Car camping

7:58 p.m. on September 22, 2009 (EDT)
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About a month ago a ol HS lady friend came out for a vist . So we decided to go up and down Hwy 101 Oregon coast. I took my back pack and my light weight stuff, but I knew that she might not be into that so I took a large tent too. The first night we did sleep off a short trail. And to my suprize she did enjoy herself. But after that it was campsites. OMG I was car camping! She had a good laugh at seeing my face as RVs came tumbling through. She understood just how out of place I felt. After 2 weeks she agreed to pack into a site with me. A short 2.5 mile hike to a lake. She loved it! Now shes moving out here for 6-8 months to give things ago. Its going to be a give and take. And at times I will be off by myself. But thats ok. I'll do some car camping she will do some lighter hikes. And as she gets into better hiking shape who knows maybe those 10 mile hikes wont be that much for her. Car camping is realy differant, but with the right person it isnt to bad. Just need to find spots that the RVer cant get into. LOL

3:32 a.m. on September 23, 2009 (EDT)
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One of my now best friends and I after we first met in about 1996 while roommates at the Jackson Lake Lodge Company in Grand Teton National Park, decided to quit on the same day.

I was working as a prep cook and he a waiter. I just got tired of the working conditions in the kitchen and when I left work went back to my dorm room to pack up my stuff and leave. When I got back to my room, my roommate Paul Harrison whom I had only known about two weeks, was there packing his stuff, I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was quiting and leaving to go somewhere else. I said , "Me too" and asked for him to wait for me.

We packed up our gear and packed it into his car. I was 40 then and he was about 28 years old. We both were veteran backpackers and had been to many places in our personal adventure trips around the country to date.

We discussed the working season of which had barely began that summer and whether or not we each wanted to work it or not. We decided not, and would do a road trip together.

Niether of us had ever done any car camping before but decided there were many places we wanted to go and left the Lodge and drove down to Jackson to buy food to supply the first leg of the trip.

From Jackson we drove back up to Moran between Grand Teton and Yellowstone Park and went to Turpin Meadows for our first night out.

Then for the next month and a half, we drove slowly camping in and hiking around thru Yellowstone NP, Cody, Thermopolis, Shoshoni, Riverton, Lander, Rock Springs, Flaming Gorge NRA, into Utah to Vernal, Dinosaur NM, into Colorado down to Fruita and Colorado NM, back into Utah to Moab and Arches NP, to Canyonlands NP, then down to Church Rock, Blanding, Bluff, Mexican Hat, Natural Bridges NM, up to Hite Marina and the north end of Lake Powell NRA, then on to Hanksville, and west to Capital Reef NP.

From there we drove on and went south to Boulder and Escalante/Grand Staircase NP to Bryce NP, then backsoutheast to the Cottonwood road and down to Big Water stopping at the upper Paria River to Big Water. The down to page and the Glen Canyon Dam. From there we went on to the east again going to Monument Valley just south of where we had been a week earlier at Mexican Hat, then down to Chinle and Canyon De Chelly NM and back west through the Hopi Indian Reservation and on to near Tuba City to see the Dinosaur tracks. The south and west to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and down to Flagstaff AZ.

Then back east again we went to the Meteor Crater, the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert NP. Southeast to Springerville and into New Mexico toward Reserve in the Gila National Forest. After a couple days there we went our separate ways. I stayed in Reserve while Paul drove on east to visit his mother in Dallas TX. I later hitchhiked back to visit nieces and nephews there near Hope AR.

All together we were on the road 6 weeks. That was the last car trip I ever did. Before that I had hitchhiked 8000 miles in June to September 1977 being my only other sorta car trip when I was 21.

12:10 p.m. on September 23, 2009 (EDT)
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I've worked in Banff NP campground this summer, wow! People kept pulling in with 42 footer rigs pulling a 12 feet trailer. "i want a site with no trees so i can have satellite TV" was the most frequent request. We had to turn people around because there was just no space for the size of their rigs. The fashion now seems to be semi tractors modified to pull gigantic camping trailers. The old folks just love to drive the big semi to town to do the groceries...

The bigger RVs have a plasma TV on the outside so you can turn your back to the mountain sunset and watch your favorite show instead. I had a sick gut feeling the whole summer and it's just starting to go away...

