Slow down, relax, you’re here now.

In this day, it’s really hard to take time to enjoy the small things in life and relish in the little moments of our lives that we tend to take for granted. I am no different. As someone who has worked multiple jobs (a lot at the same time) since I was old enough to have a job, I am guilty for looking past the beauty of life and the nature in this area.

Somerset County is known for it’s rural beauty. I’ve lived here my entire life and that’s how it tends to be for most of the population, but how many of those people take the time to really appreciate the land and all that is included with it? Not very many. Everyone is so busy on their phones and glued to social media (not that it is always a bad thing) that they forget to look around and see what is right in front of their face… or phone screen. I am just as much to blame for this, but lately I’ve began to realize that life is short and beauty is everywhere, as long as I am looking for it.

Maybe since I started working at Hickory Hollow Campground, that is when I started to see the beauty in nature. I grew up not even ten miles from the campground, but didn’t realize how breathtaking this area truly is (if you don’t believe me, check out the pictures – they are all taken at Hickory Hollow). This job has helped me take an extra moment to enjoy and appreciate everything that is around me. I have more time for myself too – which helps me feel like I am able to relax and enjoy my life. Everyone should have the opportunity to do that.

Even if it’s a few hours once a week, once a month, or even once a year, take a few moments out of your busy life and look around. Life is passing by so quickly. Children grow and change, animals grow and change, and you are going to grow and change. You don’t want to miss out on the little moments and the beauty that is surrounding you. You don’t even have to go far. Sit outside for a few moments and breathe some fresh air, get some Vitamin D and just reflect on the good parts in your life. There are so many negatives and problems that drain us and make us forget the positive aspects of our lives, but we shouldn’t spend our precious time dwelling on the things that we can’t control. Especially when we can control this.

So I challenge you, it doesn’t have to be today or even tomorrow, but find time for you. Put down your phone, go outside, and relax. Find at least 5 things around you that are beautiful and just reflect on the positives. If it’s difficult to do that where you live – get out for a day. Go on a walk, go to a park, just go do something! You could even go camping, that’s a perfect way to relax and Hickory Hollow Campground is one of the most beautiful campgrounds (in my own personal opinion). But seriously, slow down, relax, you’re here now, enjoy it while you have the chance.

I truly hope you find the joy and beauty in nature, even if it was just from looking at these photographs. Thanks for reading – make sure you put in your email address to follow our blog and to get notified whenever a new blog post is made.

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Camping Tricks

Have you ever went camping and found some tricks that helped you survive a little easier? I’ve been doing some research (and there’s tons of info out there) on some different tips and tricks and I found quite a few that I personally have tried or need to try. Maybe these will help you too! Leave a comment at the end if you have tried any of these or if you have any other suggestions that you have learned from your own camping excursions.

Trick #1 – Make a Checklist: I know this sounds simple, but it is a huge time saver! When you’re packing for any kind of trip, you should always make a list beforehand. I am an avid list maker. I have to be organized and I’m always nervous that I am going to forget something that I will need while I’m away from home. There are some important necessities that you will need when camping. Here are just a few things to be sure to include when you are packing for camping: lighter/fire starter, cookware, lamps, bug repellent, sleeping items, and of course a first aid kit. Another item that I could make as it’s own category, but I’m going to just list it here, is a portable charger! Lately we all know that some electronics are a necessity, so you should be sure to have some way to charge them if electricity is not readily available. We personally have a Halo charger, and you can find them on Amazon, which is linked here. These are great for a variety of reasons and are definitely helpful during camping.

Trick #2 – Microfiber towels: These are a lifesaver whether you’re camping or at home. Microfiber towels are lightweight, so not much to add to your packing list. They are also extremely absorbent and quick drying, which is great for when you are packing up to leave as well. These towels also help our environment! They reduce the amount of waste when you are using paper towels. So not only are you benefiting yourself, but you are doing something small to help the environment too. You can find microfiber towels at most stores.

Trick #3 – Lantern: Lanterns are important for a few different reasons. Even if you don’t personally own a lantern, you can make one! Headlamps are an inexpensive item you can purchase at most stores, in the outdoor/camping section and they can be easily turned into a lantern to light up an entire tent! Attach your headlamp to a gallon jug of water and there you go! You have a light to shine and brighten up your area in the dark.

Trick #4 – Meal Prep: This is something that we do before we camp and it saves so much time and effort. When you’re camping you don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing your food, you want to spend your time eating that food. So anyway, preparing your food at home before you leave will save you time and a mess to clean up, plus you won’t have to pack as much if you prepare it before! One of the easiest ways to prep your food is to cut up all of your ingredients before you leave. This saves you time and the mess. There are other things you can do like putting your spices into smaller containers (tic-tac containers are great for this) or other small hacks. But preparing your food and items before you leave your house will save you time.

