Saturday, May 22, 2010

RV versus Tent Camping

(Reposted from my RV travel blog: Thataway Road.)

I don't make the distinction.

Like most people I started camping as a kid in a tent in dirt campgrounds with my dad, mom and younger sister. Sometimes my dad and I would go, just the two of us. We'd hike and fish and sleep on the ground under a gazillion stars without the tent or even the campground.
Those times are cherished memories. But, now that I'm older I love not having to get my fat, creaky body off the hard ground in the middle of the night to walk 100 yards in the cold to a fly-infested outhouse.

To me it's all "camping" whenever I spend more time outside than inside
and don't have things I should be doing.

I think that's the key to it, right there. When you're camping you have things you must do but nothing you should do. You leave your guilt bag at home.

As kids we pitched a tent in the backyard and watched the sky for UFOs all night while chowing down on RC Colas, Hostess Snowballs, Look bars and Chicken Bones candy. We always woke up the next morning with the sun in our faces; the tent was getting hot and we had kids Sunday morning hangovers from too much sugar and not enough sleep.

Now I awaken refreshed, in a quiet RV park around 5AM, in a soft bed next to my sweet wife. I tiptoe across the carpeted bedroom to use the proper bathroom and from there I close two sets of pocket doors behind me to give Carolann her privacy in Slumberland. I press "START" on the preset coffeemaker, feed and walk the dogs, boot up my computer or pick up my book and begin the day on the sofa, swaddled in creature comforts, blinking cobwebs out of my brain.

At a sensible hour, say six or seven, I might go outside and take my leisure in a folding chair, perhaps making a campfire if it's still chilly. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I just sip coffee and greet the neighbors as they walk their dogs.

Here's an embarrassing revelation: as much as I enjoy having coffee and reading a book outside I also enjoy watching a movie first thing in the morning on our motorhome TV. Just sometimes. How decadent is that?

Who made the rule that "camping" must imply "roughing it"?

When you get right down to it camping has nothing to do with where you sleep and change your clothes. It doesn't matter if you get your milk out of a fridge or an ice chest or whether you cook over a campfire, a Coleman stove or in a microwave/convection oven in your Mini Winnie. Camping is just being away from home free to do what you like because you left your guilt bag behind. It's the people you're with, the deeply gratifying thoughtful and funny conversations with family and good friends you never seem to have enough time for. It's eyes that sparkle just because you're all together and the stress is gone.

Camping is unleashing your spirit and letting it run joyously free like a dog chasing gulls on a beach.

And when you go home, as you must, your heart is happy knowing you'll do it again.

And that guilt bag isn't nearly so heavy.

© 2010 by David L. Williams, all rights reserved

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