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Every now and then it is nice to mix it up and invent a verb. World, meet campering. Campering, meet world. A few years ago our young and growing family drew a line in the cataclysmic basalt and decided it was time to start camping. We had road-tripped all over the Pacific Northwest, which was lovely, but never really given our home a second look. We kept thinking we just hadn’t tried hard enough to explore our geographic backyard. As it turns out, our hunch was spot on―our backyard is pretty freaking cool!

We spent a few summers tent camping and perfecting our minimalist endeavors to streamline the packing, set up, and unload cycle and eventually had it down to three bins: one for the community closet, one for the tent and sleeping gear, and the other for dry food. We could easily spend a weekend outside playing spy or using our Pocketbook Naturalist guides to figure out what various species of trees, insects, or small mammals were (aka a creature adventure― thank you Wild Kratts) or balancing on a fallen tree. Those are just a few examples of how we survive the woods with a two kids under ten and no toys. Okay, less than five toys―remember, minimalism.

Photo Credit: Gwen Dildine

The inaugural campering trip beyond our Blue Mountain region to Smith Rock State Park. Skull Hollow Campground is eight miles from Smith Rock State Park, and is actually connected to the park via the Gray Butte/ Cole Loop Trailhead. We saw many folks on mountain bikes making the trek. Beautiful country and slightly different landscape kept the kids busy on their creature adventures.

By now you are probably thinking that I didn’t invent a verb, but rather misspelled camping, which is totally possible. We had so much fun that we got greedy. We wanted to extend our camping season, eat something refrigerated, weather the elements, and if we are being honest have access to a bathroom and alleviate my irrational fear of being eaten by something. Hence, our Lance 850 truck camper that we take campering. All our rational wishes and irrational fears were resolved. It took at least five years of intense debate and near poor decision, but the truck camper affords us the opportunity to do all the things we love doing with some definite conveniences and comforts. We feel like hermit crabs who won the lottery.

Why a truck camper and not a trailer? Access. Dispersed camping is easy―little to no worry about where to turn around. Smaller, tent only campgrounds are still on the table. Utility hook-ups aren’t really necessary as the batteries charge off the truck while traveling and a solar panel supplements as well. Propane cools the refrigerator and provides much appreciated heat on cool, mountain nights. It sleeps four comfortably with a queen bed over the truck cab, a bunk over the eating area, and a convertible bench to roughly the size of a single bed. I cannot think of one negative. It is so efficient. We could seriously live full time in the back of our truck, although I’m not sure if there is enough storage for the copious amount of Legos we have seemed to acquire.

The Pacific Northwest is a magical place to call home. It can also be a cold and wet place. Tent camping is great and at times I do miss it (but usually not between the hours of 2 am and 6 am when I would usually lay awake freezing and let my imagination feed my irrational fear of being eaten). Our camper has proven to be a great asset for our family’s adventures, and now that you’ve been introduced to campering, I hope you two get to know each other better through our tales on the blog. It is always helpful to trade stories and share tips. I know how much we have learned via an online community, and perhaps we can help a few folks along the way as well!

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