Tuesday, November 24, 2009

For The Love Of Camping

I grew up camping. Matt had never been on an overnight vacation until our honeymoon. Camping fit perfectly into our life. It was a cheap, comparatively speaking, and easy way to go places we could not afford to visit otherwise.

The first summer of our marriage we camped every weekend. All of our supplies could fit into the trunk of our two-door '89 Pontiac Sunbird. As we acquired more and more supplies the cooler eventually had to move up to the backseat. Matt built a trailer to haul our bikes and the jet ski we purchased.

The next summer, much of the same except we added a camping mattress that made it more comfortable for the newly pregnant me. That had to be rolled and tied onto the luggage rack.

After Hailey arrived on Valentine's Day 1992, we camped once. Memorial Day weekend. I think by then we owned a station wagon and it was packed FULL. We sold the jet ski and decided to pack it all away, it was much easier to stay home.

Fast forward 10 years and 3 more children.

Matt and I wanted to take a major family vacation, something we hadn't attempted since growing to a family of 6. We unearthed our ancient camping gear, bought a new tent, updated to air mattresses, requested time off and started making arrangements to visit the Redneck Riviera. (AKA Gulf Shores State Park, Gulf Shores, Alabama)

Somewhere between Christmas and our spring furlough we managed to conceive another love child...My energy was non-existent, my planning abilities unavailable and what little time I spent awake I was focusing on not throwing up (at least not until I made it to the bathroom). Not an ideal backdrop for organizing and spending 10 days Far, Far Away.

We discovered a Coleman Outlet store in Alabama and visited it about as much as the beach! An ideal way for a frugal pregnant woman to be convinced that what she might have considered a luxury before was now a camping necessity. We really padded our outdoor paraphernalia! It was either that, or take me home. I was rather ornery.

I slept through much of that vacation and to be honest, I don't think I even took any pictures. If I did, I can't find them. And as long as I'm being honest, I'm pretty sure I slept through most of 2003 because there is a gap in photo albums from Christmas 2002 until Isaac's birth in November.

That vacation rekindled our love for camping and Gulf Shores (and 1 or 2 other camping excursions a year) became a reoccurring event. Why not? It was relatively inexpensive and we had all the camping gear we could possibly need.

As the years went by the only thing we lacked was enough space to get us there. Our full size hi-top conversion van was overflowing and had 2 car top carriers and a hitch hauler (purchased IN Gulf Shores to cart all our new stuff home) with 4 huge rubbermaid bins tethered on. Our clothes and blankets had to be packed into space saver bags. There was not much room for error or careless packing. Soon, a full day of our tightly packed schedule would be reserved for packing and unpacking.

It was again becoming easier to just stay home.

Instead of conceiving another love child, the idea of converting a school bus into an RV became the glimmer in Matt's eye.

Space for everything, minimal set up, and no possibility of collapse were intriguing. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the challenge and novelty of it all appealed to us as well.

And so, Errabundus Bus was born.

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