Monday, June 18, 2012

The Great Camping Road Trip

We are back!

Back from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Back from Mammoth Cave National Park.

Back from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

And back from a week-long, camping road trip that included one flat tire, a kind Kentucky state trooper, a cantankerous old lady, dozens of ticks and an abundance of family bonding.

Some people are surprised I even attempted the trip. A 1500+ mile road trip and a week of camping, alone with 4 boys?? But you know what? Life is simpler on the road.

On the road, we only had each other, and without our external obligations and distractions, we reconnected as a family. (Don't think we abandoned our electronics, though. I highly recommend iPad-, iPod and laptop-use during long road trips!) For one week, all we had to do was survive and experience the wonders of the world. 

Now that we're back home, I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the stuff that's a part of our normal lives. Here, I have an entire house -- 2 toilets, 2 staircases, multiple rooms and all kinds of furniture and accessories -- to care for. When we were camping, we had 5 folding chairs and a tent. (Well, two tents. Boy #1 preferred to sleep in his pup tent) Here, I have an entire kitchen, fridge, freezer and local grocery store. Camping, we dined on what we had in our cooler and carry-along tote. Here, we each have more clothes than we need, and sooner or later, it all ends up in the laundry. Camping, we wore clothes again and again, and no one minded.

Back home, I wonder about the ways we complicate our lives, adding in more stuff than we can ever need, even as I realize that I'll do little to change it. I may make attempts to whittle down clutter, but let's face it: I'm not going to give up my house or modern conveniences, and I'm certainly not going to ask the boys to give up their recreational activities, just so we can have some family down time. I may be tempted, but I know that we've carefully considered these decisions again and again. I know that our regular, modern lives include an awfully hectic schedule, lots of juggling and a ton of supportive friends and family members.

For one week, though, it sure was nice to get back to the basics.

What did you do while I was gone? Do you have any camping or road trips planned this summer?


  1. Oh Jenny you are my hero! my idea of family camping is an air conditioned cabin at Jellystone in Warrens Wi with my sister and her family. It is fun and relaxing and I really agree on the non needed things in my life that only make more work for me!! As you, I doubt I'll do anything but thanks for reminding me to enjoy the simple things!!!

  2. It's been a while since our family has camped. I'm sure hoping we can get in a camping weekend or two this summer!

  3. I'm already looking forward to the short camping trip we have planned for later this summer. I love modern conveniences, but I have to say that it was NICE to be away from the Internet and the constant need to be plugged-in.

  4. Stopping by from your Learning Vacations post. This time next year I'd like to go on a "permanent" camping trip with my daughters (6 and 8). I'm also a single mom. I'll have to work while we travel, but we'll be travling slowly. I've never camped before, and I've asked my co-worker and his family to take us on their next trip so we can gain some experience. I think it would be fun, but 3 girls, with no experience, won't be.

    It looks like you had a lot of fun, and I hope to do the same. Thanks for sharing!


    1. So glad you came over, Monique! I just stopped by your blog and am fascinated (and slightly jealous) of your plans. While traveling, I realized I'd love to do the same thing with my boys. Maybe not permanently, but for a month or two. Or the summer. I would have loved to take them to the coast of Carolina next, then the Everglades.

      As another single, working mom, I'll be most interested in learning how you manage to integrate work with the travel.

  5. It really is good to get back to basics. I know when I go and when I used to go with my children, we never missed the trappings of normal life at all. In fact we all found it liberating. You have a lot less worries. As punishment I used to take away the kids tv and computers and yet when we were away they didn't miss them a bit!

  6. Great going! Looks like the kiddos had lots of fun during the trip. Have you gone there again this year? The pictures look great. I hope you managed to capture some great pictures of wild animals over there. I do enjoy reading about these kinds of outings.

    1. No pics of wild animals, Theresa. I'm terrible about taking pics! I'd so rather be in the moment than photograph it, that I often forget to bring my camera along all together. That's where there are basically no photos of the Smokies. They were beautiful, though!