Monday, June 08, 2015

A Caravanning We Will Go !!??

Our family is a little weird. We're not exactly like most of the other families I see around here. I don't know why we're different, but we just are. I'm not saying that we're bad different, in fact, I rather think we're very nice people, but we're just...I don't know....not regular?

What I mean is, for example, we only have one child by choice. This might not be so odd to you, but it's less common here in suburbia. Also, our kid has always refused to join a soccer team or a baseball team or other organized sports that are so so popular in our neck of the woods. They're almost like an elementary school right of passage! I'm not the type of parent to force my child to do something he truly doesn't want to do, so instead Noah takes to solitary sports, like (LOL) rollerblading, bike riding and swimming for fun. He also runs like the wind. So we can't really join in all of the baseball and soccer conversations and camaraderie with our friends.

Other weird things about us is that we don't own a minivan, our idea of fun is finding books on the "Just In!" shelf at the library, and I'm afraid of the sun. (But only because of Melasma. I get what looks like mustache when I spend too much time in the sun. It's just gorgeous if you can imagine).  And most of all, other families like to travel, and they go on these intense vacations and do things like camp or visit monuments and state parks. I don't know, we just don't travel much. Well, except for one year when we took Noah to New York City (family wedding), San Francisco (business trip) and Toronto (4-day mini-vacation), but that was a fluke. 

We just don't travel much for a whole slew of reasons, and I'm not saying they're great reasons, but they're our reasons. One is that, (sorry Noah) our child has historically been the LEAST adaptable, most ridged person I have ever met when it comes to vacations. We eventually gave up on even "trips" to the zoo until he was older. We tried going to Cleveland when he was 8-months old and turned back around the next day. He used to scream in his carseat and to this day, we've never been able to get him to sleep in a pack-and-play. (Not that we're still trying). So, after a few miserably failed travel attempts before the age of two, we really started to pull back. Several years later we tried again. I will protect Noah's privacy, but let's just say that days without sleeping and an aversion to anybody's toilet except your own, really puts the brakes on a vacation. Then when he was five, we had to go for a week to New York City for a big family wedding. Ask our child what happened when on the first day there,he got a grass stain on his stroller's footrest and what he proceeded to do for the following six days. It was not so easy. At least we can all laugh about it now.

Anyway, that was probably too much explanation, but the point is, for as much a homebody as Noah is, I'm probably and even bigger one! ;)

I know, I know, it's not good. It's important to be open to change, to be adaptable. I get it. The world is big and great and our oyster. I totally understand and agree and want to be a world traveler.  There's just something so cozy and easy about home and something totally exhausting when I think about "vacationing" with a child.

The other issues that we have is our pets. I love our cats Hector and Willow, and our dog Josie. I didn't realize how much they would keep us from traveling though. My Mom has always been willing to visit the cats twice a day (this was before we also had Josie) and I have even found and interviewed a very nice pet sitting service as a back-up. But, for whatever reason, on the rare occasions that we do go somewhere, I worry that the cats are lonely or that  that think we abandoned them! (For what it is worth, they're both rescues with handicaps. Hector is blind and Willow has a strange eye-wiggle, neck tilt. They're both ok though). Ask Jon though, about our second lovely trip to Toronto and what he thought of Noah and I leaving a teary message on the answering machine to the cats the second night, and then crying ourselves to sleep. I'm sure he'd LOVE to re-live that memory.

Now we have Josie though, and my whole perspective has changed! I think if we went on vacation and took the dog with us or sent her to my Mom's, the cats would actually THANK US for leaving! Really. No puppy = CAT'S VACATION!!! So, I think now I'd be ok leaving the cats for a week or so.

But then there's the dog. Who, is way too over-attached to us, or is it the other way around......?

Another reason we don't travel much, is because I don't care for flying very much. I mean, I WILL fly, but I still dislike everything about it. So, it's not like I start jumping up and down and beg to go to Cancun as soon as I see that Delta's running a deal. I'll get on a plane though. I've been to Europe, back and forth to California several times, New York a bunch and other places. It's just that I'm claustrophobic , and can feel nauseatingly seasick and most of all, I'm not in control and I hate that.
(Note to self: another one to work on).

