When Ken and I met, in 2013, he had recently purchased a Coleman pop-up camper. When he asked me if I liked camping, I immediately flashed back to a camping trip I’d taken in junior high school, when a gigantic banana spider decided to share our tent. My friend and I screamed for her mom, who quickly got rid of it and told us to calm down and try to sleep. Moments after settling down, we found its twin brother on the roof of the tent, so we ‘camped’ in the minivan.
As a rule, I try not to lie, so I didn’t exactly say yes…but I didn’t say no, either. I probably mumbled that I didn’t have much camping experience. He promised that when he was done fixing up his camper, he’d take me camping. Since what started as repairing some damaged wood ended up requiring him to take it down to the frame and completely rebuild it–a task that took almost eight months–I didn’t hold my breath. In fact, I kind of forgot about camping.
When he finally finished it, he got a reservation at a local lake, and I drove there after work to meet him. Camping turned out to be pretty fun. The camper had king sized beds on each end, a little dinette, and even a tiny kitchen. There was a cartridge toilet, too, but we had a spot right across from the restrooms, which was good because there was NO WAY I was going to have my boyfriend dumping out my waste!
It rained that night, a lot…and the tent campers near us stayed up all night, partying. But in the morning, the sun came out and we rode our bikes around the lake, and I decided I liked camping. I mean, I liked my boyfriend, and he had done such an impressive job on his camper, so I was happy to spend time in it with him. And it wasn’t like we were sleeping on the ground in a tent, after all.
That Labor Day, we drove over five hours to camp with Ken’s family in Branson, Missouri. The site was lovely, but it rained. (Fast forward to many camping trips later, on which it always rained; in fact, it did NOT rain only twice in two years). That was fine, because the next day was sunny, and we spent the day at an amusement park called Silver Dollar City. That was the day my boyfriend proposed to me, which is a story for another time. Wow, camping was turning out to be GREAT!
A couple of years later, we upgraded from our pop up to a TrailManor, a collapsible camper which was much easier to set up and take down, and had a ‘real’ toilet and a bigger kitchen. We camped at a handful of beautiful parks in Indiana and one in Kentucky (where we had to evacuate to the bathroom during a tornado watch, and our roof leaked in about six spots.) What I loved about those trips was the hiking, which was exhausting, but absolutely gorgeous! In some of the locations we got no cell phone reception, and, surprisingly, we enjoyed being unreachable.
Then we bought a house in the woods. When we first pulled up, our realtor said, “You guys won’t even need to camp anymore.” We laughed it off…after all, one of our main reasons for buying the property was because it had an extra garage in which to store our camper. We certainly thought we’d camp, but she was right. Time and circumstances (including remodeling the house) prevented us from camping for two years, which brings us to where we are now.
As I reflect on our camping history, I’m relaxing in our 5th wheel’s recliner at a lovely state park in Michigan with the windows open and a cool breeze blowing, smelling the wood from our neighbors’ campfire, feeling blessed. I’m so happy to be camping again with the love of my life. No, I don’t like camping–I love it.
How do you feel about camping? I’d love to hear about your experiences.