Tom and I spent our honeymoon in a tent on the shores of a lake somewhere in Wisconsin. We don’t remember the spot? (Maybe global warming swallowed it up!) I do remember that Tom woke me up at 5:00 a.m. (I say it was 4:30.) in freezing temperatures to head out in a row boat to fish. I declined!
We spent many years tenting across the United States, gradually upgrading to a pop-up trailer, then renting all sorts of Motorhomes. Finally we purchased a small Class C in 2011 and then our 34 foot home in 2015.
Our first Motorhome adventures began in Alaska. What glorious trips! Twice we rented small motorhomes and crisscrossed the state, taking plane rides, floating across Prince William Sound, and joining some pirates in search of calving glaciers. There was the forceful Kenai River, the spit at Homer, a friendly Moose and her calf, and of course flies as we headed toward Yukon Territory.
We often camped alone (no other campers) and wondered if bears were keeping watch over us. We kept our eyes peeled for scat (bear poop) on the trails and sometimes turned back because neither one of us wanted to go first. We adventured in July when it was often cold and raining but we did not seem to mind it!
People camp for a variety of reasons. Many people are homeless and volunteering at a park allows them to maintain a good standard of living. Recently, at Rifle Gap State Park in Colorado, there were at least five volunteer hosts. They perform a variety of jobs including cleaning restrooms, parking sites, picking up the trash, and security. They receive free water, sewer, and electricity and a camping site on which to place their RV. (We figure that amounts to at least $10K a year.) Anyone can volunteer. I thought about volunteering in Alaska near the Blue Ice Trail for a summer but Tom is not too keen on cleaning toilets to save $7.00 a night.
We came across many homeless people in the National Forests of Oregon. You can camp for about $7.50 a night. Of course, there are no amenities. So dry camping is the name of the game! We ran into very old people who seemed to pile everything they had in their RV, tent, or boat. Most campgrounds allow you to stay two weeks on one site, but you could move from site to site, and break that rule. We also saw people camping off-road in the mountains of Utah without water or electricity. Many of these small motorhomes looked like they were prepared for the winter.
Ten years ago we explored northern Utah and beyond. We encountered groups of people living together. At one campground, it seemed as if there were about 24 Latinos in two sites linked together. They had a turkey boiler and were cooking food for everyone. (It wasn’t Thanksgiving.) Their tents looked permanent.
And why are Middle Eastern looking people camping in Arkansas? One holiday we parked next to about ten sites of Middle Eastern people outside Hot Springs. They did not use the picnic tables or eat normal meals together. They squatted around fires and had food in their hands, not on plates. The license plates on their vehicles were from Texas. They were not frolicking in the lake or the sun. Tom says that they were new to this country.
On one camping trip there was a couple who camped across from us in a tent. The young woman was in a wheel chair. Each morning the man lifted the woman out of the tent, wheeled her to the restroom, brushed her hair, made a fire, and cooked food for her. The rest of the day they sat under the trees or the stars talking to each other. One morning when we got up, they were gone! And so was all the love that they gave to each other.
Probably one of the greatest shocks for me was in the many campgrounds in Nova Scotia. They were really trailer parks and the trailers looked like they should have been demolished or burned down. The restrooms smelled and parking areas were not very well developed. We were happy we were camping in someone else’s RV.
Yes, people camp in almost everything. On our most recent trip a family had renovated a horse trailer including bunk beds for the kids in the back of it. I wanted to take a photo of it but sometimes you feel as if you are invading the privacy of others. There are trailers constructed for a single person that remind you of space movies where people are put in stasis to travel into outer space. In Oklahoma we came across our first Tiny house–and it was too tiny!
In Moab people were living in buses (not renovated) and beat up vans.
Advance Notice! In the fall I will begin creating tiny travel books under the series name of “Motoring with Marla.” The first one will begin with an “A” for Alaska!
As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.