On the Road Again

On the Road Again

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

By Blaney Pridgen

My wife and I enjoy camping.  The word needs explaining.  Camping takes on many forms.  We car camp.  This doesn’t mean we sleep in the car.  We travel to state or national campgrounds in our car loaded with gear.  There, we set up a 10×10 tent and awning and hang out for two or three days.  During the day we hike or see the area sights.  At night, we play Scrabble and hope the rain is manageable.  Finding a good site at a well cared for campground is a challenge.  We work at it, but sometimes the motel is a must.

I used to solo backpack into the deep woods for two or three nights or longer.  Also, I tour kayaked on large lakes where I camped.  This was what I call “real camping.”  Gear becomes critical.  Real risk and solitude refresh the soul like nothing else.  No motel.  I am now too old for these and that’s just fine.  I like my wife’s company and the motel option.  The only real risk are obnoxious punks within earshot of our car and tent.

There are other forms of camping, but they abuse the term.  I’ve seen all kinds of trailers people tow with huge pickup trucks that look like miniature locomotives.  A simple pleasure of mine is watching the “campers” park their recreational vehicles and level them and then hook up the soil pipe and electricity.  During this set up, conversations between husbands and wives are very interesting.  Finally, their campsites are quite impressive with all manner of comforts and entertainment.

Over the past thirty years, camping, as it is still called, has evolved.  Campgrounds used to be filled mostly with tents and small pop-up trailers.  Bigger abodes were the minority.  They were things nestled on pickup beds and one room trailers pulled by passenger cars.  These are now oddities in most campgrounds.  Behold, the RV has arrived.  The RV ranges from longish van-like vehicles, all appearing rather top heavy to rolling behemoths almost the size of a Greyhound Bus.  We used to think that the latter belonged to a country music star enroute from Memphis to Nashville.  Now, it’s just the guy down the street.  Tent-only-sites and things not requiring hook-ups are given small separate areas deep in the back of the campground away from the whirring of generators and the glow of big screen televisions.  That’s fine with me.  There is a kind of segregation among the various forms of campers.  This is probably related to the disposable income (not to mention other disposable matter), but some of us just like the good ‘ol time camping like the folk who like the good ‘ol time religion.

While on this subject, I must mention two peculiarities of current day trailers and RV’s.  First, they all have outrageous color schemes and swirling decorations upon them, except for the Airstreams and Mercedes which modestly bespeak huge invisible dollar signs.  To me, they look like a man in a Hawaiian shirt and plaid pants.  What’s that about?  Maybe a two-tone, but why the crazy designs?  I will say that a truck color matching the trailer is tasteful.  A second matter is a large RV towing a car.  I understand the need to have transportation after the ordeal of planting the motorhome, but what about the ordeal of driving all of that?  The risks I used to take backpacking pale in comparison.  Once, I saw a huge RV towing a truck with a golfcart on its bed.  I guess they couldn’t figure out how to bring the boat too.  

We have made concessions to modernity in our modest camping setup.  We listen to music on a small Bluetooth device hooked up to a Smartphone.  We sleep on a thick air mattress inflated by an electric pump which plugs into our SUV.  We always welcome the availability of clean showers.  Some may say that these comforts are not real camping.  Certainly, we would be more comfortable in a trailer or RV in wind, heavy rain, or super hot weather.  Nonetheless, something akin to almost roughing it is an experience akin to real camping, and a whole lot cheaper.  And we don’t need to tow a car.