My early experiences with camping were ok, at best. As a Brownie in Detroit and then later as a Cadet in Wyoming, I had a couple experiences camping with my troops. In Detroit our "camping" consisted of cabins, in Wyoming we actually slept in tents. Church camp brought on more primitive cabins, and then there was the camping trip with my mom's side of the family when I was in middle school. I really don't remember much about the experience except my grandmother cooking outside and walking around the Michigan state campground with the only cousin I have who is my age. Then there was the trip back out east when I was in high school. Our family was visiting several places and my parents decided that we should go camping on our own for the first time ever. To my knowledge, my parents had never really camped in their whole marriage, unless you counted the time with my mom's family in Michigan. That particular trip included an awesome (and I mean that in the original sense of the word) middle of the night Black Hills thunderstorm during which my sister closest in age to me and I stayed relatively dry in our small dome tent while we listened the screams of our parents and two younger sisters after their old canvas tent fell down around them letting in the torrential rain.
I didn't see camping as truly beneficial. I knew there was an allure, but I didn't see it. Then the summer before we got married my husband and I traveled out to Denver to visit his sister and attend the wedding of two of my college friends in Cheyenne, WY. Part of the trip included a trip up to the Rocky Mountains to go camping with my soon-to-be sister-in-law and her friends. That was it. I was hooked. I love the Rockies, and staying in the mountains in a tent wrapped up in a sleeping bag was the best way to experience them. As soon as we got back to Denver we headed to Target six months before our wedding to register for wedding gifts, adding several camping supplies to the registry.
In the early years of our marriage we camped whenever we could. It wasn't a weekly occurrence, but we made an effort to at least get out to the Michigan and Indiana state parks. The best vacation and camping experience of our marriage was our trip out to Yellowstone. I had been to Yellowstone when I was 12, but that was to be expected because at the time my family lived hours as opposed to days from the national park. My husband had never been further west than Denver and he decided that was a vacation he wanted to take. I told him that we would never find a place to stay a month before making the trip, but some quick research and we had reservations at KOAs all the way to Yellowstone. Our trip included a drive through the Badlands, a stop at Wall Drug, overnight at Mount Rushmore, and a long days drive through Wyoming all the way to West Yellowstone (of course, we didn't buy our National Parks Passport until AFTER we completed that trip). We camped the whole way and loved every minute of it. So much so that we vowed that someday we would take our kids there when they were old enough to appreciate it.
We were tent campers and made fun of people who used anything but tents. After all, if you were in something with hard sides, were you really camping? We believed the answer was a resounding no. Then we had kids.
People with kids camp in tents all of the time. In fact, our daughter has been camping twice in her life, both times in a tent. But she's four and she's only been camping twice. The second time she went camping was without me. I was less than two weeks away from my due date with her brother and it was decided that I would stay home. The reality is for us it was difficult at best to camp with our kids with a tent. Packing up, set up, take down: the thought of doing all of this with kids was been overwhelming. Add to that two full time jobs, grad school for me, a house that is in constant need of work, and time has been a factor. We wanted to camp but we were honestly lazy. So began our quest to find the right camper.
It was a long journey. We've been talking about it for a couple years now. We visited the camper show in Fort Wayne two years in a row and dreamed of what could be. Then my husband started seriously looking at used. We went from hybrids to pop-ups to full trailers and then back to hybrids. Finally we found the hybrid trailer that we felt was right for our family for a price that we could justify, especially if it meant spending quality time as a family camping and getting out of town whenever time would allow.
When I got back from dropping the kids off with their grandparents Friday night, the trailer was sitting in our driveway. As we packed it up with all of our camping equipment we found all sorts of good tools that had been sitting unused in our house and garage for the most part of three years. We were discovering just how good of stuff we had, and eagerly packed it up into our trailer. Now we are on the road, ready for our first adventure and dry run without kids. I will probably post two blogs today so I can cover our first Passport stop once we get out of traffic, but here starts our new adventures with the newest member of our family.