Sunday, September 27, 2015

Have Wheels, Will Travel

As I write this, this is my view - our backyard for the weekend: Ponderosa Campground - Nebo Loop, UT

I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I would ever own a camper. I remember, growing up in a block of crumbling communist flats, that we had a neighbor who had one, parked crooked, right next to our playground. It was caged in in a makeshift garage, so "the gypsies" won't hurt it, behind chain-link fencing. If memory serves correctly, it was tiny and rusting and leaning onto one side, and I don't remember ever seeing it move or anyone ever so much as opening it. Looking back now, I don't even know if they even had a bathroom in there. But to me, the lonely camper always meant a world of possibilities. Oh, how cool it would be to just hook it up to your car and take it away in beautiful places, and just live there, for a day, week, or even longer! Taking in nature, and being free of rents, landlords, city utilities ... What a heaven!

As a child, you dream a lot. And you envision magical stories about everything outside your own reality. As an adult, all that is crushed by the harsh, cruel hand of "reality" and things come more into the dreaded focus. You start thinking you can't afford it, you can't afford the insurance, or you'd rather buy shoes, books, rose bushes for your yard with the money. Then, the maintenance, and so forth.

But then you marry this man who grew up with one. And all he wanted to do, all his adult life, is to recreate his childhood camping trips in Canada. And he pushes you out there and convinces you of the fun to be had! Sometimes dreams choose us, you know. And after all, when it's about nature, running away and leaving the world behind, albeit for a weekend, I don't need that much convincing, either.

Maybe our WolfPup (the name of the model we got and its official family name) deserved a blog entry on our first outing, last weekend. But sometimes you need to let the raw experience settle a little before you know what you want to leave behind from it.

I have been camping for years in a tent. And in my adult years, I thought "Oh, camping in a camper is similar to tenting, except you get a bigger tent and the bears won't eat you while you're sleeping". But, boy, was I wrong!

There is not much similarity between a camper and a tent, besides the fact that they're both portable. Camping in a camper, I think, is similar to having a vacation home, with almost all the perks, and conveniences of one: all the right "facilities" for cooking, cleaning, playing, sleeping and the likes. The bonus is that you get to choose your landscape and your neighbors with every trip.

But boy, do you pay for that bonus! The amount of awareness it requires is amazing - and I am lucky to just reap the benefits from it without much work on my own, because my husband is a hands-on camper owner. The buttons, the pipes, the tanks, the chemicals, the tricks of leveling and the reasoning behind it all - I am blissfully unaware of it! I used to be nosy, and wanted to know how everything works, so I will never be stranded nor feel helpless. But now, I am just enjoying having Aa. to make it all comfortable for us. And it's fun watching him, too, as it all seems easy and second nature to him.

We have pretty much every comfort of home, right here with us. A fridge to keep our grub cold and fresh, a stove to cook a "real" breakfast and make Turkish coffee in the morning, a bed with "real" linens and an honest-to-goodness comforter (I swear this thing will work in sub-zero temps!), a heater to keep us warm, with a thermostat, even, so we can make sure we're not "too warm", really. Even a flushing toilet!

Although it's really tempting to just live in the camper when we go out for the weekend, we still enjoy the outdoors and feel like we are camping, too. We still make a fire pit fire, and we still cook our dinners on it. We still smell like bacon when we come back home! We put up our camping chairs and take short cat naps, although we do take longer ones, after lunches in the "real" bed, too.

We hike during the day, and shoot (think Canon, not Smith & Wesson) the mountains, creatures and vegetation all around us. We are tuned into the wild, during our waking hours.

For the past couple of weekends, we camped in non-crowded campgrounds (fall weather helps!), with no reception for internet or cell phone. And it's been a blessing. Last weekend, when we were away from the world for 2 nights and a full day, we both felt like we had been on vacation for two weeks. It's amazing how taxing and energy draining it is for our brains to plug into "electronics" 24/7. With no tv, facebook, email and google news, we had only nature, each other and old fashioned card games to rely on for passing the time.

This weekend, we're even further away from the world, on Nebo Loop National Scenic Byway, in Ponderosa Campground. We're right on Salt Creek, and although the temps are in the low 80's, it feels nice and crisp, up here under the shade of maples and hardwoods and pines . The stream is soothing my stressed out brain ... There is something about running water hitting rock that's just hypnotic, you know?!

The colors around us are a rainbow from fiery red (the maples) all the way to crude green (the ponderosa pines). We're sipping our drink, listening to the last cricket of the summer and waiting for time to pass till our next meal (lunch).

I love camping in the fall the best! The light is so soft and inconsistent throughout the day. You can never move, and shoot the same bush all day and you'll think you shot the whole forest just because the light will hit it differently every half hour.

The campgrounds are quieter in the fall, too - more campers that keep to themselves than tenters that are 12 year old and finally free to shout. The birds' song is more tired, as are the crickets and cicadas. It gets colder sooner, which makes it for early dinners and quicker fires. We're on the lookout for woolly worms to tell us about the winter, and we marvel at the billions of shapes of various leaves as well as millions of shades of yellows and reds.

Time will stretch again, for the weekend, and we'll feel like 24 hours are 78, we hope! There is no cell potential for ringing, no facebook stream to read, no tv to switch on ... Just a couple of magazines, a book and our journals to fill up.

I read once that the dog breathes 100 times in a minute and lives 16 years, while a turtle breathes 3 times in a minute and lives well into their 100's. Here's for a slower pace of life, and more days like these, when we can breathe slower and deeper, eat less, watch and listen more, have no purpose other than wondering and wandering, where we can check out from the daily routine and build towards our 100 year of living potential. 

One thing I know for sure: our camper's meant for pulling. It will not look desolate behind no chain-link fence! 

The winter doesn't seem too scary, does it?!