May 26, 2010

back to basics.

This is going to sound funny, but I want to go camping. Sure, I live in a van, and certainly spend a lot of time outside. But, I assure you, the kind of camping we're doing is very different from the camping that many will be doing this Memorial Day weekend. Let me explain.

For one, we are rarely at a picturesque, serene creekside site in the mountains. We do our share of urban camping, and by this I mean we RV Park it. Not romantic and usually not beautiful, but when you don't have a house, you need amenities. Internet, power, laundry, shower: these resorts have everything we need. I used to drive by these types of places and shudder at the thought of 'camping' at one of them, with their concrete pads, hookups and views of neighboring behemoth RVs. Now, I'm a regular, right alongside the Snowbirds, satellite dishes, and Fluffy the lap dog. Even scarier, there are times I want a behemoth of my very own.

We almost always need to be near a town. Bike shops need to be visited, work has to get done. Errands to be run, conference calls to be made. It's real life. As footloose and fancy-free as it seems, the same nitty gritty still applies to what we're doing on the road, arguably to a greater extent than it does for house dwellers.

This is because roaming the West requires a lot of planning. Logistics: where to camp, where to eat, which coffee shop to park myself in for the day. Where to do laundry, grocery shop, make copies, mail something. I'm becoming a specialist at finding good spots to loiter, and Yelp and Google Maps are my most loyal travel buddies.

I'm also becoming a pro-packer. Loading and unloading, constantly organizing. It takes about three seconds for the 'house' to be a mess once you've cleaned--but the upside is that it only takes about 15 minutes to clean everything, including the fridge.

I want to set up a tent and sleep on the ground. Turn off the glowing rectangles and stare only at bright stars and the flicker of campfire flames, without a worry in the world. Wade in a cold creek, sit on a mountaintop and take in the view. To get a good tree fix.

In the beginning, I thought that what I would crave as a respite from van living would be a hotel stay, with plush robes and a spa. A bit of civilization and all of it's comforts. But because we log many hours behind the wheel, hitting the streets, and on the go, go, go, I long for the solitude and simplicity of an old-fashioned camping trip.

It may be time for a vacation!

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