Where It All Began

Where it all began
Baby Norman and April

When Norman and I first started dating over twenty years ago, I considered myself a die-hard tent camper. Camping was not something my family did regularly growing up, so my twin sister and I took up camping with our best friend and her family when we were in high school. This was a wonderful escape from our daily lives and as we got older we began collecting and preparing our own camping gear. Soon enough, our parents let us venture out on our own. Those teenage camping trips with groups of our best friends are memories that have shaped who I am and fostered my love of camping and the outdoors.

toasty toes by a campfire
Toasting my toes by the campfire at Belknap Hot Springs Lodge and Campground.

I was very proud of my ability to build a fire and cook meals on it. Rainy or especially cold trips didn’t bother me. I looked forward to pitching my tent in the mountains or sleeping outside under the stars when the weather allowed. The idea that some people would choose to limit their engagement with nature by wrapping themselves in a tin box seemed… well, appalling.

One True Love

I frequently boasted to Norman about my camping prowess and fortitude. I also likely mentioned that I did not believe that RV-ing was camping. I probably also said it seemed stupid. So you can guess how I reacted when he introduced me to his 26 foot, 1973, Dodge Commander. When he says that was the year the love of his life was born, he isn’t referring to me. He so often reminisces about his love for that motor home, I almost wish running, mechanically sound and pretty enough for RV parks wasn’t a requirement so he could have it back.

1973 Dodge Commander Motor Home
Not Norman’s, but an example of his one true love.

He mostly used it as a party bus. He and his bachelor friends would take it from party to party or bar to bar, with cold ones in the fridge and beds/sofas to crash on when the party was over. In an effort to convince me to love it too, he planned a day trip up to the mountains. I wasn’t about to spend the night in that thing! Yet. I had never been inside a motor home. I had no idea what to expect. My memories of our first trip together in the Commander are not very flattering. It was messy. Clearly a bachelor hangout. It was ugly. The worn, torn and faded 70’s decor wasn’t comforting. I didn’t explore beyond the front passenger seat, frankly I was scared!

I Survived

The ride was noisy and bumpy. It was very unsettling. As we pulled into the gas station, something in the dash began to smoke and caught fire! As if I wasn’t scared enough already! I leapt out into the parking lot, refusing to get back in. Eventually, Norman was able to calm me down and assure me that the fire danger was over. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but it seemed this had happened before!

Once we were officially on the road, it wasn’t too bad. A lot less jolting than driving through town had been, and we were even able to joke about being on fire at the gas station. Until we got onto the narrow, one lane mountain road leading to our destination. It should have comforted me that Norman had driven this road in the Commander many times, but the steep cliff on one side was all I could think about!

1986 Winnebago "Minnie Winnie" Motor Home
Our first best family “home away from home.”

Evolution of a Glamper

We survived that adventure and after a few more day trips, I began to see and even enjoy the practicality! I wasn’t ready for an overnight trip yet, not until Norman brought home a 1986 Minnie Winnie. By this time our daughters were toddler and newborn so I had started to realize I needed to reconsider my favored camping methods.

enjoying a board game inside the motorhome while camping.
April and the girls enjoying a board game “indoors” while camping.

When I look back on the evolution of my “glamping” passion, the memories of tucking the girls in at night in a soft warm bed, sheltering “inside” with them during a surprise wind or rain storm, the ease of warming bottles, preparing meals and even occasionally kicking back inside to watch tv or play video games- these memories warm my soul with a fondness and appreciation equal to or possibly more grand than my teenage experiences. I look forward to sharing our adventure stories as we travel, and I hope that you will enjoy reading them just as much. In the mean time, Happy Glamping!

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