Monday, July 21, 2014

More on this camping thing .....

First some personal history ..... As a kid I loved camping.  Who didn't, when someone else did all the work?  Then as a parent of young kids I BECAME the one doing the work.  We tried it a few times, and seldom with any cooperation from the weather.  One time we even traveled to the eastern side of our state where the sun is supposed to actually shine, and after the first night, we woke up to sleet, which sent us hightailing for home.  We didn't even take the canoe off the car, which we laboriously hauled along, (not my idea), until we got home again.

Fast forward to the summer of 2013 and the kids are grown.  Husband and I attended a family reunion in Wyoming that required a tent.  We packed along our little 4-man job, our air mattress, and bedding.  The weather was perfect and I slept on one of the most comfortable beds known to man.  Note:  It may SAY the tent sleeps four.... but picture sardines in a can.  It's best to cut the purported number in half, and you'll have a more accurate and reasonable fit.

Here's a tip:  Forget sleeping in bags.  Bring sheets and blankets like you use at home.  Use an inflatable mattress, insert a THICK quilt or opened sleeping bag between it and your bottom fitted sheet, and if you are fortunate to have no air leaks, you are in for one comfy night.

Since we were already in Wyoming, we HAD to visit Yellowstone in which hotel rates require remortgaging the house.  Therefore, back to camping.  Our three days there were glorious with perfect weather ..... a good thing because our one night after the reunion and before Yellowstone (that we spent in Teton National Park) was not.  That night it rained and hailed with the fury of a vengeful god.  We woke up to a small river running under our sad little battered tent.  Needless to say, I was ready to start the remortgaging process and get a room.  But as I said, the remaining days were perfect, and I fell in love with camping.  And as with any relationship, there would be changes.

First of all, we needed a bigger and more substantial tent....particularly one with a sturdy rain fly, and that we could stand up in.  No more trying to change clothes on our knees.  We wandered around the campground and critiqued the different tents, determining what we wanted.   We spent quite a bit of time shopping after we came home and my first choice, since I was still haunted by the hail storm, was an indestructible Springbar canvas tent that they say you can pass down to your grandchildren.  But the poles were too long for our car, and the thing weighs a ton.  So we opted for a Big Agnes Big House 6.    
(Last summer with our kids.  A brief patch of rain sent us inside.)
Second, a bed off the ground, like a double cot on which to put our mattress.   At my age, some things, like NOT sleeping on the ground, become priorities... plus the added storage under the bed is a nice perk.
(One of our camping neighbors.  Some creatures are happy in the minimalist mode.  Not me.)
Last winter, I happened upon Thousand Trail campgrounds online.  These campgrounds, of which there are many throughout the country, are semi resorts, with beautifully kept grounds, clean bathrooms, swimming pools, spas, lodges, pickle ball courts, miniature golf, a store, etc., etc.  Each one is different.  And all are yours for unlimited use for $200/year.  So I signed up for one year.  Now, after staying at four, and a total of nine nights so far, I am sold and am anxious to visit more of their campgrounds.  For TT members, they almost always have openings, even last minute and there are no cancellation penalties.  Pretty cool.  Last weekend horrifically high temps were forecasted so I jumped online, snagged a campsite at the beach and we escaped for a couple of days.  Try doing THAT without a months-in-advance hotel reservation, in July.

So this summer, we have been packing in as much camping as the Husband can stand.  He's about hit his limit but I may never hit mine.  Why?

Because for one thing, it's cheap.  I like cheap.  It's a vacation that doesn't hemorrhage money, nor depend on someone's spare room.  It's an escape and I need them regularly.  It's time focused on the relationship, which I also need regularly.  And it doesn't involve airports.  I've got the packing process streamlined and the camp setup is routine and quick.  We can bring our bikes .... or not.  We can cook .... or not.  We can hike .... or not.  Time slows down and the rest of humanity, with which I must always share my spouse, fades a little .... never completely, but a little.  And every little bit helps.

Yes, that's us glowing in the dark... yes, Husband is the photographer... and yes, those are actual stars.