Summer has always been a time of possibility, newness, indulgence. Fifteen years ago I fell in love in the middle of July. My babies were born in the heat of July, August and September. This summer has also been one of the most memorable of my life. For every new source of stress (avoiding skunks during nightly- yes, literally every single night- walks to the bathroom with sleepwalking kids) there was something wonderful that balanced it (walking back to the camper at 3 a.m. under stars and moonlight and the first drops of a summer storm). I also decided steamed edamame balance out roasted marshmallows. I am a major proponent of everything in moderation. Summer is not a time to hold back.
My husband was happy to see me happy about purchasing the camper and happy to let me immerse myself in camp life. Everyone I ran into this summer asked, “How does your husband do it? Going to a professional work setting after sleeping at a campsite!” Um… He’s not exactly a high maintenance guy. He rolls out of our narrow dinette-bed and spends the majority of his time in an air-conditioned office. How hard could that be? I’m the one living the camp life 24 hours a day with three children under 9. And loving it.
Loving the view of Lake Champlain that met me every morning I opened the door. French-press coffee and greasy camp breakfasts. The girls hauling water from the spigot between morning loops around the circle riding two to a bike. Hearing more French than English for months. Lingering in the used bookshop between switching loads at the laundromat. Communal lunches with friends where we covered the picnic table with a rainbow of vegetables and fruit, cheese and hummus and a coating of sand on everything. Sharing our upstate experience with a good friend visiting from Germany. The pleasure of fighting sleep in the sun while the girls splashed in the far reaching shallows of the lake. How pleasantly cool and shady and breezy it is inside the camper during the heat of the day. Hours and hours with my best friend on the phone, sharing celestial days through conversation. Exhilarating and exhausting days. The contentment of building a fire and sitting alone in the dark when everything is quiet. Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison playlists.
We had a day or two away from camp and found that upon returning it felt like coming home. Some people suggested the camper was too crowded or too old or their worst nightmare. And I wouldn’t mind a new paint job, reupholstering the seats, diner style counter and table tops. But I’m not interested in glamping. I want to keep my 1950s camper campy. The girls and I had a blast perusing dusty junk shops for turquoise melamine dishes and vintage camp gear. I added a bohemian vibe with throw pillows and scarves and garlands because I can’t help myself. I framed some of my favorite things, homemade art and fortunes. My most treasured find is my vintage upstate New York postcard collection. I love the beautiful art and colorized photographs of Ausable, Champlain, Adirondack forests and high peaks. I love thinking about these places stretching back into history, long before I made it here.
Once we realized we would definitely be moving at the end of the summer, we had a choice to make. Sell the camper or make the repairs necessary to haul it long distance. We decided to make it road worthy. The summer has come to an end and the camper is in storage for the long upstate off season. I look at the camper as an investment in summers yet to come. Forget about resorts and amusement parks, give me the open road and a campsite with a view. (I blame at least some of this on having read Travels with Charley this spring.) I would like nothing more than to return to the Adirondacks for vacation and, optimistically, to travel throughout America with my little camper. And why hold back? All I need now is a big old vintage pickup truck…