December 07, 2017

Camping Lifestyle 101

Welcome!  Since Reflections Around the Campfire marks my first experience in the world of blogging, I imagine that many of you stopping by this virtual campfire would be curious as to my background and credibility.  Due to a career in finance and human resources, my writing has mostly been for personal, not professional, reasons.  I try to write with an easy, conversational style; it seems to work well for me and, earlier this year, led to having a personal essay published in a major magazine.  I truly do hope that you’ll enjoy the topics here and that you’ll visit often and share your comments.  As for my camping credentials, please know that my husband Alan and I have been camping for more than 35 years and have made six cross-country camping trips – four for extended vacations and two for personal business.  Although we now travel in a 31’ Creek Side travel trailer made by Outdoors RV Manufacturing, our lifetime of camping began with a small and simple tent.

Newly engaged with big dreams and not much in the way of disposable income, Alan and I turned to camping as an inexpensive way to combine our love of the great outdoors with what would become one of the top priorities in our lives – traveling throughout the fifty states of our grand and glorious nation.  As camping newbies, we had a lot to learn.  Lesson #1: Always test a borrowed tent for leaks before you leave on your camping trip.  On our first trip, the pouring rain leaking into the tent during a downpour in the Carolinas chased us into the car to finish out the night.  Spending too many hours in a Camaro, either stretched out diagonally from the back seat to front (Alan) or curled up in a ball on the passenger seat (me) was so uncomfortable that I can assure you Lesson #1 was quickly imprinted on our brains!  What followed was a careful collection of our own camping gear, including a (now classic) Coleman cooler that works better than anything we have bought since, heavy weight sleeping bags (a great investment and still in use) and a Coleman lantern that lasted a good 30 years before casting its last light.  (Don’t tell Alan, but we still have the lantern.  I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it away!)  The new equipment was all purchased with the honeymoon in mind – a month long, cross-country fall camping adventure to visit a number of the well-known National Parks and Monuments of the West: Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Devil’s Tower and Mount Rushmore.  That trip solidified our love of the wild and beautiful places that our National Parks encompass and our penchant for road trips of any length.  Spending weeks living out of our car, traveling with our home (a two person mountain tent) and our outdoor kitchen (a Coleman camp stove), we moved from one Kampground of America (KOA) to the next.  Back in the day, before cell phones and smartphone apps, each KOA would gladly make reservations for us at the next one down the road.  We stuck with KOAs because we knew we could expect a certain level of cleanliness and amenities, and we were rarely disappointed.  These days, we generally spend our camping trips in State or National Parks but, if one of those isn’t feasible for some reason and we happen to end up at a KOA, it always brings back fond memories of that first grand adventure.  A little more than 10 years ago, we bought our first travel trailer – a Jayco Jay Flight 27BH.  Maybe some of you have one now or had one in the past – it was a very popular model.  We loved that travel trailer and put over 40,000 miles on it.  Our son and daughter are young adults now, but the times we spent camping with them when they were younger - whether we were out exploring America or simply relaxing at a favorite lake near our home - provided some of the most precious memories of my life.

So, please . . . Be sure to read my “Welcome!” comments and you’ll understand the flavor of this blog.  Sign up below to follow Reflections Around the Campfire via email.  New blog posts will be delivered directly to your Inbox so that you’ll never miss one.  (Please bear with me as I learn the technical aspects of blogging.)  Know that you’re always welcome to stop by the campfire and join in the conversation.  Comments will build our little campfire community and yours are both encouraged and appreciated.  Understand that I’m a big believer in kindness so, while different ideas and opinions are welcome (and are, in fact, what make the world go round in such an interesting way), disrespectful treatment of others will not be allowed and inflammatory comments will be deleted.  Campfires are for pure enjoyment and we celebrate the good conversation and solid relationships they encourage.  I’m so glad you stopped by – please come back soon!

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