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 we are kicking 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!
To get this series started we’re chatting with Steve and Kelley from Michigan–long-time campers and cousins extraordinaire. (Kristin was about the age of Sweet Pea when she served as their flower girl nearly 27 years ago!) It wasn’t until last spring, though, that we had the chance to meet up for a camping weekend–but we are so glad we finally made it happen. We toured, ate, gabbed, and made lots of memories at East Harbor State Park in Lakeside Marblehead, Ohio. (Oh, and Steve, the kids are still entertaining us with the “What’s up?” joke. Thank. You. So. Much. :))
Steve and Kelley have just launched into the empty-nest stage of life now that both kids, Morgan and Trenton, are off at college. They started camping as a family 13 years ago when the kids were young. (Steve also has several years of tent camping experience from Trenton’s years in the Boy Scouts.) They currently own a 2013 Rockwood 8310 Signature Series Ultra. We asked them to share a little bit about their camping journey, their favorite trips, and even what not to do when towing a camper!
What does a typical camping trip look like for you? We camp regularly with four to five other couples. We have set campgrounds we go to for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. We are fortunate to have a great state park three miles from our home so we take advantage of that several times throughout the season. This allows our non-camper friends (yes, we have a few of those!) to stop by and enjoy the camping lifestyle. This past year we purchased a private campground membership within 30 minutes of our home. When not traveling, Steve works from home, so as long as there is cell and internet service, he is able to work from campgrounds.
Why do you look forward to camping? We enjoy the atmosphere and meeting fellow campers. We all live very busy lives and something magical happens when you pull into the campground and set up camp. Life seems to slow down. We look forward to cooking group meals and relaxing around the fire (which goes all day).
Could you share with our readers a few of your favorite camping memories: For Memorial Day weekend we [have met up with family at] the same campground in Indiana for the past 10 years or so. We started this tradition when our kids were small and it was a blast for all of the cousins to get together and play. Over the years what started as a small family gathering has grown to 24-28 friends and family camping together. It’s a blast to see our kids grow around the campfire and to see them enjoy the camping experience. More importantly they like being around mom and dad!
Camping at Aloha State Park in Cheboygan, Mich., has become another tradition during Labor Day weekend. On Labor Day you are able to walk over the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan. The bridge spans 5.5 miles and is a blast to walk although some years are better than others depending on weather. We’ve walked it in near perfect conditions and have also had the pleasure of walking it while it sways, which is always an interesting sensation.
Do you have a story that you could share about a camping mishap? The first was on the very first trip we made in our current travel trailer. Everything was loaded and packed up. I pulled out of the driveway with no issue and when I was making a turn at the end of the street I heard a big bang from what sounded like something above me. I had failed to lower the TV antenna and I snapped it in two driving under my neighbor’s tree.
The second mishap was when I was setting up the trailer for Memorial Day. When I got to the campground and was unhitching the trailer, I was not focused and forgot to put the wheel chocks in place so when the tongue lifted off the ball, the trailer rolled back slightly and bent the foot pad of the new power tongue jack! That whole day turned out to be a test on one’s patience.
What was your favorite place you ever camped? Why? We have several places that stick out as memorable camping in the trailer. The first was the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the second was the Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, N.C.
As for tent camping, Zion National Park was by far the most beautiful camping experience. Our high adventure Boy Scout troop camped there for six days and it was stunning. We arrived at the national park campground when it was dark so we had no idea what we would awake to in the morning. When we opened the tent in the morning and saw the colors of the mountains, it was breathtaking.
If you could give a new camper one piece of advice what would it be? Checklists are critical. Pilots use them every day and for good reason. Trying to keep track of everything mentally is tough and something will fall through the cracks and you will forget something. Although most of our gear stays in the trailer, we do keep the non-trailered gear in one location to ensure we do not forget anything.
I just loved what Steve had to say about why they look forward to camping: “Something magical happens when you pull into the campground and set up camp. Life seems to slow down.” Isn’t that the truth?
Well, thanks so much Steve and Kelley for sharing your story with us! Look for more “Faces of the Campground” profiles to come each month!