A Realization Dawns
Originally posted 10/27/2012
It finally came to me – camping is campfires, and tents in mud, and wet sleeping bags, and cold snaps, and cook stoves that won’t light, and violent storms. It’s usually a reduction in personal hygiene and patience. Often, the later stories of camping are more fun than the actual camping was. Not always, but when the weather or the spouse or the kids just didn’t cooperate. When it works, it’s glorious, building something in the soul. When it doesn’t work, it’s fodder for entertainment or pity. Camping is elemental living, specifically living away from home with its accouterments and comforts.
People in recreational vehicles such as motor homes and travel trailers like the mighty Enterprise aren’t “camping”. I may be in a dispersed camping area in the Arizona desert, but this is hardly elemental living. We’re living in transportable homes, however temporary or permanent. A weekend, half a year, or decades – it makes little difference. This isn’t roughing it. When everything is working, we have electrical power to run a ton of gadgets and amusement devices. Gas ranges, ovens, air conditioning, furnaces, refrigerator-freezers, running hot and cold water, full bathrooms with toilets, medicine cabinets, tubs and showers. Foam or spring mattress beds, with sheets and blankets. If we lack a comfort, we figure out how to somehow cram it inside, or secure it to the outside.
Besides bringing all of the creature comforts along with us, other reason we’re not camping is that we’re too busy repairing broken fixtures and devices. You do that at home, sure, but the stresses and strains of transport, and the marginal quality of RV products combine to keep people preoccupied with a to-do list. It’s like materialism on steroids. Granted, in my case, I had to McGyver an affordable, working, actual home from concept to departure in, what, six or seven weeks? Thank God for my daughter’s help and encouragement, and my son’s tireless labor and clever insights. Gimpy electronics and a busted wheel bearing 2,400+ miles later are pretty good. Granted, both are critical problems, but still, not too shabby overall. But it’s not camping. It’s more like mobile living, with an adjustable landscape and climate pattern outside the windows.
Some refer to it as the “RV lifestyle”, but that’s more applicable if you have a motorhome the size of the Titanic, and money to spend, and a home to go back to for half a year. I prefer the very different term full-timer, though that encompasses a wide span of vehicle types, lifestyles and priorities. But that’s another story.