Keeping It Simple

After a week of nearly perfect camping in Prescott (AZ), we’ve had plenty of time to reflect on why camping makes us happy, and what it is about camping that we really like.

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We’re happiest when everything is simple.

Sounds easy, but it’s really something we’ve had to work at. Our T@DA camper is small – yet we have everything we need to keep us comfy in even the worst of environments (and believe me, we have somehow found them!). In our sixth year on the road, we are still discarding seldom-used items (the cribbage board didn’t make the trip this year), to make space for something we’ll use more. In this spirit, we’ve taken out the television, and replaced it with a basket screwed to the wall where we can accumulate maps and also charge our tablets and phones. Out is the microwave, in its place is a cabinet for food storage. Everything is a compromise.

Yavapai Campground, one of our very favorite sites in Prescott, AZ is a great example of how this works for us. It’s a small campground – 22 sites. There’s no electricity, and just one water pump. A huge benefit is the composting toilets, which use no water or chemicals, and are totally oderless. They are an enormous leap forward over the common pit toilets found in most rustic campgrounds. Sure wish there were more campgrounds using this technology. We love the crisp air (cold and crisp at 5800′ in January!), the large sites, and the quiet. John has rigged 220 watts of portable solar power to keep our lights on and the fridge running.

We love our quiet power source, and it works especially well in the sunny Southwest.

Thank goodness we’re not clothes hounds. Funny, but if you look back over five years of these posts, you’ll see that we wear the same clothes year after year, adding a favorite new t-shirt one year/retiring one. John has his favorite fleece pullovers – the pumpkin one and the red one. I bring the same pink fleece vest, blue hoodie, and cardigan sweater, which I wear every day. This year, I retired my old one, which was threadbare, and replaced it with a brand new one. Heaven! Heavy duty sandals, hiking boots, and cycling shoes account for our footwear (plus shower sandals for public showers). I’d rather go without something than frustrate myself everyday by carrying too much stuff. This certainly isn’t everyone’s system, but it works for us.

We have a small shower we use when there’s not one in the campground, as at Yavapai.20180115_100524.jpgOur 22 gallon water supply, and six gallon gray water tank don’t allow us the luxury of a long shower. In fact, we took four showers, plus used small amounts of water for other things, and still didn’t fill our 6 gallon tank. We have two one-gallon jugs we fill at the pump for drinking water, and water for dishwashing, which we usually do outside. John has rigged a system for shaving and haircuts using the truck mirrors, which is downright comical to watch.20180115_100205513767212.jpg Seems odd, but when there aren’t other mirrors around, it’s all we have.

But, we sure do eat well. We carry a Napoleon propane grill and a CampChef Everest stove along, and use either or both every day. Instead of using individual one-pound tanks, we have a three-pound aluminum tank with two connections. Saves us a ton of money, and we don’t have all empty cannisters to recycle. We often Dutch Oven large batches of stews and chilis, which are wonderful after hikes or bikes rides when we’re hungry and cold.20180117_1742081704686970.jpgWe do cheat a bit and put the Dutch Oven directly on a burner set with as low of a flame as possible. Then, we augment the heat to oven-style by putting heated charcoal briquettes on the lid. Sure, it’s cheating, but we like not using so much charcoal.

There are great hikes in Prescott. The first one on this trip was a new trail (for us) near the campground – about four miles, which meant we could take Jezzy along. There were still remains of a recent bit snow along the trail, which turned the surface into a thick sludge. So much collected in-between Jezzy’s toes that she eventually plunked herself down, and refused to walk any further until John pressed out some of the huge clods, relieving the pressure.20180113_1159431177451577.jpg Back at camp, she needed a footbath which she patiently endured, although it obviously is not something she enjoyed.20180113_1424061900364621.jpgWe drove a bit north to the Watson Lake Recreation Area, for a spectacular hike a day later. Massive granite boulders circle the lake, caused by wind and water erosion. 20180116_114142199644124.jpgRough and gritty, they are perfect for clambering around. We took the trail that circumnavigated the lake, and were treated to stunning views. It was really a fun hike.20180116_122853548826146.jpgImpossible for us to be in Prescott without climbing Granite Mountain, a 7600′ peak that looks over the campground. While not a difficult climb, it’s relentless. We were so happy to get to the top and eat peanut butter sandwiches and Starbucks Double-Shots. Oh yeah.20180118_141301301282709.jpg

On to Lost Dutchman State Park, where we met up with Vern and Ilene, friends from the Phoenix area.20180119_1739441326314844.jpg

20180119_173857.jpgThey were the very first people we met who who also owned a T@DA, and we’ve still maintained a close friendship, even though they’ve moved on in the camping world to a larger motor home. Before the rain and cold moved in, we had one perfect night for a grilled pizza and campfire. There’s lots to catch up with when we only have an annual visit.

The best part? Ilene and I went into Phoenix, where we joined 20,000 other men, women, and children for the Women’s March. 20180121_105917516606138.jpgIt was exhilarating.20180121_1101541533296170.jpg One of the best moments was when we came upon this group of 15 women, all wearing the red gowns and head gear of The Handmaid’s Tale. 20180124_104629-11288863792.jpgThere was a young father pulling his four-year old son in a wagon at about the same point. We heard his plaintive voice, “Who are these people? What is the point?” Ilene and I cracked up. I said to the father, “Good luck with the next 15 years.” He grinned ruefully and replied, “Oh, it’s going to be an interesting discussion at lunch”.

