Camping Girl

It was a part of my life that I thought was over. A part that disappeared with other, interesting, and important things into the past. I knew when that part of my life was over. At first, I didn’t think I would miss camping. I didn’t grow up camping. In fact, didn’t even know if I would like it.

However, when I married, I married into a RV camping family. My former spouse had been RV camping since he was a kid and loved it.

What in the world is there to love about traveling the country in a vehicle that also served as your residence? I couldn’t see anything that I was going to like. It was small, cramped, had its own distinctive smell and was heavy to drive.

“I’ll make it easy for you,” I was promised.

And I have to say, that particular promise was honored.

All I was ever in charge of was food and meals, reservations at campgrounds and navigating with an Atlas, trip tick and MapQuest. Yes, I used all 3-this was before google maps and the system worked. For someone who is direction impaired, I was able to deliver us to the correct campground time and again.

At first, we traveled in an older RV where the table turned into a bed. That first trip was to the Smoky Mountains in March. It was terrifically cold, however, while I can’t say I was sold completely, it did have its positive elements. It was fun to be outside, relaxing once you made it to the campground and offered a unique perspective on travel.

As time went on, we continued to travel in the RV with our dog Starr to Myrtle Beach. Those trips were interesting. At first, we would drive all day, sometimes 12 hours a day. Not stopping unless the dog had to go out. Gradually, I implemented changes to this schedule. We began stopping for picnic lunches and walks and then we ended our day by dinnertime. It took longer, but the journey was just as important as the destination.

In those days, we had a soundtrack of CD’s, sometimes even audio books. On more than one occasion we did get lost because we were so deep into the story. We also stopped for local delicacies. Some better than others. BBQ in Tennessee was worth the stop. Florida and Georgia peaches were amazing. Boiled peanuts not so much.

Gradually, I began enjoying the RV more and more, even beginning to integrate this travel into my life. I was always on the look-out for items that would benefit the RV experience. As promised, I wasn’t in charge and didn’t even have to help with anything gross.

Part of the fun for me was trying to find places to stop along the way by reading billboards and locating campgrounds for the night. Once, as we drove through a grove of trees in the twilight to a campground, I commented, “This is the beginning of a horror movie.” Turns out, through the grove was a beautiful open field full of RV’s and campers.

Early on, on one trip, we slept in a truck stop and as I gradually began to wake up the next morning, I realized we were moving. Nothing like waking up traveling 65 miles an hour down the highway. Try peeing in an RV as it’s rolling. Really, everyone needs this experience. Especially fun going over a bump or a sudden stop.

On another trip to the beach, we both got stomachers and couldn’t quite figure out why. We had to stop at a pharmacy for Imodium we were that sick. Turned out, something had gotten into the water supply which made us extremely ill. We bought bottled water and in fact, continued bringing bottled water from that point on. Arriving at the campground the tank had to be cleaned out with a chemical purchased at Camper’s World. All good in the world and a good learning experience.

It would take about a week to load the RV for trips. We parked the RV in our driveway. When our second dog Crosby saw it, she would hop into it and stay until we made her come into the house with us. She loved camping in the RV. She would often sleep at my feet as we drove.

At campgrounds, on more than one morning when we couldn’t find her, she was sitting in the driver’s seat. Imaging walking by and seeing a giant German Shepherd in the driver’s seat!

When the kids came along, they became campers early on. My son was 13 months on his first camping trip. In fact, he learned to walk that trip because crawling on sand was not his favorite activity. The kids loved camping in the RV. We took trips to mountains to hike and beaches to relax. They loved the freedom the RV and the campgrounds allowed. As they got older, they realized they could watch movies on their computers as we drove. And many a book was read on those cross-country trips.

As an added bonus, I made sure there were always special chocolate treats that were RV-only.

It was many years before we towed a car; trips to the grocery store, fish market and vegetable stand meant I was riding my bike to and from. Once, even carrying beach chairs balanced on my bike.

Campers are a generous, friendly breed. Along the way, we met many people and enjoyed the experience of freedom the RV offered. That was perhaps my favorite part. If we felt like a detour, we could take it.

I loved all the trips, especially the trips to the beach. There is nothing like waking up to sunrise on the beach and the promise of a beautiful day of jumping waves, suntanning and reading. One summer, we witnessed the Super Moon. Imagine a scene out of a Stephen King novel. Everyone drawn to the beach at night gazing at a giant moon. None of us knew what it was until the next day when the Today Show explained the Super Moon.

Over the years, I took to the RV camping life. I found that I enjoyed it, looked forward to it and realized how fun it was to camp as a family.

So, when the opportunity for RV camping was no longer a part of my world, I didn’t think much about it. That part of my world was over, and I was fine.

And then, one day a friend asked me to go camping. I had no idea how I might feel about camping again…. Yet, all my happy memories came back, and I realized that I had 25 years of experience which made camping easy, fun, and worthwhile. It was a different camper (not an RV), a different time and a different me. I wondered if I would remember what I loved and how I might feel about the experience.

Luckily, muscle memory kicked in and Camping Girl took over. I loved the experience of driving to a new place, setting up camp and enjoying a campfire deep into the night. The sky above looked like black velvet and covered in millions of twinkling stars. It was breath-taking. Exactly what I needed to re-introduce myself to camping. And I loved hiking and biking around the campground.

Honestly, I surprised myself. I realized that just because that part of my life might be in the past, I could still enjoy something in the present that brought me such joy. The journey, I found, is always worth it. Especially if there is a campfire and twinkling stars! Expect good. Sparkle ON.

Thank you to John Bourne who helped make this possible-

About Pam Wilson

I've been writing since I can remember. At heart, I am a story-teller; making sense of my world, finding humor and light through writing. Now I help clients to write their own stories. As I continue my own writing journey, my passion is to help clients write their own stories.

8 Comments

  1. Chris Filcoff on April 28, 2022 at 10:43 am

    Pam this is so fun to hear! I loved our RV/camping conversations during workshops that led to some of the best writing memories. Plan a special trip to the darkest sky for the Perseids in August! You will never look at the heavens quite the same after. Enjoy the ride and pass along your adventures and great new parks and campgrounds to be explored.



    • Pam Wilson on April 28, 2022 at 2:19 pm

      Thank you for reading Chris! I remember your trip to the Perseids and how beautiful you said it was! The sky can be enchanting!!!



  2. Sandye Muncy on April 28, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    What a wonderful story! Camping isn’t always easy, but if you go at it with a positive attitude and a sense of adventure, it can be magical! Thanks for making me want to experience the magic again!



    • Pam Wilson on April 28, 2022 at 4:02 pm

      Thank you for reading!!! You and I both know that having a positive attitude and a sense of adventure makes everything better!!! Guess it was an adventure….and magical.



  3. Anita Stiffelman on April 29, 2022 at 8:09 am

    Perfect timing for me to read this…. Have not traveled in my new trailer yet, but it was a Pandemic purchase, intended to jumpstart a new direction in life, on the road less traveled, less scheduled. Up to now, I’ve only enjoyed reading about adventures in odyssey‘s in literature. Now I will have my own coming up!



    • Pam Wilson on September 19, 2022 at 9:56 am

      So glad you are traveling via RV. Have fun and see the world!!!!



  4. Jeffrey Dunn on April 29, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    What a great story and picture, that smile shows pure happiness! Our friend John says that it makes him happy that he was able to bring you such joy and a magical experience! The journey truly is worth it.



    • Pam Wilson on May 2, 2022 at 9:04 am

      Thanks for reading!