On “Not Camping”

Hot Springs at Mammoth. Yellowstone National Park. ©David Gardner

Hot Springs at Mammoth. Yellowstone National Park. ©David Gardner

We arrived at Yellowstone on the 28th (my birthday). Well before we got to the park, we could see the valley was thick with smoke. Yet another fire was burning and the smoke was blowing north. Because of road closures, only the northern driving loop is open for travel. There is a bridge out on one side and the fire on the other. This actually works out well for us because this is our favorite part of the park and we only planned on visiting this part on our way to South Dakota.

Our first day here we had temps in the 90’s. Today a storm moved in and the high is expected to be 32 with 2 – 5 inches of snow. Just a slight change. It is days like this that justify travel in a motorhome for me. On all our previous travel prior to getting the motorhome, we have tent camped. Crammed everything we needed into the 4Runner and hit the road. For almost thirty years this was the way we did it. About five years ago, while tent camping in Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, we endured a fairly severe wind storm. We sat in the 4Runner watching our new dome tent bending and eventually breaking in the wind. Sand got into the zipper mechanism and rendered it useless. All this time, it was still 80º and we were sweltering in the car. I rescued other people’s tents as they were uprooted by the wind and blew through our campground.

Mary decided for us that this was the end of tent camping. There were a number of other similar experiences previous to this, but this one was the capper. The other deciding factor was that, now we are traveling for months at a time instead of a few weeks. We also found we needed to bring more and more equipment to keep up a tolerable comfort level; more air mattresses, more heating and cooking equipment, better lighting arrangements, etc. This is in addition to all the camera equipment.

Old Burn. Mt. Washburn. Yellowstone National Park. ©David Gardner

Old Burn. Mt. Washburn. Yellowstone National Park. ©David Gardner

What brings all this up is that right now I am sitting, warm and comfortable, in the back of the motorhome watching the snowstorm. Inside, it is 72º. Outside, 32º. I am writing on my laptop, plugged into the internet, listening to Sirius Satellite radio. I also have the option of watching TV because I brought along my Direct TV receiver to use with the satellite dish that came with the RV. Oh yes, since we are in a RV park, I also have cable I can hook to my TV. This morning, I took a hot shower in our full bathroom. The RV holds 50 gallons of water that we use for drinking, cooking and washing. It also has holding tanks for waste water, both black and gray. For power, we have two solar panels that charge our batteries and gives us light and power for powering computers and cameras and whatnot.

This is so far from camping that I have come to call it “NOT CAMPING”. This differs from what is know as dry camping; staying in places where no hookup (water, electric, cable, etc.) are available. Staying in national parks or places with no hookups for me is still borderline NOTCAMPING, but since we are technically untethered, I let it slip.

All of this comes at a price of course. Instead of being 15 feet long in the 4Runner, we are 27 feet long, plus we tow the Rav4 which adds another 10 feet or so. All of the costs are higher. Camping in RV parks is more, fuel is way more, and plenty of things can and do go wrong in the RV(see earlier posts). But days like today make it all worth it. We may move into the park tomorrow, but if it stays cold and gray, we may stay here.

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3 Responses to On “Not Camping”

  1. Dan says:

    Yellowstone is a real nice place if you get there the right time of year, although I never thought about bringing my laptop with me. The cellphone is enough of a distraction from nature for me

  2. Polprav says:

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

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