You hear so many stories about the tiny house movement and about retirees (and people of all ages, for that matter) who sell everything and go traveling around the country in an RV. It has an allure, you know? Simplifying, adventure—the call of the wild.
Scott and I answered that call recently. Well, we at least picked up the phone, so to speak. We kept our house and all our stuff, but we bought a tiny camper and set off to see the world. We went as far as Blakeley State Park near Spanish Fort, Alabama, which Google Maps places at 6.7 miles from our front door.
It was all so exciting. Scott spit shined the camper exterior while I set about getting the interior outfitted and ready to go. We shopped at Camper World, nodding sagely to our new peers, fellow adventurers.
The morning of our trip was clear and bright. We hooked up the camper to the truck and set off. Twelve minutes later, we had arrived at check-in. We were given our site number and a map and off we went to set that baby up. After a few tries we were in place and level. Scott was outside hooking up the sewer connections, and I was trying to get a signal on my cell phone so I could order a pillow that said “I’m sorry for what I said while we were parking the camper.” The fact that such a pillow exists in mass quantities tells you a lot about the realities of camping. It’s all fun and games until somebody says, “Guide me in.”
After we were in place and hooked up, the pillow was forgotten and we had a wonderful weekend, just the two of us and our dog. The site was woodsy and felt secluded, but we had neighbors a few trees away. It was a young couple, living the tiny home life with their two dogs. We made fast friends, as did our dogs, and the whole “parking the camper” fiasco was forgotten.
And then it was time to pack up, unhook, and hitch up to the truck again. Do you know it takes over two hours, for novices anyway, to just get ready to drive out of the campsite? There should be another pillow. A much smaller one would suffice, though.
Twelve minutes after leaving the park, we were back in our driveway. We sat around and did an instant replay of the weekend, memories of “Guide me in” softened by the camaraderie and fun of our experience.
A couple of months later, we went back to Blakeley to join my brother and sister-in-law for a weekend. We were better equipped and more emotionally prepared. We still needed the pillow. And we still had a wonderful time once we were in place and all hooked up.
We were encouraged. We could do this. The wild still called, so we made plans to spend two weeks in the mountains to see the foliage and live the dream. We purchased an annual camping pass so we could make several trips to different states for mini vacations. We went back to Camping World. We made reservations at a park that had basketball, a fishing pond, community events, and was surrounded by mountains.
When the day came, we loaded up, hitched up, and drove to North Carolina, with an overnight stay in Tennessee. Rather than a play-by-play, I will summarize. We drove backroads in pitch black dark to get to the KOA, where we put the first ding on our tiny camper by way of a rock wall. We learned that you must remember to close and latch the refrigerator door before driving away or bad things happen to it. We learned that a storm will blow up so quickly in the mountains it will twist your awning into a canvas-and-metal pretzel before you can say, “Should we roll . . . .”
Our campground was, indeed, full of amenities and mountain views, but it was also populated wall-to-wall with other nature seekers so close you could pass a cup of coffee camper to camper through the windows. Scott and I had a long talk, after we passed the pillow back and forth, and decided that we are not campers. We love being in the camper in a forested area, but we don’t like having to get there, set up there, pack back up, and then leave there. And we don’t like spending our time in what looks like a used camper lot.
I applaud all those dedicated RVers who love the life. It’s just not our life. We left the tiny camper on a hill in North Carolina in the care of a son who promised to watch out for it and oversee the repair of the awning, and headed back south, just the two of us and our dog.
We agreed that we can retire the camping pass and the apology pillow for all time. The wild still calls to us, but the wild is situated on a hill overlooking a cow pasture and never has to be hitched up or leveled again.