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Motocamping at Hungry Mother State Park (Marion, VA)

I recently decided to cut my teeth on motocamping — camping via motorcycle where you pack what you can fit on your bike. My motorcycle was pretty loaded down! I hope to take more motocamping trips this year, and I knew I would learn some valuable experiences on my first attempt. Boy, did I ever learn some hard lessons! But I thoroughly enjoyed my trip.

I went to a Virginia state park called Hungry Mother State Park. It’s a strange name for sure, based on a legend involving a young mother and her child who escaped capture and wandered the woods eating berries to survive.
This is definitely one of Virginia’s prettiest state parks featuring beautiful mountains, streams and a lake. It’s also beside a popular motorcycle road called The Back of the Dragon, Virginia’s only designated motorcycle route and a premier riding road on the east coast boosting thirty-two miles and over three hundred curves.

I didn’t expect a complete loss of cell phone service at the campsite. So I had to ride down to the lake/beach area or into town for Wi-Fi or cell service, but sometimes it’s a good thing to be forced into a disconnect from technology especially when you can enjoy views like this.

A few hard lessons I learned during my first motocamping trip:

  • I should have tested out my luggage bag, loaded and on my bike, long before the trip! I bought something called the Trackside Optima gear bag, which was pretty big and held a lot! But it was really too big to be placed behind my seat. I think I found an awesome alternative in the Rhinowalk rear seat bag.
  • My two-person tent made by Ciays was a decent choice, and I love how compact it was for travel. But it felt a little cramped inside for sleeping, especially since I needed to store my luggage bags inside the tent in case of rain. The tent also featured two little interior storage pockets (e.g., for your cell phone?) but it dangled right over the top of my head when I tried to sleep in my sleeping bag.
  • I’m glad I packed some paracord because I needed it to tie down my tent since the campsite only allowed for tents to be pitched on the wood platform decks.
  • I brought two Duraflame fire logs with me to start campfires. They worked great for that! But they are big and heavy to pack, and I later found mini-size (4.5 oz) firestart logs at Walmart that I’ll pack for future trips.
  • It sucks to not have hot coffee when you first wake up. I might splurge one day on a Jetboil Java Kit but for now, I’ll pick camping destinations where I can walk/ride/drive to a breakfast.
  • I quickly realized how often I had to kneel in front of my tent, over and over again. So a small portable knee cushion got added to my shopping list! I found one at Walmart, similar to this pad on Amazon.
  • I should have tested my Sleepingo sleeping pad before the trip. It’s a very compact ultralight air mattress but if you’re a side sleeper like me who weighs 200+ lbs, it’s not a good option. But I was happy with my OASKYS sleeping bag. It’s a 3 season lightweight bag that kept me warm.
  • After a very restless night of sleep, the following night I decided to try a camping hammock that my wife bought. It was a Kootek camping hammock rated to hold up to 500 lbs. I put my sleeping bag, a small camping pillow and a small blanket into that hammock, and WOW, I fell in love with hammock sleeping! It’s like being enveloped in your mother’s womb, and the gentle rocking motion that I frequently enjoyed made it even more pleasant. As a result of that positive experience, I bought a nicer camping hammock made by Easthills that also includes a bug net and rain tarp. I can’t wait to try it!
  • I was glad I packed a camping chair. I have a bunch of camping chairs at home that are bulky but okay when you travel by car. But I bought the NiceC Ultralight camping chair and I found it very comfortable and easy to pack.

I’ll share picture links of the items I took for camping for reference. I was happy with everything except that the Sleepingo pad wasn’t a good fit for me as a hefty side-sleeper, and the tent was a great value with a caveat about the interior pockets dangling over my head. (Note: images won’t appear if tracking protection is turned on in your browser).

Note: many of the links above are Amazon affiliate links that earn me a few small shekels.

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