And the last reason that we don't travel that often is just because of cost. While I'm sure that we could probably plan and save and budget for some travel, it just always seems like there are other things in life that we need to pay for first. We chose to buy the house that we love, but one that requires a lot of repair and maintenance. Having a child is expensive too and cars and school and summer camp and pets and a Cinnamon Toast Crunch habit. So travel doesn't come first,  and when it does, it's not one plane ticket, it's three. It's nine meals a day, it's three travel size tubes of Crest!

I'm rambling, aren't I?  So the whole darn point is, Noah is ten and I have come to realize that #1.) it's OK to be a little different, BUT #2.) soon he is going to be all grown up and I desperately want to make more family memories while we still can!!!!

If Noah turns out to be anything like Jon, then in four short years he will be stubborn and crabby and curmudgeon when we try to drag him to Disney World. So, we need to hurry up and just go do something.

Every 4th of July, some of our very best friends in the world go on an annual camping trip in northern Michigan. Actually, lots and lots of our friends and they're all families. Every year we decide to stay home. One, because we can be lazy homebodies, two because four or five days with twenty+ people sounds completely overwhelming, three because ticks, four because we don't own ANY camping gear and $$$$, and fifth but most of all!......OUT HOUSES AND PORT-A-POTTIES!  Noah and I can not, we just can not set foot in them. And NO I DID NOT TEACH HIM THIS!!! I swear!!! He's never even seen me in a situation where I needed to use one. Noah was born, like I was, instinctively knowing that port-a-potties and outhouses have the potential to be stinky and/or not "the cleanest". Honestly, it's an nature, not nurture.

My friend, the ring-leader of this whole camping trip even called the park owner and convinced him to deliver my own, private port-a-potty, which was SO nice but over the top and I didn't know if it was just a ploy to get me there. And besides, I could TOTALLY see my friends bugging me to use my  "private bathroom" instead of sharing their port-a-potties with twenty little kids with terrible aim. 

But, all of this said, I really want to be able to go and spend time with our friends and try their version of camping. I've even gotten over my fear of wearing a bathing suit in front of them when I realized that they don't care if I have cellulite.


The idea started rolling through my head a few years ago when I saw an episode of the Inbetweeners. The one where they go to a "Caravan Club." (That dirty show. I know).
And it only solidified more in my mind as something we might want to try as a family when I started reading about the beloved "Connievan" on the blog Attic24

Hmmmm....I thought, maybe there is something to all of this "Caravanning." I think in the U.S. it's called......well, they aren't RV's so it's not RV'ing here in the United States. I think we call them "trailers" here. This is how truly little I still know about the whole thing. I think though, some aspects of "trailering" or caravanning or whatever it is, sounds really nice! Especially the vintage-y, shabby chic details.

If you go caravanning, you can have adventures, but you can still take the dog. It saves money on hotel rooms, and you don't have to barf on a plane! And, the best part, you always take your own bathroom with you! You can even go camping on the 4th of July so your friends don't hate you for missing yet another year!

And then, then I saw this, short video. Very short. Please watch. It made me realize that not only does caravanning help you make memories, but it teachers you how to be more flexible and adaptable and step outside your....well, i was going to say "box" but I'll just start with..... it will get me to step outside my "HOUSE". And lord knows that especially Noah and I could learn to push our boundaries a bit and become more adaptable. At least practice.

Not only would we learn to be more "go-with-the-flow," but Noah could meet lots of kids and ride his bike around and play! Something that there isn't a lot of opportunity for in our neighborhood. I could see myself trying to relax with a good book or a crochet project and Jon BBQ'ing or reading while we all sit in the woods! I'll be sure to wear long pants, and I'll make Noah and Jon and Josie wear them too. Because ticks. I even told Jon that I would let him play his Motown music the entire time, and I'd start eating hot dogs again, off sticks! Over a fire! And we'd all drink Tang.

so, see, it might be a great idea! I even started a VINTAGE CAMPER PINTEREST BOARD last year. Look how cute and comfy these things can be!

(From The Beehive Cottage.)

TRAAAA- LA -LA........

LA -LA-LU-LEE......

