It followed us home

There are many ways in which Otto and I are similar, and other ways in which we are completely different. And then some ways in which we are each changing, due to the influence of the other.

Example the first: Otto used to believe a meal is not a meal unless it includes large hunks of meat or potatoes (preferably both). Thanks to living with us, he now understands that it is, in fact, possible to have a really nice meal that features other foods.

Example the second: I used to believe that the purpose of riding in a car was to GET somewhere. Thanks to Otto’s influence, I now understand that sometimes the journey itself is the goal, not just the destination. I mean, Otto still has a much higher tolerance for riding around aimlessly than I do, but I sort of get it.

Anyway, stuff like that. And then there’s the whole vacation thing.

When I was growing up, we did not randomly vacation. What we did, once a year, was go to Florida to visit my grandparents. At the first set of grandparents’ my job was mostly to let my grandmother walk me around to her friends and have everyone tell me how cute I was. (Yeah, it was rough, being me, and being the only female grandchild!) At the second set of grandparents’ place we did a lot of swimming. Get up, eat breakfast, go down and swim in the pool. Come in for lunch. Go back out to the pool after lunch, or maybe walk down to the beach! Come in for dinner. Watch television. It was a very difficult life.

I’m not complaining about this, by the way. I loved it. I’m just saying that’s what I figured a vacation was.

Otto’s family, on the other hand, used to go camping. For, like, the entire summer. They’d pack up a camper and hit the road and they went all over the country and, um, I think rolled around in the mud. I’m not sure. Isn’t that what you do when you go camping?

I don’t know from camping. Obviously. I mean, our first attempt at it didn’t go all that well, what with the HEAT and the NATURE and everything. I mean, nature is great and all, no doubt. But I live inside a HOUSE for a reason, y’know?

Anyway, Otto has been talking about going camping again. And usually as soon as he starts out I remind him about what happened before, and then he reminds me that 1) the kids are older now and 2) we could certainly upgrade to some sort of camper to circumvent the whole sleeping-on-the-ground thing. And because I’m totally flexible I said OKAY THEN and gave him just a small list of required items I’d need for such an arrangement.

I am completely willing to go camping provided that I get to have:
1) A real mattress to sleep on.
2) Air conditioning.
3) Our own toilet. Enclosed by WALLS. (Did you know that they make pop-up campers that have toilets where there’s just a curtain that goes around it? I believe the technical term for that is EWWWWW NASTY.)

See? It’s like I was BORN TO ROCK THE WILDERNESS. Otto is truly lucky to have married someone so incredibly low-maintenance, is he not?

But, see, I’d underestimated Otto. It turns out that what I require actually does exist in a lightweight camping trailer. And Otto located this model and then took us to the camper show to look at it and I had to admit that yes, it’s terribly cute. It’s 21′ and only about 3500 pounds (plenty light for our goofy little truck to tow), and it has a queen bed that folds out of the front for us and bunk beds for the kids in the back, and an adorable teeny kitchen that reminds me of the galley in my first apartment in college and even—of course—a bathroom.

Otto began searching for this trailer. And he quickly learned three things. First, that that cute widdle trailer is hella expensive. Second, that the company who makes them just went out of business. And finally, that the model he wants is almost impossible to find used.

I sort of thought that was the end of it. I mean, I made supportive noises and tried to act disappointed and kind of went on with my life. Every now and then he’d say something like, “Hey! I just found one used in Illinois!” And he’d look all hopeful while I gave him what I hoped was a withering stare until his shoulders slumped over and he muttered, “Nevermind.”

And then a week ago it happened. Otto found a used one in pristine condition. A bank repossession. For downright cheap. Just up the road a bit. He called immediately, and found out there had already been almost a dozen calls. Apparently he’s not the only person with his heart set on this particular model. He went out to see it. He called me for my blessing. I gave it, and he made an offer.

We waited to hear from the bank. Finally, the bank approved our offer. And this weekend, we towed it home.

That iddy biddy adorable camper? That looked so sweet and cute at the lot? Is now a hulking mass in our driveway. It will eventually be moved to a more permanent parking place (read: NOT THE DRIVEWAY) but right now we’re cleaning and fixing and getting it ready for… for….

Oh, shit. This means I actually have to go camping, doesn’t it? WHERE IS THE CABLE MODEM HOOK-UP ON THE TRAILER, OTTO???

I kid. It’s actually kind of exciting. The kids are completely out of their MINDS about it; they spent half of yesterday lounging on the bunks reading, then demanded that we eat dinner out there last night, so we did. We sat around the little table and talked about where we might go, and what we’ll need to pack, and I could almost picture the same scene somewhere in the woods, with maybe a game of Scrabble or Uno after dinner. I tried not to let my mind wander to the part where Chickadee complains that the air conditioning is too loud or Monkey insists that he saw a bug. I’m sure it’s gonna be fine. And naturey. And stuff.