Trick #5 – Veggie Peeler: I know what you’re thinking, you already talked about meal prep so why would I suggest a veggie peeler after that? Well let me tell you, it’s not for your food (although, obviously you can use it to cut your food up before you leave too). This time I’m talking about using this for your soap, yes your SOAP! If you either chunk your bars of soap or use the veggie peeler, you can make single use soap leaves. I know how much of an inconvenience it is to carry a huge bar of soap and then when it’s wet, it’s such a pain to figure out what to do with it. I personally don’t like putting it in plastic bags, it feels messy and annoying to me. By making single use soap leaves, it’s much better for you and you also don’t have to over pack either!

Trick #6 – Sage: We all know that one of the most irritating things about camping is the bugs, especially mosquitoes! I personally cannot stand them and hate having bug bites. Sage is a simple fix to this. If you burn the sage over the fire, it makes a natural bug repellent and will save your skin, as well as your sanity when it comes to the irritating bugs involved in camping.

Trick #7 – Deodorant: Obviously deodorant is something you want to have when you are going anywhere, but did you know there are other things that deodorant is good for? With all of the research I did (which wasn’t as much, because there is tons of info out there), I could honestly do an entire blog on deodorant hacks! But the one hack that I found went well with camping. Along with the sage (tip #6) deodorant will help in the aftermath if you happen to get bit by an irritating bug. Deodorant helps stop the itch! Try buying a travel-sized just for this reason! This is something I will keep in mind for any time that I get a bug bite.

Well like I said before, there are so many other camping tricks and hacks out there. These were just a few of my favorites that I wanted to share and that I have tried or want to try too. If you have any other suggestions, leave them in a comment below! Don’t forget to put in your email address to get notified every time I post a new blog. Thanks for reading!

S’more fun!

Campfire at Hickory Hollow

I don’t know about you, but the one thing that I look forward to the most when I’m camping is sitting around the campfire making s’mores. Actually, any time of year, anything that is flavored like a s’more is something that I have to at least try. I’ve had s’more flavored drinks, candy, cereal, you name it and I’ll try it!

I’m definitely a sucker for the original Hershey’s chocolate, Jet Puff marshmallows, and honey maid graham crackers, but I’m definitely not afraid to branch out of the norm. Have you ever thought that s’mores had a “norm,” well they do! Sometimes, normal is boring so you need to change it up and try something new.

First of all, we have found these awesome marshmallows that are made specifically for s’mores! They are square, which makes it much easier to stack your goodness. Second of all, did you know that they make different flavors of graham crackers too?! #mindblown There is vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, and of course the traditional flavor! These two things were not our biggest experiment though…. that was the chocolate.

Personally, I am a candy addict. Anything chocolate and sugary I LOVE! (makes sense as to why I love s’more so much) I have tried a few different candy bars, which I will tell you about, but I will also tell you which ones were my absolute favorite ones to put into a s’more.

The first candy bar we tried was a KitKat, which has always been my favorite chocolate bar to eat. This one turned out to be absolutely amazing. I always like to consider things when I try out new food and the good thing about KitKat’s was that the chocolate was perfect in the s’more and the wafers didn’t take away from the taste. It melted just enough with the toasted marshmallow to make the treat super yummy! After that I tried a Reese’s Peanut butter cup, which is also another one of my favorite candies. This one I don’t recommend for a s’more though. Mostly due to the fact that the chocolate didn’t melt as well and the peanut butter was not the right consistency. It just didn’t mix very well.

I am not one for anything that has coconut in it, but my boyfriend and his mom loved using the Mounds and Almond Joys in their S’mores. This is usually their go to chocolate bars for s’more. The other one that I am not usually a fan of normally is the Cookies ‘n Cream Hershey bar, but in a s’more it is absolutely fantastic. This one melts just right (well it is a Hershey bar), and even tastes really great with the marshmallows and graham crackers.

These are just a few that we have tried, but if you have tried others or have any suggestions, leave a comment below! Hopefully, you get some ideas and try out some different kinds of chocolate bars in your s’mores (we won’t judge you though if you are a traditionalist).

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A Small Town with a Big Heart

For those of us who were born and raised in little old Somerset County, we are used to the small town atmosphere. Sometimes we don’t realize what we have here that entices people to come (or come back), but there’s something about that small town feel that brings people in. Even though we might take it for granted at times, there is a lot to see and do around here and Hickory Hollow is located in the heart of the Laurel Highlands. A perfect location to make your rounds to all of our exciting attractions, landmarks, and local entertainment.

Tower of Voices – Flight 93 Memorial

One of the big attractions that I hear about daily at the campground is the Flight 93 Memorial in Stonycreek Township, north of Shanksville. It’s rare to find someone now who doesn’t remember the tragic events of 9/11/01.

