Greetings from the Last Place I Ever Expected to Be

Readers — A few confessions:

1 – I have never been camping. That’s right. Free-Range through and through, I never slept in a tent, camper or RV. (And for all I know, a camper IS an RV.)

2 – I never had any desire, but Go anfraadfdz
offered me a free camper for a week, and when I told my family they said, “YES!!!!!!” which meant my meek and measly, “Really? Aren’t they big and tacky and gas guzzling and…” was drowned out by enthusiasm.

Fast forward to here at the Melville Pond Campground in Portsmouth, RI, where we just spent the night. Our very first.

A night that already had my husband and I walking through the camp trying to decide which RV we’d want some day.

That’s because suddenly we are literally nestled in the forest. (And I say nestled — and literally — because we are such city slickers we had to ask some very sweet guy walking by to jump into the driver’s seat and back our giant camper into its tree-lined space. This was after we’d already gotten stuck on our way into the campground, somehow sidling up so close to the “DUMP HERE!” sign that it had to be unscrewed and taken down for us, or it would scrape the RV. And that time, too, a very nice guy walking by jumped in and backed it up for us.) (Are you getting the idea that our RV is huge — a Jayco Greyhawk — and we are New Yorkers used to living in apartments smaller than the one we’re now driving across New England?)

Anyway, seeing all these tricked out campers — a tent attached here, a string of Christmas lights there — and campfires surrounded by folks Β talking and laughing under the trees,under the skies, Β it felt a little like fairyland. A very American fairyland, of course — electricity hookups pumping plenty of AC and juice for the TV. But here were all the things I like: People coming together, kids and adults, sharing food and stories. “They’re having fun,” I said to my husband.

“They’re having beer,” he replied. (Something I’d forgotten to bring. Will rectify soon.)

As for our kids — 15, 17, and a 15- year-old boy who joined us — they ended up reading, texting (so it goes), playing ball, playing cards. Β They also ate almost all the food I expected to last for five days.

It’s morning now and they’re still alseep. Outside, it’s drizzly, but folks are grilling their bacon and boiling coffee. Lumberjacks, pioneers, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and our in-laws who kept raving about how much fun camping is Β — we are one with them now.

We are taking to the American road like Kerouac himself…except for the fact we’ve got WiFi and a microwave. (And did I mention the indoor shower?) – L

Our little home on the prairie.

Our little home on the prairie.


43 Responses to Greetings from the Last Place I Ever Expected to Be

  1. Tara September 1, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    Good for you! I live in RI; isn’t it beautiful? The scenery is wonderful.

  2. Cara September 1, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    Fact: It won’t kill kids to go without texting ability for a few days.

    Next time, try it in a tent, and mandate no technology. I’m a strong believer that at least for a few days everyone needs tech-free time. Especially mommy and daddy.

  3. Silver Fang September 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    Have fun in the countryside!

  4. Jill Brandon September 1, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    That’s about the funniest thing I have read in a while. Enjoy!!!

  5. Linda September 1, 2013 at 10:58 pm #


  6. DaveS September 1, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

    I’m jealous. Though I’m a tent type person actually.

    No finer vacation to be had IMO.

  7. Tom Mahon September 1, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    LOL… this Lenore, good for you and your family…..but you are gonna have to come to grips with the fact that this is “glamping”, not camping.

    An RV on the “prairies” of Rhode Island is one step above black and TV in a Motel 6.

    Live Free and go Free Range out west!!!

  8. Tammy September 1, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    Welcome to the club! We’ve been camping with our boys since they were infants. They are at their best when we’re living at camp. I love taking that time out to spend a few days living simply, outdoors. We reconnect with the world in a more elemental way–having more than a passing interest in the weather, the sunrise and sunset. We just returned from a cross country trip from Michigan to San Diego, and back. We saw so much, and at night we slept in incredible places: the Rockies, Southern Utah, Sequioa Nat. Park, Yosemite Valley, Lake Tahoe… We have a small RV and I’m grateful for it! I’m not in my 20s anymore! BTW, if you do get an RV of your own, I recommend a trip to Utah. Spectacular! And I guarantee the kids will be text free–there’s pretty much no service anywhere in the southern half of the state!

  9. Emily September 2, 2013 at 2:35 am #

    Hilarious! Well done for going outside your comfort zone. We camp several times a year with our son, in a tent, at folk festivals, near the seaside, and in the New Forest. It’s loads of fun and a relatively inexpensive way to have a vacation.

  10. lsl September 2, 2013 at 2:46 am #

    Yay! Camping is awesome!

  11. J.T. Wenting September 2, 2013 at 2:58 am #

    “No finer vacation to be had IMO.”

    there is. Same setting but without the television, cellphone towers, and wifi πŸ™‚

    Though I must say I much prefer a decent bed, especially with my hernia.

