The first time someone suggested we get a camper, I scoffed. In all fairness, it was my in-laws. They suggested we get a camper and join them each summer in Fun Valley, Colorado. Not that I have any problem with fun or valleys—but that place wasn’t the idyllic picture of camping I saw in my head.
Ever since my first child was born, we had been tent campers. We found it mesmerizing to awaken under the canvas with birds chirping, or even hearing those pesky raccoon bandits make off with food in the middle of the night. (We shined a flashlight on their bums through the open tent flap as they gimped into the woods, a full package of lunch meat in their grubby paws.)
Tent camping was fun.
But, the idea of a hard side camper? Nah. And, in a place as tightly congested as Fun Valley, while hearing ATVs zipping by at all hours? Hard pass.
So, we didn’t buy a camper. At least, not yet.
We had a nice, big 10×14 Coleman Instant Tent. It was plenty big for a queen air mattress for the wife, a pack n’ play for our baby, sleeping bags for our children and the kennel for our puppy.
We scouted the biggest campsites deep in forests or with relaxing views by water, and it was bliss.
That assumed, of course, that we didn’t hit those rainy spring breaks—the ones that stranded us indoors for a week and saturated our tent. At first, that pat-a-tat on the canvas was soothing. We simply took a few extra naps between games of Uno with the kiddos.
By day 3, sharing a tent with 3 kids, a dog, and an agitated wife, it began to feel a bit like a pup tent. And when we opened the tent to take the dog or children to the bathroom and water tracked in, the vinyl floor becomes a wet mess.
Other times, there were days we left our puppy in the tent while we were out having fun—the places dogs weren’t allowed. We found ourselves worrying about her, hoping she wasn’t sad that we were away.
As that puppy became an old dog, we wanted to be able to leave her in more comfortable confines with AC, heat and reasonable security.
And so, with the prodding of my wife, the scoffing began to soften. In 2016, we began the hunt. Literally 1 day before we were set to go to Fun Valley with the in-laws, we bought our first pop-up camper. It seemed a reasonable compromise between the things we needed and the tent camping we loved.
The camper was a mere $3,500. We paid cash.
I learned so much from that camper. For instance—don’t rush the purchase. That first camper had its blemishes. The floor was old linoleum. The door was a challenge unless we were perfectly leveled. The previous owner installed a replacement water reservoir in a compartment in the cabin rather than underneath the floor, which ate up storage space.
We loved and hated that camper. It was huge with a King on one end, a queen on the other, a potty and a shower. We developed family rules. You can pee in the camper at night. But, under no conditions do you poop in the camper. Nobody wants to clean that crap from a cassette potty. (Our youngest tested that rule at least once.)
And thus began our adventures.
We’ve never taken the pop-up back to Fun Valley. But, we found adventure.
In 2017, without the baggage of experience, we towed her 5,500 miles hitched to the back of an old Honda Pilot.
Twenty states and 15,000 miles later, we’re still going strong. With stories—oh the stories. Someone said I should share our epic adventures with the world.
So, for you, dear reader—this post begins the journey.
Our family handle is #MacBeTrippin. And this is our adventure.