Lah-di-dah. Lah-di-dah......

And then, this week, the universe spoke! The universe knows that we have no idea how to restore and fix up a vintage trailer. (Or anything for that matter). We have zero idea of what we'd have to do to get a camper in shape and I'd have to guess, even armed with Time Life "How To" books, we'd be in over our heads.

It's almost too good to be true! If you can believe it, for the past couple of years, Shasta has been making reproductions of their famous 1961 model Airflyte. Isn't that COOL!!!!???? You get all of the vintage, but none of the falling apart! Plus, it does have modern safety standards and some modern "conveniences" like air condition, a microwave oven and a nice stove and fridge. I can't believe that I'm saying this, but it's pretty neat!

Here's a video of their almost finished first pro type a couple of summers ago. It's all done now and on sale! Look at this great Facebook page for Shasta Airflyte enthusiasts! 

Think of all the places we could roam! First I'd take Noah and Josie up north, then we'd go to Maine and through Vermont and New Hampshire. Maybe somewhere warm over winter break or to Pennsylvania to see family. Maybe next summer the Grand Canyon or Route 66.
Where would you go?

What I'd like to ask you my fine readers, is have any of you had experience with campers or trailers or RV's or caravans with your family? Do you recommend this type of hobby? Do you have some special advice or input?

School ends on Wednesday, so we're ready for summer and whatever adventure it may bring! Thank you for reading my rambling post about rambling. More soon.

Until next time, be yourself and enjoy the open road....your own way. :)


Sarah said...

You should seriously consider a camper!! We have a 1973 Scotty. It's super fun to be out in the woods away from the distractions of everyday life!! Our kids LOVE camping!!!

By the way... I read your post about the hoover floormate a year or so ago. So, I found one a lady was selling for like $25! I LOVE that thing!! It is the BOMB!! Several of my friends have bought them since, because I rave about it soooo much!! :) So, thanks for the recommendation!! :)

Lauren said...

Hi Sarah!!!!! \(^-^)/

Oh wow, I bet you 1973 Scotty is so cool! Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'd really really like to try it. I think all three of us would have a great time.

Yay for the Floormate!!!! Ha! That's awesome. I'm so glad that you liked it and found one at a great price. I hope your friends like it too!!!

Thanks so much Sarah.
xoxoxoxoxoxo :)

Carrie said...

Go Glamping! It's easier than tent camping.
I always check in with your site since letting my hair grow out to its natural white/gray. It has been 1 year so far and I'm not finished growing it out. Trying to be patient. Do you have any advice on blogging? I have a site called in which I post weekly animations.
(If the last part with my site name bothers you please edit but I would like your advice if you ever have any "spare time")

Unknown said...

HI Lauren!
YES YES YES, try it! You'll have your own cute space and privacy. We love camping in our trailer. It's my little home away from home. Perfect for good times with family and friends. I put a memory foam on top of our mattress and it made for such a good night's sleep. Some trailer mattresses are kinda skimpy :)

I really hope you try and trailer camp. It's such a fun, easy, comfortable, safe way to vacation.

Happy Camping!

Lauren said...

Hi Carrie!!!! \(^-^)/

Fantastic!!! Congrats on being a year in, that is truly a BIG deal! :)
I'm so happy for you and I'm sure you'll inspire others who are starting out on this journey. So glad that you're here. <3
Oh my gosh, Carrie, I went and looked at your blog, I LOVE CARRIESLENS.COM!!!!!!!!! You are incredibly creative. I adore the animations you made and you have a great sense of humor. What a neat site. I mean it. You remind me a little of the British artists Abigail Abbas. This is her blog, "Mrs. Bovary" where she combines fashion with her illustrations.

Thank you so much for asking me for advice. I have truly just "winged it" with this blog. Kind of learning as I go. I'm not very good for advice, but if there would be one thing I'd say, it's write about or create what inspires you. Sometimes I feel self-imposed pressure to write about one thing, when I really want to write about a different subject. It's good to provide readers with the content that they would like to read, but also, you need to be true to yourself too. A balance can be found. I think! :)

I hope this is helpful. Thank you for stopping by and again congrats!!!! I'll be checking carrieslens for your great animations to come!
Lauren :)

Lauren said...

