Road Trip USA: A Guest Post: Paul’s Thoughts on Camping

As many of you know already, Paul is not a huge fan of camping.  While he thought it was really neat to get some up close photography of elk grazing along the rim of the Grand Canyon, he also stated he felt “he was living in a zoo and he was the inmate.”

In this post, my husband does the writing and I took the photo.  We reversed roles so that you could hear his side of what it is like to camp across the United States of America:



When Michelle and I decided to go on our Road Trip U.S.A, I agreed to camp for a large portion of the way to help save money. Now let me preface this by saying that some of the worst experiences of my life have been camping trips. For instance:

When I was about 11, my father took us on a camping trip to the Shenandoah Valley. Dad was very excited and rented one of those pop up tent campers.  He installed the trailer hitch on the back of the Chevy and off we went to camp for a week. We settled into a beautiful campsite and mom made a very tasty dinner. We attended the whole bear program about not keeping food in your tent etc. and then settled in for a pleasant evening in the mountains. 

Then the rain came, and I mean sideways hardcore rain. The rain continued for two days and we just sat in that dang camper and did nothing. I then woke up with my eye covered in mucus and had to go to the doctor. While we were at the local hospital, my Dad developed a fever and was diagnosed with pneumonia! He had to spend the night in the hospital, and the next day Mom had to drive us back to New Jersey with a trailer attached to the car, while Dad was asleep in the back seat. When we got back to the Garden State, Mom said,”Joel, do not ever talk to me about camping again!”

As a Boy Scout, I went on to have more bad experiences camping in the rain when tents had no floors.  Older scouts sent me to look for things like a left handed smoke shifter, and my favorite, dehydrated water…you add water to make water.  By the time I was about 16, I decided that I was a city guy. Thus, you can see that I approached this trip with much trepidation!

Fast forward to our first campground…Coopers Rock in West Virginia. When we arrived it started to rain and we had to set up a tent, which, by the way, we had set up once in our back yard, on the quick. Not to mention that we skipped the rain fly on that one occasion because we thought that part would be simple. It wasn’t, but we did manage to get it all together. Next, being a man, I tried to get the camp fire going. Now while my brothers’-in-law include me in their fire triangle, I usually just watch them build the fire, sit back, and enjoy it.  Now I had to make something combust. I used a whole can of lighter fluid and burned maybe three twigs. My manhood was at stake at this point. So now I’m thinking, “Can we just go back to Jersey?”

After staying in a wonderful hotel in New Orleans, we headed to Texas. Now, originally, I was quite excited to see the big state. However, our first stop was Brazos Bend State Park where we were going to camp. The place had signs about alligators and snakes, but nothing about the ANTS! We started to set up our tent and suddenly my feet were on fire thanks to the ants attacking me. All I thought was…I have how many more weeks of this?

Next stop…Mountain Breeze Campground in New Braunfels. This was another miserable experience. It seems that we had landed in a weekend party for 20 year olds. We looked so out of place that the gentleman that worked there felt the need to come over and inform us that if we had any troubles during the night, there was always a sheriff’s officer parked in the campground! Well, we had no problems ourselves, but there were plenty of fights and the music never stopped blaring until 4:30 a.m. We got up two hours later and high tailed it out of there leaving the cast of Jersey Shore behind!

We kept traveling through the never ending Texas landscape, camping at a KOA outside of Lubbock. While fairly uneventful, we got no sleep there either as freight trains rumbled through most of the night.

We finally arrived at the Grand Canyon. While camping, to this point, had been not been much fun, this was the pinnacle. We stayed at a first-come, first-serve place that had incredible views of the canyon. We went to great programs by park rangers at sunset. We got up at sunrise to see the canyon without the multitude of visitors and saw elk feeding on the trees. So, after all the rain, ants, and bad campgrounds, I would not trade those two nights in the Grand Canyon for any, save the night we were married!

So here are my observations on campgrounds and campers:

  1. What’s up with the head lamps they wear? Our first night I thought we were being invaded by one-eyed aliens. Buy a flashlight folks!
  2. Is RV camping really camping? Countless times I saw folks pull in with these huge vehicles, go outside and set up their Directv dishes, and then retreat right back in to watch TV all night. I could do that at home!
  3. Can you clean the bathrooms more than once a year at these places? Several times they were so disgusting that Michelle and I brushed our teeth using bottled water and a cup for fear of catching a disease just by entering those germ incubators they called bathrooms!

Well, this was my first and probably last post. Michelle is a much better writer, so I’m going back behind the lens of my camera.

2 Comments on “Road Trip USA: A Guest Post: Paul’s Thoughts on Camping

  1. Paul, the headlamps take a little getting used to, but they are practical when you need both hands free (like when you’re setting up camp in the dark!). And while I don’t understand the people with DirectTV, I think the RV option makes sense for people who want some of the experience and access to spectacular views without the work (or ants) of real camping. Keep the updates and photos coming. -Bob

  2. Great insight into the real world of camping. I knew your real feelings would show up! Glad you enjoyed the Grand Canyon-beautiful place!!

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