1st Solo Camping Trip!

Bit-O-backstory to how I ended up solo-camping

In 2015-16 I was told I’d soon lose my house because of the economy. No matter how ill-informed and quick to jump to worse case scenarios the person was, I panicked.

I knew someone with an RV, so I googled, “Can people live in RVs full time?”

Up popped up full-time nomads; singles, couples, and families. The spark of fear became the seed of inspiration.

From that point on, my source of entertainment while completing my educational goals was researching RV life.  Naturally I started dreaming of the RV I wanted and decided I would never camp unless I had my Dream RV!

Years later, on February 17th, 2020, I was divinely inspired to do the unthinkable. I scheduled my daughter to go to sleep-away camp for a week in July, so I was “nudged” to book a site at a campground just down the road from her camp; this would shorten my commute when it came time to pick her up.

I was like, “Universe, say what?”

The campground reservation website lingered on my computer screen for a day and a half. One-click would either book the site or close the window. A sense of relief washed over me as I reserved my spot at Portola Redwoods State Park.

I purchased some essentials:

One month later-ish, on March 17th, COVID cray set in, and the state parks closed. In the months that followed, my daughter’s sleep-away camp went virtual.

July (five months after booking the site)

Portola had opened up for camping. I wanted to go, but a fear of the unknown or being trapped came over me.  Regardless, I had three days to turn my car into a tent on wheels, and process through my triggered BS.

Shopping Therapy included:

July 9th-Camping Day

I did my usual morning workout while still trying to overcome paralyzing fear. Between burpees, jumping jacks, and sumo squats, my body released both sweat and frustrated tears. I then remembered how I felt when I booked the site, i.e., joy, excitement, relief.

So what was I so afraid of? I had weapons, a car alarm, and a whistle. In the middle of donkey kicks, my fear subsided, and I became an instrument, moving one tiny task at a time until I was on the road. *There was no more to research, I needed to experience what I’d been dreaming about.

For you esoteric folks; on my way out to the car, I glanced at the clock; 1:11.

As I was leaving, my daughter came out to say goodbye. With my car loaded, another fear set in. My daughter said, “I’m scared. No, not that. That you’ll like it so much, you won’t come back.”

Me, “same.”

While driving, I saw 555, 333, and 444 on licenses plates. For a mile, the last three numbers on my odometer were 888, and 2:22 was on my navigation system as I drove the curvy road towards the campground. (If you know, you know.)

As I passed the Portola Redwoods State Park sign, I thought my heart would leap out of my chest with joy and excitement. The feeling I get when I reach the top of a roller-coaster and it descends, only this time it gained in intensity & duration.

I almost teared up when the ranger said, “Enjoy number eight, your home for the night.”  

Once a child, that Tetris fitted Barbie dolls and furniture into an AVON box and pushed them around on the carpet. I had taken one step on the path to living that dream full time.

Even though for only one night, it felt more like home than any other place I’ve lived in. Because I was alone/all-one without distractions or a cell signal!

The campground was full. I backed into my site so that my picnic table, BBQ, and fire pit were behind me, (I would use none of it) beyond that area, was Peter’s Creek.

Two spots to my right were two minivans, two stressed out moms with at least six kids, all under the age of six. Insistent playing, crying, and fighting had me reminiscent of when my children were young. The yelling stressed out moms had me thankful most of my kids are adults.

On my left was a large multi-generational non-English speaking family with a tiny white terrier.  The driveway separated them from a group of young adults having a fantastic time with music, beers, and BBQ.  Across from me were a dad and his two sons. From my front window, I spotted two class B vans, various vehicles, and tents, lots of tents dotted among the redwoods.

Experienced campers surrounded me. All had set up their colorful mismatched tents, had outdoor gear strung about, and used all their campsite equipment.

With my to-do list diminished to nothing, and sitting in the car, not an option, the first thing I investigated was the restrooms. Flush toilets (YES!)

Hiking

With irrational fears obliterated, curiosity set in, and I made my way towards a trail.

(Note, if there is a camp host, let him/her know where you are going).

I could not find the trail I had picked out, (Tiptoe Falls) so I chose the shorter Old Tree Trail. To be honest, only at this point did I wish there was another set of eyes with me. This loneliness made me grateful for every face (COVID covered and not) that crossed my path.  I took plenty of pictures…

spiderwebs twinkling in the sunlight,
the trees that tapped out,
and the ones still reaching for the sky. All homes to various creatures, real and imagined. And trust me, I imagined.

Back inside my car, I hung up my bug screens and caught up on some writing (including Lulu and the Thread)

Rear passenger window with screen.
Sunroof with bug screen

By sundown, my fingers were numb from uninterrupted typing, so I ate my salad and watched the camp-host drive around, offering firewood.

When the air-cooled, I took an incredible $3/10 minute shower. Meaning excellent pressure and temperature. The concrete floor made the shower sound like rain, and through the gap in the bottom of the wooden door that separated me from nature, I watched the sunlight turn to dusk. I repeat, incredible. I re-emerged to the aromatic blend of Redwoods and campfires.

In my car, I put up my privacy Reflectix, chose a DVD, and settled in for the night.

I brought several movies and ended up watching “Think Like a Man” (2012) #ad

I couldn’t understand a word my neighbors spoke while sitting around their campfire, still I found their voices comforting.

The Next Morning

New environment + light sleeper + crunchy Reflectix + full bladder = I did not sleep well.

Ironically, the quiet of the woods kept me wide awake and whenever I dozed off, something would cause me to stir; a leaf hitting the roof, a neighbor coughing, random forest sounds or my crunchy privacy protectors. In the end, I had more will power to hold my bladder than to pretzel myself into a comfortable lady penis using position. I knew that if I could hear ever little thing inside my car, everyone outside could hear me…going. Eventually I dozed off and woke to the sound of the children on my right.  

I hoped my day-old, lukewarm coffee would heal my massive headache. It did not. And the time on my bladder had run out, so I made myself as pretty as I could and darted to the public restroom.

Nature had me charged up like the energizer bunny, so I walked around checking out other campsites, breathing in the fresh morning air, the lush redwoods, and the smell of slaughtered pigs being fried up outdoors. #ad

I passed a father and daughter standing at their picnic table, “Now I will make us some toast,” he told her as he moved bread around on his portable grill.

I returned to my car and converted it back to “life” mode. While others packed their camping accoutrements into their vehicles, I watched one of the Class B’s with Michigan plates head towards the exit. I followed.

Goodbye campground.

The beginning of my drive back home.

*Just In Case… I sent photos of my car, the license plate/and campground information to my loving police dispatcher cousin.

Update: After this trip, I decided to make a bug screen for my hatchback/trunk. I purchased this kit and it takes a lot of work, but it does the job.

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