12:50 p.m. on September 23, 2009 (EDT)
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"i want a site with no trees so i can have satellite TV" was the most frequent request.

I don't even understand why you would go to national parks then complain about the trees. Ugh.

The bigger RVs have a plasma TV on the outside so you can turn your back to the mountain sunset and watch your favorite show instead.

So now other people are subject to your TV viewing habits in a campground? Double ugh.

I'm not opposed to car or basecamping on occasion. I've certainly done it with my kids. But it's still camping, in a tent, no TV, and so on. We're usually the family with the smallest tent and stove in the whole place.

2:21 p.m. on September 23, 2009 (EDT)
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I watched a guy with one of those big rigs go back and forth trying to get into a spot. It was funny. When he got in he walked over to me and proudly told me that he had a 52" flat screen tv. I laughed and told him that I didnt even have a tv at home. The next day before pulling out he made a point of coming over to tell us that him and his wife took books down to the beach and watched the sunset. He told us to have a happy tvless life. Funny, I think he enjoyed his time without his tv.

5:11 p.m. on September 24, 2009 (EDT)
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"i want a site with no trees so i can have satellite TV" was the most frequent request. "

That's a good one. Seems like some people just need that "binkie" wherever they go. I'll poke fun at em, but hay, that's what they want and to each his own. My first job was at a "camping resort" cleaning the grounds and restrooms, but I never thought of it as camping. I've been car camping before, but primarily it's just pulling my pack out of the trunk, very little other gear because, well I don't own anything other than backpacking gear.

 

I went "camping" with my best bud and his wife to be this past summer on Cape Cod. It was funny to watch them unpack his Tacoma with a 6'bed. It was packed to the hilt with blow dryers (2), shoes, makeup bags, clothes, mattresses and enough food to last 3 months. I looked at Urban (my buddy who is from Cranbrook BC and an avid outdoorsman) and said where's your stuff? He replied "in the back". After his lady (who doesn't go camping often but still loves it so good for her, we'll break her in yet) unpacked all of her gear with our help I asked Urban if he needed any help. "No I'm done" he laughed holding his pack. We had a good laugh over that one for the whole trip.

9:55 p.m. on September 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Maybe some of the RV'ers don't consider it camping either. Just the only place they can park it. I think a lot of them just rather stay in their own RV than a hotel that other people have used, and / or is not comfortable for them. Same reason I prefer my own tent over a shelter.

Just a thought.

6:33 a.m. on September 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Apropos of the plasma TVs...
Looks like I archived the picture so I don't have it here at work... When my wife and I were kayak-camping on Norway's legendary Geirangerfjord a cruise ship went by showing the movie Ratatouille (good movie) on an enormous screen on the top, open-air deck, competing for attention (well, of the kids at least) with the jaw-dropping scenery of the fjord. Surreal. Maybe they should have just had a live video feed of the actual scenery.
Different strokes for different folks I guess.

10:36 a.m. on September 28, 2009 (EDT)
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As trouthunter said:

Maybe some of the RV'ers don't consider it camping either. Just the only place they can park it. I think a lot of them just rather stay in their own RV than a hotel that other people have used, and / or is not comfortable for them. Same reason I prefer my own tent over a shelter.

But at least they are getting out to the parks, even if they go and watch the football game in Yosemite Valley instead of back at home in L.A. I once saw a guy doing that back in the late 70's in the River Campground there. While others like a guy I met on my way to Yosemite in 1977 who had lived in Fresno all his 60 years yet had never been to Yosemite, only 120 miles away.

10:41 a.m. on September 28, 2009 (EDT)
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As trouthunter said:

Maybe some of the RV'ers don't consider it camping either. Just the only place they can park it. I think a lot of them just rather stay in their own RV than a hotel that other people have used, and / or is not comfortable for them. Same reason I prefer my own tent over a shelter.

But at least they are getting out to the parks, even if they go and watch the football game in Yosemite Valley instead of back at home in L.A. I once saw a guy doing that back in the late 70's in the River Campground there. While others like a guy I met on my way to Yosemite in 1977 who had lived in Fresno all his 60 years yet had never been to Yosemite, only 120 miles away.

I agree that those are both valid points.

