A decade ago I was coming off the high of a decade strong of backpacking. I started backpacking as 2000 slipped into. I was going out 2 to 4 times a month, year round. Life was generally easy. I had one child and a flexible life. Even when child 2 joined us in 2010 I was still going. And then child 3 and his health issues came along. And backpacking stopped. It’s been a long way of life change for me since 2012. I thought it would be different (and this is something I talked about on the old version of the blog, in how this affected me and how I battled post-partum depression for a couple of years after he came along), and that I’d take a few years off, and then magically the boys would accompany me as their older brother did on so many trips.
But that didn’t happen. Three children left me overwhelmed and over scheduled quickly. The oldest was in middle school, junior high and then high school. He’ll be 22 next month, not the little boy that hiked behind me. The youngest I blinked and they were in school, with restrictive schedules and lots of after school activities. And of the three, the middle child isn’t exactly enamored with long hikes. He loves the outdoors, but unlike his older brother, there are no long hikes with him. He’d rather curl up outside with a book. That one took a long time to deal with – my ego in that got smacked hard. The youngest it took me till he was nearly seven years old to feel safe to take him into the backcountry for longer trips. He had to be old enough to understand his medical needs.
And that is how the years slip by and suddenly you have two children about to start school (second and fourth grades) and you realize how bad you miss it, but maybe there is a compromise.
There is a lot of eating crow in that above photo. I swore years ago I would never have an RV. For hiking with my camp on my back was purest form of camping, no? We went back and forth on this for years until recently I saw a type I had never seen before – the RUV concept, a Class A petite RV that had most everything we could want, but was drive able and fits on the ferries here on the island. I was taken by it, and we searched them out and found one we both liked.
We went to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State for its first trip. We were second on the ferry, so we got front row seats to the Salish Sea as the ferry slipped into it.
We camped with friends of ours, who used to be our neighbors on the mainland. They full time live in their RV now. Sitting in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains in the evenings, I found my mind wandering to when I was younger. When I would backpack, I often was by myself (with friends) but rarely as a family as Kirk often was on call those years for work. But here….I was with my family. It was that tiny moment in life when the fantasy in your mind actually happens.
And maybe this was meant to be.
The children were happy. They could run around outside, come in to read and play with Legos, sit around a campfire and then crawl into bed and sleep comfy.
And I am not going to lie. Sleeping on a bed is a lot better at my age than on the ground. I still got to enjoy the sun setting and the sun rising, but I might have done it in style.
But there was another part: The feeling of safety with our youngest. When we travel I have chronic anxiety over every meal he eats unless I make it. While we have an ARB refrigerator for our truck, and I am often seen making food on the tailgate, it isn’t easy. But as I stood in our RV’s kitchen I felt so peaceful. He had everything he needed. Mama could cook for him, even as we sat on a ferry dock waiting. No take out, no sketchy meals. His Epi-Pens tucked away safely.
I could get used to this life. We are working on having our RV fully independent from our house – nothing in it comes out. Treat it like backpacking and be ready to go when we have time.
Any night under the stars is better than none. And that is my motto for now.