Humongous RV or little old tent?

Chip and Diane, our across the street neighbors, traded in their boat last fall for a big diesel truck and a fifth wheel with every convenience you can imagine. It wasn’t long until we trucked over to take a look. Pretty slick. It has a king size bed, a jacuzzi, an entertainment center with full-time satellite internet. I can’t imagine any more comfortable way to travel. Was I jealous? Yes, but it’s not a way to get away from things that I would choose. For me, an RV just isn’t camping. Call it an RV adventure if you like, call it a home away from home. It never ceases to amaze me that people set out to get away from things and end up taking everything with them. if you take everything with you? Whatever happened to the simplicity of tent and fire pit that soothes the soul, the rough around the edges lifestyle that makes camping such a worthwhile change of pace?
Don’t get me wrong, I love the thoughtfulness that goes into modern camping products. My parents surplus army tent weighed sixty pounds and took three people several hours to set up. My little nylon tent clocks in at a mere three pounds and goes up in less than twenty minutes. That’s more time that I can spend sitting in my aluminum folding chair listening to the loons and watching the sun set behind the island on the lake. But I am sitting there out in the open really AT the lake, not just looking at it through the window of an eighty thousand dollar RV. When I am camping it somehow doesn’t seem quite right to reach over and flip a switch when it gets dark or just turn on the faucet when I want hot water. Comfort can become a distraction that lessens the value of the outdoor experience.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof tells us “The wilderness is healing, a therapy for the soul”. We as Americans have a long history of communing with nature and finding there something of importance. From the rusticators of the 1890’s to David Muir to Ansel Adams to Walden Pond. Our literature, our art, and the recreational practices of our greatest thinkers and money makers, all point to the simple enjoyment of the natural world as one of the best methods of self-recreation, getting back to basics and rediscovering again what is most important. If what I see on social media these days is any indication, theirs is a lesson we all need to revisit. Somehow I just can’t imagine Thoreau witting at the dining table in his cozy RV and penning Walden Pond. If you have an RV I wish you the best. Enjoy. But when you need something a little extra, take your blanket out beside that thing and spend a night under the stars.

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