Giving Thanks – Day 14: Camping

I have always loved camping. But I have a serious question. Why? Why do people move themselves to another location for maybe just a few days, take everything they have to so they can do all the things they do at home somewhere else, use a smaller stove, smaller sink, public toilet and shower, and maybe sleep in a tent that attracts rain?

Camping is great. I remembered camping when we were kids and I wanted our own children to experience the same thing. Our first tent was an 8 x 8 canvas tent that had been torn apart in a wind storm. I sewed the rips, treated them with water-proofing, and expected the best. The old tent had an awning over the door and windows on two sides. We didn’t have cots so we all slept on the floor. We used that tent for several years.

Our second tent was 10 x 14 with a room divider. The tent was supposed to be waterproof. Not. I really don’t think there is a truly waterproof tent. Waterproofing means stretching a huge tarp above the tent and tying it to trees so the water runs away from the tent. We had a 12 x 12 screen tent for cooking and eating. Of course, we had the necessary camping lights to hang across our campsite so we had the colorful glow at night.

We finally moved up to a used camper. Our first was an old Nomad 15′ single-axle trailer. We had so much fun with that little trailer! It was so exciting to have a solid roof over our heads when it rained outside. We never had access to a full-hookup campsite, so we never used the toilet in the camper. It had a couch at the back that folded down to a bed, as well as the table-top that dropped down to make a bed. There was a shelf bed over the couch but we never used it except for storage. The sink, stove, and cupboards were all we needed to have a great time camping.

We sold the small camper when we no longer had a vehicle to pull it. We didn’t camp for several years. What an exciting day it was when we purchased a 24′ double-axle trailer that slept four. It had a bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower. The kitchen had a microwave, stove, oven, large sink, and refrigerator. We had air conditioning, heat, and hot water, a stereo, and a TV antenna! Just like home!

We most often used the trailer at campsites with full hook-up so it really was just like home, except for one thing. To take a shower, I had to stand with my head in the fan above the shower. The longest trip we ever took with the camper was to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I have to admit, I was a little nervous pulling the trailer over the Mackinac Bridge, but we did it just fine.

We again ran into a problem of not having a vehicle to pull the trailer. My truck was getting up in years and looking like it. We purchased a large heavy vehicle with plenty of towing capacity, but the vehicle was a disaster. Nothing but trouble the entire time we owned it. We never pulled the trailer with it.

Last spring I was standing at the top of a tall ladder working to remove the cover from the trailer. The ladder collapsed and I fell, landing on my side. I’m sure I broke at least one rib, and was afraid I broke my wrist. My wife heard me yell and came running. She helped me up, and thankfully, within an hour or so I was moving around without too much difficulty. I told her, “That’s it! Tomorrow we’re going to look for a new car and we’re selling the trailer!” We did both.

We loved going to camper and RV shows. I think there are probably lots of people who buy campers thinking they will go every weekend. The reality is, life sets in and camping often gets pushed aside.

Even though we don’t have a camper anymore, we still intend to go camping. We’ll take our tent, cots, sleeping bags, screen tent, and we’ll stretch the tarp over everything. The original old-English word translated “camping” actually means “it’s going to rain more than it has in a month.”

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