Tuesday, June 16, 2020

It takes a bit of planning

When we had kids at home, I spent most of my winter planning a two week summer vacation.  Evaluating the budget, picking a route, and looking for free or inexpensive things to do that would please 5 different people.  We were tent campers and often traveled quite a distance in that time period, visiting quite a few different parks and sites. 

I knew we could travel the most the first day we left a campground.  With little kids that often meant packing up (we started all in one tent and as soon as they were old enough the boys moved to their own) and leaving at 6 a.m., driving for a couple of hours and stopping for breakfast at a rest area.   Always hoping that some of the 3 would still sleep for those two hours.  Eric liked to sleep in and I remember one time we drug him out of the tent in his sleeping bag, still asleep.  We stopped at a rest stop for lunch, with a restroom break or two in-between. We would try to stop by mid afternoon (sometimes a little longer that first day when we were fresh) so the kids could get out and run around. Then we would have to set up camp and get dinner started.  We didn't eat out a lot, and when we did, we usually saved that for week 2 when we were tired!  We would try to spend more than one night, often several, to make the traveling days easier.

I think we had some neat trips.  I selected a main area to hit (maybe national parks in the west, Texas, East coast, etc.) and then planned things to do on the way, and things to do on a different route home.  We didn't get to all of the 48 contiguous United States, but close.

Tubing in Smokey Mountain National Park

Mesa Verde National Park.  I can't believe I climbed up that ladder!

We spent 2 nights on a working Windjammer cruise in Maine.  Josh pumping the bilge.

Pat was in charge of loading.  I think he had it down to a science.  Every inch of that mini van had a purpose.  No suitcases, only duffel bags because they took up less space.  The cooler had a special spot so we could get out breakfast and lunch food.  Tent was on top of sleeping bags because it had to go up before we needed the other stuff.  Then came the people.  We had two bench seats.  Chris or Eric had to go in the middle seat and poor Josh, the only one who got car sick, had to sit in the back with the other one because Eric and Chris didn't sit together well.  In-between the two in the back was a buffer, the bag with Pat and I's sleeping bags.  They each had their small duffel bag on the floor in front of them with things to do on the road.  

Josh, Chris and Eric enjoying a little snow out west.

We made a map of our trip each year.

Now we have left the tent behind and moved on to an RV.  Not sure I consider it, with it's amenities, camping.  At least it's not like the camping I have done my entire life.   We don't get all winter to plan 2 weeks anymore that's for sure.  This year has been a little different and required different planning.  We started out with a "vacation," one like we have never had before, lasting several months.  That meant finding campgrounds in the fall that were still open, that took our size RV and provided the facilities we needed.   We were moving frequently so that was time consuming. We still enjoy the "free" things to do more than anything, and we still like to cook our own food, whether grilled, dutch oven or in the RV.   It's been hard for me at times, and there's been a few bumps in the road, but I guess we've survived.  Would I recommend this lifestyle to others?  YES!  


  1. This sounds so familiar to our family vacations—the planning, the activities, the parks, the free stuff, the cooking our own food. However, we did the the pickup camper or RV. Many mornings Ronnie would wake up early and get on the road while the kids were still sleeping or pull into a campsite after the kids were asleep at night. We also mapped out our entire route for the scrapbook. (Some of those are scrap boxes—everything’s in a box, but mom didn’t get it organized into a book. ��). So thankful you are enjoying this stage of life and this different stage of camping! We enjoy reading about all your adventures!

    1. We don't have a map for every year either.😀 Wish I had been that good. It's fun to go back and look through that stuff, isn't it? I still have pictures of the maps from our tent camping when I was a kid. Love looking at them and envious that we often took 3-5 week trips. We need to meet up somewhere when this world calms down!

  2. I had to rest up after these vacations!

  3. What wonderful memories! I grew up tent camping as well with duffel bags too for ease of packing. But always at Big Basin Redwoods Campground an hour or two away from home. My dad picked us up on the last day of school and off we would go. For my mom who did all the cooking it was never much of a vaction but we had a blast. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

    1. I didn't know you were tent camper! Back then I did do part of the cooking, but Pat probably did more than his share.

  4. It's certainly a good way to see the world and meet some great people along the wY.