It just seems a wee bit ironic that I spent all of last summer getting the house fixed up so that I’d want to stay here, and now this summer the goal will be to leave. Heh.

I tell you this: If this is not proof that I LOVE MY HUSBAND BEYOND ALL MEASURE, nothing is.


  1. Sheila

    When I was a kid, our neighbors had one of these type of things. It was The Coolest Clubhouse Ever.

    Also? Last summer on my family’s Great Colorado Road Trip, a very nice family at the campsite next to ours befriended us. We have three girls, they had three girls. We were touring the state, they were touring the state. We had a tent, they had a pop-up. For dinner, we had cold sandwiches and Pop Tarts, they had three-bean soup simmered on their very own stove. We slept on slowly-leaking air mattresses, they slept on king-sized beds. To their credit, they tried not to look TOO well-rested when they invited us over for hot coffee in the mornings.

    All of that to say, I applaud the purchase decision, and please be kind to your tent-camping neighbors (suckers).

  2. Otto

    There will be no problems due to bugs or loud AC units – all that fresh air during the day combined with an absolute lack of Wii, Nintendo, television and karaoke machines will exhaust them completely.

    Plus, anyone who complains gets their S’Mores taken away …

    Who loves his wife beyond believability

  3. Aubri

    You know, the whole changing and growing together thing? Pretty sure that’s one of the coolest parts about being married.

    I’m so glad your kids ar excited! Hopefully, the excitement continues, and the sheer joy of it means that they won’t mind the bugs and loud air conditioning. :-)

  4. Aubri

    Also, Otto is awesome… have I mentioned this lately? I wish my hubby would leave me blog comments!

  5. MomCat

    You are the Best! Wife! Ever! And I’m not saying that just cuz I can’t wait to read your postings about the camping trip. Really!

  6. Tracy

    This is so ironic. I have a 5th wheel camper for sale. We were very excited when we first got it and don’t get me wrong, I love to go “camping” but we just don’t have the time anymore. Now, we only use it when a hurricane comes and we are out of power for a week or so. Wish I would have known you were looking, I would have made you a heck of deal. Go and enjoy, there is nothing like “camping” in a camper vs. sleeping on the ground and using the woods for your bathroom. YUCK! I’m like you, I need a mattress, toilet and somewhere to plug in my hairdryer.

  7. ChrisinNY

    What model was it? That way we can all benefit from Otto’s research.

  8. Chuck

    Hey Mir, I recommend this blog/site for your perusal:

    I’ve never been a big camper myself…but it does kind of sound fun.

  9. Miriam

    I smiled when i read Otto’s response. One of these days I’ll suck it up and go camping too. I bought hubby a tent last year for Father’s Day with the decree that until the kids are older it only be used in the backyard. Darn Coleman, it had a hole and has to be replaced (heehee…um, I mean, oh the horrors!)! BUT, I could possibly be convinced in one of those camper thingies. Especially after watching the ultimate camper show on HGTV. Some of those babies are SAWEEET! Have fun, Mir. And enjoy the outdoors for me! ;-)

  10. Anna Marie

    Wow – maybe you can convince Otto that camping in the driveway is far enough away from home!

  11. Kelly

    Some of my best memories as a kid was camping (in a tent and everything) but I’m thinking that the camper sounds much more my style these days. :) Course I married someone that used to be an adventure camp counselor so he may not agree (who needs tents, open air is the way to go… um…. yeah).

    I think it was a great purchase, especially if it got it for a steal. Good job Otto!

    Mir – you will have a blast, I know it. Just think of the recipes you can try in cast iron over an open fire. Yum. Now I’m hungry… (good things include cornbread, cobbler, stew, etc.)

  12. MisaGracie

    great – now I want to go camping… in a tent… yes, I am one of THOSE people who likes to roll around in the mud and stuff. Been doing it since I was a kid. Seriously. There are pictures.

    Enjoy your good fortune and the family time together. Your kids (and you both too) will remember these times fondly – even if a bug crosses your path – or egads, you get nature and stuff on your shoes. heh.

  13. SoMo

    I am lucky to have found a man that considers camping the nearest Holiday Inn.

    We had a business partner whose idea of camping was a $250,000 camper complete with every electronic device know to man and large enough for everyone, just about, have their own room. They would drive somewhere far away, eat a fancy restaurants, watch movies, surf the Internet and then drive home. I think he could have saved a buttload of money and just stayed home.

    Have fun and don’t let nature get all over you.

