Brian’s father passed away a year and a half ago, and with persistent encouragement, he finally got his mother to agree to venture out and visit us in Arizona. She was hesitant to disrupt the routine she had slowly grown accustom to as a single person, and had not been on a plane in quite some time. But after a very long and cold winter, Brian convinced her to come down and spend a week with us in the sun.
Residing in Montana most of their adult lives, my in-laws were avid outdoors people. They have boxes and boxes of 35 mm slides that catalog hundreds of backpacking trips, all over the world– often with their three young boys in tow. They were hard-core campers in my opinion. I classify any experience without a tent as extreme camping. There were several shots of Brian and his two brothers all bundled in winter gear; nestled below a snow covered tree trunk, sound asleep. Brian looked at these photos with fond memories. I looked at them as child abuse.
Brian’s father, a chemistry professor, had taken sabbatical leave to teach in various parts of the world including China, Africa, New Zealand and South America. His wife and sons joined him and they went backpacking whenever they could. During their stay in Venezuela, the school was shut down after the president of the university was captured and held hostage. Never wasting an opportunity for more adventure, my late father-in-law guided his young family through South America for 3 months on foot. They explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Here’s a photo of Brian….
So when my mother-in-law came to Arizona to visit, we figured that she would not be opposed to a short adventure to Mexico with the Caravel in tow. We could send her on long walks along the beach collecting sea glass (a.k.a. pieces of broken Mexican beer bottles), cook great meals in our fully functioning kitchen, and totally relax with no senior itinerary whatsoever. It would be the perfect in-law visit.
Packing for the trip, I thought she was impressed by how much stuff we could actually fit into the Airstream. She was definitely unimpressed by how long it took us to pack. Adding another person, along with bicycles, extra sleeping stuff, extra toiletries, and extra food, etc., through me off my game. She was probably wondering why in the world we needed so much stuff for the game. I should have known that someone who hiked across continents with everything she needed on her back, would not care how much stuff we could fit into 17 feet. All she needed was a bottle of water, a can of sardines and a spork.
When we arrived in Mexico, I again tried to impress her by setting up our Apple TV to show movies on a big screen. She was not interested. Camping to her meant a penny whistle and quiet conversation, not Blockbuster hits. She preferred instant oatmeal to breakfast burritos and was not at all tricked into searching for bits of beer bottles. She never used the kitchen, and refrigeration wasn’t necessary since she preferred her drinks at room temperature. I kept my frozen margaritas all to myself.
For sleeping arrangements, it was going to be a bit tricky providing mother-in-law quarters in a Caravel. That would be a bit too cozy for me. But we still had plenty of camping gear including tents, a leaky air mattress and a newly purchased double-wide cot. Offering the Caravel to my mother-in-law to sleep in was the right thing to do. She would have climate control, lights, a bathroom, foam mattress, etc. All the comforts of home. She chose the cot. Imagine that. Also not surprisingly, she chose the cot without the tent, preferring to sleep on the beach under the stars.
I give Brian’s mother tons of credit. She spent her days exploring the beach, soaking in the sun and chatting with everyone she met. She definitely enjoys the outdoors to its fullest. She is a senior extreme camper. An Airstreamer– not so much.
My mother is another story….