I used to be a camping snob. I looked down on people who camped with RVs–real campers used tents no matter how cold or hot or uncomfortable the ground was. I felt like a failure the year I broke down and got an air mattress. Real campers broke camp every day or two, repacked the car and navigated with maps. We cooked on a camp stove and slept on thermal mats.
In reality, I endangered my children’s lives over and over agin due to ignorance. Hiking in desserts at noon without water, biking down canyons so steep brakes were useless and you had to push your bike back up when you were finished, what goes down must come back up! Hypothermia hiking in rivers, leaving groceries in the tent in a campsite where a bear had been treed the night before. And my oldest never fails to remind me of the time his eardrum popped driving over a mountain but I took the baby to the emergency room as he was crying all the time, he was constipated from being strapped in a car seat for 2000 miles. It was wonderful and hard work.
Now I’m recreating one of those trips with my daughter’s family as she is eager to share some of these experiences with her husband and children sans misery. We have the Cadillac of RVs and a rented Expedition. All brand new. We have a stocked refrigerator and separate sleeping spaces and our own bathroom! We have a GPS, the children have their tablets and there is an itinerary. She’s still an expert map reader, I’m proud to say, when the GPS fails us.
A few weeks ago I was immersed in the history of Europe visiting palaces and castles (there’s a difference), visiting museums and attending philharmonic concerts. This week I’m in America’s Heartland at the Mount Rushmore KOA and I’ve seen the light. This is the way to go, our every need has been cheerfully anticipated, hot coffee is just a stroll away. We’ve swam in the pool, watched a rodeo, panned for gold and jumped on a giant pillow–a cross between a trampoline and a bounce house. Everyone is happy, busy and tired at night, albeit a bit sore in the morning as I might be too old to jump on a giant pillow. We go to sleep in our climate controlled RV and wake up refreshed, not sore from sleeping on rocks and having our tent collapse in a rainstorm.
I am reformed. This is fun. Especially when you are the passenger and not the parent! For goodness sake they have wine tasting and espresso just like Italy–well maybe it’s a little different. We’ve wandered through the badlands, hiked up granite cliffs, stumbled upon a mountain goat, seen Mount Rushmore from three angles and lit up at night, traversed a cave, sat in the devils bathtub, been surrounded by a buffalo herd for hours and fed prairie dogs.
The best part for me is watching my daughter joyfully share all the beauty South Dakota has to offer with her family while having all the comforts of home. Watching my grandchildren see bison up close–almost too close for comfort. They are hiking and drinking in the beauty of nature, as well as playing mini golf and playing on the water slide. Of course they get too close to edges of cliffs and whine and get crabby, what’s a vacation without all that. It’s the perfect blend of experiences and a great way to see all the beauty the American has to offer while having lots of fun. I’m all in.