  14. Kim

    I have earned major “wife points” for camping in the yard of a friend’s cabin (full priviledges to the indoor bathroom and kitchen, of course). The men all laughed when I lined my sleeping bag with sheets… and shut up immediately when I unpacked the ice cream maker. Now I am jealous of your queen sized mattress.

  15. getsheila

    You know, you CAN get cable in your camper. Many campgrounds now have a cable hookup along with the water and power.

    Or if you are going to the boonies, you can get satellite.

    And a small TV with a Wii doesn’t even need a cable hookup.

    Of course you already know all this. I just wanted to say it out loud so tomorrow I can read all about how Otto’s head exploded. :)

  16. Megan

    I… am sort of planning a week-long camping trip which will involve nuthin but tents and sleeping bags. Also there are several back-packing trips in the works which will mean WALKING all the gear in on my own two legs (and those of the slaves I thoughtfully gave birth too. I done gone camping in Alaska, woman – with NO toilets, NO showers, NO real campground even but many, many bugs and a high probability of much larger wildlife.

    However, when I’m home I want my wireless internet to be lightning quick, my swamp-cooler to be cranking away (it’s a desert thing), my pesto to be fresh and green and the prosciutto paper thin. When in the woods, do as the woodsy, when not…

  17. Katie in MA

    Is it kind of diabolical of me that I’m already looking forward to the camping posts? It is? Am I forgiven if I tell you what a complete and utter puddle of GOO I turned into after reading Otto’s comment? :)

  18. Michelle

    That actually sounds like tons of fun. I hope we can afford a camper like that someday!

  19. meghann

    Oh geez, don’t let my husband find out. He’s been begging for a pop-up for YEARS. Me? I told him he can take the kids camping, and I’ll come visit them during the day from my hotel room.

  20. Linda Sherwood

    We bought a travel trailer in 2006, and we love it. One warning — be sure to be smart about shopping for your camper. We probably spent another $500 on buying stuff within the first month of buying the camper. The nice thing about the camper having its own stuff is you don’t have to do a lot of packing and unpacking.

    By the way, we bought our camper for a steal, and it had two unexpected bonuses — a slideout and huge windows. They are now permanently on my list of “must-haves” for future camper purchases although this one will serve for quite some time yet.

  21. Libby

    I am with Katie. I can’t wait for the camping posts.

    I just know it.

    And Otto’s comment is so sweet!

  22. Susan

    Some of my fondest childhood memories are of family camping trips, and I’m on a mission to repeat that with my own kids (though I agree with you on the real mattress thing). Your kids will love it!

  23. Mary

    I’ve done my share of camping – tent/ground, pop-up and full sized Winnebago – lots of fun! A lot of mine was with my cousins who belonged to If you plan on doing a lot of traveling, this is a great group because you’ll get to know other campers and have lots of opportunities to meet up with them!

  24. Lady M

    This weekend, I agree to support camping in our backyard, eventually. More persuasion is needed to go farther afield.

    Hey, did that T-Mobile card I sent ever get to you and did it work?

  25. matinyoupi

    Ah ah ah… fabulous posts in perspective! You remind me of my husband and me… except that I didn’t give in (yet)! Every year, I have to submit to a few days in the camper that my in-laws kindly lends us for a few days. Of course, my husband adores it, he has spent all of his holidays cramped in a little camper with his parents and his brother. Of course, my sons adore that gipsy lifestyle. Of course, it’s kind of cool to be in a different place every morning. But, personally I hate it. I can’t sleep in the damn thing because I’m scared of getting murdered in the middle of the night (very likely of course ;o) ), I can’t sleep when it’s raining, I can’t sleep when it’s windy, I can’t sleep when it’s too hot, I can’t sleep if I can hear a neighbour, I can’t sleep if there’s no neighbour (I know… I’m such an easy person). I can’t move as much as I like too because it’s cramped. I’m unvoluntarily waking up everyone on my way to the toilet). My boys wake up at the crack of dawn when I’m just starting to finally sleep. I’m not allowed (anymore) to wake my husband up when I hear noises. I keep bumping my head here and there. After a few nights, I feel cranky from the lack of sleep and I hate the mess after a few days out. My idea of a holiday is a new place to discover from a rented house (and for the price of a decent camper, you can get quite a few holidays in rented accomodations).

  26. ChristieNY

    Sounds like many new adventures in the making! Can’t wait to read about them =)

  27. My Kids Mom

    We went tent camping last year at Red Top Mountain. Beautiful site. I recommend it. But… don’t camp next door to a group with a case of Coors Lite who get in a fight just as you start to put the kids to bed and who require the police to come to break it up and take one woman to the hospital and haul her friend to jail after she BIT her “friend” and who continue to re-hash the whole event while they watch tv for the rest of the night. No. Don’t camp about ten feet from them. PTCD oh, yeah. This year I sent the boys with Dad and I stayed home.

