Chapter 1: (September 1, 2012: How it all began.) I do not consider myself “old”, but when Brian declared the first morning of tent camping, “I’m getting too old to get up and down off the ground”, I had to do a self-check. If I were being true to myself, I’d have to concede that it wasn’t really that easy anymore to fold and insert myself into the mummified sleeping bag. It wasn’t easy at all to hoist myself up off the ground while hurdling over Brian’s body to get out. And when you add in the extra little detail that our THIRD super-duper, extra expensive, puncture resistant air mattress was completely flat by morning; it made me start to think… Maybe I’m not “old”, but there has to be a better way. So my search for a travel trailer had begun.
Compared to tent camping, owning a travel trailer would be the equivalent of checking into a penthouse suite. The number ONE luxury of said trailer would be a bed suspended above the ground. Easier to enter, easier to exit, AND has a real mattress– filled with foam instead of elusive air. I confess right now that Brian and I are spoiled at home- we sleep on a super-duper, extra expensive memory foam mattress (that required a small mortgage payment to acquire). But next to a blow-up bed, any kind of foam mattress would be a massive improvement. Camping was starting to take on a whole new meaning. So the wish list for my new travel trailer had officially begun. These were my top 5 Must Haves:
#1 Must Have a Super-duper, not so expensive, FOAM mattress. A real mattress with real sheets, goose down duvet and color coordinated designer throw pillows (Brian did not just hear me say this). No more deflated dreams, quadriceps work-outs, and maddening zipper wars. The foam, wrapped in 1000 thread-count, Egyptian cotton sheets would be suspended up off the ground AND it could have storage under it.
#2 Must Have Storage. I admit once again, Brian and I have been spoiled in our home. We have lots of storage, and we have acquired a lot of camping gear over the years. However, this is what packing for a spur-of-the-moment weekend camping trip looks like at our house…
a. Go to the kitchen and select the oldest pots and pans that you don’t mind bringing home covered in campfire soot. Don’t forget pot holders, cooking utensils, strainers, grater, napkins, paper towels, salt/pepper/spices/condiments, something to drink in, something to eat on, something to eat with, something to wrap it all in and something to wash it all in. Don’t forget dish soap, dish sponge, and don’t get me started on all the water we have to remember not to forget.
b. Go into the bathroom and take toilet paper, bath soap, bath towels, hair shampoo, hair conditioner, hair brush, and other miscellaneous toiletries. BIG camping bonus: No make-up required (but I usually end up sneaking it along– you never know who you might meet in the woods).
c. Go into the garage and find all the parts to the tent – especially those parts that you forgot last time. Grab stakes, hammer, sleeping bags, super-duper extra expensive puncture resistant air mattress that is guaranteed to be flat before morning, tent broom, tent lantern, lantern fuel, flashlights, lots of batteries, ice chest, campfire chairs, campfire grill, wood axe, newspapers and matches.
d. Go back into house and grab board games, hangers for toasting marshmallow, pillows (forgot those last time), and travel size glow-in-the-dark clock so I can see how many hours I have left before I can crawl out of the deflated bed.
e. Go in the closet and grab clothes, jacket, and hiking shoes.
f. Go in family room and grab dog beds, and then back into kitchen for dog bowls, dog leashes and dog food.
g. Go to store and buy people food. On the way out of town, buy lots and lots of water, ice, firewood and any of the items above that you couldn’t find at home or forgot to pack.
h. Finally, we’re on the road to find the perfect spot— soon we will be ready to camp after we unpack the car, put up the tent, blow up the bed, set-up the “camp kitchen” and start the camp fire.
The ability to store our things in my new travel trailer would clearly save me from having to execute tasks A thru D above, and would also save me from forgetting items listed in A thru D above. Even some items in E thru G could permanently stay in my trailer. Camp packing, unpacking and setting-up would be so much simpler. The spur-of-the-moment camping weekends would be so much more frequent, if only…
#3 Must Have A Place for Calgon to Take Me Away. Maybe this is a sign that I am getting older (and if you remember the slogan “Calgon Take Me Away” chances are you are getting older too, by the way) but gone are the days when I thought “roughing it” was cool and having unwashed, smoke smelling, leaf infested camp hair for the entire weekend was okay. It is not okay. And camp toilets (either free-style in the woods or formaldehyde smelling Porta-Potties) are just plain shitty. This is the crappy part of camping that might keep me at home if I don’t find my trailer soon. What I need is a hot shower and a clean lavatory where strong quadriceps are not required.
#4 Must Have a Culinary Prep Station. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat food cooked outdoors. Brian cooks most of our main dishes on the grill at home. But what I am beginning to hate as much as smelly camp hair is the whole awkward outdoor food handling charade. Picture me sitting on a tree stump, slicing veggies on my lap (forgot the cutting board), trying to rinse from a gallon jug of water, repeatedly dropping the roll of paper towels on the ground. I like to prepare meals, but not like this. I want to gracefully toss a salad, sauté fresh veggies, and bake dishes like scalloped potatoes made from scratch. In the morning, I want to make toast and scramble eggs. I want to fry sausages without having to first catch them floating in the cooler of melted ice. I want food that is both cold and dry. I want to wash the greasy sausage pan afterwards in HOT soapy water. So what I really need is a refrigerator, stove, sink with hot running water, and counter space. It has to get better- I just can’t resort to canned meals. I am definitely old enough to remember Spam, and I would rather stay home.
#5 Must Have Climate Control. I know that controlling anything in the great outdoor is the antithesis of camping. Appreciating everything that nature has to offer is the primary reason to go camping. But when a sudden rain storm approaches and Brian, two soggy dogs and I dash for cover in the tent, everything– including our ground level bed– is promptly a muddy mess. Why do dogs always go straight for your bed anyways? We’re huddled inside, which has the potential to be quite romantic, but the wine and cheese are outside in the cooler– way over there, and non-citronella candles were not on the pack list. The box of Scrabble is now a pond; the paper towels are still outside on the ground, and the two wet dogs are perched on my pillow. Damp and un-swooned, we wait until the weather clears up so we can be released from detention. Rain or shine, a little climate control would be nice. When the sun is blazing, vented ceiling fans would help keep a trailer cool. When the temperature drops, a propane heater would keep it nice and toasty. Call me crazy, but I do enjoy reading in bed at night and not seeing my breath. A little climate control? You bet I want it.
So, I was Woman Seeking Trailer. I had just begun my search and a whole new domain I never knew existed was about to unfold before me. Miranda Lambert and I may have totally different reasons for wanting a trailer, but I was determined to get one too!
Trailer Trash Quiz #1:
What’s the best way that YOU deal with “camp hair”?
a. I wear a lot of cutesy hair accessories that outperform the camp hair. Scrunchies rock!
b. I make several braids. At least 50. I like to let my inner Bo Derek shine!
c. Where do broken wigs go? I bring them camping of course! Most are even fire retardant.
e. Other. (Enter your answer in the box below)
See my answer on the next post. Until then……