I’ve been waiting. And waiting. There’s been some more waiting. The snow and rain keep coming and I just want some sunshiny days to show up so I can go camping. I could go slogging around in the cold but I’ve been doing that all winter. It’s spring now and I’m ready for those nights spent sitting around the fire.

My favorite short weekend getaway is just west of Casper, not quite to Alcova Reservoir, on BLM land next to the North Platte. It’s got good fishing and plenty of hills to wander.

I’m rather impulsive when it comes to weekend jaunts and tend to forget a rather important item — food.

I’ve gone a weekend eating tortillas and grapes because that’s all I had and would rather spend time outside than waste it going to the store. I like to think I’ve learned my lesson and try to add variety to my fare.

A couple cans of soup and bread are a simple fix at the end of a long day hiking or fishing, or whatever your preferred outdoor activities are, but if you have the time I’d recommend steak and potatoes. Cut open the taters, throw some steak and vegetables in, wrap it up in tin foil and chuck it on the fire. In no time at all you’re eating five-star food in some of the prettiest wilderness ever seen.

When I’m going light and fast, my standby is Mountain House. They’ve got a variety of freeze-dried meals from breakfast to dinner and dessert. My personal favorites are the breakfast skillet and the chicken fajita bowl. All you’ve gotta do is open up the bag, add hot water, stir for a minute and it’s good to go. Same goes for a military MRE (meal ready to eat), just open the box, fill the bag to the line with water and prop it up on a rock or something. The best part is that they come with extras like peanut butter, jalapeno cheese spread and flavored drink mix. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and score some vanilla pound cake for dessert with your chili-mac.

Something else I’ve learned about being impulsive is that no matter how much I want to just get up and go I cannot leave all of my gear in my truck. After my two trips to Montana in 2017 and 2018 I didn’t pull my sleeping bags out of my truck to clean and dry out. As you can imagine they were disturbingly grungy.

I left my brand new fishing pole in the back of my truck for a while after a Christmas Day fishing trip because I thought I’d be using it a bit more than I have. I pulled out a couple weeks ago and the reel was broken. My fault for being unaware and, frankly, lazy. I put a new reel on and it sits in the corner of my room as a reminder to slow and do things right. I’ve got my sleeping bags, rucksack with cookware and whatnot stashed in storage until I need them.

Yep, it’s nice to just haul out the door at breakneck speed and be the first person on the river in the morning, but it sure stinks when you’re reel is broken and your sleeping bag smells like month-old gym socks.

Take the time, do it right and everything is more enjoyable.

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Anna Shaffer works on the Star-Tribune production team as a copy editor. She joined the newspaper in early 2016 after graduating from Casper College. Along with her degree, she picked up a love of film and carting her guitar into the Wyoming backcountry.


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