Before Camping Got Wimpy - Fiberglass RV
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Old 02-01-2018, 07:22 AM   #1
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Before Camping Got Wimpy

No generators, apps, microwaves, FGRVs, DEET, solar panels, Goretex.
The great cities of the West weren’t even complete before urban dwellers fantasized escaping them. Compelled by sublime landscapes and the conservationist bug, 19th-century city slickers saw camping as a way to ditch the daily grind, plunging into the wilderness their forebears had just conquered. And after a century of high-tech camping innovations, from Gore-Tex hiking boots to smartphone apps, our desire to “rough it” is virtually unchanged.

Recreational camping first became trendy in the late 1800s, popularized by the exploits of naturalist John Muir, who wrote extensively during his years living in Yosemite beginning in 1868. Remarkably, this was only twenty years or so after troubled wagon trains languished in barren deserts or frozen winter climes on their journey to the frontier (think Donner Party). Civilization was barely established in the western U.S. when “citizens were already seeking a respite from it,” observes U.C. Berkeley librarian and author Susan Snyder in her book Past Tents: The Way We Camped.

While our earliest camping ancestors probably wouldn’t have put their trips in these same terms, they essentially advocated this style of minimalist camping. Peter Fish notes that the motives for our outdoor adventures remain essentially the same. Like Chandler’s tramping party of 1902, we still want “to get out of the city, out of pollution, and into a place where you’re not distracted by manmade objects, a place that forces togetherness with family and friends, where you can be inspired by nature.”

Indeed, Chandler’s final description of nightfall in the campground still rings true today: “All face the mysterious stars, and a peace descends on the camp and permeates to the heart of each watcher. Every pulsation brings calm; and if such a thing as nerves ever existed, they are softly lulled into quiescence.”
Much more in the original article at this link

John
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Old 02-01-2018, 07:53 AM   #2
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I don't think camping got wimpy... my body did! What I was willing to "endure" when I was younger, not so much now. Besides, I earned my comforts and I can afford them. The alternative is to stay home. No new memories would be made there. So, that is NOT an option.
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Old 02-01-2018, 08:00 AM   #3
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Ain't technology great?

Camping is what you make of it, and how you best get enjoyment from it. I can enjoy camping in a tent on a lake it took hours to paddle in to, or I can enjoy the benefits of staying in a campground with full hook ups. It is up to the individual to make it what they enjoy, no matter how big of a part technology plays.

Making memories is what it is all about.
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Old 02-01-2018, 08:19 AM   #4
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Donna and Jim,

Much wisdom in what you say.

Cheers, john
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Old 02-01-2018, 08:42 AM   #5
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Had to laugh at the book title in your post John! First time I've seen that. Great minds...:
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Old 02-01-2018, 09:00 AM   #6
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The desire to make the wilderness experience more comfortable- whether young or old, sound body or creaking joints- has always been there. Manufacturers have always found a ready market for incremental improvements in gear, with well-heeled explorers and travelers leading the way. The first RV's came hard on the heels of the first mass-produced automobiles.

However, the greatest improvement had nothing to do with gear. The US made a decision as a nation in 1872, with the creation of Yellowstone National Park, to set aside wilderness for future generations. Canada followed in 1885 with Banff National Park.

Gear continues to improve. If we fail to make a corresponding investment in our public lands and parks, we are in danger of having no place to use it.
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Old 02-01-2018, 10:47 AM   #7
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I and a group of friends have gone on annual 3-4 day backpacking trips for a number of years. I at 65 am in the younger half of the group. The act of winnowing down all of the things you think you need to only what you really need is an exercise in itself. Your entire life in a 35 lb. pack. This includes water pump to filter water, food, a stove to cook your food, tent, sleeping bag and pad and what few spare clothes you are willing to carry up a steep mountain trail. Then you walk with those possessions on your back to a wild place that is 1-2 days hiking distance from the nearest road. Now that is camping!

That said, I don't mind the trailer camping either. When I do that, I don't mind having a few comforts along. For example, a simple place to shower extends the fun number of days while camping by a factor of two.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:13 AM   #8
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In both "camping" modes- backpacking and trailering- you benefit greatly from improvements in equipment. All those functions you carry in that 35 pound modern backpack would weigh 75-100 pounds or more few generation ago. Some functions, like the ability to purify water, weren't available at all.