  28. Rita Arens

    You are a strong woman. The last time I camped was RAGBRAI with cots. It was hot, and there were mosquitos. Bring alcohol.

  29. David

    You guys are a riot. I too have many fond memories of our family’s trailer camping trips. The tent camping trips that preceded them, though? Not so much. May I just say A/C rocks in tight quarters. Ixnay on those mosquitos, too.

  30. Jo

    I want to get a camper too! Where the park the monstrosity is the main thing holding me back at the moment.

    I loved your prior post on Post-Traumatic Camping Disorder. Our first trip was a disaster also–and conveniently timed at the peak of my hormones. My youngest was dirt-phobic, which was just delightful when camping in the dirt! And we did not have a proper campstove. I had borrowed a hiker’s stove from a friend, and the dang thing looks like 3 paperclips bent together–we never got it lit all weekend. Luckily, our friends took pity on us and fed us so we would not starve. We spent the next 3 camping trips in a cabin while all our friends slept in their tents.

    I finally have our family back in tents, and inflatable air mattresses are doing the trick for the rocks that always seem to be right where you are lying on your back.

    We go to a wonderful campsite that has regular indoor plumbing, and even showers! They also sell coffee in the morning and hot cocoa in the evening. Easy car camping for even the most incompetent campers among us.

    With the right equipment, your family is going to have a GREAT time. Look how much fun they are having just in the driveway!

  31. Lisa

    I think this not only makes you an excellent wife, but also a possible saint. I’ll check with the pope.

  32. Pamela L

    You should love camping this way!! My family travelled when I was growing up with a Pop Up Camper. It had not A/C and no bathroom but there were comfortable beds. The problem was the heat – in the closed space w/all the family bodies was stuffy at times. That’s when I would take my sleeping bag outside to the lawn chair (note: not on ground w/critters)and sleep.

    You all rock!! Enjoy your travelling summer!!

  33. just beaux

    I love camping. And there are quite a few nice campsites out there all over the country. I especially like the sites that have those continental breakfast parlors that you can wander down the hall to early in the morning. It’s a nice way to start the day. And at night you can come home and get in one of those hot pools. Those sites rock.

  34. Marsha

    We bought a motorhome last november that was a repo. It JUST got in our driveway from storage yesterday. We used a pop up for 5 years and we were ready to TAKE THE LEAP to a 34′ Coachman motorhome.. now, if my husband can only learn to drive the dang thing we will be set! Our kids LOVE LOVE LOVE camping… I laughed my husband out of the house when he brought home the pop up (he’s a 5 star golfing hotel kinda guy) and told him “This will last one camping trip” but he LOVES it as well! Happy Camping this summer!! We may be in Georgia next year sometime. My parents are moving back to near Augusta and we may be parking it there for a couple week for a visit. I miss GA terribly. I would live there again in a minute… Augusta anyway.

  35. Trish

    Funny how there’s styles out there to suit everyone’s tastes. Hubs and I do the backwoods camp thing – you know, park the car, hike in a couple miles, call it good?

    The pros: no payments on a camper/RV, no spending 3 hours trying to back the beast into a spot and then level it, no equipment issues when the water line decides to break for who-knows-what reason.

    The cons? Ummm. Sleeping under the stars? No, that’s not it. The freedom to camp anywhere we want (as long as it’s legal, of course)? Nah, not it. Not having to spend money on all kinds of “stuff” for the camper? Getting away from the crowded campsites where we “get” to listen to everyone else’s TVs blaring while they “camp”? No….

    Oh I know! It’s the irritating self-righteousness you get to wave in everyone else’s faces while you chant, “that’s not REAL camping.”

    ;) I jest – I know you’ll have fun, pretty Mir – and enjoy the call of the wild (remember that a steak – or slab of salmon – cooked over a campfire tastes pretty damn good, and that Nature Is Your Friend!).

  36. Daisy

    Enjoy yourselves! when people say it’s “not real camping” just thumb your nose in their general direction. you can still cook over a nearby fire or use the outhouses if you really, really need the experience. If.

  37. Leslie

    I hear you on the toilet. We go camping a place in the woods. It has shared public bathrooms. I can do with out the A/C but I so wish there was a bathroom (and shower) in the cabin.

    Still it’s a lot of fun!

  38. Sarah

    My husband was reading this over my shoulder, saw you talking about a camper, and immediately demanded to know if I knew you in person and whether or not we could con y’all into taking us with you.


    I hope you have a great summer– camping is the best, once you get over that whole nature thing.

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