I grew up camping, with 3 sisters, 1 brother, our parents, and a very small camper. When I got older, I would go tent camping with girlfriends in high school, and eventually with husband #1 (and 3 children). The n there were years when the only thing close to camping was a hotel room, until I met husband #2. We tent camped, went to a small travel trailer, then to a nice 5th wheel. We explored South Dakota, where we lived; Saskatoon, Canada; Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri; Black Hills; Badlands of both North and South Dakota; county parks in Minnesota; and many state parks in South Dakota as well. We sold our 5th wheel when we moved to Virginia, thinking we’d get another one once we were settled here. We hadn’t gotten around to that yet when Kevin died. I wasn’t sure I was up for camping solo after that. But that was then, and this is now.
One of the things you do when you are grieving, when you are starting to remember, is to choose happy times. We had so much fun making memories camping, from when the water heater started on fire, to the rhubarb pie we forgot on the table when it rained, to going to the theatre because it was raining, to Gabe slicing his foot with an axe chopping firewood, to Donald’s motorized margarita maker, to the turtle that didn’t’ make it across the road in time, to stunning sunsets, and great fish fries. Oh, and the time I tried to make tangerine yogurt. Or when Kevin cracked the camper on the immovable yellow post at the gas station, to losing the tv antenna because we forgot to put it down, and on and on and on.
There were also such peaceful times when he would go out fishing early and I would get to sleep I late, meander along trails with the dogs, being mesmerized by the campfire, and reading a good book. No worries. True R&R.
Camping was one of our very favorite things to do. The first summer we had our first camper we went out 11 weekends. I don’t think we slowed down much until we got to Pierre and everything was 2-3 hours away instead of 1/2 hour to an hour. On a weekend, that was a big difference.
So I started thinking about it again recently. I wondered if I would enjoy it by myself (well, me and the dogs). I went to RV shows, I researched campers online, visited a few stores. And then I found the one. I brought her home today. I admit I was freaked out when I pulled out of the dealer’s place this afternoon, but it didn’t take long for me to get comfortable behind the wheel. Backing it in the storage lot between a utility trailer and a pop up camper was challenging, but also exhilarating when I did it. That’s progress! I even got it unhitched without too much trouble. Thanks to my friend Diane for her help. I’d still be there if it wasn’t for her.
This whole adventure signals to me that I am well on the mend from my grieving days. I am truly “solowingnow,” getting on with my life, refusing to sit home alone in silence or deny myself the pleasure of activities I used to enjoy. I know it won’t be the same as when Kevin was with me, but I also know I am capable, ready, and willing to take a few more risks, meet some new people, and make new memories.
It’s a Summerland 2020, and it sleeps 3. Hint: that means I still have room for at least one more camping buddy, or two if they are very friendly, or if one takes the floor. And we might have to share the dogs. I am excited to get started! I have almost all the camping “stuff” from before, so it’s a matter of time to get it all down from the attic and see what I need this time around. I suppose it’s possible the next RV movie will be about me, but let’s hope it’s not quite that eventful. Just a way to re-enter the world on my own terms.