Hiiiii! Leslie!!!!! :)

Oh you have convinced me! :)
Good times, my own cute space and memory foam mattresses. I'm in! \(^-^)/
I hope we go too. First we have to figure out if we can afford it, and next, or maybe first, can our car tow a trailer the size of the Shasta?

Thank you so much for your encouragement. I love it and it means a lot! Happy Camping Leslie!!! :)

Loulou said...

These campers are so darn cute! I grew up in a family with a tent-trailer. It's a camper that folds down into a box you pull behind your car. We went everywhere with that thing and found it made for excellent and really fun family vacations. We loved it! I haven't continued camping as an adult because I happen to live with, what might be, the world's loudest snorer, but I think you guys might really like to try it. I think you can rent trailers, so you might be able to test it out first. xo

Lauren said...

Hiya Loulou! ;)

Thanks!!!! I definitely know the fold down campers, and I think you're right about renting one first. We were talking more this morning and it's a huge commitment to make without knowing if it truly something we'd love and do often. I'll look into a rental first. Sorry about the snoring. That can make for some sleepless nights. ;)

Thanks again!!!

Anonymous said...

We have a camping trailer with a bathroom (toilet, shower and sink!) It's only 2 yrs old but I've painted and redid the fabric on almost everything in it because, pintrest. All the pretty campers make camping look so much more warm and fuzzy! But no matter how many throw pillows and cozy blankets or perfect accent pieces I fill it with it is no match for my 3 (4 if you include my husband) boys. It's sweet and cozy and has all the things you'd want in a home away from home (kitchen, dining table, couch, tv, 2 queen size beds, bathroom) but it can get claustrophobic very quickly and holy clutter... it can go from having everything in its place to total disaster zone in a matter of seconds. I sweep the floors more while camping for 3 days than I do in 3 months at our house. I feel like I have to be super organized and on top of things (there are so many things!) In order for me to not be overwhelmed with the kind of mess that comes with small spaces and 5 people!

However, once I can manage/accept/get over the clutter and "cozy"ness, it's actually pretty pleasant. You can relax, roast marshmallows, sit around a fire/picnic table and enjoy your families company without as many of the distractions you have at home. Just be sure to bring bug spray, an air mattress or memory foam mattress, & a laundry basket for the dirty clothes.

It can get a little expensive, especially after the parks passes and overnight fees. Plus, all the things! If it's not something you will use a lot I'm not sure I'd recommend buying one. My husband would disagree but with what we've spent on our camper and camping over the last year, we could have had a few 5 star hotel stays (with maids, room service, a pool, fresh towels and free breakfast!!) For the same cost. If you're on the fence, I'd rent one first. Especially if you aren't overly thrilled with the idea of camping... it's hard to know if you'll love it or hate it before you experience it. Good luck!!

Lauren said...

Hi!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you. All of your input is soooooo helpful. I really appreciate it. Lots of things to think about. Your trailer must be adorable. :)
We are on the fence and you're right, we should rent first.
I appreciate your sharing more than I can say!!!! <3

Have a wonderful weekend!

Our Adventures As A Family of 4.... said...

Oh my goodness look at all that shabby chic greatness. I love it. I hear you, on the traveling. I have a different angle as in my girls don't like to be away from home (from the adoptive perspective) and they can't wait till we are back at home. So I get that. Also we have pets too and it's hard to travel with them all. I also have two kids who hate porta potties. I can tell you many years ago I dislocated my knee in a porta potty. I had to have my friend come in and help me, and it was the worst experience. You like the InBetweeners too?? I Love that show (guilty pleasure, LOL). I used to travel a lot (My dad was English and I have family and friends there and my dad lived in a few places on the East coast till he died) and sometimes I miss it. However I don't miss the days of packing for 3 of us, LOL. My husband just packs his stuff like nothing, but with girls you have to come up with outfits, back up outfits in case of accidents, etc. Not fun these days. Hope you can have some good summer adventures this year.

Pisceanchick said...

New reader here. Loved your posts on grey hair and your teary message to the cats made me laugh at your description of your husband putting up with it. So cute. We do miss the little fur faces.