Camping vs. Campering

IMAG0019 (640x480)Phase One of the great Camper Caper is complete: deep cleaning. It’s a joy to be able to walk into my camper and inhale deeply without bursting into fits of coughing.

But we aren’t out of the woods yet—or more specifically, out in the woods. The water systems are still full of antifreeze. I dare not start the furnace for fear of great clouds of dust blowing all over my freshly cleaned camper. And I don’t even know if I have any propane in the tank to light the stove.

So what the heck. I took it camping anyway.

My friend Mareike (say that mar-I-ka) from Germany was over, and she’d never stayed in an RV before. (Heck, neither had I.)

On the first night of our visit, we camped in the ol’ tent—and were nearly wiped off the face of the earth by a thunder storm. Despite a fresh coat of seam sealant, we shipped enough water to soak my dog and the foot of my sleeping bag. (Like a good dog parent, I shared the remaining dry portion with my soggy pooch.)

More storms were predicted for our second night … so all in all, it was clearly the perfect opportunity to try out the camper. With none of the systems functional, we treated it like a glorified tent … trips to the vault toilet and the whole bit.

For the record, I object to the use of the term “camping” applied to RVs. “Camping” implies a certain intimacy with nature, a lack of comforts and conveniences, and the ability to carry on your back everything you need to sustain life.

RVs establish distance between the inidividual and nature. You have weather-proof walls. You have running water. You have a deep, cushy bed. You have a refridgerator, an air conditioner, and a furnace. It’s nothing less than a small house with a great view.

Hence I’ve coined a new term: “Campering.”

But I’m not sure I was “campering” on this trip. The rain hit in the dead of the night, and it cleverly blew in through my broken vent cover, elbowed its way past the barricade I’d made of plastic sacks, dripped down from on high, and soaked my sleeping bag—worse than my night in the tent.

Intimacy with nature = camping. Therefore, I was camping … not “campering.” Even though I was in a camper. Yeah, I’m confused, too.

Whatever I was doing, my first time with the camper was lots of fun—made more enjoyable by sharing it with a friend … who doesn’t mind getting up at three in the morning to help me waterproof a broken vent cover.

Hot chocolate over an open fire

Hot chocolate over an open fire

Breakfast for Two

Breakfast for Two

View as seen from the roof of the camper—while working some more on the broken vent cover

View as seen from the roof of the camper—while working some more on the broken vent cover

Pawnote from Molly

IMAG0015 (640x480)I didn’t mind the broken vent cover at all. It meant my girl ended up sleeping on the floor with me! The bed over the cab looks cozy and all, but I’ve tried, and there’s no way to get up there, no matter how hard I wag my tail and give my girl that pleading look.

So when my girl parked a bucket under the leaking vent and rolled out her sleeping bag next to me, I laid my paw and my head on her arm to let her know I liked this arrangement so much better. I hope she decides to use the bed over the cab for storage.

See the full album!

Visit Molly and me on our Facebook page to see all the pictures.

Meet the RV

The vehicle to new adventures! Um ... other way, Molly.

The vehicle to new adventures! Um … other way, Molly.

Molly's favorite "room"--the kitchen!

Molly’s favorite “room”–the kitchen

Molly's favorite part of her favorite room. What's for dinner?

Molly’s favorite part of her favorite room. What’s for dinner?




Running Through Obstacles

2005-09-05 2078 (640x427)I’ve just finished writing a magazine article, destined for a publication which shall remain anonymous about a topic which shall also remain anonymous. (Proprietary information. It’s the epitome of rude to disclose upcoming content.) But I’ll give this much away: it’s about a little-known frontier hero. I know, way outside my usual pet topics. But I like history, too, and I’m particularly fascinated by this historical figure. The big surprise, however, was that one aspect of this man’s life spoke to me and intertwined with recent developments in my own life adventure.

Like many Westerners, this frontiersman had wanderlust. He also had a drive to challenge himself. He did not shy from obstacles—he pursued them. His willingness to challenge himself to the limits won him a 500-page biography and an honorable mention in countless other histories of the west. But more importantly, it sharpened both his character and his skill and made him supremely useful to his fellow man.

I really admire people who push themselves. I’m fascinated by people who cross oceans in replica Viking ships and unicycle across South America. To date, my adventures have been tame by comparison. But this year, a notion implanted itself in my mind, and refused to go away.

It all started on a jaw-rattling spring night of 42°. Molly and I were camping in our tent and trying hard to stay warm. (It’s a little crowded sharing your sleeping bag with a 90-pound dog.) Too cold to sleep, so I daydreamed (in the dead of the night) about living out of my tent and touring America. Because despite lack of creature comforts (and presence of large creature occupying half my sleeping bag), I was having the adventure of a lifetime. If 42° won’t build character, what will?

When we climbed out of the tent the next morning, the daydream was still there. Only it wasn’t practical. How do I provide ten pounds of meat a week for my dog without a fridge or freezer? Would I really feel secure in a tent? What would I do with Molly when I went to the grocery store for said ten pounds of meat?

Teddy Roosevelt (no, not the subject of my article—nice guess, though) used to entertain dignitaries to the White House by playing a game in which they raced each other across a field. If they encountered an obstacle, they had to go over it, under it, or through it, but never around it. In other words—embrace the obstacle. Let it build both your mind and your body. Instead of racing to the river, jump in and keep going. I’m sure Roosevelt’s guests thanked him.

So I wasn’t whipped. There may yet be a way to challenge myself while providing for the practicality of pet parenthood.

The upshot is that I now have an RV parked in front of my house. A glorified tent, if you will. Itinerary is still in developmental stages, but like Teddy Roosevelt and the subject of my article, I’m ready to grow my mind, my skills, and my character. To live off less. To live closer to God’s creation. To push beyond my comfort zones. Molly and I will be chronicling our journeys here at Embark on Adventure, so stay tuned!

The best way to fail is never to try.

Dog Traveling Theory – A Post by Molly

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On our Minnesota camping trip, Molly was so excited to arrive … at the rest stop.

I didn’t know we were going anywhere today.

I have no concept I need to bring stuff with me–like food and a car ride harness and my favorite blankie. I don’t know we aren’t going to be home for supper.

I don’t know how far we’re going or how long it’ll take us to get there or how long we’ll be gone–it could be a quick trip to the pet supply store for all I know, or a week-long vacation someplace I’ve never been.

I didn’t realize the rest stop wasn’t the final destination.

In short, I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m loving every minute, and I’m so happy to be with my girl! Wherever we go, we’re going there together.