  12. SKL September 2, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    This reminds me of an old movie I happened upon where Lucille Ball was driving a huge RV up and down a mountain. I don’t remember the name of the movie.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been camping in something other than a cabin. We used to camp in a canvas tent when I was a kid. Hearing someone’s TV and AC would have made that experience less pleasant. :/ I haven’t gone tent camping with my kids yet because in my job, my two biggest deadlines are in the summer. I bought some equipment last year but my girls’ only overnight in a tent was at my sister’s house. Oh, well. Someday. πŸ™‚ Though I may be getting too old to sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground. πŸ˜‰

  13. Beth September 2, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    @SKL I think that movie is “The Long, Long Trailer.”

  14. Ravana September 2, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    Next time rent a small van or SUV and try car camping. Less gas than the luxury RV, easier to handle, and most campgrounds have a toilet/shower area somewhere.

  15. Gary September 2, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    “I have never been camping.”

    wha the…?

    ::swoon, faint thud::

  16. Sonja September 2, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Fantastic! Just b/c something’s tacky, doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun.

  17. Papilio September 2, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Oooh wow, Lenore!! LOL indeed πŸ˜€

    This so reminds me of my one time in the USA. I was eleven, on vacation with my parents and brother (10). We spent four weeks riding around from one campsite to the next, from one beautiful National Park to the next, in a big roundtrip in the central and west of the country. This was also in an RV, smaller than yours, but big enough to cause some trouble sometimes πŸ™‚
    You’re bringing back some memories here! πŸ™‚

  18. mary margaret September 2, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    When we camp, it is in a canvas tent with tin candle lanterns. Before dark, we gather enough pine straw to make a soft bed. However, we do pack silver and china and a silverplated teapot. We can’t be too uncivilized, you know.
    I hope you have a wonderful time. Change and adventure is good. Ya’ll will talk about this for years. Went camping in Upstate New York – great time!

  19. SKL September 2, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I have a question. I’m a single mom with two young daughters. (Next summer they will be 7.) When practicing in the backyard with our tent etc., I wondered whether it was wise for just us 3 to go camping in a tent at a public campsite. Do those places tend to draw creeps, or is everyone there just having wholesome fun? When I was a kid, I always had my dad and older brothers around, so this was never a question that needed to be asked. I know that if I ask my dad now, his overprotective grandpa self will respond.

  20. Katie September 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    I’ve been, but would much rather be in an urban environment with museums, public transit, and shows so don’t plan to go again.

  21. Yan Seiner September 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    @SKL: I hear the safety question a lot. First of all, out in the sticks is a bad place for a perv. People tend to be more self-sufficient. There’s also fewer of us, so there’s less opportunity. Last of all, people take care of each other. If someone was to try something, they would not last very long….

    The only times I’ve heard of problems is in highly urban campgrounds. The more remote you are, the more safe you are. I backpack and camp out in the middle of nowhere (literally, we go places where there’s no phone coverage, it’s a 2 day hike to the trailhead, and from there it’s a day’s drive to the hospital) so we tend to be very self-sufficient.

    Never had a problem with people. Only heard one time of anyone having a problem, and that was in a crowded campground. I’ve had more concern about bears and rodents and cougars and crows. (Don’t underestimate the destructive power of a flock of crows….)

  22. SKL September 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Yeah, I’m not really itchin’ to meet a bear either . . . .

    The one I was looking at is probably urban-ish because I live in a city and it’s hard to get very far away due to my job. I’m not really looking for something very remote while the kids are so young. Mostly just something to give them a taste of what primitive camping is. (Primitive except that I will have my iphone, LOL. And bug spray.) Maybe I can find a good one near where my parents live, which is rural.

  23. anonymous this time September 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    Aha! No doubt you now understand my passion for those little trailers we got from Quebec… sleeps five, kitchenette, flush toilet, and you can pull it with your 6-cylinder car. πŸ™‚ Heaven for us! And I’m COMPLETELY OVER the tent thing.

  24. LegalMist September 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Yay for you! Glad you are having fun on your new adventure…

    But (you knew there was going to be a “but,” right?) this is exactly why RVs scare me on the road. They are as big as buses. I spent two weeks learning safety rules and how to drive a bus properly. But anyone can just hop into an RV and drive down the road, endangering everyone along the way… Scares me every time I am near one, because I have no way to know whether the driver has a clue.

    Please take some RV driving lessons. They will cover things like backing, tracking, braking distances, turning radius, rear-end “side swing” issues, weight and height issues, defensive driving, and more. It is good training for driving a car, too.

    And enjoy!

  25. Kim September 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    We are campers, and we have a Class C Forest River Sunseeker. We love it. It’s the 3 of us, my husband, our almost 12 year old sun and me. We are not full time RVers, but I wish we were, there is nothing better. As a matter of fact, we just returned from camping at the beach 3 hours ago! We started out with a tent, moved to a pop-up, then a travel trailer and now we have the Class C. When we retire we fully plan to get a Class A, sell the house and travel the country.