Even backpacking is a lot "wimpier" than in John Muir's time.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:27 AM   #9
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There's something to be said about "non wimpy camping". Mostly I learned from my Backpacking days it doesn't take a lot to be comfortable and well fed. The joys of just being out in the woods with nobody around except those that came with you are experiences that teach you a lot.
You can maintain some of that experience when trailer camping.
The important thing is to experience the remote, wild places. Understand the local residences so as not to get into trouble. Respect the land, flora and fauns.
We have learned the names of many many plants. They've become friends even the Cholla cactus, which insists on a look but don't touch policy.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
In both "camping" modes- backpacking and trailering- you benefit greatly from improvements in equipment. All those functions you carry in that 35 pound modern backpack would weigh 75-100 pounds or more few generation ago. Some functions, like the ability to purify water, weren't available at all.

Even backpacking is a lot "wimpier" than in John Muir's time.
Very true. Imagine wearing heavy leather soled boots and carrying a canvass tent. But most back country campers used pack animals in those days. Lucky for them, having to purify water never would not have occurred. It was only about 40 years ago when the microbes and the parasites showed up. Muir also wouldn't have had freeze dried meals ready to eat in 15 minutes by simply adding the contents of a foil packet to a cup of boiling water. However during Muir's time, he wouldn't have had to worry about finding firewood in a picked over campsite that has been well used by other backpackers. Thad would have made his need of a gas fired stove a lot less.

Even while backpacking, I surrender to modern conveniences while backpacking by carrying a tiny solar charged battery pack to charge an iPhone which doubles as my camera.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:44 AM   #11
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Good point, Byron. It's not about the equipment but enjoying and respecting the interaction between man and the environment.

It occurs to me that some improvements in equipment have actually improved that interaction by reducing man's impact. Tents that don't require stakes or trenching. Sanitary equipment instead of cat holes. White gas and LP stoves replacing cooking fires. LED lights that eliminate open flames in wildfire country. Solar panels instead of generators and disposable batteries.

Looking again at the picture in the first post, it occurs to me that older style of "camping" is not only more work, but higher impact.
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Old 02-01-2018, 12:01 PM   #12
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I happen to really, really, really like wimpy camping. I make no apologies for my choice.
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Old 02-01-2018, 12:46 PM   #13
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I really thank God for giving us "Wimpy Camping". Otherwise, I would be doomed to my recliner for relaxation the rest of my life.
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Old 02-01-2018, 12:47 PM   #14
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I happen to really, really, really like wimpy camping. I make no apologies for my choice.
I agree. After years of sleeping on the ground, in the wind and no showers for a few days. Or just having sandwiches and being cold outside, I love the laughable luxury of having a nice trailer.

Now, we'll deliberately go camping when it's gonna snow. Part of the fun is being comfortable out there and visiting points of interest. Writing stories on the computer, while sitting outside or at the dinette in the rain.

It used to be dirt bikes, full throttle across the desert, excavating as much dirt as possible with the front only occasionally touching the ground, as a way to appreciate the wide open spaces. Now it's more about appreciating it in a quieter way while studying history and geology.

Of course, the fun we had then is what lead to still doing it now.
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Old 02-01-2018, 02:33 PM   #15
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I'm reading some Muir right now. First summer in the Sierras, and he was traveling with a sheepherding outfit. Horses, cast iron, plenty of mutton! But they just slept on the ground with a blanket and whatever vegetation they could find for a sleeping pad each night. He'd venture out for an overnight trip with just a loaf of bread on his belt, some tea and a blanket. And his notebook of course.

I love backpacking and will do it as long as I can. But when it comes to car camping...I've gone soft. When I first got my trailer my typical line was "I'll backpack anytime, but if I'm driving to my campsite, why wouldn't I bring the trailer?"

That's still the case...but I realize I've become even more soft. I certainly could go down to the desert for a week and camp out of my truck like I was doing just a few years ago. But...I don't really want to. I've gotten pretty used to being able to be inside out of the sun, the heat, the bugs, the wind to hang out, cook, whatever. Have a fridge. Have heat and be able to sit on a couch and comfortably relax. I really do like those things.

But the connection I used to get is gone. When your day is influenced completely by weather, by when the sun comes up and goes down etc, you come away from the trip with a different feeling than when you can just go inside out of bad weather, sit indoors, have heat and shade. I can just sit there and wait for the sun to come and get warm, rather than climbing out of the tent and climbing up a bank or hillside to get the first rays of the sun and warm up.

Guess I'll need to backpack more! I'm lucky in that I'm younger and have no injuries or lifestyle choices keeping me from backpacking and tent camping. But I sure am starting to like more comfort.

I still travel overnight for work or whatever reason and sleep in the back of my truck somewhere on my way, but it's the not the really regular thing it used to be.
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Old 02-01-2018, 02:41 PM   #16
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Interesting point of view Zacho.

