wow…that looks like fun! The last time I went camping was back in the 80’s and my department at the bank where I was working went boating/camping at Flaming Gorge in Utah for a weekend. I swore the only way I’d go camping again was if there was a tent mural painted on the side of my hotel! *lol* Now I think I may have been missing out. I’d just like to get the kids away from electronics for a while. :)

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Jessica September 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm

We camped out in the backyard this weekend and had a blast! We also tried a new recipe over the fire – SALMON. My 5 year old has been dreaming of cooking a whole fish over the fire for an entire year, so it was time to give it a try. EASY and AWESOME. Whole salmon (cleaned), stuffed with basil, dill and parsley from the garden — same herbs on top and bottom of fish. Wrap the whole package in newspaper, folding up the sides, and tying with string. Submerge in water for 10 mins. then throw it over the fire (we had a metal grate over the fire pit and put the fish right on) flip and cook on both sides on 20-25 mins. YUMMY!!!

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Di September 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm

We took the kids camping about a month ago – they are 4 and 2 and we all had a great time. Especially the baby.

We had grilled sausage and hotdogs, with steamed broccoli for dinner (because I am that mom) with roasted marshmallows for dessert. Breakfast the next morning was scrambled eggs with the leftover broccoli and sausage mixed in. I’d love to try some hobos this weekend when we go!)

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ATL Cook September 20, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Chicken pot pie in a dutch oven; for that Eagle Scout–let him do bacon and eggs in a paper bag for each person. SO easy. donuts–canned biscuits–punch a hole in the middle and stretch. Fry in that dutch oven in a few inches of oil. Put in a paper bag with cinnamon sugar and shake. That was always GS Camp breakfast on the last morning. Sandwich maker does great for peach or berry pie. Even use slices of bread for the crust; cut off the bread crust if you wish.

Solar oven works great in ATL, TX, etc. You can even bake a cake, roast a chicken, or make about anything you want. I’ve done it at GS camp.

Have a cookout in your back yard to practice cooking skills. Even a gas grill works with mesh baskets or even old cookware (Soap the OUTSIDE of the pan). Bake a pan of biscuits or cornbread over the fire. Upside down apple or pear cake is great for breakfast or dessert.

You can pre-cook meat at home in the Crock Pot and make beef stew over the campfire. Cover it with mashed potatoes (or mashed cauliflower for mock mashed potatoes) for a Shepard Pie. Bake potatoes in the ashes of the campfire–sweet potatoes take less time. Have a baked potato bar with toppings–great for children of all ages. Any left over toppings–make twice baked potatoes with them. Roast carrots, beets, parsnips, etc in the fire for a great vegetable surprise. Don’t need to peel them. S&P and a little butter; mmm.

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Becky H September 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Love this! This is my ideal vacation. Cooking outside, with a campfire in sweatshirts. Looks like you had a great time – with the exception of the owl.

I love the ideas here with the Dutch oven. I just got one, so as soon as I convince my husband that tent camping is the best vacation ever, I’m going to try these ideas!

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Amy September 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Hocking Hills is such a great place! Old mans cave is a wonderful place for the waterfalls.

Can’t wait to go back.

We made foil packet with chicken, cream of mushroom soup and some veggies over the fire for our first night dinner, it was great :)

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Tammy September 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

We love to take a pork tenderloin that is already marinated (Tariyaki is our favorite) … I cut it in 1 inch slices like pork chops and cook over the grill ~ cooks super quick like a burger would (but much tastier and a nice change from burgers and dogs!)… we usually take pinapple to serve with it and grill that, too! I usually serve it with brown rice with edamame beans, a little olive oil, garlic powder, S&P…that I cooked at home and froze ~ and it acts as extra “ice” in the cooler which is always good. Just warm over the fire or on the Coleman stove in a pan!

this park looks like a lot of fun ~ and I’ll bet it’s beautiful in the fall!

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Missy September 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm

We went for our first trip to Hocking Hills in February this year – lucked out and had a beautiful warm-ish weekend! We didn’t camp out, but rented a house for the weekend, but I’m hoping to go back this fall. It’s a lovely place!

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Cheire September 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Me my boyfriend took all the kids his 3 and my 2 along with his mom and 2 nieces to Montgomery State Park it was our first camping trip together and let me tell you we had a blast we stayed for 2 nights and his mom made hamburgers with potatoes wrapped in foil and placed on the camp fire and it was awesome they also wanted to get a roast and put it down in the coals and cook over night but will have to do that next time

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Jackie Brown September 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one excited about camping. We went last week down a water slide at a campground and the kids had a blast. I’ve been posting camping recipes over at my site too.

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Rhonda Hall September 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm

We also love Hocking Hills, we went to the Rock House, Old Man’s cave and did the canopy tours Zipline…what a blast..
Our favs to fix over fire and eat are:
Green beans, potatoes, and smoked sausage all in one pot, just let it cook all day if you want too..
and in the foil packets: cut up chicken breasts, corn on the cob, potatoes and carrots…

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom September 26, 2011 at 11:45 am

We’ll have to try the zipline when the kids are older…what fun! Love your camping food ideas too Rhonda…thanks for sharing!

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Jenny October 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

We are looking to have a camping adventure at Hocking Hills with our kids, and I came across your blog. Which campground did you choose? I’m having a hard time finding something with potties, and this will be the maiden camping trip for my kids (5 and 2). Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated :) Thank you!

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