Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We're Not Camping, This Is Home - Part 2

We aren't very good at camping

Serious campers have the coolest stuff: camp stoves, lanterns, fancy folding tables, coolers full of goodies, space-age folding lawn furniture, citronella candles, that cast-iron dutch oven with the nifty tripod, the old-fashioned enameled coffeepot for the campfire. Yeah, we don't have any of that. We drive in, slide out, level up, throw out a welcome mat, and we're pretty much done settling in, on the outside. Eventually the bikes come out, and maybe a basic chair or two.

Don't get me wrong, we like to spend time outside, sometimes even sitting around our campsite. There's nothing like morning coffee out on the verandah, enjoying whatever view we've parked at. We love campfires, and the boys enjoy building and igniting them whenever they're legal and convenient. Joe occasionally cooks meat or corn over the coals. And of course we roast marshmallows. But most of our cooking happens on the stovetop in our little kitchen, with ingredients out of our pantry and refrigerator. We usually eat at our dinette, only occasionally ferrying the fixings for a meal out to the provided picnic table. If we're really planning ahead, we'll dig out the vinyl table cloth and the clips that hold it on in the wind. Then we practically look like campers.

Earlier this year Joe found a portable Weber grill next to the dumpster at a campground. (Craig's list curb alerts have a venerable heritage in good, old-fashioned trash-picking). This grill was apparently the victim of another camper's prejudice against the beginnings of rust, because that was the only thing keeping it from looking quite new. I imagine Joe will do a little more cooking out with his new grill, when a campfire isn't available or would take too long. If he happens to find a sale on chicken, or some discounted bratwurst, that is.

I'm consistently impressed with how my camping friends plan out the meals for the trip, shop for specific recipes and menus, and keep the ingredients cold on ice until they are needed. Joe has always been a "what's on sale?" shopper, so we continue to throw together meals as we always have ... starting with "what's in the pantry?" We're creative and forgiving. We don't starve, we don't waste a lot of food, and we try to be aware of what we're eating without overdoing the food guilt.

Ditto the eco-guilt. We drink a lot of bottled water. Although we're not opposed to drinking potable tap water, there are many potential points of contamination in an RV system, so we only drink from our faucet under specific, controlled conditions. We're still trying to find a system that uses less plastic than purchasing water in jugs and bottles (occasionally getting into a cycle of refilling, but not usually).

For a while we thought that paper plates and plastic cups and cutlery were easier than real dishes. We still keep some disposables around, but real dishes simply function better and make us feel at home. Washing up after a meal is one of the little pleasures I find in daily housekeeping. The added challenge of water conservation (to minimize the frequency of dumping our tanks) elevates it to an exercise in efficiency.

A good chunk of most days we spend away from camp -- exploring, playing, or shopping, on foot or with our bikes. We walk right past our "borrowed yard" on the way in or out. Relaxing at home in between outings and meals, we'll kick back on our beds or the couch, or play a game at the dinette table. We just don't manage to turn a campsite into an extra room the way all those fancy campers do. Maybe that's something to work on this year.


  1. Love your smile, Karl!! I cannot wait to see you in NC, Meg. Totally love the blog, it's a great way to keep up!


  2. So glad you popped in to read and to comment! I look forward to seeing NC in its autumn colors.