I’m Still Here and Camping

Ok…I told a little lie.

We’re not camping now, but we’re still campers. 2012 was a rough year and we decided to take a break. It was hard on the kids. They continually asked “when are we going camping?”

I had to get through some personal craziness and Will was busy getting the finances back on course. We also had our eldest child get his first summer job and that made it very hard to even get away for a night. I felt like a co-owner of my own vehicle!

We are looking forward to new camping adventures in 2013. Since our last season, we learned our eldest daughter had an allergy to bees!

Can you imagine! She’s been camping since she was a year old (she is now 10) and we’ve never had a bee incident. It took an afternoon of sitting in the GARAGE to encounter a crazy bee. Now we travel with the sacrexd Epi-pen. We have these pens everywhere!

We are looking forward to new adventures in 2012! The camper is in winterization mode and the entire family is revving to go.

Blogging Isn’t For the Confused

I think about this site every day. And every day, I chose to ignore it.

I think the problem is that I’ve made this site about camping when, in fact, I am so much more than camping. I’ve struggled with keeping this site up or starting another blog where I can express the things going on in my life.  And, there is a lot going on.

  • I’m married
  • I have four kids (all are active in extracurricular activities)
  • I work full time (35 hours a week)
  • In one form or another, I am involved in more than 5 ministries at my church.
  • I’m managing the care of a mother who has a traumatic brain injury.
  • I’m involved in United Way’s African American Leadership Development Program.
  • I’m wrapped up in the Word of Faith.
  • I’m experiencing some issues with my body.

And this list is a high-level overview of what’s going on. I don’t know if you can relate. But life is hectic. I started blogging as a way to share my camping experience with the rest of the world. I kept all my posts very “safe” . But anyone who knows me… I mean really knows me knows that I am far from “safe”. When I am true to myself, I can be a bit over the top. But I am not offensive. I love those around me and have a heart to see everyone live out loud.

I like to be transparent. But that can be hard when others around you are superficial. I’ve gotten to a place in my life where I’m frustrated with people trying to live as if life is a bed of roses. Yes. They’ll tell you everything is okay, but they’re lives are just as complicated as everyone else. If I had the courage to be honest and shared on this blog what I’d share with my closest friend, some of you would probably recommend some counseling.

There Are Places I Can’t Go

Some would say that I have some extreme views on life issues. Some would say that I think too hard. Some would say that I don’t care about anything and just crack jokes and laugh. Again, those closest to me would tell you that I will get deep on you to the point that your head will spin. There are many who don’t know that side of me because I choose to not go there with them. Not everyone can “go” to those places.

Regarding posting my views on the Internet; the world is filled with people who enjoy and take great pleasure in being oppositional and hurtful to the point of being abusive. You’ve seen their ignorant and offensive comments on the news and YouTube. I don’t want that in my life. I know who I am and I know that I’d have a hard time not taking such comments personal. There are places I can’t go.

So before I go off one of my tangents, I need to take a few steps back and return to the topic at hand. The title for this post is “Blogging Isn’t For the Confused. And honestly, I’m confused right now and feel like I’m in a midst of craziness. I want to scream and tell you why I’m tripp’n! But, I’m still searching for the truth and I’m not ready to take my stand until I have the facts.

Changing the Direction of My Blog

I desire to start blogging about the issues I face in life. But I’ve own the url, BlackCampers, and I’m not sure what I want to do with that. If I were to change the name, I don’t know what I’d call it. I’m not sure if changing the direction of a blog is a good thing. I don’t do this to have anyone follow me. But at the same time, I don’t want to come across as confused. But wait…. I AM CONFUSED. And, blogging isn’t for the confused. So I need to get myself together.

2011 Memorial Day Weekend Summary

Our camping season had to end early because both of our sons play football.  I haven’t done any serious blogging all summer.  I wanted too, but I’ve been pulled in directions. So, Ive decided to give summaries of our adventures this summer.

Frostridge Campgrounds
LeRoy, New York

We’ve spent our Memorial Day weekend at Frostridge since 2008. I would rate the campground a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5. My eldest son likes Frostridge because he has connected with other teens whose families also have made this campground the Memorial Day tradition. The planned activity for younger children has declined. The volunteers lacked any capacity to engage small children. I helped my girls do their little craft just to get it over with and ran back to the site.

This is the second year Frostridge made the live entertainment open to the public. I was not happy with this decision last year because the band played country music and I don’t think I have to mention what kind of crowd comes with that. It wasn’t the music that I did not like, but the crowd. I have small children running around or to and from the general store. Once the people started pouring in, I had to keep the kids close by. I forgot about the “open-to-the-public” thingy when I made reservations this year. Fortunately, the crowd was very small. I wondered if the downpour earlier that week making the grounds muddy had anything to do with that. We were able to watch the band from our site.

The only wagon ride during the day was the “Wet-and-Wild” wagon ride. Our youngest daughter, Chaney (age 4), expressed her desire to ride on the wagon against my warnings that the ride included a water battle. Hailey (age 9) also went on the wagon. Sadly, Chaney cried through the entire ride. I should say it hurt my heart to see her crying….but I told her what was going to happen.

Let the 2011 Adventures Begin

I’m looking out the window with great anticipation to the first camping trip right around the corner. My four year old is starting to ask about our first trip. Her motivation is being able to wear “flipper floppers.” That’s what she calls her summer sandals.

Stabil-Step JackI’ve browsed Camping World brochure and circled a few items to pick up. Some items are the upkeep of the camper, but others are for pure enjoyment. One item I think is a must-have is the Stabil-Step Jack. The kids are getting bigger and the step will not last forever. I would prefer to invest the money now to protect the step instead of paying the money to replace it in a few years.

