American Dream

When I was in college, and for about a year thereafter, Rob and I lived in a duplex in Orlando off of Dean Road.  I remember being in the kitchen of that place when my mom called and said, “Guess what?  We bought an RV.”  At the time I did not know anyone with an RV.  How strange I thought…  I figured my parents were being eccentric.  An RV?  Whatever, it is probably just a “phase…”

Not too long after that she called to say that they were going to come visit in the RV.  They wanted to pick me up, but they couldn’t come down our street because their rig was too big and there was not a good spot to turn around. Ok?  I guess, I will meet them at the end of the street, on the corner of River Pines Court and Dean Road.

The day I was to meet them came around.  Rob was at work, doing Science Theater at The Orlando Science Center.  My parents had a plan. We were going to the Science Center to eat lunch with Rob and see a few shows and exhibits via the new RV.  My father, a Chef by profession, of course was going to prepare our lunch in the RV.

My mom called to let me know that they were in the vicinity. I went to the corner as instructed to await their arrival.   “HOLY SHIT! THAT’S A BUS!”  is what I thought as the 40’ diesel pusher with the words American Dream emblazoned across the side, elegantly rumbled up to greet me.

I had never seen the inside of one of these things before.  When the door opened, there was my mom, dad and two dogs all excited for me to get in and check this thing out!  It was glorious, and yes, I still thought it was a little strange.  This massive RV had tile floor, gold colored fixtures, leather sofas and a “slide out” that makes the room large enough to entertain guests.  This was a Motorhome?

I was so green.  I had so much to learn.  But this was the beginning… Even though I was initially against that kind of “camping” and said stuff, like, “ridiculous!”,  the truth is I didn’t understand it yet.  This would take some time…
Eventually I would love and even obsess over RV’s.  They have two key qualities that really reach the core of my being: 1. Extreme mobility / opportunity for travel and adventure 2. Minimalist living quarters that demand cleanliness, organization and economical use of space.

A side note to this is that I had just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  Deciding where to keep my insulin refrigerated while camping in a hot climate started to become an issue.  Nevertheless, I still was not convinced by the motorhome and its fancy convenient refrigerator!

It would take some time, some trips, some campgrounds and some experiences to win me over.  I initially found it somewhat uncomfortably formal… It kind of bothered me that you could have a full cocktail bar, non “camp food”, watch TV and charge your cell phone while attempting to be outdoorsy.   These activities seemed mutually exclusive to me.  None of it fit into the boxes of preconceived ideas that I had built in my head. Somewhat stubbornly, I thought, “this is NOT how I learned to camp!”

Camp Lust

To most of our friends and family, it is no secret that Rob and I are in love with camping.   It floats our respective boats! In fact, it goes beyond love, it is a deep passion.  It is a lifestyle that we seek out!  We are aware that there are a lot of different definitions of camping and that it means something different to different people.  We are not snobbish about it, and really, we love all of it!  Backpacking, car camping, RVing, overnights, extended trips, State Parks, National Parks and private campgrounds, they are all wonderful and serve their purpose.  In my opinion camping is the best way to travel and see the country.

My exposure to camping came at a young age.  In fact there is a distinct possibility that I may have been conceived while my parents were camping.  When I was a baby, my parents took me tent camping, according to my mom, camping is a great activity to do with babies.

When I was a kid, from the time I was 7 until I was about 14, I went to summer-camp in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at Camp Nicolet for Girls in Eagle River. I spent the whole summer in the National Nicolet Forest. We stayed in cabins but went on hikes, cookouts and overnights, this served to enhance my love of camping as well as sharpen my skills in the realm of packing a backpack, making a fire and general outdoor survival.

When Rob and I met in college, I shared my love of camping with him.  My sister gave us a tent for Christmas. Planning and going on camping trips quickly became one of our favorite pastimes.  We got to see and experience places that we never would have gone to or even thought of going to otherwise.

Our first camping trip was a three day trip to Ocala, National Forest in FL.  We went to Lake Eaton and Juniper Springs.  They were both amazing.  At Lake Eaton we heard something big in the woods at night and it scared us, branches were snapping under the feet of whatever creature was lurking.  We imagined that it was some sort of large wildcat, it was probably just a raccoon…?  We hiked the Lake Eaton Sinkhole Trail, which was magnificent.  It is about 80 feet deep and 450 feet wide. The flora and vegetation completely changed as you hiked deeper into it.  It is similar to an Oak Hammock, featuring magnolias, live oak, dogwood, lobolly pine and sabal palm.  The temperature and humidity even changed…It got a little cooler, but more humid.  It was fascinating!

At Juniper Springs the water was so impossibly clear that it was almost invisible.  We swam, we hiked and explored, we cooked our meals and ate outdoors. The scenery and the sense of relaxation that came from spending time outdoors was beautiful. Our love of camping as a couple grew.  We knew this would be something that we continued to do together always…