Discovering my Inner Camper
Updated: Jan 17, 2021
Have you ever talked about something for so long that you never thought you'd actually do it?
That was us.
For the past five years we have attended every camper show in a 50 mile radius. We've visited all the local RV dealers and asked our camping friends all the questions. We have probably walked through HUNDREDS of campers at this point. We kept waiting for the perfect camper or the perfect timing to come along to pull the trigger, but for some reason nothing ever seemed to align and so it became one of those things that we just talked about.
How cool it would be to have a second home on wheels.
To soak up the sites in our own beautiful country.
But we just talked about it...
When my girlfriend called me up and asked me to join her and her hubby on a camping weekend in Maine my knee-jerk reaction was to say no. I'm a homebody and rarely get out, so sometimes social interaction feels intimidating. Sam was working that weekend, so I would be roadtripping it alone with Norah (15 months old) who doesn't do more than an hour car ride without quite the fuss. This was going to be a four hour trip one way and I just imagined myself listening to her screaming bloody murder in the backseat for 200+ miles and that didn't seem so relaxing. As you can see, I had all the excuses and that's exactly what they were...excuses. Sometimes my anxiety gets the best of me and I don't let myself try new things or I anticipate failure, but I promised myself this year that I would make an effort to implement new behaviors so I took a deep breathe and said instead, 'That sounds great!'
Driving through New England in the fall is a wonder all its own. You don't even need a destination! As Norah and I cruised along I soaked up all that gorgeous foliage and fresh air while she babbled along to Disney songs and munched on snacks. Why was I so anxious about this ride??? It was wonderful! A few hours later we arrived at our friends campsite and settled into their camper for our stay. Norah spent the entire weekend running around the campground at full speed like a mad woman, playing in the dirt and rocks, making new friends on the playground, and being the nature loving explorer that she is. Bliss.
I had prepared for her to be resistant to sleeping in a new place. It was not a thing. She passed out from exhaustion every night and slept like an angel until morning greeting each new day with vigor. Quite frankly I didn't know how I would keep her safely entertained since we have a pretty good routine we stick to at home and there was virtually no way to corral her in such a wide open space with cars and campers zooming around. Spoiler alert: Kids are flexible and surprisingly easily entertained in nature. She greeted every person and pet we saw with an enthusiastic, 'Hi!' much to the delight of our fellow campers.
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to breathe and observe more than I normally do in the chaos of our daily life and I realized how much our youngest craved experience. She's been raised in a pandemic, spending more than half her life in quarantine avoiding strangers. It's no wonder she's thrilled to see new faces and go new places and I realized I've been craving that too, even since before this social distancing insanity. New motherhood had me putting my nose to the grind and just focusing on getting through each hour one at a time and so much time had passed since I had come up for air and remembered who I am and what I love.
I am an adventurer. My curiosity has led me to explore so many places unknown. For Sam and I backpacking had become an integral part of our relationship. Every year we took a backpacking trip in the fall just the two of us to reconnect after a busy summer with the kids. Every time it has been a wonderful reminder of who we are and why we fell in love. On those trips we've found ourselves in some pretty scary scenarios where we had to rely on one another and it made us stronger. We found ourselves legs dangling over the top of a canyon after a long day of putting one foot infront of the other and shared a sense of accomplishment. Our love grew exponentially on those trips.
We loved exploring.
We craved adventure.
...but we hadn't been those people for so long.
When a newborn joins the family this momentous occasion has a way of shaking things up and nothing really looks like it used to. We had to put our annual trips on pause to put Norah's needs first and we felt ourselves getting out of step as a couple. We knew we weren't doing the relationship work. It felt like there was no time for dates or for us and that's a sacrifice we sometimes make as parents.
On this camping trip with Norah I realized the time had finally come. She was ready to join our team as the youngest explorer and camping would be a way we could get back into nature doing what we love. No, it wouldn't be the soul-crushing tent life that Sam and I were used to where we hoofed it up a mountain carrying 40 lb packs in the back country and called it a vacation. But what it would be was compromise and an adaptation to the season we are in. It would be a way to get back to watering the roots of our love and having our kids along with us on the journey.
The time was now.
We were going to stop talking about it and start doing it.
Did we make this dream come true?
You'll have to wait and see.