Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Pop-up Camper Maiden Voyage – New Nature Adventures Begin!

(A video tour of our pop-up camper)

About nine months ago, Lisa and I bought a 2000 Coleman Fleetwood Westlake model pop-up camper. This pop-up model includes an indoor toilet and shower. While we will probably use the indoor bathroom sparingly, the potential option might work to our advantage with our two tiny humans. I took the camper on its maiden voyage this past Memorial Day weekend. Thankfully, to support me with the new hobby endeavor, my father (now known as JayJay with Annabelle’s nickname) helped me with this brief camping trip. We camped at Panther Creek State Park on Cherokee Lake near Morristown, Tennessee. Panther Creek covers approximately 1,444 acres with seventeen hiking trails. Annabelle was fascinated with the playground at the state park, which continues to be one of her favorite recreational activities, specifically with the slides and swings.  

My mother (known as CeeCee by the grandkids) hosted a picnic for the entire family on Saturday. Annabelle was fascinated by the new toy (the pop-up camper) that she self-proclaimed was "Annabelle's." Her favorite words these days are "No" and "Mine." A two-year-old's life can be confusing and turbulent for a new parent. Concerning the camper, Annabelle was most intrigued by the door with all of the modern-day features offered. 

While I do not mind the labor involved with the pop-up camper, it involves a lot of work to set up. You practically unfold the machine like an accordion. The roof rises. The beds slide and extend outwards. The camper reminds me of a transformer robot (the weaponized machines in cartoons and movies that turn into common vehicles). While many new RVs involve a button that balances the trailer without much labor-intensive work, everything on this trailer is manually geared. There are no shortcuts or easy fixes.

The campground was covered with luxurious, multi-thousand-dollar RVs. There was only one family with a traditional car camping setup. Perhaps they were the only real outdoors enthusiasts who knew what “roughing it” truly meant. In a few conversations, some of the supposed other outdoors enthusiasts looked down on pop-ups by saying negative comments. It gave me the impression that the less expensive rig was beneath their standards. I never saw some of the millionaires even walk outside. In other words, many people visibly stayed inside their RVs without ever taking advantage of the many amenities at the state park. This observation seemed a little sad…. maybe you should watch television in your real home and save yourself the hassle and investment of an outdoor recreation vehicle.

I want Annabelle and Jace to enjoy the outdoors and grow accustomed to activities in nature. I desire for them to grow up without being glued to a screen for every waking hour of the day. Being outside is fundamentally beneficial for children, whereas inactivity through technology usage seems rampant in society these days.

The one major downside of a pop-up camper involves rain. If rain appears and you fold up the camper, it can quickly build up mildew and easily damage it. This impact factor does not affect a traditional enclosed RV, where rain bounces off these vehicles like driving a car through a mellow storm.

I plan to take the camper out three to four more times this year. Hopefully, the kids will be sleeping under the stars in the beauty of nature soon. While a pop-up camper might be another version of glamping, these nature activities become an excellent opportunity to spend time with my family and make memories we will cherish for many years to come.     

Please enjoy these pictures from this camping trip and other miscellaneous cute moments of Annabelle and Jace.

(I stand proudly by my pop-up camper for her maiden voyage.)

(Annabelle loves to eat various types of meat with protein and her daily vegetables. I sometimes wish these details were a true reality.)

(Jace loves to eat more than his sister and will ingest anything in front of him.)

(Jace is such a handsome boy!)

(Annabelle swings on the playground at Panther Creek State Park.)

(Jace enjoys swinging on the playground at Panther Creek State Park.)

(Annabelle sneaks a peak through a crawl tube at the playground.)

(Annabelle and Jace interact with this monkey at the Knoxville Zoo. The monkey was very interactive as if participating in a real conversation.)

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