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It Was a Rough Night for the Squatches

Dry camping, boondocking, wild camping  – whatever you call it, it’s basically camping without electric, sewer, or water hook-ups. Some of the advantages to this type of camping is that you can pretty much go anywhere that is accessible to your rig. One of the reasons we decided to purchase a motor home to begin with is so we could take our business to craft shows and festivals that were a little further away from home without camping facilities. We can sleep in a bed we have outfitted the way we like to sleep, we can cook the kinds of food we like to eat, and we can travel with our pets. There are a lot of advantages to taking your mini home on wheels along with you.

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Our current camping spot behind Memorial Hall at the York Fairgrounds in Pennsylvania.

Currently, we are in PA doing the York Folk and Fine Arts Show. It opened Friday night with very sparse traffic, and Saturday all day was the same. For many hours, hardly a soul could be seen walking the aisles. It was a long, rainy, cold day. We did get to meet some other really nice vendors, got some recommendations for other shows, and got some intel on why the show we are at currently is not doing well. I was also able to make use of the time to work on some designs for custom orders, so at least I got to check that off the list.

After a long day in the event hall – we were thankful to be a few mere steps out the back door to our camper. I heated up the chili  brought, and after a glass of wine or two and the hot food I was somewhat revived. We snuggled in and caught up with some of our favorite YouTubers. About 10 o’clock, Gary walked the dog and I got into bed, not feeling very well.

One of our biggest challenges personally when we dry-camp is running Gary’s C-Pap machine. We can run the generator but it’s pretty loud right by the bedroom. The first night he ran it off the coach batteries, but the second night he had cooked up a plan with the building maintenance man to plug in to an outside outlet. I was laying down, half-asleep listening to all manner of banging and cursing as he tried to get it hooked up. He’s 6’5″ going up and down camper steps – rock rock rock rock – as he pounds down four steps. Slam goes the door. He’s in our bedroom, an unskilled flashlight user, directing the beam of light right into my face. I wish I could say I pleasantly asked him to move it but as it was about the tenth rude awakening….

Finally, he’s asleep and I’m asleep wedged between him and Nutmeg who has decided that camping is the perfect reason to sleep with us. My dog allergy usually makes this a no-no as well as the fact that at home there are three, but I indulged her. A few hours of peaceful slumber came to an abrupt end when the pleasant sound of rain on the roof turned to heavy rain, violent shaking, and whistling wind. I laid there for half an hour or so listening and worrying. It sounded as if the outside of the camper was shredding. I finally got out of bed to find that the thermostat was off and there was hardly any power in the camper, nor could I start the generator. Gary got up to crank the engine in an effort to recharge the coach batteries. He went outside to inspect the exterior of the camper with his flashlight making sure to graze my eyes a time or two just because. A gust of wind nearly jerked all 300 pounds of him off the steps as he opened the door to go outside. The wind whistled and howled and Nutmeg sat bravely on my feet staring for daddy to come back while the camper pitched and swayed.  Gary returned to report that all was well even if it hadn’t sounded that way.  We considered moving the camper to the shelter of being closer to one of the surrounding buildings, and decided against it as it is a fire lane.

The wind died down and somewhere near 6 am the three of us settled back to sleep. The generator continued to stall throughout the next couple of hours. I’m now wide awake and partially caffeinated waiting for my companions to stir before I venture to wash my hair in the teensy bathroom.

There is so much still to learn, but we are getting a lot of opportunities to practice.

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Letting Go

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My first cup of morning coffee in the camper! (My friend Lyndsey makes these mugs. Find the link to her shop at the end of the blog.)

One of life’s great pleasures is waking up in the morning at a campground. I grew up living mostly in the suburbs where there were few sounds of nature outside other than the yapping of a neighbor’s dog. The times I went camping, it was like being transported to a different planet. Most of the time you were up early enough to feel the morning dew on your skin, the day not yet old enough to burn it off even in the depth of summer. The sounds of birds singing their sweet songs in the trees joined the scampering of small feet rustling through leaves or pine needles by nut-gatherers below. Whether you were tent camping, in a truck conversion, or in any one of the various forms of campers – you made your way outside during those wee hours to greet the day, the morning air full of the smells of bacon and pancakes cooking on a Coleman stove somewhere nearby. If you were my neighbor, you’d likely have heard me tripping over the root of a tree or some other obstacle. I still have a scar across the top of my ankle from a particularly bad run in with a tent stake at Myrtle Beach as a teenager.

Letting go means that whatever stays is meant to be and it resides in peace with no coercion.

