Are the camping gods good to me, or what? Over six weeks of being on the road and camping out more than camping in at friends’ houses, I experienced TWO nights of rain. Two. A few sprinkles here and there, plenty of sub freezing temperatures, and winds to make you double check the adhesive of your hair piece, but no real ‘weather.’ I made it to California where the seasons alternate between nice and really nice and I watch the weather drama in Wyoming, Illinois, and even North Carolina play out on the TV versus the tent screen.
I have declared to more than one that I am completely in love with camping. On a night I slipped into a motor lodge because it was getting late, all I wished for was to be outside and away from the drone of cars and the blinding street lights. The advertisement for a hundred channels did not boost my enthusiasm and the lukewarm shower felt a ligament reason to complain since most state parks have offered better showers—for a quarter of the price. True, the showers at the park are for masses, no accoutrements are provided, and flip flops are a wise accessory for the stained concrete floors. But once I had the hang of the campground protocol and had my expectations in safe check, the smallest amendities overjoyed me. A separate nozzle for hot and cold water. Electrical plug to juice up my phone. A hook for my towel. (By the way, if I were in charge of the facilities at the park, there would be many more hooks in the bathrooms!)
At this juncture of the journey, I should recognize two high performing essentials. First, the REI Passage Two tent has done the job of keeping me dry and nothing (knock on nylon) has busted. That the tent (and me) have not been destroyed by bears in Yellowstone or high winds in Zion has not gone unnoticed. The poles are taut, zippers still zip, and other than a few stains from low flying birds and sap oozing trees, it remains quite clean. The fact that I can assemble it with a little more dexterity makes me feel a tad rugged. However, I feel certain tent pitching is one of those skills I can loose within a week.
My other high performing essential has been the 2004 Outback Subaru. I cannot count on two hands how many folks have said along the way: Oh, you have a Subaru, you’ll be fine. I have been fine. Better than fine. I started at 162 thousand miles and proceeded to put on 7,913 miles in six weeks. I’ve had the oil changed twice, the tires checked several times and each service stop garners the same update: “It looks great. You’ll be fine.” Seems a little risky to tout how great the car is doing since I still have the country to cross back over, but I’m just sending up the gratitude.
All that said about the tent and the car, you’d think I had found the ideal way to seek adventure. But, alas, the grass is always greener at the neighboring campsite. The tent is great, but those nylon walls that allow for some good ventilation also allow for audible noises and I’m not just talking about the disconcerting sounds of bugling elk, unidentified snorting wildlife scurrying close to my tarp, or the coyote crying out above the desert floor. It is the blowing of noses, the snoring of neighbors, the hushed conversations that sweep along the air currents better than a telephone wire that make me lay awake dreaming of those folks up the way in their sporty little hard-sided campers.
I officially have camper envy.
Yes, there is something magical about being out in a tent. And, the site of big Winnebago careening up the mountain passes scare me. But I had no idea there were so many quaint options out there. I pass by a parked teardrop or an escape and I have to snap a picture. My file on all the possibilities is growing. As is the file on absolutely out of the question, like the Hummer-esq vehicle that looks like it just returned from battle and is now firing up the drop down grill.
What draws me closer to this desire is the understanding that I could really simplify my life. I mean if I had one of those Crickets like my friend April or if I was all self contained in a VW Campervan, I don’t think I’d even need my house!
The thing is I do rather like some of those creature comforts—like a stove that doesn’t run out of fuel and a bathroom that doesn’t need regular servicing. But if this camping life continues, a camper is not out of the question. For now I have my own version…a little camper birdhouse that fits nicely inside the Subaru and makes me smile.
As I start to plan for heading back out on the road, I will keep the gratitude streaming to universe for good weather and nice campsites (and bathrooms with hooks!). But if you are one of those folks with a sweet little airstream, an easy pull behind, or a vintage trailer do not be alarmed if you see a lady out there snapping pictures and looking longingly at your camper.