One of the coolest parts about camping and traveling is meeting and spending time with so many awesome people from all different walks of life. We got to thinking about how neat it would be to profile some of the people we meet up with on our camping adventures. So earlier this year we kicked off a new feature that we’ve dubbed “Faces of the Campground.” It is our hope that you will be inspired as we take a peek into the lives of people just like you who love to go camping–in all its many forms!
Today we are excited to introduce you all to two of our favorite people: Jim and Carol. They hail from western Pennsylvania, where they’ve been camping for 42 years. Yes–they are camping veterans! We have personally known them for about a dozen years, and during that time we have logged many camping trips together.
Our first camping trip with Jim and Carol was back in 2010 to Cook Forest State Park here in western Pennsylvania. It was the maiden voyage for Jim’s Woody camper–which he completely designed and built himself. You can see it in this photo below–it’s pretty cool:
We unfortunately had a miserable weekend to camp–thankfully our new pop-up had a zip-on screen room, so we spent a lot of time all packed in there. But that was also the weekend when Jim and Carol discovered their camper roof was leaking. Not so cool.
But one lousy weekend of weather didn’t squelch our love of camping together–because it’s something we’ve tried to do at least once a year since. Jim and Carol have blazed the trail before us, inspiring us in our travels and our quest for adventure. We think they are pretty awesome, and we love them like family. So we think you’ll enjoy reading more about their camping story:
What type of camper do you camp in? A 21-foot Forest River MicroLite Trailer
What does a typical camping trip look like for you? Our typical camping trip is go-go-go. We like to think we could settle into a quiet campsite and plop there, but that is only good for a day or two. We enjoy camping in the state and national parks, and spending our days exploring the sights. We like traveling across the country taking in the natural beauty as well as seeing and participating in events that are typical for the area but new to us. We also enjoy history and take advantage of seeing as many national historic sites as possible.* We like exploring the road less traveled and driving on rugged historical trails.
*Carol and I (Kristin) are a bit addicted to getting stamps in our National Park Passports. 🙂
Why do you look forward to camping? We look forward to camping to break our everyday routine. We enjoy the adventure of exploring the beauty of God’s creation. Camping provides us an economical way to see and spend more time on the road. We enjoy spending time camping with good friends and visiting around a campfire.
Could you share one or two of your favorite camping memories? One amazing event we attended in September of 2015 is the annual Buffalo Round-up in Custer State Park in the heart of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The annual round-up is held the last Friday of September and is part of the park’s wildlife management to maintain a healthy balanced herd. As the cowboys and cowgirls drive the herd on horseback, the ground shakes beneath your feet and the sound is like thunder. This event is free and thousands of people attend this great family event. It’s definitely something to add to your bucket list. For more details, click here.
Another thing we like to do when we go to a new area is talk to the locals about things to see that are off the beaten path of normal tourist attractions. When we visited Zion National Park in Utah we not only saw one of the most beautiful national parks, we also discovered at little known “ghost town.” Grafton is an abandoned 1860s community. There are a number of old wood and brick buildings and an old family cemetery. As we walked through the ruins we felt as if we were taken back in time and we had a new appreciation for the hardships and struggles of the Western settlers.
Do you have a story that you could share about a camping mishap? This question is really difficult because camping and mishaps go hand in hand in our life. We have been camping in some form since the first year we were married in 1973. Our camping has taken many forms. We have camped in tents, tent campers, and small travel trailers, even “teardrops.” All our campers have been used and in some cases antiques. So when we retired we were determined to buy a new trailer to eliminate all the malfunctions of a used camper. In 2014 we purchased a Forest River Microlite Trailer with the intent of traveling west to see the national parks. Our first outing in our new camper was a strictly planned seven-week journey over 6,000 miles out West to visit the national parks. Jim is a great planner and had the whole trip on a spreadsheet with all the camping reservations and sights to see along the way.* Our itinerary was fixed with little room for any setbacks.
(*Yep, this is where Jarrett gets it from!)
Our trip included a three-day visit with my elderly aunt in Greenville, Miss., in the northwest part of the state right along the Mississippi River. Greenville is definitely off the beaten path but we found a county campground on the river by the levy. It was a beautiful location close to my aunt, but the restrooms and showers had flooded and were in disrepair, filled with spiders and bugs. We said, “We can do anything for three days and we have our own bath and shower right?” But when we returned from visiting my aunt our first evening there, we found our bathroom rug soaked with water. As it turns out, our brand new trailer had a fresh water leak around the intake to the toilet. Quite a predicament … Murphy’s law in full display: “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong,” but we thought we had covered all our bases. There is a fine line between unfortunate and fortuitous events. The lack of a toilet proved to be both. There was no RV dealer in Greenville so a new toilet had to be shipped and took seven days to arrive. Our visit with my aunt was extended to over a week due to this unfortunate circumstance. However, it proved to be a great blessing despite the hardship. We spent many hours reminiscing and catching up after years of separation. We were determined to return and visit with her the following year, but she passed away about eight months later. So how do you determine what is a mishap or Providence? Yes, we swerved off our spreadsheet but it turned out to be a great blessing.
What was your favorite place you ever camped? Why? We loved so many of the places we camped especially in Utah and Wyoming. One of our favorite areas was Capitol Reef National Park. All the national parks in Utah are so unique. The sculptured red rocks contrasted against the dark blue cloudless skies and the bright green valley. In the midst of the valley sits an old Mormon settlement with an orchard and farm backed up to the red rock cliffs.
In Wyoming the campground in Grand Teton National Park has some of the best full hook-ups and pull-thru campsites. The sites were wooded with nice facilities. The national park is breathtaking: The sheer Granite Mountains rise out of a flat meadow surrounded by mirrored lakes. Words fall short in describing the beauty of the Tetons.
If you could give a new camper one piece of advice what would it be? Always make sure the gray and blacks tanks are empty and the gates are closed before hook up to the sewer!!!! Always make sure you think ahead when pulling into tight places and be certain you have a clear wide path out.
Many thanks to Jim and Carol for sharing a little bit about their camping experience. Look for more “Faces of the Campground” profiles to come–and who knows, maybe one day we’ll be meeting you at the campground!
Rebecca Smith says
Our first trip to Cook Forest was also a miserable weekend for camping in 2010. It was cold and rainy all weekend but we found some fun things to do too. I think it may have been the last time part of our group camped away from the comforts of home.
Hi Rebecca–thanks so much for reading! Wow–wouldn’t that be funny if we had been there on the same weekend! We’ve camped at Cook Forest at least one or two other times, but we haven’t been back in years. It’s on our list though. 🙂