The memorial is honoring the passengers and crew members of Flight 93. There was a temporary memorial made soon after the crash and it has now been replaced by a permanent memorial that attract tourists from all over the country. It is a must see if you are in the area. Along with this memorial, there is also a small memorial in place at Quecreek for the Quecreek Miner’s Rescue site.

Fallingwater – Frank Lloyd Wright house

Aside from the memorials, there area other attractions that draw in people from all around. There are three Frank Lloyd Wright homes within an hour of our campground (why not check them all out?!) that are absolutely incredible. Fallingwater, my personal favorite, is built partly over a waterfall (crazy right!). There is also Kentuck Knob and the Duncan house, both of which encase Wright’s breathtaking architecture. All of which are a must-see if you are in the area.

Beetlejuice at Haunted Hollow

Even Hickory Hollow Campground has an attraction right across the road, which is owned by the same people! Haunted Hollow is a haunted house located right across the road from the campground, but sadly is only open on weekends during the Halloween season. It is a personal favorite of mine, not only because Halloween is my favorite holiday, but because I have worked there for the last 10 years (I know that is a super long time!) So if you are a halloween enthusiast, you must come let the actors scare the yell out of you! If you are as obsessed with everything halloween like me (and you’re at least 16 years old) you can even get a job there! We will begin recruiting at the end of July and we always welcome new comers – so make sure you watch the facebook page for any information!

This is only a small portion of what you can see and do in good ol’ Somerset County. There are always places to go and people/things to see. Some other attractions include checking out the local rivers such as the Yough and Cheat rivers, Ohiopyle, multiple wooden covered bridges, the Laurel Caverns, the Farmers’ and Threshermans’ Jubilee in September, Idlewild Soakzone, Somerset Historical Society, and so much more! Make sure you come to Hickory Hollow Campground and we can lead you in the right direction. You can also see a more in depth list of attractions on our website here.

I’d Rather Be Glamping

Okay, so I might be a little high maintenance, but the idea of laying on the cold, hard ground in a tent isn’t as appealing to me now as it was 15 years ago. Thankfully there are other options now that are still a part of the camping experience with more of the comforts that I enjoy. It’s called glamping.

Glamorous and camping are not two words that I would normally put together, but it’s a real thing! When you want to enjoy nature, but still have some of the luxuries that we enjoy in our every day lives. We have become dependent on our amenities like running water, clean bathrooms, and soft, comfy beds with blankets. As much as we love to enjoy nature and have a vacation outside of our home, we don’t want to give up those things for relaxation.

Campgrounds all over have adapted to our lifestyle choices and added these amenities to our camping excursions. Anywhere from the mountains to the forests, to the beach our traveling has changed over time and we are no longer just witnessing and becoming a part of nature, now we are bringing our own luxuries too. Whether that means staying in cabins or other special areas or even bringing an RV out to stay, it is past the normal tent camping that happened in the past.

Hickory Hollow Campground is no different! We offer cabins for our campers to stay in that have all the normal amenities that we have in the comfort of our own homes like apartment size refrigerators, beds, couches, tables, bathrooms, and yes even a TV. There are premium and rustic cabins (premium has a few extra amenities for our extreme glampers…lol). The campground is primarily RV, but we still have the good old tent sites for those traditionalists… even though that’s where I camp at, I still bring an air mattress to stay off the hard ground and prefer having running water. Plus the campground has Wifi, which in this day in age that is a necessity for almost every single person in the campground, so we gladly accept glampers with our normal campers. Even though we all know RV campers are glampers too ;).

Premium Cabin
Rustic Cabin

So if you want to experience traditional camping or glamping, Hickory Hollow is a great, quiet, and enjoyable place to come and relax. AND if you want to check out our Premium or Rustic cabins, we have a great deal happening for July & August! It’s a weekday special (Sunday through Thursday), pay for 2 nights and stay a 3rd night for FREE! This is not a deal you want to miss! You can call or email the campground for reservations. Come out and meet me (Tika) and check out our lovely campground!

Camping with our Furry Companions

Personally, I know I don’t like to do anything without my dog if I can help it, so why can’t we camp with them too! They deserve a vacation as much as the rest of us, but we have to remember to take some extra precautions when we are camping with our beloved pets. Hickory Hollow Campground helps our fellow animal lovers when it comes to camping with pets at our lovely location in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Lydia

Before you even leave for your camping excursion, make sure you have what you need packed and ready to go. First aid kits are a must for any trip you make, for you and your animals. It’s always better to be safe than sorry in case of an emergency. Make sure your pet has a collar and ID tags on. It’s a terrifying thought of our furry loved ones running from home, but even more scary when they are away from home and they decide to go exploring without you. Reflective collars are also a good idea for when you are out and about with your pet at night. We all know that it’s relaxing to camp and take a stroll when then sun goes down, but think of the safety of your pets too.

