For Women in the Second Half of Life
Camping in the Time
Camping in state or U.S. Army Corps of Engineer parks is one of the safer get-away options during the pandemic. I had to cancel two trips using the camper during the early months of the pandemic— a women’s retreat and a grand opening of our former hometown’s new airport terminal. But we also made two other camping trips to nearby USACE parks where campsites are plenty far apart.
My friend Yvonne takes her hard-sided A-frame pop-up camper, and my dad and I take our 16’ travel trailer, and we park at adjacent or across the street campsites. My time for backing up the trailer on the camper slab has decreased from 30 minutes (my first outing) to under five minutes now. Yay! People have stopped pointing and laughing.
We eat breakfast on our own, and then Yvonne and I go hiking in the cool of the morning. Then we either eat together for lunch or on our own, and we eat supper together. In the evenings, we sit outside and watch the sun go down and visit. Sometimes we have a fire (if it’s under 90 degrees).
Several months ago Dad and I made five 4’ x 6’ portable fence panels out of old pvc pipe we had on hand and two smaller panels for a gate that make a 12’ x 12’ pen for our three dogs. We used the fence panels twice when replacing or repairing several sections of the backyard fence, and they worked great. We also took them to my sister’s lake house to create a fenced area for the dogs outside the camper I stayed in.
The used pvc pipe was from two raised gardens that we had taken down some years ago, and I had been trying to get rid of this collection, to no avail since most had holes drilled in them. When I mentioned needing to build fence panels, my friend Janet suggested using pvc pipe for the frames, and I remembered we had all of those pvc pipes on hand. So as for cost, I only had to buy 12 more elbows and a roll of inexpensive rabbit wire we cut and wired to the frames. I had plenty of scrap fabric strips that I use to tie the panels together. To secure the gate I use a bungee cord.
We’ve used the fence panels two times now camping, usually setting them up by the picnic table pavilions. They have been one of our better ideas, especially when the dogs get me up in the middle of the night when nature calls. This last trip I added Christmas lights to the top of the panels, and that provided enough light so I didn’t have to bring a flashlight.
Yvonne and I are very different types of campers.
Yvonne is an outdoors gal and doesn’t mind staying outside in the heat of the day. I’m convinced I will have a heatstroke in the 100-plus degree weather, so on miserably hot days I stay inside during the middle of the day with my best friend, AC, to write or read.
Yvonne doesn’t make a written list before she goes camping; she depends on her memory to bring what she needs. I type up a double column list of EVERYTHING I think we’ll need and check everything off before we go.
While camping, Yvonne makes a written list of the things she forgot or needs to bring next time. Since I tend to overpack, I make a mental list of things I really don’t need to bring next time. This last camping trip I deliberately left two decorative pillows home (out of six). I’m really cutting back. : )
As for food, Yvonne brought leftovers from previous meals and what she had on hand. I planned our meals and grocery shopped for the camping trip and had enough food to stay at least 3 more days.
Yvonne’s camper doesn’t have a bathroom, so she uses the campground’s facilities. I chose the camper we bought because it had a bathroom— one of the biggest ones I’ve seen in such a small travel trailer, and I love it. When our camping trip is over, though, Yvonne waves at us parked at the dump station and gets on the road faster.
Yvonne will hike from 2 to 4.5 miles with me, then I’m done. She will often walk more on her own or at other times of the day. I feel no compulsion or guilt to join her for a second walk.
Camping can be as rustic and basic or as comfy and homey as you like. To each her own, and it’s working just fine for us.
Yvonne's A-frame pop-up camper guarded by Georgia & Missy May
Dad's and my campsite at Granger Lake; such a beautiful view; note the pen set up by the pavilion
Missy May & Georgia sleeping in the lighted pen while Yvonne & I visited under the stars
I apologize for catching Snickers at the most inappropriate time, but this was the best shot of the portable fence panels we made. Rolo and Lily are in the back of the pen. This was at Cedar Breaks at Lake Georgetown.
These quotes hang in our camper. The ones on the right inspired me to take the plunge and learn what I needed to know to go camping with a travel trailer. And although the learning curve in the beginning was embarrassing at times, it's been worth it.
Love our under 90-degree campfires. Yvonne took this photo.
A beautiful sunset at Granger Lake; our view from the campsite