What is camping? Seems obvious. Tents, bugs, snakes, woodwhittling, campfires and s’mores.
At least that was what I thought in my teens and frankly it was based on no experience at all. My Manhattan-based family never hiked, never lit a fire and would have been as likely to sleep in a tent as to walk five miles uphill to school. And “woodwhittling.” Where did I get that crazy idea?
In 2022 the s’mores and campfires are still around, but otherwise camping is nothing like my youthful fantasy.
First of all, in my totally unscientific survey, the majority of campers in 2022 are in RVs, Trailers, and vans. There are also cabins, yurts and tiny homes. Tents tend to be used by younger campers, families or adventurers who want to camp off road. Oh, and Boy Scouts. Last week we saw Boy Scouts in tents.
Campgrounds are varied. There are resorts with lots of amenities like cornball, pickleball and swimming. There’s the parking lot campground where the rvs are lined up in a field arranged for maximum efficiency and income. (These are very common in tourist areas, near cities, and along major highways.)
The third type of campground is the one we look for… a park-like setting with some shade and space. Here the emphasis is on the pleasant individual campsite not the amenities.
We definitely prefer the shaded spacious campsites. We like noise of birds instead of traffic waking us up in the morning. We would trade walking trails for a pool anytime.
This means we look for state, county, and national parks and forests first.
The downside of beauty is that wifi is rarely available on public lands. If it’s remote, cell service can be non-existent as well. After a week of no wifi or cell service we are so desperate to watch Netflix and check our bank accounts that we’d stay anywhere. And the lengths we will go to get wifi are comical. I have stood on top of a sewage dump station because it was only a place where I could get cell. The police were called after- hours to shoo me away from a visitor’s center front door because I was desperate to create and post on my blog.
Another consideration is sewers. If we don’t have sewer hook up we have to dump every five days using a poop trolley that carries our black water (toilet water) and our grey water (that is water from the shower and the sink) to a communal septic tank. It is just part of the gig, but a full service campground with water, electric and sewer is a luxury that we look forward to every now and then.
Last year we learned that air conditioning is indispensable in the summer. We experienced 95 degree heat 60 days in a row. Our trailer has lots of windows but the heat builds up. And if we need to leave Django the dog in the trailer for one reason or another he would suffer.
Our focus on air conditioning worked out nicely. Django loves the trailer and if its hot, he is good with AC, NPR and a bowl of water.
So we learned that sometimes the RV parking lot next to the highway is a welcome sight. No longer do we sniff the air like east coast snobs. We enjoy the convenience and services of the parking lot campgrounds. It’s a fine place to stay a night or two, relax, do laundry and use the wifi.
One more thing. The most fantastic thing about modern camping is the bathroom. No need to go out into the weather or put on pants in the middle of the night. It is more than convenience. It is beautiful.
Our trailer is a one-bedroom apartment on wheels.With it we get to explore new places, live a life that is adventurous and inquisitive while sleeping in the same bed every night. We get to cook (or dine out) whenever we want. When Django and I step out in the early morning for our first walk in a park or forest, we get to smell the oxygen produced by the trees surrounding us. Lovely.
In a million years, I never envisioned myself in an RV. But now that we have one, I feel unfettered and free to wander. It’s been a great retirement so far. One that I can appreciate with every cell of my being.