I know that the title of the post may strike many people as odd, considering we mainly live in campgrounds, but this last week has really brought home to me the fact that we don’t “camp”. Rather we are living our somewhat complicated lives while staying in a campground. The distinction is important, and I am going to explain further, but before I start I should say that this post certainly does not reflect the experience of all full timers. Rather it is simply our experience as we move through the world and our own lives, so please take it in the spirit that it is intended.
When we arrived at Alum Creek State Park, I was immediately struck by how unusual a place like this is for us. Yes, we occasionally stay at State Parks, and largely I like them, but this one only had electric sites available (they have full hookujps, but very few, and they book quickly because there are so few places to camp near such a large city) and the lack of water at the site really bugged me. I am often willing to go without services for a great view and low price, but at $32 a night this place had neither, and 10 days is a long time to stay without water. We filled up our tank of course upon entry, but neither one of us thought we could get through the whole 10 days without needing more. Skipping showers and having stacks of dishes is OK when you are on vacation, but I have work Zoom calls almost every day and needed a clean body and space for that.
The campground is also pretty typical for this area, with minimal usage during the week, but PACKED on the weekends. The cell service also really suffered on Thursdays and Fridays as more people meant less bandwidth. It wasn’t just me. Some friends of ours stayed here and their daughter was trying to do online school stuff, and had to go home a few times to upload projects. In my case this is my home, and having work calls disconnect adds unnecessary stress to my day.
We also carry a list of things that need to be done everywhere that we go, and that list doesn’t go away when we are staying in a campground. The location, services, and the proximity of resources matters when we travel versus someone who is taking some vacation and puts their list off until they get back home. Don’t get me wrong, good for them. When we first started camping in our travel trailer many years ago we used camping as an escape from our regular lives, but for us there is no escape and putting off that list just makes for more to do at the next stop.
Plus there are certain things we absolutely had to do in Columbus. Last year we changed our primary physician to my brother in Columbus, and took advantage of being here to get physicals, blood work, and my mammogram. Those were all multiple trips to various doctors offices and they took priority over everything else. (As an aside, Ohio Health provides excellent care and having my brother to help navigate the system was wonderful!) Our second priority was spending time with family, and we saw saw Lee’s Mom and Dad, my brother and his family, and I celebrated my Dad’s birthday with him.
Our third priority was seeing friends, and despite COVID we were lucky enough to see several people. Bryan (Noodle, to his closest friends) and his family camped two spots down for most of our visit and several other people stopped by including Cori and Greg who were passing through on their way to see Greg’s parents! It’s always fun when people from different parts of our life get to meet each other. We got to meet their new puppy Trip who was absolutely adorable. Jack, however, was a bit jealous of all the attention the new puppy got and was a bit of a pain in the butt!
Campfires are another great example of why I don’t consider what we do camping. When we first started out we carried wood everywhere and I even cooked numerous meals over the fire. Then we started running into issues with transferring wood across states lines and the quality and price of the wood we could find made a difference. Ultimately we bought a propane fire pit as an alternative, but we rarely even use that now. Since we don’t smoke anymore, we spend less time sitting outside and our setup is minimal at best. Don’t get me wrong, I love a fire, but its just not part of our normal routine anymore. As far as cooking on one, that is WAY more trouble than its worth in my mind, although I did cook a couple of hot dogs one night which were yummy.
Overall I think we did a decent job of balancing work, family, errands, and friends, but Lee definitely had the worst of it. He ran around like a chicken with his head cut off most days, but managed to squeeze everything in. Our freshwater (and grey) both lasted 6 days which was pretty good, and he decided to buy a 35 gallon fresh water tank, but then discovered our water transfer pump wasn’t working. He loaned it out last summer in PGE and someone must have left it running dry and burned it up. We went one evening with no water and then he was scrambling the next day to buy a replacement and get us filled up. He also made arrangements for us to get new tires when we leave and took the truck in for an oil change and coolant change. We even squeezed in a trip to my favorite restaurant place, Bob Evans!
Despite all that we had lots of friend time and we are especially grateful to Bryan and Susan for hanging out with us so much. It was really nice being with people we care about, and Cori and Greg taking the time to stop by was also amazing. Cori and I even explored the nearby dog park and Jack and Trip had a great time.
So in summary, it was a wonderful week and was chock full of really wonderful moments. I definitely would not say it was relaxing though! I was able to grab a few minutes of peacefulness though in the week and am really looking forward to getting out in nature more over the next couple of months.
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We still make sure to keep a camping angle as a part of the full time experience. In weekends we look to stay far out and off grid. We still love fires, or at least sitting out in nature in the evenings. Cooking in a cast iron dutch over. Taking night hikes, or some type of walk in nature every day. It’s all so important to maintain balance for us! Love me some Bob Evans 💞 too!!! On the campground water issue, did they have showers? I generally use them so that Deb can shower in the RV. That buys us much more time on the fresh tank. But since we boondock slot we also have a 50 gallon collapsable water tank, and a extra water pump so we can refill when needed. But overall it looks like y’all are having fun!
I was thinking of you as I wrote this because you absolutely keep the campground experience ! They had showers but we weren’t comfortable using them because of COVID
I loved the dog park videos
We still try to maintain a balance between state/local/country parks and RV parks with a little boondocking thrown in. We’re finding that we’re less tolerant of campfire smoke than we used to be just due to sinus issues, but we do enjoy our propane campfire when it’s cool. Due to Covid we haven’t traveled much from April – Labor Day, now we have about 8 weeks of travel before we stop for the winter with 1 and 2 week stays, about half of that being back in state parks. Really looking forward to a change in the routine!! However, after 6 months on full hookups I’m wondering if we remember how to conserve water / tank space, LOL!
It’s like riding a bike 😉