A Camper, A Renovation and Freedom

I’ve always tent camped. My earliest camping memory was my mom picking me up from school, probably kindergarten. She had her Lincoln Continental packed to the brim and I sat on top of all the gear and sleeping bags in the back seat. I’m pretty sure I snuck onto the back dash once or twice, laid on my back, and watched the clouds through the rear window.

Please remember, this was the late 80s. I don’t think the government had even started running PSAs about seatbelt safety at that time.

We arrived at camp, probably Huntsville State Park, with our black lab and mom made beef stew in a cast iron dutch oven and I poked things with sticks. My dad met us after work, when it had already gotten dark. They were still married at that time. I have loads of camping memories through childhood.

Around the time Issa was two years old we started camping again with my mom and a few camping friends. It was a new adventure, camping with a toddler, but we figured out what worked, our tent grew with our family and we continued to build our gear collection.

Two years later the fire happened. We lost all our gear.

As we started to slowly collect camping gear again, I started dreaming of owning a camper and seeing the world, our home in tow. For years before the fire I followed bloggers who were full time camper families, traveling and homeschooling and showing their children the world, not just reading about it in books. I always longed to be that family, but never thought we could do it.

There was something comforting about the idea of having everything you needed right there, always with you. I’m sure a portion of this day dreaming was my separation anxiety and PTSD manifesting. But a larger portion was the hard hitting idea that life is short, and you don’t know when, so you better make the most of it.

I kept this dream of a camper tucked close to my heart. Bill and I had spoken about it briefly, but mostly I talked about it in my own head, and with God.

Then COVID hit. Lock down. Exactly the opposite of what I had been dreaming of.

Mid summer 2020, on a whim I texted our camping friends to see what they were up to. They were shopping for a new camper. Another whim hit and I asked if they’d be willing to sell us their old camper. They had lived in it while building their house so it was well loved, had a decent water damage to the floor in one area and needed a healthy clean up. It was legit exactly what I wanted.

So we bought it. I figured we’d finished our house ourselves, a camper would be easy. We completely demoed the inside. We created a new floorplan. We painted. We built custom multi-use furniture and cabinets. It was the project that got us through the monotony of the pandemic. In the same way I designed my way out of the fire with our new house, I designed my way out of the pandemic with the camper.

Before and After of Our Camper

In the fall we took it on a test run to Huntsville State Park and learned a lot (exploding tires are scary). We did a 10 day trip over new years and sitting at McKinney Falls State Park, in the camper, in the rain, I made a pact with myself to do one camping trip every month in 2021. We’ve had a goal for a long time to hit every state park in Texas, but this once a month goal was new. Also, I didn’t really tell Bill until I had gotten home and already booked 3 more state parks. Oops.

We’ve really loved exploring our home state and making memories. There is SOOO much to explore within Texas, our own country even! Texas alone has 10 different ecoregions. Loads of folks have asked about details of our trips so I’m going to start sharing them here, a sort of break down of each park we visit. To see more photos and moments of our trips you are welcome to follow us on instagram.