08 September 2009

Roughing It

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Camper.

My wife and I bought a camper this past week.

First of all let me clear the air by saying that this is not something that I would have done normally. You don't have to listen to me long to know that I feel that some (most) people take entirely way too many things with them when they "camp". I use the quotes because the way some people do it is not camping to me.

I suppose it's a semantic issue, really. What those people do is called "RVing", and it truly is a different subset of vacations, that simply happens to share quite a bit of space and facilities with us campers. So if you want to call it RVing, go ahead and stuff that forty foot long fifth wheel trailer with all the comforts of home, set up your satellite TV and kick back in your recliner. I don't mind. Just don't call what you're doing the same thing as what I'm doing as I set up my tent and pump my air mattress and chop kindling. What we're doing? Camping. What you're doing? You're staying at a hotel. You just brought it with you, that's all.

And don't try to convince yourself or your site's neighbors that you're "getting away" for a while. You have a freaking apartment on wheels. What exactly are you getting away from? And for crying out loud, do not, for the love of all that's holy, make that stupid joke about how you're "roughing it". For those of us that are, in fact, roughing it, you just sound spoiled and arrogant. Not to mention a little bit wussy for indirectly admitting your need for all that junk when on vacation. And also pretty lame for laughing at such an old joke.

My wife and I do not like trailers. I grew up with one, and I prefer tents. She grew up with a cottage, so any living space that you can pack in a car, or pull behind your truck, or is in any way mobile is completely foreign to her. Now that we've been vacationing together for some time, we have both come to the conclusion that a tent is the only way to go. It took more convincing for her than for me, but convinced we were (and are).

Enter Elijah.

Last year, Elijah joined us on our vacation to the Conference Grounds. In a tent. It worked out well, but we began to have doubts. The thin, nylon walls of our home away from home do not hide well the sound of a teething child at five in the morning.

Also, tents do not make good places to put microwaves to warm up milk, just in case the teething child in question is spoiled and will not drink cold milk.

So we slept with Eli's bottles between our legs to keep them warm, and we practiced getting up off the air mattress in time to stop Eli from screaming too loud. The weather was gorgeous, and Eli was not quite as fast as he is now, so for a week, we dealt with the inconvenience and enjoyed ourselves.

A few weeks ago, we did it again. We camped with Elijah at the Conference Grounds. In a tent. This time, there were a few major differences. Eli is now not as picky about the temperature of his milk, but now we need to deal with keeping a cooler cold enough for milk. And milk is a bit more touchy when it comes to temperature than, say, Daddy's Mountain Dew Game Fuel. Eli is also way faster than he was last year. He runs now, and Daddy and Mommy almost have to run themselves to keep up with him. He is also old enough to memorize the way to the playground, and just old enough to hurt himself when he falls off the toys at the playground. He doesn't stop for naps if it's not dark out, and tents don't get as dark as we can get his bedroom. Nap time was craptacular.

Probably the biggest difference is that Mommy is pregnant with Eli's little sister, and pretty much down for the count when it comes to chasing after Eli.

Add in the less than perfect weather that we've had all summer long, and what we had was a less than relaxing vacation.

Enter Baby J #2.

She will want milk and formula, probably warmed up. She will need the Pack n Play, meaning Eli will get a big boy air mattress, and therefore will be free to roam if he were to wake up at some point during the night. She will also be teething eventually.

To make my incredibly long story short, we are in the midst of outgrowing our tent. I had a choice: give up camping as a vacation, and settle for cottages and hotels, or give up our tent.

Sorry Coleman. You lose. Daddy's got to get his camp on.

So this past week, because we weren't busy enough preparing for another child, getting another cat to keep Moose occupied, re-doing our kitchen, and working on my Blazer, we decided to buy a camper.

It's not something we did with great excitement, but we both accepted the inevitable in order to continue camping as a family activity. We searched around for a good deal, and then when we found it, we took it. Tuesday I looked at it, and that night we made an offer. Friday, the guy dropped it off and we took care of business. It's ours, and is currently set up in our driveway.

A few things made this a bit more palatable to my Wild at Heart-ness. First, I grew up with travel trailers, so transitioning from tent to pop-up is at least familiar to me. Second, it's a pop-up. There's enough canvas on it to make you think you're still in a tent, except it's got wheels. But you can't see them from the inside, so you're okay.

Third, I came across this blog a while back, and read the whole thing. This family trucked it across Australia in their SUV and pop-up camper. Just you go and try pulling your apartment on wheels down some of the roads they went down! Impossible, I daresay! If I read this travel blog correctly, then I must conclude that the pop-up camper was what made this adventure possible. It could not have been done with a massive trailer, and a tent would not have been durable enough to make it that long. Therefore, pop-up campers allow you to rough it more than a tent would (This is my argument. Let me make it.)

I mean, look at what the Halls did! 85 days and 11,000 kilometers. That's like 6800 miles, which is like 340 trips to the Conference Grounds. Given our current rate of vacation travel, that's over 300 years of camping adventures.

So, from now on, when the Wingnut family camps, we'll have to do it with an asterisk and footnotes denoting our love of tents rather than trailers.

Paul, the gentleman who we bought our camper from, was more than helpful in explaining things to us. Lists and advice and all sorts of great information. Thanks Paul! We promise to have lots of adventures with it!

I would also like to thank Craig, who made his amazing list. Without you, Craig, we wouldn't have found Paul.

There you have it. The first step on the slippery slope to a forty-foot fifth wheel trailer with three slide outs, full kitchen, recliners, plasma TV and satellite dish, air conditioning, and a seasonal spot at our favorite RV park, complete with a little sign showing our last name and the town we're from.

Ours says Allendale, even though we're from Jenison.


No comments: