We spent a few days on the bluff above the San Juan and at Gooseneck. The weather was good, the view was spectacular. It’s a place where you can find the whole gamut of camping styles, short of the backpackers. In a few days we saw high end A’s – the kind that cost more than my house is worth, smaller affordable A’s – where affordable implies less than a hundred grand, C’s that mostly were rentals, B’s like ours, converted cargo vans, truck campers, travel trailers from small teardrops to large Airstream and 5th wheelers, and of course tents. We even saw two German truck campers and a Dutch class A – presumably shipped over for the trip, and a Brazilian overlanding 4wd medium duty truck.
That started me thinking about the various ways I’ve camped over the years. My family traveled in a pop-up tent trailer for for a few years. I’ve tent camped by car and motorcycle, canoe-camped in the Boundry Waters wilderness area, eventually bought a travel trailer and now an RV. When car-camping, we’ve traveled with camping gear but no food – relying on restaurants. We’ve traveled with food and cooked all our meals, but stayed in motels instead of camping.
The way that made the least sense was to camp but not carry food. We would have to find a camping spot and set up camp, then drive to the nearest town and find a place to eat. Generally in a crappy local diner. That didn’t work. Doing the opposite – traveling with food and cooking gear but staying in motels meant that we had good food but we had to cook it either on the side of the road or on the front step of the motel. Espresso in the front door of the Motel 6? No problem. Not having to find a campsite and set up camp meant that we could drive later and longer. Six or seven hundred mile days were very doable, vs. half that tent camping or pulling a travel trailer.
Car camping with a tent is by far the most economical. Cars get good milage and tents are cheap. If you don’t mind the setup and teardown and can tolerate being close to the weather, tenting is a great way to travel. Teardrop trailers are small, and light and easy to tow, and are a great way to keep it light while still sleeping under solid walls and roof.
For us, size matters. We want to be able to travel without thinking about how big of a site we need and we want reasonable gas milage. We don’t want to have to perform elaborate setup once we get to a camping spot. So we ended up in a class B.
On also has a choice of how primitive one wants to camp. You can choose from campgrounds that are dry, have electric and/or water and sewer, flush toilets and showers or pit toilets. You can camp on BLM or Forest Service land without being tied to a campground. You can even overnight at some Walmarts, Cabellas, rest areas and truck stops.
Since we got the campervan we’ve camped every way from disbursed to full hookups. Electric is nice, but not necessary. Water is a luxury. Sewer isn’t useful to us as long as we can fill fresh water and dump tanks every few days. A spot that’s remote but with minimal facilities (flush toilets) seems to be what we like best.
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