[QUOTE=ZachO;682090]
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Old 02-01-2018, 03:33 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by John Linck View Post
No generators, apps, microwaves, FGRVs, DEET, solar panels, Goretex.
The great cities of the West weren’t even complete before urban dwellers fantasized escaping them. Compelled by sublime landscapes and the conservationist bug, 19th-century city slickers saw camping as a way to ditch the daily grind, plunging into the wilderness their forebears had just conquered. And after a century of high-tech camping innovations, from Gore-Tex hiking boots to smartphone apps, our desire to “rough it” is virtually unchanged.

Recreational camping first became trendy in the late 1800s, popularized by the exploits of naturalist John Muir, who wrote extensively during his years living in Yosemite beginning in 1868. Remarkably, this was only twenty years or so after troubled wagon trains languished in barren deserts or frozen winter climes on their journey to the frontier (think Donner Party). Civilization was barely established in the western U.S. when “citizens were already seeking a respite from it,” observes U.C. Berkeley librarian and author Susan Snyder in her book Past Tents: The Way We Camped.

While our earliest camping ancestors probably wouldn’t have put their trips in these same terms, they essentially advocated this style of minimalist camping. Peter Fish notes that the motives for our outdoor adventures remain essentially the same. Like Chandler’s tramping party of 1902, we still want “to get out of the city, out of pollution, and into a place where you’re not distracted by manmade objects, a place that forces togetherness with family and friends, where you can be inspired by nature.”

Indeed, Chandler’s final description of nightfall in the campground still rings true today: “All face the mysterious stars, and a peace descends on the camp and permeates to the heart of each watcher. Every pulsation brings calm; and if such a thing as nerves ever existed, they are softly lulled into quiescence.”
Much more in the original article at this link

John
Has anyone visited the camping museum in Elkhart Indiana? they have a huge variety of historic campers from the hand made to the newer ones. Very fascinating. Some even look like John's pix of the Model T and the lady bushing her very long hair. Check out the museum some time.
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Old 02-01-2018, 04:47 PM   #18
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Has anyone visited the camping museum in Elkhart Indiana? they have a huge variety of historic campers from the hand made to the newer ones. Very fascinating. Some even look like John's pix of the Model T and the lady bushing her very long hair. Check out the museum some time.
Is that the RV Hall of Fame? If so yes. If there is another one, we missed when we were there.

As far as the original topic, we tent camped and canoes until getting up off the ground became more and more difficult. We enjoyed our Casita and I really appreciated the built in shower. We moved up to an older class A with most of the amenities, then down to the Campster. The Campster is not much more than a hard sided tent, but at least we are not sleeping on the ground.

A couple of friends were up by Mt St Helens supporting an ultra wilderness race last summer. Their spot was at the end of a forest service road. They tent camping with a larger tent set up for ham radio operation. They were the most popular volunteers at the site because they brought 2 quiet generators AND a microwave. So even when you are "roughing" it, it's nice to have some creature comforts.
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Old 02-01-2018, 06:40 PM   #19
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Talking

About 5 years ago we were camping in Daytona (Florida) when a car pulled up across from us and 3 young women piled out. First they tossed out their tent from the trunk. It took them a while but they eventually got it set up.

Then out came their sleeping bags, pillows etc. Then 6 giant duffel bags which, I can only assume, held their personal belongings. They unloaded 3 huge Tupperware bins onto the picnic table plus brought out 6 overflowing grocery bags.

We sat there, totally enthralled, watching them unload, set up, unload more etc. This took over 2 hours to get to this point, with them giggling and laughing the whole time.

But the piece de resistance was when they hauled out a GIANT fan, a TV that was at least 30" and then a microwave.
They saw us watching them and one of the girls came over to chat. When asked how long they were staying, she replied "just overnight". OMG!!
No fire. No lawnchairs (they sat at the picnic table surrounded by those Tupperware bins).

It must have been quite a night because they were gone from their spot, all their stuff packed away, but the time we awoke at 8!!!!!!!

THAT was truly glamping, in my mind.
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Old 02-01-2018, 08:04 PM   #20
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Has anyone visited the camping museum in Elkhart Indiana? they have a huge variety of historic campers from the hand made to the newer ones. Very fascinating. Some even look like John's pix of the Model T and the lady bushing her very long hair. Check out the museum some time.
Yes it is called the RV Hall of fame, really cool old campers. A great day trip for anyone, and you can boondock in their parking lot for free.
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