My family and I have been camping for a few years, however this last weekend, we decided to try and take it to the next level. In the past we have visited RV parks or other suitably equipped sites, with power and running water delivered directly to the site.
This time, we went with another 'IT-guy' and good friend, to the Golden Ears park, near Maple Ridge, BC. Here, your camp site is nestled within the beautiful sky-scraping trees. The nearest 'running water' is a stream and electicity is generated by rubbing a balloon on your sweater.
Actually, in all seriousness, there are stand-pipes throughout the site to deliver water and a couple of shower blocks for the 220 sites in that area of the park. This still presented a challenge for us IT guys.
Where-as normally, I like to try and unplug for a camping trip or vacation, we decided to try and overcome the 'natural' barriers and bring a more technological approach to this camping trip.
Enter Aaron - my good friend and fellow IT guy. He has been taking an increasingly technological approach to his camping trips over the past few years, down to measuring the electrical requirements of the hardware he wants to take using a digital meter and carefully calculating the total needed to generate.
The goal for this weekend was to provide video entertainment and WiFi connectivity to our campsite.
Utilizing a cooked-rom HTC Diamond, we were able to convert one bar of Telus signal into a WiFi hotspot, which came in very handy when our wives decided they wanted to go for a walk along the trails but couldnt remember how to get to them. Enter the iPad, connected to our 'local wifi' network. A little slow, but we downloaded the parks maps from the provincial park website, to get our bearings.
Later in the evening, with the kids in bed, we needed to address some video entertainment.
|The Media Control Center (Picnic Table)|
Starting with Aaron's Honda generator, (which was surprisingly quiet) we hooked up power cables from the utility trailer to the middle of the site, to power a laptop, projector and 2.1 sound system. Across the other side of our campsite, we used three tent poles, some rope and a silver tarp to create a projector screen.
Within a few minutes we were huddled around 'Mr Heater' - that's the actual brand name, not Aaron's nickname - toasting marshmallows and watching the latest Modern Family episodes.
|Ahh.. Camping, Movies and Marshmallows...|
Two things absolutely amazed me. One was the fact that the kids actually stayed in bed throughout this process, the other, was that no-one, not even the park staff who drove past us three times that night, actually commented on the 160" movie theater that had been installed in the middle of the forest.
Plans for the next trip include; setting up a mobile server farm to serve live blogs and streaming video of our camping experience, coming up with a mobile shower and increasing the wifi coverage with some way of electonically tagging the kids to find them in the forest.