Disconnecting from the weight of every day life draws multitudes of people to various forms of camping every year. Just the change of scenery alone can do wonders for a person. The campground we stayed in was not in an unfamiliar area, but I had changed my perspective to the other side of the river. I am looking forward to many opportunities to have ever-changing views of both the world around me and the ever evolving person inside me. This non-static approach to the world helps me know myself better, and in knowing myself better, I am a better citizen of the world, wife, mother, friend. Trust me, this hot mess needs a lot of fine tuning.

In the last few years, I have undergone a personal transformation. It seems people pleasing is in the rearview mirror. It’s close enough that I can still find the reverse gear and revisit it, but not so close that it is my constant traveling companion. It has distanced me from people who have been friends for twenty or more years. The funny thing about people pleasing is that when you stop making every decision in your life based on the needs, wants, and preferences of others – you often find you are no longer useful. I think there is still value, even if it’s occasionally lonely to finding your most authentic life. Gary has not only watched but nurtured this transformation. If I start looking to shift into reverse, he reminds me that I want to go forward and that where I go, he will go.

The biggest change these last few years have brought me is the ability to let go. Letting go is different than running away. Letting go means that I have made the choice not to force relationships where they do not thrive organically. Letting go means a growing awareness of my authentic self in place of what used to feel false or stilted, and making only the fewest compromises in this area. Letting go means that whatever stays is meant to be and it resides in peace with no coercion. This is preparation for more of a nomadic lifestyle, which seems is always about letting go.

Letting go of one thing means there is time, energy, and resources to invest in something new. Mornings in a camp setting will always be a picture of a fresh start, the remnants of old things in ashes where last night’s campfire burned bright.

You can get Lyndsey’s Happy Camper Mug HERE.

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There Was Evening and There Was Morning – The First Day

The bed was hard and the coffee tasted like chemical water. I’ve washed so many dishes in the last 24 hours that my hands are dry – and they smell like the aforementioned chemical-y water. I’m spoiled. So many of the things I love about life are creature comforts of the nest I’ve created for myself. Last night we spent our first night in our yet-to-be-named Winnebago.

The most difficult part of getting this thing on the road was our own driveway and neighborhood. We live on the side of a mountain where in many places only one car at a time can pass  – and we were going to bring a 35′ camper through there. Long story short, we made it. It was a little like trying to thread a camel through the eye of a needle or something of similar Biblical proportions.

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The broken light

The first thing we noticed when arriving to the campground was a light broken off the driver’s side rear of the rig. The red plastic casing sheared off and we suspect this happened before we even got out of our driveway. Seems like it will be an easy fix once we get the proper part from Winnebago.

As Gary was negotiating the hook ups for the first time, I was inside setting up “house” and kept hearing water running. My hearing muddled from a recent ear infection hasn’t been prime lately, but I knew I was hearing running water. I kept yelling to him at the back of the rig, “I hear water running!” He yelled something back about the tanks. I went into the bathroom to check all the faucets and yelled again, “I HEAR water running!” I couldn’t make out what he said but my normally even-keeled husband’s tone of voice was clearly aggravated. I turned back towards the front of the camper just in time to see water shooting out of every crack of the cabinet under the kitchen sink. It quickly flooded the floor, poured down the steps to the outside, and ran through the basement compartments just underneath.  I began to yell “TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!” It was too late. The cabinet flooded and the floor was a puddle. It took the only three bath towels I had packed and half a roll of paper towels to clean it all up. A water filter under the sink had not been tightened down properly – and I won’t mention any names but it wasn’t me.

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So many dishes.

Gary continued the set up outside and I was inside putting chili in the crockpot to warm. Gary was setting up chairs and the grill. Outside flapping in the wind were our three bath towels. Some vintage campers set up with a  boho chic style. Ours looked like we were going for 1930’s New York tenement housing.

Note to self: bring more than just the towels you need for bathing in case of emergency.

Later that night, sipping a glass of wine by the fire brought it all into perspective. It wasn’t quite dark and the trees hung like a canopy over us. Gary relaxed beside me with a cigar and I just took it all in from every angle – the crackling sounds of the burning wood, the flickering glow of warm light, the warmth of the flame competing with the breeze rustling in the trees. I know this is our next adventure. I am a creature of habit and order. I like things I can count on, stability, structure. Having lived with chaos and trauma much of my life, I thrive on consistency and the assurance that every place I put my foot is a solid one. I cannot explain this magnetic pull I feel to the nomadic style of RV living with all of the unknowns except to say that maybe life is stretching me, growing me, teaching me that being centered comes from a place deep inside and not my surroundings.

Day One, accomplished.

 

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