When I was a child, I would wait not so patiently for my dad to come home from work. He would back the trunk in (instead of forward) so he could hook up our little pop-up camper.
My mom had been packing and sorting and meal planning so all would be ready when he got home.
My sister and I would get to bring along ONE friend. (my brother was still just a baby) And, kudos to the parents for that clever plan, because with a friend along we were happily entertained and barely came back to the campsite for food.
My bicycle tires got SO many miles! We hiked and swam and explored and got dirty. Our campsites were almost always "primitive" so there weren't many amenities... no swimming pool. No electric. No flushing toilets. Just you and nature.
In fact, it was a rule that once we got there, no more watches. No electronic devices and no talking shop. (school or work!)
This was where I learned basic survival skills. I got to play with sharp instruments AND fire! I learned to steer a canoe and became a strong swimmer. We got to drink Vess soda and I was trusted to wander and explore to my heart's content.
When my father left us, that was pretty much the end of my camping adventures.
But it was still some of the very best memories of my childhood.
When I became an adult, it became very important to me to make sure my children were exposed to that kind of adventure.
We started with a tent and the basics and even found my childhood campground- which is still one of my very favorite places on earth. (My first book, Captive Heart was placed there, it's on the front cover!)
I was amazed at how quickly everything came back to me. All my memories and "training". jumped at the chance to come forward again. And the same "rules" applied. I taught my kids (and those that tagged along) how to build a fire, how to be strong swimmers, how to embrace the dark and appreciate the stars and NO electronic devices. No video games, no radios, no watches and eventually, no cell phones. Just us and nature. Even kids need to learn to sit still and relax.
It only took one rainy weekend with 4 kids in tow to realize that tent camping was not for me. We upgraded to a pop up...
And we became unstoppable.
We took that little camper everywhere! Again... some of my favorite memories.
The kids were able to see things they might never had the opportunity to see!
As the kids grew up and went their own grown-up ways, I realized that I wanted more... and less.
I hate being cold. I've hated it my whole life. So project number one was to figure out how to not be cold anymore. If I never saw snow again...
I hit that place in life where I questioned, "Is this all there is? There's still so much I wanted to do and to see... I wasn't built to live and die in the same town, was I?"
And I was surrounded by... stuff. So much stuff! Stuff that I coveted and drug from home to home and thought I couldn't bare to live without!
Until I realized that I was really only using three rooms in my three bedroom home that it dawned on me.
1. I don't need all this stuff.
2. I don't need all this space.
3. Life DOES have options. Really and truly, if there is a will, there IS a way... you just have to be open to the unconventional possibilities.
I bought a camper. I moved in to said camper and I haven't looked back.
I have only "recently" been able to use my camper(s)- for there have been a few by now- for it's intended purpose, and that is to move about the country, but now that I have... I am just so... happy.
I love the camping life.
I love the simplistic ways. I love living minimally. (Oh, I'm still plenty spoiled, but thanks to my upbringing, I wouldn't know how to "glamp" or camp in luxury even if it was offered to me.)
So I still choose low-key campgrounds, I still love a good campfire, I still love walking, hiking and exploring. I love having a new front yard when I open my door. (One that never has to be tended by me!)
I have made new friends, seen some amazing sights and learned so many things...
When it is time for me to stop traveling and I am forced to act my age, I can honestly say I'm looking forward to the memories that will keep me company.