12:35 p.m. on September 28, 2009 (EDT)
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What bugs me i when you pull into a campground and there's nothing but RVs and no or no good tent sites. I figure if I'm paying for camping I want, in order of importance: 1) shade/cover of trees 2) a picnic table to get food and cooking up off the ground 3) a warm place to s**t 4) access to a shower and 5) (deluxe) maybe some kind of a kitchen for cooking and washing up on rainy days. If all I see is a patch of sand or grass next to an RV I might as well just pull over on the side of the road and save my money.

8:33 p.m. on September 28, 2009 (EDT)
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I am a bit conflicted and embarrassed to admit... my wife and I have a dream... someday when the kids are through college and off on their own and we are done doing the 9-5, we want to spend our days on the road. From the east to the west and north to the south. Maybe even a little venture into Canada. There are many ways to do it but we are leaning towards an RV. We can keep all our things... clothes, camping gear, food etc. right in the RV with us. When we get to a National Park though, the RV is base camp. We will still do the back country thing but it will be nice to come "home" to our RV after a week or so in the back country with the creature comforts we will have left behind when out on a 4 or 5 month road trip. I don't think we will need one of those big mombo jobs, but it will be an RV none the less.

I have read the carbon footprint of an RV is less than that of someone who flies and then stays in hotels. This of course was a study done by an association for RV owners and I think you have to add quite o few caveats to make it valid but it made me think maybe they are not such the ugly beasts we all make them out to be.

 

I am so conflicted because I love back country because of its simplicity. The fact that I have this perverse dream of RVing across North America seems to go soooo much against that.

 

P.S. to the OP... congrats man. Sorry for the off-topic. Sounds like you are making things work with a little compromise between you and the lady. It's all good if you are both happy!

7:23 a.m. on September 29, 2009 (EDT)
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No reason to be embarressed. My kids are long gone now. thats why I picked-up on back packing. Got rid of the full time job. There is so much to see in this world. For us it looks like one big base camp tent, then the packs. Our dream is to see as much as we can while we still can. Life is good and so is our health. Do it now before it stays just a dream forever.

11:30 a.m. on September 29, 2009 (EDT)
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Before my brother and I were born, my mom and dad used to car camp by driving to northern Michigan with their little Datsun; with their tent (and whatever other camping gear they could fit) into the trunk. They would spend a couple weeks of going from campground to campground, spending a couple nights at each one, untill they found one that they decided to just spend the entire two weeks at. I'm currently trying to get both of them into backpacking, since I already got my brother hooked.

5:52 p.m. on October 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Good to see you back Big Smoke, I always like reading your posts. Don't be embarressed man, if that's what you want to do than by all means. The base camp idea is cool, and kinda similar to what I really would like to do.

I have this craving to restore a late 70's International Harvester Scout II and tour the country in it. I have really fell in love with the vehicle after driving one and doing a little research. My buddies tell me to get a Toyota 4runner or Land Cruiser and save my time working on a vehicle that isn't a good a ride to begin with. I just think it would be fun to restore an old american classic, with some improvements (the 9mpg isn't really that eco friendly so a new engine is a must... maybe bio diesel?) and drive it all over the place...

7:17 p.m. on October 9, 2009 (EDT)
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All the people we know consider camping to involve some sort of travel trailer. And everyone around me considers it part of my dementia that causes me to backpack.

I am not opposed to car camping. We do it with my children frequently. But I do try to go places where the tent camping an rv "camping" are seperate. And I do agree, if rv "camping" helps people get out and respect the outdoors, great. We all started somewhere. I got into backpack from a drive thru trip I took to Yellowstone in the winter of 2005 (no camping, all driving). That experience lead me to car camping, and quickly to backpacking which is mostly what my wife and I do now. The more people who use National Parks and National Forrests, the more politians will be motivated to protect them and add more wildlands, trails etc to the system.

9:02 a.m. on October 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Big Smoke:

Don't feel bad, RVing the continent is an awesome project! We're lucky to have good roads, long distances and beautiful places to see. After a few weeks in campgrounds you'll be able to tell right away whose there for the wilderness and whose just going away from home.

You'll see people going out of their RV before everyone else after a good night's sleep to watch the sunrise, read a book and cook on the bbq while others stay inside and watch tv running their generators and stinking up the place. The attitude makes all the difference.

September 16, 2014
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