We also know that food is a staple when it comes to camping, so make sure your pets have their food too. It is never a good idea to let your pet indulge on food that isn’t made for them (just because s’mores are the best camping food around, our animals shouldn’t eat them), so make sure you have your pet’s food (but it’s okay if you slip them a fire-roasted hot dog every once in a while too).

Animals love to catch some z’s as much as we do, so make sure your pet has something to sleep on too. They may be used to laying on the ground at home, but when you’re camping it may not be as comfortable. Plus it always helps to have something your dog is familiar with, that way they aren’t worried about not being home. A bed is a good way to do this, or even a sleeping bag. We expect to be comfortable, so why shouldn’t our 4-legged family members be comfortable too? If you can’t bring their bed, make sure you bring something that is familiar to them like a blanket or even a toy to entertain them while you are relaxing.

Pet Olympics at the off leash dog park

Does your campground have an off leash dog park? Hickory Hollow Campground does! This should be something that you look into before you go camping with your pets. Make sure that you know the leash laws for the area, if the campground permits pets and what their rules are for pets at the facility. Hickory Hollow has an off leash dog park, which campers and their pets love! It also permits pets throughout the campground, as long as they are on a leash and that you clean up after them properly. Also, you should never leave your dog unattended outside. If you have tie out stakes that is great for when you’re around, just make sure that it is put at a safe distance away from fire and/or garbage that is harmful to our pets. You never know what is out in the wild and leaving a pet out alone is never a safe choice to make, we don’t want them to be afraid or get hurt in any way. If you’re in a campground, there are typically people near by, they need to be safe too. You may have the friendliest dog ever, but for everyone’s safety keep a safe distance when introducing pets to new people. Some people don’t like animals as much, so it’s best to keep a safe distance for your pet’s sake as well.

There are a lot of tips to take into consideration when you are taking a pet camping, just make sure that you and your furry friend are safe and having a good time. If you would like to see some of my other Summer Safety Tips for Pets please check out my vlog channel and subscribe to see more from me. You can also leave comments below if you have any tips as well!

Thanks for reading 🙂

-Tika, Hickory Hollow Campground

5 Summer Kick-off Safety Tips

Lake at Hickory Hollow Campground

With summer being, literally, right around the corner, everyone has a lot of fun things planned outdoors. There’s lots to do at the campground too, however, we want our campers and friends to be safe while they are out and about frolicking in the sun (or rain in our case most days). So I have prepared a list of some good summer safety tips that can be used while camping at Hickory Hollow Campground, or well, pretty much anywhere else for that matter.

So let’s kick off summer with some safety tips!

Hickory Hollow Campground – photo from camper

#1 Know your surroundings – it’s important to know what is going on around you, especially when you’re outdoors. Look around for landmarks or familiar areas to avoid getting lost. Also know where shelter and help is located at a campground. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry!

#2 Avoid wild animals – I know, I know, I’m one of the worst people for this because they all just look so cute and cuddly!!! But don’t let that you fool you. I love animals, but wild ones usually don’t want to be bothered. If they are in their own habitat, it is better to just observe from afar. And please don’t feed them, that is just a recipe for disaster!

#3 Protect yourself from bugs! – Those pesky little biters can be quite the annoyance, but we all know most bugs have a purpose on the planet, even if they are annoying to us. Take precautions and use protection like bug spray, bug repellent jewelry, or even special bug repellent clothing! If you do come in contact with anything like a tick, make sure you have the bite checked by a doctor.

#4 Fire Safety – We all know that we need fire while camping, but you need to be smart and safe about it. Never let the fire burn throughout the night, someone should always be able to maintain a safe fire area. Avoid the low hanging trees when building have fire and make sure children know how to be safe around a fire. We love those s’mores so let’s make sure we know how to enjoy making them safely.

#5 Know your plants – Just like the bugs, there are some plants that aren’t that pleasant to be around. Make sure you know what the bad ones look like: poison ivy, poison oak, and nightshade. Do your research before you’re out and about in the wilderness! Also it might help to know how to treat anyone who comes in contact with these plants.

There are tons of other tips that are useful when camping, or just being outside this summer. With that being said, this weekend Hickory Hollow is having our Summer Kick-off Weekend. There are fun activities planned like crafts, volleyball, a wilderness scavenger hunt, pool party, and an outdoor movie! We want to make sure everyone at Hickory Hollow has a fun and safe time this summer during all of our fun camping activities.

Please feel free to add any other tips or tricks that you have in the comments too!