This last trip, I think we all would agree, is the one where our RV started to really feel like home. In a matter of days we went from feeling like we were on vacation and having to plan adventures each day we’re gone to just living and enjoying whatever comes our way. After being gone about a month since July, it makes sense that we’re feeling this way.
We first headed 4 hours to Gunnison, Colorado for one night to break up the 6 hour drive to Ridgeway. We added this on last minute when we had to cancel a trip the week before because we were eager to make it back out. When we got our RV in July, I learned that many sites were booked months in advanced, so I took advantage of cancelations when I could, and made the most of visiting the places in Colorado where Mike and I had never been. We are planning a trip in February where we’ll cross several states, but as long as it was warm, we’re happy to be in our home state.
Gunnison was the first time Mike booked a trip so I didn’t know anything about our site when we showed up, but I was pleasantly surprised. We parked on a cement pad which at this point was as luxurious as a 4 star hotel because it kept the dirt and mud away. We had nobody next to us because the sites were really spread out and staggered and behind us was open space. We didn’t have a view of the water, but it was so pretty around us that it didn’t matter.
We arrived around 4:00 so we quickly unpacked, ate, and headed down to the water since it was still so warm. We didn’t bring suits or toys so the girls just dug in the beautiful sugar sand and while Mike and I threw a football around. It’s the type of beach where they allow you to pull right up to the water in your car, which was pretty awesome and made the adventure so easy. Next time we’ll get there early and set up for the day since there were a few people paddleboarding in the cove. We heading back for quick showers and too many stories before bed which was around 8:30 for the girls. While I was getting them down, Mike was walking the dogs and saw that the stars were so big and bright that he told me to come outside. When the girls were asleep, I put on some music out there and we sat and looked up at the sky and talked for hours. We even looked up at the same time and saw a shooting star! It was one of the best nights we’ve had at a campsite so far and another reminder of how simple things are often the best.
We were, as we always are, sad to leave our site but had to head out to Ridgeway for our most anticipated week of the summer. We have read so many amazing things about how beautiful the water is, how the hikes are magical, and the scenery is incredible so we booked a week there.
With each mile we drove, the air became more smoky from the Pine Gulch fire which has been burning for over a month as Colorado’s largest wildfire in history. We had canceled a trip a few weeks back due to another wildfire and since this was 80% contained with rain in the forecast, thought we’d take a chance. Heading in though, I could feel my anxiety heighten. I asked Mike if we should turn around because of the fires but knowing we were about 6 hours away from home we just continued on until we arrived at what was the worst campsite that I didn’t even know existed. It was a narrow pull-through site without any additional space near it and a giant tree next to us that blocked seeing anything. Basically, if we wanted to sit or be outside, we’d have to go down about 30 feel where a little table sat. It was described as ‘waterfront’ where you could walk right down to the beach, but since there was no rain all summer, the water had dried up and we weren’t able to even see water in the distance even when we walked down to the shore. This, coupled with the smoke and week-long rain in the forecast, prompted me to call reservations and see if something else was available. Luckily (?) the site was about 50% booked so we were able to move across the loop to a site with great views, nobody around, and some space to sit and walk the dogs and for the girls to play.
Our new view was gorgeous from all sides, and the road was paved which made even rainy walks easy. The natural grass covered the open spaces so mud was minimal. The first night here we rode bikes from site to site in the smoke filled air. That night, we looked again at the week’s weather. Snow. Rain. Uncertainty. We had only camped in the best of weather and experienced warm rain a few times that really didn’t affect us other than to make our dog walks messy. This would be different. We would reach freezing temps and have rain or even snow for several days. I started to Google and worry, then Google and worry some more. I suggested we pack up and leave right then to beat the morning snow which meant that we’d roll into our driveway around 4am at best. There was no way that would work. Second option was to wake up around 3am and start the 6 hour drive heading through some snow, but making it home before anything started to stick. Then, in the middle of the panicked conversation I stopped and asked, “Why are we going home?”
I really didn’t know at this point. Were we in danger? Was something unsafe? Could we not make it home? No, we were going to be fine. For me, it was just that fear of knowing we’d be stuck for a week in an RV with 5 people and 3 dogs. It just complicated Mike working and our school time which typically have their own spaces. Where would we all be for a week? Why camp if we can’t go outside? What’s the fun in that?
Mike and I talked about this for an hour and realized that we were going to be fine and we decided to just stay the course. When we woke up the next day, the girls were thrilled to see that it was gloomy out. I think because I love Christmastime and the holidays so much, they equate this type of weather with happy things. They headed out right away for a morning dog walk with Mike as I cleaned up and got our morning ready. We brought heavy coats so they weren’t cold and came back happy as ever. We had a morning call with our math tutor, then started into our school day. This is where it’s tricky. We typically do schooling in the RV while Mike works outside at a table. But not today, not in this weather. So while Harper and Everly took turns at our table with their tutor online, I worked with Lola on our bed while Mike brought his laptop out and worked in his truck. The night before, I’d placed a pickup order at the Target that was 20 miles away (I like to camp Target-adjacent) for mittens, blankets (their sleeping bag situation wasn’t working), cookie dough, and a few lego sets since we were light on things to do. Our outing gave Mike time to work in the camper until we returned, then he was back to being in his truck while we finished some writing and reading while we ate lunch and I burned the cookies. (I need to get used to the oven situation). We did break away for walks. Mike took the girls on this hike before dinner where they found teepees, the water, and explored a little.
That afternoon, we walked the dogs and settled back inside just as the rain started coming down, which it did for several hours as the girls worked on Legos and snacked. We didn’t turn on the TV until after 5 which I consider a success. I didn’t expect the day to run so smoothly. I thought I’d feel closed in with the girls going bonkers, but it really wasn’t that way. I would say that this was the day the RV really felt like our home. We know how it feels to camp for a few days when the weather is amazing, but we also now understand what it feels like when things aren’t ideal and how that’s ok too. We also know that every day doesn’t have to be packed with activities and that some days we just read and eat and watch a movie. I think we’re hitting our stride a little bit understanding what it looks like to live in here and not just vacation. And mentally, I think I’m ready for longer trips as the ‘what ifs’ quiet down and give way to a feeling of predictability and comfort.
It never did snow, though it did at home (pictured above is from the drive home). We had 4 more days of rain (which finally extinguished the fire), before calling it a day early and heading back home. That’s the thing about camping, we’re always happy to hit the road, and always happy to be home.