Today, were moving to Usery Mountain Park, where we’ll join about 70 other T@Bs and maybe a T@DA or two for a few days at an event called T@bazona. Some of these folks here we’ve met along the way somewhere, but most of them are unknown to us. We’re looking forward to picking up new tips and camping hacks, and discussing favorite campgrounds. T@B owners are always a lively bunch, and we’re happy to be included in any of the gatherings. Our best camping friendships have resulted from these types of gatherings.

 

16 thoughts on “Keeping It Simple

  1. Were nights below freezing in Prescott campground? Did you know you can bake biscuits and cakes in a Dutch oven? Use something to lift the pan of biscuits or cake batter off the bottom of the Dutch oven. I use a cast iron trivet or two. Put lid on. Turn burner down low or low-low, and let bake 2 or 3 times longer than in a regular oven. How long will you be at Usury? I would like to come out for a visit, if possible. I have much more to write, so I am sending you an email.

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    • Hi Sylvia. We have baked in our DO, but not often. I’m not a baker at home, and not a big bread eater in general, so it’s not something that I think about too much. There is a Dutch Oven cooking gang in one of our camping groups, and those folks use their Dutch Ovens for everything! It’s impressive.

      I’ve seen your email, and will respond shortly.

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  2. I love reading your posts. I agree simple is better. My camper has a little more room so the clothes thing is not a real issue, although I do believe in wearing things until they wear out. I still live in a house but don’t buy many clothes. My camper is larger than I need because I thought the step grands would like to camp, not so. I have more space than needed. I will probably trade down at some point. Thanks for sharing your adventures. I can live vicariously through your blogs until I get to RV full time.

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    • Thanks Mary. What stuck out most in your note was your sadness about the grandkids not wanting to camp. When I was a kid, my family wouldn’t have been caught dead camping, so I never went until I was in college. On the other hand, John’s family always camped and fished. He’s got such great memories and stories about those days. His folks who are both in their mid-90s, also still talk about some of those adventures. When I see families with kids hiking and riding their bikes round and round through campgrounds, having campfires and campfood, it always makes me smile because they are really getting involved in a good way. I’d wish that for all families.

      In the meantime, were enjoying our geezer-style camp life, and I’m glad you are, too.

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  3. I would have never thought to add the Prescott Arizonia area to places that I’d like to visit some day, but this post with your photos of the scenery have convinced me to do that.

    I know some camping “purists” who would say that what you do pulling and living in a trailer isn’t really camping, but it’s really all the same, whether one stays in a tent, a trailer, or a motor home. It’s getting back to a simpler life and enjoying life for what it really is. I’ve been camping for over 50 years, and I still struggle with what to take and what to leave behind, especially when it comes to clothing. But, some of that is due to a week spent in the UP when it never stopped raining, and I spent a good deal of time drying my clothes in laundromats to have something to wear. But, that was back in the day when you couldn’t get good outdoor clothing that was truly waterproof.

    As always, I’m looking forward to reading about your next adventures from on the road.

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    • I agree that we’re not really ‘camping’ (much as it pains me to do that). Real campers probably aren’t so concerned if they have wifi or phone signal. But, I guess we are campers in the sense that we do live outdoors and enjoy that. The long stints of bad weather can be trying, but sometimes that’s where the best stories and memories originate. Your point about modern outdoor clothing is well taken. An inexpensive fleece is so much warmer than a sweatshirt, and repels moisture better, too. Stuff like that is win-win.

      As for Prescott, we feel like we’re just beginning to scratch the surface. This really is the first time we’ve wandered away from the National Forest area where we camp to find a hike. Within a twenty mile radius, there enough to explore to keep us happy for months. We’ll keep trying.

      Thanks for checking in, Jerry.

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      • I have three fleece sweatshirts that Cabelas was selling through their bargain corner, I think I paid $6 each for them. They’re so good that I wish that I had bought 30 instead of three.

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      • Even tho I camp using a 6-man tent I rely on my cell fone to keep me in contact with my children. So I am concerned about finding fone signals when I can.

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      • Agree. We use our phones mainly for internet signal and texting. I get very grouchy if I can’t read the newspaper in the morning. A day or two without a connection to the outside world, and I’m lost.

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  4. I wish I could pare my crap down to essentials. It’s just an overwhelming task to even think about. Congratulations. I sure enjoy your blogs about your adventures, I don’t doubt that simplifying would be required for your camping.

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    • I’d like to pare down at home, too. I’ve gotten pretty militant about it. My goal is to have only the stuff that I’d take with me if we had to quickly move. Figure anything else I really don’t need. Out with it!

      Hope it warms up enough to get in a ride or two soon for you, Alison. We’ve barely been on our bikes out here as well.

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  5. Simple is good although I’m still having issues with taking too much clothing. I always worry I won’t the right clothes for the weather although I do understand the layering thing. And yes, I do end up wearing the same small group of things with everything else languishing in my closet.

    You’ve been lucky on the AZ weather as we seem to be having (except for this past weekend) warmer than usual weather. We haven’t even had much wind here in GV!

    Looking forward to having your in our area in a few weeks!

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    • The clothes thing is hard. Good thing the fashionista police aren’t nearby. We’ve both come around to the idea that we’d rather be missing some item of clothing than create storage issues by having too many. If we need that one item several times, then it’s probably time to bring it along, and jettison something else.

      We’ve really only had a day or two of rain since we left home. Everyone tells us the weather has been warmer than usual, but it seems like we’ve missed those places. For us, that’s good.

      See you soon.

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