I grew up camping. I didn’t know the terms ‘back-country’ or ‘primitive’. That’s what they call it nowadays. Back then, we would put everything in a boat, go to the far shore of the lake where there was no one and nothing civilized within sight and pitch a tent or two. Campfires for cooking, blankets hung over a rope strung around three or four trees with a hole dug in the middle. Life was good. Later we modernized and got a Coleman cookstove that used liquid fuel (also good for getting the campfire started in a hurry). My wife didn’t camp as a kid, but had similar tent camping experiences when she was an adult. We both loved being out, so RVing was a dream of ours. I say dream because it seemed like only rich people could go RVing. And we were far from rich.
We plunged into our first RV venture back in 1997. We found a 1995 Mallard 19N. (Funny footnote – we spotted the trailer parked by someone’s house as we were going through a neighborhood. We stopped and my wifed knocked on the door and asked the guy if he would like to sale his trailer. He did, so we bought it the next day.)
That tiny Mallard had everything we needed. A bed, full bathroom, kitchen, a booth that converted to a bed for the girls and just enough storage to be out for a week or so. It was fully self-contained. Well, almost fully. We found out that Smokey Mountain National Park didn’t have hookups. And we didn’t have a battery. At least the first night we didn’t. After almost freezing to death, we had a battery the next night that got the furnace going.
For the next few years, plains, mountains and valleys rolled under those wheels that took us to previously unimagined adventures. Sweeping vistas, cool rivers and shaded hikes were there to fill our hearts with blessings to the point of bursting. We mostly explored the state and national parks avoiding the refined RV parks as much as possible. The 7 mpg was a little shocking, but still a bargain considering where we got to go and the money we saved on meals and hotels.
Camping? We just couldn’t bring ourselves to call it that. A shower, microwave, air conditioning and beds. Nope. This wasn’t the camping that we had known in our younger years. Now we were Rvers. Now we were the Old Folks on Board.