I know we should get some stabilizers to stop the rocking when moving inside the camper, but that may have to wait for 2012. Besides, my eyes fell upon a hammock that was calling my name. The Slumber Hammock, $80 at Camping World, looks like a nap waiting to happen. I did a quick search and found a cheaper and more expensive, but loaded, hammock at Walmart.

Hammock Hammock
Mac Sports Heavenly Slumber
$48.00, Walmart
Kalisto All-in-One Portable Hammock
$99.98, Walmart

The only thing to do is go test out the hammocks and see which one will be my vehicle to sweet slumber. Fortunately, this is all I have for right now. But things do change when you walk into a camping section at any store.

New York Ravens

On June 25, 2010, we camped with the New York Ravens at Junius Pond Cabin and Campground. The “Ravens” are a local chapter of the National African American RV Association (NAARVA). We were treated as family from the time we arrived till we departed. We had good conversation and ate well!

One of the members shared his story of growing up in the south in the 40s. He talked about working in the fields from “can to can’t”. That’s when you can see to when you can’t see. He grew up farming and farms his own land in Niagara Falls till this very day.

After 11 years of camping, I thought I knew it all. But some of the Ravens have been camping since the 70s. Needless to say, I have a lot to learn. I have a few pictures to share, but took it easy as I did not want to be the new-member-whose-always-got-that-darn-camera-out. Also, the members may not know about my blogging and I’d want to make sure they know before I start yelling “Say cheese!”

The motorhomes and our trailer circled a pavilion where all activities are held. You can see the pavillion in the far left side of the picture. The New York Ravens shield is proudly displayed on the outskirt of the campsites.

My three kids and their camping guest (the one with the orange mohawk) wait patiently for dinner to be ready.

This is not an image from the campground, but a majority of the campers had these cool, nifty cafeteria trays.  They come on different shapes, sizes, and colors.  I’m going to have some before our next trip…I hope.

And here’s dinner. It was like Thanksgiving outside! Notice the trays…so cute!

Breakfast and dinner are served potluck style. Each family brings a dish to pass. I made fried potatoes for breakfast and  Will made his awesome beef and pork ribs for dinner.

Arkansas Campers

As I hear about the campers killed in the Arkansas flash flood, immediately my heart was heavy with sadness. As a camper, you know first hand what it’s like to be sleeping peacefully in your camper. You sat around the campfire and made s’mores and roasted hot dogs. The kids are tucked and tired from a day of running and playing. But then, you are aroused in the early morning to complete chaos.

As a mother of four, I can see those mothers (and fathers) yelling for their children. Crying out for help. Crying out to God. Fighting with all their might to protect their babies. I can’t even form words to describe how much this news hurt me to my very being.

CBS News has a video where reporter, Chris Wragge, interviews Joel Hinton. Joel is a camper who “happened*” to be awake and saw the rising waters. He immediately helped other campers to safety. Joel said “My wife is a person of deep spiritual belief.” He went on to say that his wife asked what they should do. He responded, “There’s only one thing you can do and that’s probably to pray.” He shared that his wife always prays that God protect their home. The water stopped 1.5 inches from the floor of their camper. Praise God!

Unfortunately, there are individuals who find pleasure in the pain of others. You can go to any news sites and find horrible comments posted by sick individuals. What has happened to person where they have no compassion for the loss of life? It’s not just the Arkansas flooding, but in every bad event. I’m learning that there will always be a cold-hearted human who will mock, taunt, disrespect, and curse the victim. It’s the time we live in.

Continue to pray that the survivors of this tragedy find comfort in the God who is mighty and able to do all things and in his son, Jesus Christ.

* As a believer, I believe he was predestined to be where he was to do what was needed. When you find yourself in the right place – at the right time, thank God for his mighty hand that leads and guides you.

Finding a Home

I was talking to a fellow mommy about my daughter’s upcoming birthday party when the conversation turned to one of my favorite subjects, camping. Fellow-mommy shared they have a seasonal site at a nearby campground. I immediately started my questions. What made you decide to go seasonal? How did you decide on a campground? How often do you drive out to the site?

Fellow-mommy says they had been camping a long time. I think she said nearly 8 years. So here I am in my eleventh year of camping and I have no idea where I would like to be seasonal. I don’t know what it is. I think I may miss out on something. I still like traveling and I want to drive cross-country one day!

While writing this post, Will and I started talking about what would need to happen for us to become seasonal. As in real estate, the first three things you learn about in the business is location, location, location. The question is, does that apply to camping? You can have a great location and bad neighbors. Or you can find great neighbors but it’s a bad location. Right now, I haven’t found a location that feels like home or neighbors that make me forget about the location.

The drive is part of camping.

The price is another factor. With any seasonal location, what do you really get besides the site? Is there amenities exclusive to members? Are there special member-only events? Are day and overnight visitors free? Will the owners get to know me and my family or will I be another expected check in the mail?

Some people decide to become seasonal to avoid packing prep before each trip. I don’t mind the prep work. Our RV has most of it’s own supplies. All that’s left for us to get is sleeping bags for the kids. Yes, we’ve been camping all these years and they do not have sleeping bags. All other necessities are stored in the RV, carpets, cookware, towels, soap, etc.

To ease my perceived frustration around the seasonal versus non-seasonal dilemma, I Googled campgrounds in Western New York and found some places I’ve not looked into. So I have some visiting to do. I guess that means we’re not ready to be seasonal members. What about you?