    It is funny how all the campgrounds seem to have laundry facilities, full hookups, WiFi, cable…not really roughing it! You meet so many wonderful people. I was at one campground once and the people next door, who had been there for a few days when we got there, came over with martinis for us as soon as we pulled in! Gotta love it.

    Hope you have a great time and if you decide to get your own RV and do this type of thing often please let me know, we’ll meet you somewhere!

  26. Kim September 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    SKL,try staying at KOAs. We have a KOA membership and we really enjoy them. You can tent camp, RV or rent a cabin! Very safe, lots of fun stuff for the kids. I love being able to send my son to the campstore with a few dollars by himself and nobody bats an eye…very free rang.

  27. Kim September 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    I can’t believe I spelled ‘son’ wrong in my first post.

  28. Papilio September 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    @Kim: he must be the sonshine in your life πŸ˜‰

  29. JaneW September 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    Ah, family camping! I remember the “big man with an axe.” It’s a great story, actually:

    I think were were six and nine years old. We were at a big campground that had a common building with a wood-burning stove, so my parents decided we’d make pancakes for breakfast on this stove. Luckily, there was a good supply of firewood from the camp management, unluckily, it was in the form of solid logs, and there was no kindling whatsoever.

    Well, we spent a solid hour trying to split those logs with our pocketknives, or light them with matches. Obviously, neither one worked. Which is when the big man with an axe came in, literally.

    He had an armload of wet clothing along with his axe, and he took in our situation pretty quickly, then cut a deal. He split a few logs, we built the fire and dried his clothes next to it. Worked out pretty well all around. And we learned that big men with beards, plaid shirts, and axes, out in the mountains, are often friendly and community-minded fellows.

  30. Stacy September 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    My daughter says it’s not camping if you’re not sleeping on the ground in a tent. With no TV or microwave. πŸ™‚ We’re looking forward to the kids being old enough to carry their own gear, so we can take them backpack camping. One thing we’ve noticed is that children are allowed to roam free on bikes and on foot, exploring and making new friends, at pretty much any kind of campground except grizzly bear country. Everyone seems friendly. There are also alcohol-free campgrounds.

  31. Fugazi September 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Sorry, Lenore, but that’s not camping. An RV, a microwave, a hot shower, and texting? You’re glamping baby. A good first step though. Have fun!

  32. Dee September 2, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    Sounds lovely!

  33. Really Bad Mum September 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    YOU FORGOT THE BEER!!! Omg!! Lol we have been known to go camping with nothing but beer except 1pack of sausages, 1 loaf bread ( if someone remembers, or doesn’t take beer space in esky) and some tomato sauce.. The swag to sleep in, fishing gear, oh yeah and the kids… ( additional food must be bought, prepared etc by person wanting something other then snagger in bread and sauce). Almost forgot a roll of dunny paper and small shovel πŸ™‚

  34. Laura W September 2, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    This has to be my favorite post from you, ever! Thank you for sharing. I can’t help smiling πŸ™‚ Hope you are enjoying the fresh air and freedom!

  35. Yan Seiner September 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    @Really Bad Mum: Exactly. I have backpacked 3 liters of wine 40 miles into the backcountry. πŸ™‚

  36. Really Bad Mum September 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    @ Yan, lol I have been ordered back down to the bottle shop because I forgot ice for the esky.. Anyone would think I left his first born there the way he carried on.. Lol but I must admit nothing worse then hot beer… I am so glad we aren’t to only ones who do these things lol

  37. Susan September 3, 2013 at 12:44 am #

    I am happy for you! This sounds like a wonderful, fun adventure. But also probably one you shouldn’t have taken because it sounds like it’s gonna cost you, big time, in the future! Make sure you post photos when you buy your own new camper/RV!! πŸ™‚

  38. Kenny Felder September 3, 2013 at 6:09 am #

    Wow, that makes me want to head out in an RV with my family!

  39. dancing on thin ice September 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    When we camped as kids it was in tents and intense.
    My dad stayed up all night camping with my older brother on a mountain during a thunderstorm worried about us. Phones to the campgrounds were down so Mom had no way to get in hold of us to pick us up. Cellphones had just been invented but brick-sized versions were 10 years away from being for sale.

    I slept straight through only to discover a huge tree was hit by lightning and fell about a football field away.
    Lesson: Adults often worry too much about their kids, who turn out fine.

  40. Taradlion September 3, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    Love it! I camped a ton growing up. Our melded family consisted of kids aged 4-17 and our parents felt like it was something we all could do together! Loved it.

  41. rhodykat September 3, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    Yay Rhody and yay camping! If only I had known, I would have taken the tent out or offered the backyard for parking.

  42. Donna September 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    Love it Lenore. We did our first RVing (campervan really) in New Zealand this Christmas. We loved it.

  43. Seainni September 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Agreeing with Cara, above … there’s nothing like a tent for making disconnecting from technology and reconnecting to the natural world instinctive! And waking up truly outdoors is lovely, too.