I have been M.I.A. around here for quite awhile, but there is a really good reason for it. Around March, my kids (and husband) decided that they wanted to take an adventure road trip for summer vacation this year. I was initially skeptical. I am not really a risk taker, and I typically don’t do anything that would be considered outdoor-sy. I thought I was adventurous when two years ago, we took a 10-day road trip to the Redwood Forest, but we stayed in hotels or with my brother the whole time. This year, in order to do everything the kids wanted to do (white water rafting, alpine slides, kayaking, hiking), we were going to have to camp…
…like “in a TENT” camp. Generally, this is the reason I am not an outdoor person. I’m not fond of tent camping. I don’t like using campground bathrooms, hate living out of totes and boxes, don’t like trying to find a clean place to prepare food and put in my contacts–I basically don’t like not having a kitchen and bathroom available. Since my kids were adamant about this vacation, I starting figuring out how I could camp and still be comfortable.
That was when Mr. TypeTwoFun suggested we build a chuck box. If you are anything like me, you have no idea what a chuck box is. Well, it is basically a portable camp kitchen. You can store your cookware, utensils, plastic and foil items, lanterns, etc. in it for easy access. The idea was so appealing to me that I spent the next couple of months researching how to build one. I couldn’t find anything that fit our needs, so we basically drew up our own plans.
This is what we ended up with. It was the very first project we made that didn’t come with clear-cut construction plans. We did everything on our own. Are there things we would have done differently? Absolutely! Did it make camping a thousand times easier? You bet!
We built the whole thing out of 1/2″ plywood. We knew it was going to be heavy, so to cut down on weight, we used these stacking cubicle drawers from Wal-Mart to store our foil, Ziplocs, trash bags, cooking utensils, etc. I used my label maker to label the plastic items so kids would know where to put things away.
One of my favorite features of the chuck box, is this nifty paper towel holder I got off Amazon. We set up our camp sink right next to the paper towel holder, and the counter surface of the chuck box was perfect for putting in contact lenses, washing faces, brushing teeth, and getting ready for bed at night. There was really no reason to visit the public restrooms except to use the toilet. This made getting ready in the morning easy, too! It was a lifesaver with young kids.
I also had a cubby space for my dishwashing tubs and mixing bowls, as well as all our dishes and cookware.
No paper plates here! The kids had to wash dishes after every meal. It was funny how often they wanted to eat sandwiches and cook easy meals.
At the very top of my chuck box was my utensil organizer. I had everything I needed at my fingertips. I even had kitchen shears and vegetable peelers.
Best of all, I had a place to prepare meals, and since we put about 3 coats of Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor sealer on it, clean up was a snap.
When we left for our activities each day, or went to bed at night, we’d just close up the box. If we wanted to, we could padlock the hasps, but we only did that rarely. This trip took quite a toll on our “little” chuck box. It got pretty beat up (gives it character, right?), so we decided to start putting bumper stickers on the front to remember the places we’d been.
Although we did everything we could to cut down on weight, this thing was heavy. It was a beast to set up each time, believe me, it got used! It was the center of our camp at every site that we visited. It was extremely handy, and I don’t think I would have gotten through our camping trip without it.
Because Mom got to camp in relative comfort, everyone was happy. I can honestly say this was the best trip we’ve ever taken.
And with the chuck box project out of the way, maybe I’ll tackle a few of the other ones laying around here… or maybe we’ll just go camping again.