As I sit quietly at home planning our BIG trip this spring I thought of the amazing years I have enjoyed camping. Fifty seven in total and many different RV’s so I guess one can say I have a little experience.
Over those years many things have changed the camping experience, just about everything has become super-sized, from camper trailers, boats, motors and all the rest of the toys. Big power is required for RV’s and cell coverage is a must and generators disrupt the quiet of nature. Another change I have witnessed is the lack of respect for our environment, grassy areas being chewed up in campgrounds, backing and parking on new tree growth, damaging existing trees, leaving washrooms filthy and trash left behind in firepits, the lakes and the bush.
These are the disturbing changes caused by only a few but unfortunately becoming more common. The positive side of this is that many are good stewards of our land and are enjoying nature to the fullest with their family and friends and still poking that campfire with a stick. At 72 I’m praying I get many more years of experiencing this great country and its beauty, heck now retired we’re just getting started.
My first experience camping was in an army tent with only a tarp for the floor, a bag of oranges, one package of hot dogs and a package of hot dog buns. Amazingly I did not quit camping after that as it poured rain all night and I woke in the middle of a huge puddle. As I was inexperienced at camping in bear country I left my food out on the picnic table and awoke to having only one orange left with claw marks in it. That bear had ate dogs, buns and the plastic bags they were in. It’s a good thing I was sleeping during the visit or I probably would have added to the puddle in my tent. I gave up tents eventually when the mere sight of my tent up drew rain clouds overhead. There was a drought in the province at that time as well, I was thinking a good side hustle would be to charge farmers to camp on there land. Almost guaranteed rain.
The best memories Charlotte and I have had is camping with our four children in a soft top tent trailer. A trip from Calgary, Alberta to Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan with an old Volvo pulling that tent trailer and six bikes piled on top. We now wonder what the poor campers around us thought when they seen us pull up and let four children who have been travelling for seven hours loose in the campground. And even more to their dismay when they found out we were there for two weeks. Yep that old tent trailer served us well and created some of our best memories until someone needed it more than we did and took it.
Well after that old tent trailer went away we borrowed my parents’ heavy old Scamper trailer or something like that. Single axle and their tow car, a big old Mercury Parkland with a huge V8. Well with the children loaded we left Saskatoon for our favorite spot Prince Albert National Park stopping every 40 miles to fill up that beast. I think it had a funnel for a carburetor. At today’s prices we would have only gotten 40 miles.
The story gets better, you just cannot make this stuff up. Before we got to Prince Albert we started getting headaches and could smell gas in the car so we opened all the windows wide and got to Prince Albert with wind blowing everywhere inside the car and quite chilly. The exhaust pipe had left us and was about two feet short of the back bumper of the car and we just about did ourselves in with carbon monoxide. In a hurry with four children to get to the lake we had the shop just put on a straight pipe out the back of the old Merc and it was clear sailing from there on, a little noisy and fish tailing down the highway, but fresh air in the cab. We never towed that trailer again.
Some of the best people we have met and have become friends with we have met on the road. It’s a lifestyle we just cannot shake, we gotta see what’s just down the road. Over the years we have done just that in a pull behind 16 foot Big Foot, many different truck campers from eight foot to 12 foot and a 35 foot fifth wheel. Some were better than others but we enjoyed them all. After the pull behind campers, truck campers appeared to suit our style and we had a number of different ones, until a jack failed and we just about laid that camper on its side and would have if I had not put a block under it. As far as Charlotte was concerned that was it for hydraulic jacks and truck campers.
We figured bigger must be better as we took to the road for a year publishing our magazine Pure Country. We could incorporate an office into our 35 foot fifth wheel and it would be home as well. The first time out we arrived at a campground and not being familiar with it failed to notice a sign that said tents only. I got a lot of stares and was real proud of my big rig until we realized the spots were small and we were big. Figured later the reason for those stares. Well that old diesel pulled that 35 feet right down to a treed in dead end, you should have seen the face on that poor girl in a tent when we pulled down the road where she was camped at the end of.
I really thought I would have to get that trailer airlifted out of there, but after 3/4 of an hour and a 96 point turn we got it back on the road out. I was impressed with the turning of the fifth wheel but have never missed a sign again. We had traded a Kodiak truck camper for that monster, the Kodiak which is not made any more was one of the best truck campers we have had. If you find one check them out, very well made and all fiberglass similar to Big Foot and our Northern Lite. We would probably still have that camper today however I made the mistake lots of people make with truck campers….too much camper not enough truck and it was always swaying and just too hard to drive comfortably.
We can argue trucks, camper types till all the cows leave home, but over the years we have found simple is just plain better. We are back to our truck camper. Some say they are small and for those who want to square dance in the kitchen they are. For us it works. Our truck camper has everything in it our cabin back home has including a hot shower (our cabin back home is small as well). We travel to enjoy the outdoors, yes we do like our comfortable bed and our own washroom as well, but we live outdoors most of the time.
Yes there was a time when we needed half a day to set up camp, screen tents, BBQ’s, outdoor kitchens, rugs, loungers and sit around the fire chairs. We now see big units that have to be unhitched, leveled two different ways, generators hooked up, power cords strung 75 feet of lights strung out around multiple out buildings. I know I am old but it tires me out just watching and this was only for a weekend.
One day Char and I sat and watched a young lady and her dog set up next to us in a small camper van. She backed in, shut off the van pulled out her awning, small outdoor rug and her chair. Camp was set up about ten minutes and proceeded to enjoy the view and her book. Later she pulled out a inflatable kayak and went for a paddle and appeared to be enjoying her surroundings. When it was time to leave she dusted off her rug folded the chair deflated the kayak packed it in the camper and left, timed her ten minutes again.
We looked at each other after watching this and said WOW we thought we were simple. Since then we have downsized even more and are enjoying that extra time in our surroundings, canoeing, hiking and just sitting poking that fire with a stick.
My advice is when it comes to camping don’t overthink it, it’s not all the rig and gear you get to display, it’s really about the experience, memories and the places visited. Some of the best times we ever had was in that old three hundred dollar soft top ten trailer and just an open fire to cook on with a tarp in case it rained. The best part is… it was all paid for the camper, car and bikes not new or fancy but we had as much fun as anyone and no stress. It took us 55 years to get our first new camper and newer truck and yes it’s paid for, our gift to each other as we love to travel. But starting out we had a blast with the little or whatever we had so do with what you have and enjoy. Trust me sometimes the lack of stuff makes for some great memories.
This is not my usual post but as one can tell I’m searching for something to share as are may YouTuber’s when they are not on the road. I’m a blogger as I hate spending hours editing video so for those of you who do not mind reading I enjoy sharing some thoughts and photographs.
We are not on the road this winter as we are planning, planning being the operative word, a very extensive year of travel. Our camper is unloaded and the truck getting all it needs before we head out. As well with gas prices not dropping we have to save on the old budget where we can so our winter camping got nixed. So if all the stars align and if it’s meant to be we will be taking a few short shake down trips north this spring in preparation for the “Big One”. As most nomads know there has to be a plan B and C and that will work as well if it has to be.
I hope you have enjoyed our Blog as it is great to be able to share images and thoughts with those interested. We are not going to bombard our subscribers with hot deals on “stuff” so that will NOT happen. When you subscribe it shows your interest and we appreciate that, what I would like to see is those numbers increase, I have a few quality RV dealers and suppliers I would like to share links to at the bottom of my blog. If this helps you connect with reputable people in the industry and products then it will be beneficial to us all and non invasive. Your choice to click or not click. So your free subscription helps my numbers and your email will only be used to notify when we do a new post, it will save you checking when nothing new is being uploaded. That’s it upfront….take care and we hope to see you down the road.
PS: I have learned a lot from the youtube and blog nomad community and would like to share the links of those who have helped us as well. Also some of the apps for travel and campgrounds, dump stations etc. Please feel free to comment or ask questions here on this or anything….Gerry